Sacred Geography: Introduction

For many millennia people have found an emotional relationship with the earth. Land is set aside for special purposes such as national and state parks, historical battlefields and historical monuments, beaches, forests…you get the picture. But there is nothing more sacred than places religious in nature or connected to death. While churches and cemeteries are the most obvious sacred connection to the earth places connected to death hold our geographic hearts. Families don’t want to leave the town where a loved one is buried. Monuments at Pearl Harbor and the World Trade Center were erected in remembrance of tragedy. Many people including myself find solace in these sacred geographies.

The prehistoric people of the Midwest found a spiritual connection to the land and demonstrated it with sacred geometry. Earthen mounds or earthworks created in geometric figures such as circles, squares and octagons. Other earthworks include earthen walls, animal representations, flat top pyramids and conical (burial) mounds. Not only were the mounds themselves sacred but also their placement.

The mound in this photograph is a circle mound located at Mounds State Park in Indiana. Its construction includes three dips that align with other mounds in the complex as well as the winter solstice, equinoxes and stars. Experts believe that this geopiety, emotional and spiritual ties to the earth, drove early cultures to create such wonder places of worship that we enjoy today.

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