The strongest bond to a place is often religious in nature. Native American and New Age religions revolve around sacred terrestrial space. Modern societies have replaced sacred ideologies with a dependence on science. It was expected that with the rise of science and technology religion would diminish or at least lose its social significance. However, religion did not disappear, but adapted to reflect existing cultural values. While contemporary society has abandoned ancient practices geopious feelings remain with us through our attachment to place.
Bringing to Full Circle the Sacredness of Place
Ancient cultures built imposing landscapes that were revered, worshiped and empowered with spirits. People still visit places such as Stonehenge long after the original religious practices ended. The mysterious energy of sacred places attracts visitors hundreds of years later.
Contemporary society attempts to nullify past life ways and traditions as it seeks faster ways of life. In addition, the quest for more compels those of western cultures to consume all it can, leaving as waste all that does not provide benefit, including the environment.
We seek to find connection to the past as it roots us in what we perceive as real and true. We seek through attachment to place to escape the ordinary by attaching ourselves to the sacred, that which is set apart. Places such as national and state parks, historic sites, amusement and theme parks provide preserved locations that restore the mind and spirit thus creating a deeper sense of sacredness.
Examples of continuance of sacred space:
Mounds state park of Anderson Indiana was constructed as a sacred ceremonial place over 2000 years ago. In the early 1800s the land was developed by a German settler, Frederic Bronnenberg, who recognized the mounds as special and sought to preserve them. Bronnenberg’s grandson sold the land in the late 1800s which were then developed as an amusement park. In 1930 the site was purchased by the state and preserved as a state park.
Circle Octagon Earthworks of Newark Ohio was built as a celestial observatory nearly 2000 years ago and later used as camping grounds for the Ohio National Guard. Later the site was purchased by the Ohio Historical Society and leased by the Moundbuilders Country Club thus preserving the site as a place for the elite.
Alligator mound of Granville Ohio is an effigy representing an alligator was once revered and is now situated at the end of an influential housing addition and preserved by the Ohio Historical Society.
Serpent mound of Adams County Ohio is an effigy created to observe celestial events and is still used by new age practitioners for the same purpose. The site is maintained by the Ohio Historical Society.
Mounds city (Ohio), Angel Mounds (Indiana) and Cahokia (Illinois), were all built on what was perceived as sacred and continue are now preserved by state or national agencies thus continuing their separation from the ordinary.
References: Geopiety and Landscape Perceptions at Mounds State Park, Anderson, Indiana by Barbara A Perry