Perhaps because so much of my life was living in an American suburban and urban world of strip malls, air-conditioned traffic and florescent lighting, I am acutely aware of natural, outdoor spaces that are sacred. Do you feel this too: the actual breath-
taking moment when you enter a space that is powerful, magic?
The more I travel, the more I am blessed to find these places – a good motivation for more adventures. In fact, as I am Googling away to learn about the different sacred spots in the globe, I realized that I had already made plans to visit one in a couple weeks.
Of course, not all of the sacred spaces on Earth have been documented, and not every site is going to agree on the definition of “sacred”. Sometimes the energy is really subtle. Some areas are special because they serve as backdrops for memories, but the sacred sites radiate higher vibrations that make me step back in awe and wonder.
Five places that I found exceptionally magical:
- Jesus’ tomb in Jerusalem, Israel: I’ll start big and religious, but I’m neither religious nor big. I traveled to Israel for a magazine article almost 10 years ago for a magazine article I was writing. Only three people are allowed inside the tomb at a time. It crackled with energy.
- Warm Mineral Springs in Florida, USA: I honestly believe this is the Fountain of Youth, and I’m not the only one. It’s on the National Historic Register as the spot Ponce de Leon of Spain was looking for it when it stumbled upon St. Augustine, which currently swindles tourists to drink sulphur water. It’s a weird, outdated spa facility that houses truly a miraculous healing environment. Really! Swim there to feel like a million bucks yet have a hard time wrapping your head around it because the facility is so filled with odd foreign tourists.
- Panther Meadow in California, USA: Click here. You’re welcome. It’s at the foot of Mount Shasta, a well-known sacred site (and that link is of a totally far-out and right-on guy who I stumbled upon).
- Puerto Mosquito in Vieques, Spanish Virgin Islands, USA: I wrote an entire blog post about this glowing lake. Now, the small island has been decimated by this year’s hurricane season. Edie Widder, whose name I once misspelled in a newspaper article more than a decade ago, was interviewed recently on this topic; the storm impacts to the extreme concentration of bioluminescent dinoflagellates are unknown.
- And this little hill along the Rio Diamante in Villa de 25 of Mayo, Argentina, which was where I was yesterday:
I enjoy walking with the dog every day along this 30- to 45-minute trail behind the house
where I’m staying. It is a beautiful path with wild asparagus, wildflowers of every color (I pick myself a different bouquet almost every day) and so many shorebirds. Of course, I tread lightly as half the time is spent avoiding large piles of horse shit, since much of the path is over pastureland. To get there, you walk through the backyard and out their metal fence (beware of barbs, but no worries because you can get a free tetanus shot from the small villa clinic by simply walking in at 7 p.m. and asking in broken Spanish). You walk over a large cobblestone beach along the river, which honestly is a creek at that point, and then head back upland. When it is very rainy, there’s a short bit of a swamp through which to trudge to get back to the road.
After the swamp, which always feels a little precarious with the high swamp grass with paths previously tread by horses and dogs, you head up a very small hill, just the slightest bit of natural elevation. I’ve seen a few cross-country bicyclists and a couple families by the river, but I’ve never encountered another human on my walks through the pasture land here in the country. It’s so peaceful and wonder time for introspection. So, I was in a deeply receptive place when I was first taken aback by this location.
This magical place is underneath a weeping willow tree. When it was still chilly (seasons are opposite in southern hemisphere, which at first blew my mind), I would stop there and enjoy the view. A few times I heard a massive swarm of bees, but could not see them even after looking for a while. There were interesting fuzzy, dark green plants growing only there – like weeds, but … comfortable.
Then as spring arrived, there was an eruption of wonderful smells and colors at the top of this little hill. Delightful purple wildflowers suddenly covered the ground, and the sides of the path were lined with fragrant white flowering vines. It felt so good, this sacred space: a gift from heaven. I sat there many times in the last few months, looking out over the river to the mountains, with the biggest grin on my face.
But yesterday, my spot – which often was the highlight of my day – got darkly complex. As I’m all-but skipping up the embankment, I came across a murder scene underneath the willow tree! Feathers were everywhere! More feathers than I have ever seen in a pile. Dark gray outer feathers, the white soft, smaller inner layer of feathers. The dog sniffed a few times, wasn’t too interested and started to wander. I gasped and stopped in my tracks to survey the scene.
Thrown toward the trunk of the tree was the bird’s head, and its tail was under the pile of feathers. No blood. It looked like a gray dove. What happened? Someone or something (my guess is a dog?) did an excellent job stripping the body of feathers. I started to collect the biggest feathers.
I’m not one to be scared of death, although gore and danger are certainly not my thing. Many people are scared of death, and the obvious display at my sacred spot really spun me. In the last few weeks, a cousin died and my ex-boyfriend had near-death accident that he is currently recovering from. Another friend got hit by a car. People on a female travel social media site I’m on worry all the time about their safety. There’s #metoo and then there’s death. It’s a lot to be worried about, physically.
I am not a worrier. Was the bird? Was it a nervous type? Birds here are kind of fearless –
there are hawks that dive-bomb the dog in the backyard, which is hilarious to watch all the animal frustration. Just as I was writing this, I saw the cat returning proudly to the house with a lizard in her mouth. But the lizard managed to wiggle an escape and high-tail it, literally, through a chain-link fence. Near-death is everywhere, all the time.
I have been taking a moment to contemplate my relationship with death, not to sound morbid or anything. (Although I guess I am approaching middle age.) Doves are the symbol for peace, and a recent angel card reading I gave myself included the SIGNS card. This means I need to look for signs. Whoa! OK! I think the murder of a peace dove in my special spot is a sign. It didn’t feel like a war has begun, though. It feels like I no longer need an external symbol of peace. What war has ended inside of me?
What war can you end inside of you?