Sacred Geography in Ancient Europe© Martin Gray 2006
Cosmic and Cometary Induced Cataclysms,
As mentioned previously, each specific power place is unique by virtue of
both its location and its energetic emanation. Certain power places were
noted by ancient people as having energetic emanations which were influenced
by particular astronomical cycles. The astronomical observatories erected at
these power places were designed in such a manner as to be oriented toward
the celestial body or bodies which influenced their power place emanations.
While there were similarities in astronomical orientations between various
observatories, there were no constant alignment patterns used, as each power
place was unique in both its Earth surface location and its astronomical
correspondence point. The energy link between these two unique points,
planetary and celestial, produced a subtle energy emanation unlike any other
place upon the Earth. As these energy emanations varied from place to place,
so also did the type of structures that were erected to study the periodic
changes in emanation of the earth energies.
Another reason for the megalithic astronomical observatories' diversity in structural size and complexity is human innovation and the effect it may have upon the development of scientific endeavors. As previously stated, the earliest megalithic structures at the power places were the more simple energy harnessing devices. These were followed by the observatories which megalithic people utilized to predict the periodic increases of subtle energy emanations at the power places. It is known from extensive archaeological evidence that the first rings and ellipses were constructed of wooden poles and only later, often after periods of a thousand or more years, reconstructed with stones. It also known (and for this Stonehenge is the primary example) that the stone rings themselves went through stages of development in both size and structural complexity. These size and structural changes certainly indicate a greater understanding of planetary and celestial energy correspondences as they relate to the power places, yet they also seem to indicate the increasingly scientific use of the rings as contrasted to their initial sacred use. Contemporary astronomers seek to build ever more powerful optical and radio telescopes. Is there any reason to doubt that ancient astronomers felt these same desires for more precise observational tools and thus developed their design?
Another vitally important, though currently little understood, function of the megalithic astronomical observatories, in particular the stone rings, was to predict, in advance of their occurrence, the arrival of and impact by cometary and meteoric objects, such as had occurred in 9600 BC and 7640 BC. As explained in Uriel's Machine, the stone rings found in different parts of northern Europe have different arrangements and alignments of stones, dependant upon the latitude and longitude of the site, which allow them to precisely observe the movements of celestial bodies along the horizon and thereby gauge the long-term passage of time. Myths and legends traceable to periods of the early Neolithic seem to indicate that a mysterious group of 'astronomer-sages' knew of the periodicity of cometary objects and their potentially lethal effect upon the planet. Authors Knight and Lomas in Uriel's Machine make a convincing case that the stone rings of megalithic times were used as both calendrical indicators and cometary prediction devices in service to mankind.
Celtic Earth-based SpiritualityThousands of years after the decline of megalithic culture came the Celtic age with its Druid spirituality. It is now widely accepted that Druid spirituality derives in part from pre-Celtic (for example, megalithic) traditions of far western Europe, which impressed the invading Celts to the extent that they adopted some of these traditions when they settled among the earlier-established tribes. In other words, the pre-Celtic traditions influenced existing Celtic practices resulting in what is now commonly called Celtic Druidism. In support of this matter, it is interesting to note that Julius Caesar reported that Druidism began in the British Isles and was only later exported to Gaul.
Contrary to popular belief (and the historically inaccurate writings of various new-age novelists), the Celts neither used the stone temples of the earlier megalithic peoples nor continued their style of ceremonial architecture. Stonehenge, for example, was constructed between 2800 and 2000 BC, while the Celts did not enter England until 600 BC, fully 1400 years later. Not using the stone rings and chambered mounds, Celtic spirituality was instead concentrated at unadorned natural sites such as mineral springs and waterfalls, caverns and remote islands, curiously shaped peaks and forest groves. In Celtic spirituality the entire landscape was in fact filled with places where spirit was present. This spirit of place or anima loci was understood to be the essential personality of a location and the spirit places were transformed into sacred sites when humans discovered and acknowledged them.
As with the Megalithic people before them, the Celts believed different types of landscape forms were inhabited or guarded by specific deities. Sacred forest groves, called nemetoi, meaning 'clearings open to the sky' were dedicated to various goddesses such as Andraste, Belesama and Arnemetia. Mountains served as altars for deities, sites of divine power and places for seeking inspiration. Towering peaks were seen as abodes of masculine deities such as Daghda, the father god, and Poeninus, while various hills, the breasts of the goddess, were recognized to be the sanctuaries of Ana, the Celtic mother of the Gods, and Brigid. Caves, believed to be entrances to the underworld or the fairy kingdom, were used for seeking visions and for communication with the depths of the psychic unconscious. Strangely shaped trees and rocks were considered the resting places of elemental spirits, fairies and supernatural beings. Celtic people made pilgrimages to all these types of sacred places, leaving offerings of cloth, amulets and food for the resident deities, thereby seeking the archetypal spiritual qualities of the places and praying for both physical and psychic healing.
Conclusions and a call for further studiesFrom the preceding discussion it is apparent that there are several possible explanations for the original discovery of the power places of Europe: the archaic Neolithic nomads, the astronomer sages of the mysterious culture of Atlantis, and the early megalithic culture. The sites found and marked by these extremely ancient people continued to be used for thousands of years and became in time the sacred sites and pilgrimage places of other cultures such as the Celtic and ancient Greek. Myths originating from these later cultural epochs speak of the power places as being the abodes of deities, the haunts of magical beings, and the enchanted domains of elemental spirits. The pilgrimage traditions of the Celtic and Greek cultures are markedly different in external form but in essence each may by understood as an expression of early peoples' connection to and worship of the living earth. The sacred geography of the ancient Greeks will be more deeply examined in the next section of this essay.
Through countless years and cultural expressions human beings have made pilgrimages across Europe, drawn by the spiritual magnetism of the power places. Different religions and their assorted temples have risen and fallen yet the power places remain ever strong. Still beckoning pilgrims in our own deeply troubled times, these holy sites offer a plentitude of gifts for body, mind and spirit. Take the time to go on a pilgrimage to the sacred places of ancient Europe. Inspiration and health, wisdom and peace - these and other qualities are freely and abundantly given there by the enchanted earth.
Martin Gray BiographyMartin Gray is an anthropologist and photographer specializing in the study of sacred architecture, holy places and pilgrimage traditions around the world. During a twenty year period, Martin Gray traveled widely in 120 countries to study and photograph more than 1000 holy places of prehistoric, historic and contemporary cultures. Martin is an expert in the subjects of ancient religion, sacred geography, archaeoastronomy and ecopsychology. In 1997, Martin placed the web site, Places of Peace and Power, at SacredSites.com on the internet and since that time more than fifteen million people have visited the site. In 2004 National Geographic published The Geography of Religion and Martin Gray was the principal photographer. In August of 2006 the Japanese publisher Basilico issued a book of Martin’s sacred site photographs, and in the spring of 2007 the American company Sterling will publish a book entitled Sacred Earth, which will feature 180 color photographs of sacred sites around the world. Martin’s photographs and writings have been featured in documentaries, newspapers, magazines, books and web sites around the globe. Martin Gray has presented slide shows at museums, conferences and universities, for more than 125,000 people, in the United States, Europe and Asia. Martin’s web site, Places of Peace and Power, may be seen at SacredSites.com
© Martin Gray 2006
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