Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sacred Landscape on the Web

Here's a website for anyone interested in native stonework and related subjects--the website of the Hanwakan Center , full name: the Hanwakan Center for Prehistoric Astronomy, Cosmology, and Cultural Landscape Studies. Herman Bender, the president of the center, has also been elected to the advisory board of Time & Mind, The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness, and Culture.

The summary for Time & Mind reads as follows:

Time & Mind will provide an international and interdisciplinary forum for new perspectives on landscape, monuments, people and culture. A lively peer-reviewed journal, it will encourage “frontier thinking” that addresses the formative role of “cognition” (to use a portmanteau term) in shaping our understanding of archaeological sites, landscapes and pre-modern worldviews.

Topics will include (among many others):

  • the phenomenology of landscape and skyscape plus the effect on monument building and placement;
  • transpersonal anthropology;
  • the prehistory of mind;
  • the effect of ritual trance consciousness on monumental engineering, rock art, and social structuring;
  • ancient and pre-industrial symbolic landscapes deriving from religious and mythological beliefs;
  • the involvement of light and sound in monumental structures;
  • the multi-sensory properties of natural places venerated in antiquity;
  • archaeoastronomy
  • religious and social symbolism in tribal art;
  • the cognition and memory of place and landscapes;
  • the neurophysiology of ritual.

As readers may know, I think that Western society is headed in the direction of incorporating traditions of sacred landscape and traditions about 'spirits' just as we have incorporated aspects of indigenous use of herbs into medicine and shamanic healing into psychology. New sources of information like the Hanwakan Center and Time & Mind can help bring about the change in our world view that will happen over time.

I won't editorialize at length now. I'll just suggest that we don't require the lead of our forebearers in order to establish a relationship with the landscape on which we live. Even where any and all ancient structures have been destroyed, we can still notice the hills, the rocks, the springs, the streams, and their interaction with movements of objects in the skies. We can find places that look or feel different, notice stones and plants and animals. If you pursue a relationship with the landscape around you, there comes a point where you become possessed of a growing conviction that something is responding, sometimes in ways that seem obvious if hard to believe, or in ways that seem real but hard to put a mental finger on.

It is always worth remembering that every inch of the earth is as ancient as the land at Giza, at Stonehenge, at Newgrange. We're still these small, ephemeral beings passing over the surface of this huge and ancient planet. There are secrets hidden in plain sight.


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