8. Foundations: Places of Spiritual Significance

From Ree na Réaltaí‘s 30 days of Paganism/Polytheism.

8. Foundations: Places of Spiritual Significance – Any locations that you believe to be intrinsically holy.

I have from a very young age believed that either all Gods and Spirits believed in by humans are real, or none of them are. Therefore, every place sanctified by every group of faithful worshippers is holy. Every single one!

(I’m looking this up now, now that I am trying to be a Serious Blogger, and I am seeing as many instances of worshiper-with-one-p as I am worshipper-with-two-ps. It might even be a developing US/UK english split. But I like worshipper better and will continue to use it despite the advice of autocorrect.)

That means, of course, I find aggressively hostile/bigoted congregations’ holy places sort of ontologically oppressive. Not all Gods are good!

To think about the “nonstandard” things I find holy, or have the smell of holiness around them; I guess they are generally holy because of their path through time.

Things of a great age are holy – especially from the US where we such a short cultural memory. Both very elaborate and very simple things from the distant past tug on my heartstrings: the fact that people could have such similar-seeming aspirations and basic needs, and at the same time be so completely culturally and temporally unknowable is a paradox I sometimes just sit with (I am no fun in museums) Also things and places that have “seen a lot” – very old trees, or very old buildings/institutions which have a continuity of use.

The places where there are human dead are holy – graveyards in modern use, the mounds of the moundbuilders, battlefields, sites of great suffering. Frankly I think “remembrance” or “maintaining continuity with the past” is one of the most important religious tasks.

I don’t know how to describe this one specifically, but I have been just drawn to the artifacts of US immigrants. There’s a really quite good state historical museum near me, and I remember going there and looking at the hope chests and spinning tools and linens of people who came from somewhere else to where I live. And that journey was not only individual but generational, through space and through time – through conceptual time. A physical distance from their places of origin that manifested in a cultural distance from ideas-of-ancestry-and-rootedness.

The artifacts are generally beautifully made and ornamented, and what does the typical 19th century immigrant get in a US city? Pasteboard and shoddy, no security and terrible housing. The pull of the narrative of progress on those people so relatively close to me (I know the names of all my immigrant ancestors, and their places of origin, but I don’t know many further back than that) when I see that narrative as almost malicious in its falseness – is compelling to me.

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