Sacred Spaces and Places
by Catherine Bastedo
author of Bird Vibes Cards
When was the last time you were so excited and awed by the scene around you that you wanted to jump up and down, or dance, or just gaze and take it in with all your senses? When was the last time you were just so grateful to be alive that you wanted to shout to the universe and share your joy?
These are the feelings that we get in sacred spaces and places – whether they are ancient sites, special buildings, or landscapes that touch your soul. And these feelings can be a gift, not just of travel to foreign places or costly adventures, but a gift to you and to your spirit, in your own surroundings.
People have been visiting sacred places forever and erecting monuments like Stonehenge and Delphi and the pyramids. We travel to these places today seeking a respite from our busy lives, looking for answers to the turmoil around us and within; sometimes we travel to distract ourselves from the tough business of really getting to know ourselves, facing our truth and seeing our true essence.
I have been fortunate to have travelled for business and pleasure to many places and sacred sites. Some of them were famous and chock-a-block with tourists, like the Roman baths at Bath; others hard to reach and lonely, places where I could wander freely and absorb the mood of a long gone civilization, such as the ancient sites of worship at Anuradhapura.
Some sites may not top anyone’s list of the world’s most sacred spots, and yet to me they conveyed that special mystery of the divine, the mouth-dropping wonder I felt walking over a swaying bridge through the cloud forest in Costa Rica with the clouds blowing in and caressing my cheek; watching the majestic sunset on Sanibel Island; or swimming in the Indian Ocean at Unawatuna, in water the temperature of a bathtub, and no one else in the water except the faraway fishermen perched on their high wooden stilts.
Wandering amongst Sri Lankan ruins of the third century B.C., gazing with awe at the amazing 12th century statue of the reclining Buddha in Polonnaruwa – an 80 foot statue carved out of a block of granite, or running my fingers over ancient Roman columns in Tunisia, eroded by wind and sand, standing now in the desert, these are memories that stay with me, and create my inner peace.
In places like this, with few people around to disturb the site, with warm air on my face, and the sun shining, I felt the joy of being alive, the wonder of a child seeing new and unimagined delights, and this is the magic I want to keep and help other people find or remember.
I have had insightful moments walking along the Rift Valley in Thingvellir in Iceland, knowing that here the continents of Europe and North America are silently drifting apart at the rate of two metres each century, or when meditating amongst the vortexes in Sedona and seeing the salt left by an ancient seabed. These places where we can contemplate time that goes back so far I can barely comprehend it, put my day-to-day problems and concerns in perspective. And I have only to look at a picture of Sedona rocks to calm my mind.
Sacred sites and special landscapes touch us in an individual way, and while one person may relate to a circle of monoliths or prehistoric rock drawings, another may feel the presence of the sacred in a cathedral, the forest or in a cave. Foreign climates and landscapes can help us escape and allow us to focus in a new way, yet it is also possible to remain at home and let time flow by, to allow the divine to speak to us, and make the effort to really listen.
So stop and think about what elements in a landscape or in a sacred site give you that special feeling of awe – is it the rocks? the trees? the open spaces? the quiet? Is it the fragrance of roses or the sound of running water? the feel of the carved wood in an old church, the sound of music in a cathedral?
How can you bring this gift of divine energy into your life? Start with visualizing your special place at home, whether inside or out, whether it is a special chair, an altar or a nook in your garden. In this place, you can meditate, sit quietly, and let in the feeling of the sacred. See yourself surrounded with love, and place objects here that represent this feeling – a photograph of loved ones, a crystal or stone that speaks to you, a shell or feather you picked up.
You might wish to have a scent that carries you to other places and makes you want to stop and inhale the aroma – sandalwood or rose or sweet grass. And sitting there, you may wish to wear a shawl that symbolizes prayerful intention and the love and protection around you.
Connect with this sacred space every day and be open to it. Go to it, or bring it inside yourself. Now and then add something meaningful – a plant of your favourite colour and shape, a candle, a dream catcher. Play music that calms the spirit. Know that this is your place for just being, for focussing and listening to your inner voice. And you will find that just thinking of this place, in the middle of a busy or difficult situation, will calm your mind and bring you towards a sacred place of peace and understanding.
The joy of becoming clearer, more open, more ready to surrender to the divine is available to all of us, in many ways. Sacred places and spaces are the landscapes of the soul that reveal our true essence.
2009 © Catherine Bastedo
Catherine Bastedo. M.A.,RT-CRA, is the author of Bird Vibes, a meditation deck based on the chakras and our spiritual connections to birds. Catherine uses archetypes, myth and nature teachings to help reduce stress, release and transmute old patterns, and restore balance. She has travelled internationally to sacred sites on five continents. As a leader and energy practitioner, a nature lover and author, she brings her experience and joy to her workshops.
Catherine Bastedo now teaches a Chakra Basics Class
Spiritual Insight Through Birds
by Catherine Bastedo
Treat yourself to this new meditation deck!
• Receive positive, uplifting messages about current life situations and meditation paths
• Gain spiritual insight from the text on each card
• Learn more about the 8 chakras
• Discover interesting facts about 50 birds of North America
• Enjoy the 54 beautiful and unique paintings of birds and the four seasons
“Bird Vibes has become my deck of choice with my
readings lately and I find people are so empowered by them. Thanks for
your double creativity!”
Julie Desmarais, Holographic Energy Master, Reiki Master Teacher Trainer
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