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Sacred Places: Sites of Spiritual Pilgrimage from Stonehenge to Santiago de Compostela Hardcover – October 9, 2009
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"Besides having personally visited hundreds of sacred places all across the planet I am a keen collector of books on the subjects of sacred sites and pilgrimage traditions. This book, Sacred Places by Philip Carr-Gomm, is one of the very best yet published. The photographs are superb and the text is also fine. I highly recommend this book to everyone. Artists, architects, historians, photographers, travelers and so many other people will greatly enjoy owning it." - Martin Gray, author of Sacred Earth --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Philip Carr-Gomm trainedin adult psychotherapy at the Institute of Psychosynthesis, in play therapy forchildren with Dr Rachel Pinney, and in Montessori education with the LondonMontessori Centre. He founded the Lewes Montessori School and leads the Orderof Bards, Ovates & Druids, which publishes a distance-learning course in Druidry.He is the author or co-author of over a dozen books. He lives in Lewes, EastSussex, and gives talks and runs retreats and workshops all over the world. His website: philipcarr-gomm.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Overall it is a wonderful book to dip into as one plans for the next pilgrimage or if one just wishes to take one in the imagination before the next real world journey. It also plays a roll in expanding your vision of the various sacred places. Most of us perhaps go to one or two sacred sites in our lifetime if we are lucky and usually one of our tradition or interest. This book gives you a chance to see and understand why millions of other folks take a trip to another site and how it is different and also the same as you own chosen place of pilgrimage.
The book would make an excellent addition to any travel library as well as to an introduction to world religions course. For me, it was a way to travel a to parts of the world I know I will never get to in this life time. Well worth the price, makes a great gift perhaps, and a keeper.
The first is that a sacred place need not be "discovered" It can also be created. Certainly, there are places which seem to call out to humanity, and appear as if they have magic whether or not people acknowledge it. Mountain heights like Kilimanjaro, Denali, and special lakes like Walden Pond or the Source of the Blue Nile, are included for this reason. But it is also the case that some places have become sacred because of human activity: perhaps it is the location of a traditional ceremony or an important historical event. Perhaps it is the site of an temple or other edifice of human hands. He therefore includes impressive cathedrals and monuments such as Santiago de la Compostela, and Mecca, and a few that are partially in ruins now, such as the Oracle of Delphi, and the Temples of Malta.
That point may seem obvious to some. The second, more original point that Carr-Gomm raises, is that a sacred place need not be ancient. Carr-Gomm has therefore included the Temples of Humanity in Damanhur, Italy, and the Tarot Garden, also in Italy. Indeed in his introduction he describes a parkland in Wellington, New Zealand, which enchanted him with its beauty. He also noted signs that other people found the park to be most magical, as there is a clearing where people leave offerings of feathers, prayer-ties, and the like, on the trees. Yet the park was built on a reclaimed rubbish dump. Part of his purpose here, I think, is not just to draw attention to these wonderful places. It is also to assert the case that a sacred place can be very new, and it need not be any less sacred because of its youth. I find this an encouraging thought.
The third is that a sacred place is not always entirely peaceful. Carr-Gomm describes not only the wonder and beauty of each site he describes. He also mentions that many of them have long been the site of some terrible conflicts, and even of wars. Sometimes the conflict concerns who or which group controls the site, or who is (or is not) allowed in. It may concern environmental degradation. It may even have to do with political conflict from ethnic tension to outright warfare. Carr-Gomm describes the legal and political problems associated with Bear Butte, in South Dakota. A federal court ruled that the land had been seized from the Lakota Nation illegally, and ordered the government to pay damages. The Lakota refused the money, as they wanted their sacred homeland back. This fight for justice continues to this day. Carr-Gomm also describes how Luang Prabang, a World Heritage city in Laos, is threatened by the extreme poverty of local inhabitants, and the consequences of a secret war that the USA fought against Laos during the Vietnam era. Carr-Gomm describes the message of the Kogi people, the indigenous nation that lives in the Sierra Nevada northern Columbia, concerning the environmental disaster taking place there. A sacred place is not "apart from the world" in the sense that it is immune from invasion. I think this is a socially and religiously important insight, and deserves to be acknowledged in the unapologetic way that Carr-Gomm does. Indeed I think he shows great respect to these sites by not white-washing away the problems, and by presenting the social and environmental situation of many of these sacred places as it really is.
Overall, I'm most delighted to recommend this book to anyone. I think it may make excellent Yuletide gift-giving, especially for people who may want to visit these places but cannot afford to travel. And for those who can, let Carr-Gomm suggest a few unusual and less well known but equally amazing places to visit. For the whole of the world is wonderful - if only we look around.
I am a National Geographic photographer (The Geography of Religion) and the author of a Barnes & Noble color photography book about sacred sites around the world (Sacred Earth). Besides having personally visited hundreds of sacred places all across the planet I am a keen collector of books on the subjects of sacred sites and pilgrimage traditions. This book, Sacred Places by Philip Carr-Gomm, is one of the very best yet published. The photographs are superb and the text is also fine. I highly recommend this book to everyone. Artists, architects, historians, photographers, travelers and so many other people will greatly enjoy owning it. Thanks for making this book Philip!