Singing in Sacred Places

A friend sent me an inspirational email a few days ago.  The  veracity of the words  describing sacred lands struck me as particularly potent, because  I have a  great respect for the Mother Earth, and the natural elements.

I would not call myself an “eco radical”, but I am sensitive to what is going on around me on a local, national, and global scale, and I contribute towards the preservation ofthe planet in my own way.

The following  words inspired me to write this post:

“When one visits sacred lands, you must first be pure in your intentions. One must know you are in a special place, where each thought and word are heard by the natural environment.

Sacred lands are not dead places where humans are forbidden to tread. Instead, sacred places require human visitation – or pilgrimage.
The place is also an organism that requires a certain amount of interaction with humans. We exchange information. My knowledge may only enter the earth during special visits, with particular ways of perception, that which we call pilgrimage.
This is not just wandering, but walking with a purpose, with the intention to interact with the place, to give ones best, innermost knowledge and receive something in return. This should be an offering.
That which you put in, you receive in return.’.

(Danil Ivanovich Mamyev, the director and founder of the recently established Karakol Nature Park “Uch Enmek”, Onguda District of Altai Republic, south-central Siberia.)

Reading such wise words from Altai Siberia, has reminded me of the grace and beauty of sacred places.


Beltane” or May Day (May 1st) is traditionally known as the first day of summer in Great Britain.

In the northern hemisphere, we have to wait until June or even July for real sunshine. However, the inspirational nature of spring to summer is an intoxicating thought!

As soon as I get a sunny day, I allow my feet to guide me to a local place where I can walk in greenery far away from urban life, grey concrete, and sallow brick.

I often head for the River Lea in East London, and do a  moving meditation by walking in silence as my other four senses connect with the trees, shrubs, and birds.  The great  burst of energy that I get from connecting with nature  makes me feel like a “tree –  hugger” and dissipates any hidden stress.







One of my favourite sacred places in the UK is Silbury Hill in Wiltshire near Old Sarum, and Stonehenge. It’s the largest, man made mound in Europe. It’s meaning or origin is obscure, as there is no burial source there, and it it was probably completed  around 2400 BC., around the same time as the Great Pyramids in Egypt.

There is no direct access to the mound. However, I have visited nearby Avebury and led a “sound-bath” with a voice group on a beautiful, June day. The connection with the body and voice to the earth was astounding, ripples of sound passing through my heart, chest, and head. It felt like bees buzzing, and totally chilled me out;  that impromptu gathering in the stillness was spiritually refreshing.


I have connected with other sacred places some known, others much more concealed. Some have been simple shrines made by ordinary folk long ago, and others, I have stumbled on during  rambling trips around the UK , particularl the Isles of Iona,  Mull, and Staffa as well as the Camino de Santiago in Spain. The first time, I walked from Santander to Compostela, and the second time, I followed the Camino Way from Burgos to Compostela.

I came close to the sanctity of the land, and the sea, as I walked through tiny villages in the Asturias,  with a group of  Germans one day, then on my own for ten hours on another day. On another occasion, I heard French, Spanish, and Polish all within  four hours, and we exchanged quite intimate stories with each other, aware on some level that we were now part of a  particular walking club!

Although I loved the company of my fellow “pellegrinos” –   pilgrims,  I preferred walking for long stretches of time on my own. There is something so peaceful and soothing about creating a rhythm of silence on your own, where you can hear yourself undisturbed by background noise; You very quickly become acutely aware of  your surroundings and how they can give you a different perspective on whatever changes/challenges you may be experiencing at that point in time..

At one stage I did feel like Robinson Crusoe, as I reached Gijon halfway-ish and then turned inland. I adjusted my hearing and listened to the wind caressing the branches, instead of the pulsating lure of the Northern Spanish coastline.

I craved the buzz and noise of the city after seven, solitary days, and began to envision sweet tea, and bagels.  I  had a strong urge to sing . It started as humming in time with my footsteps, then morphed into, old Hebrew songs; Japanese folk songs; and Dutch nursery rhymes. Singing in these sacred places made me feel part of humanity again; as if some unseen entity was listening to me warble! it seems that the solo human voice can act as a potent musical guide, when your feet are protesting fiercely against taking another step!

Somehow, I drew strength from my surroundings and hearty singing, and it was this energy or “spirit” that  motivated me to finish the last two days of a veryphysical/emotional/spiritual, event, and I have my  pilgrims’ shell to prove it!




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