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#1889 - Friday, August 13, 2004 - Editor: Gloria  

This issue features an introduction to the incredible and beautiful website of Martin Gray, presented with his permission. Photographs and his book are available for purchase from his website.  


The Sacred Site Pilgrimage of Martin Gray  

Martin Gray is an anthropologist and photographer specializing in the study of sacred sites and pilgrimage traditions around the world.  Traveling as a pilgrim, Martin spent  twenty years, visiting and photographing over 1000 sacred sites in eighty countries.  

Machu Picchu, Peru


ink provides information and more photos:    

Places of Peace and Power


...anyone wishing to understand societies of the past must make
a determined effort to liberate himself from the pressures of his
own mental attitudes.

Georges Duby        

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the
fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and
true science.

Albert Einstein         

Since prehistoric times, certain places have exerted a mysterious attraction on billions of people around the world. Many cultures of antiquity recognized the existence of these sites, called power places or sacred sites, and marked their geographic locations in a variety of ways. The names of such places are familiar to us all; they include Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, the Pyramids, Jerusalem, Banaras and Mecca. Power places are found all across the planet in the form of sacred mountains, healing springs, oracular caverns, enchanted forest glens and places of divine revelation.

Ancient legends and modern-day reports tell of extraordinary experiences that people have had while visiting these holy and magical places. Different sacred sites have the power to heal the body, enlighten the mind, increase creativity, develop psychic abilities, and awaken the soul to a knowing of its true purpose in life. While contemporary science cannot explain - and therefore disregards - the seemingly miraculous phenomena which occur at the holy places, these sites continue to be the most venerated and visited locations on planet Earth.

This book chronicles my own search for answers to these questions. Over an eighteen-year period I went upon a rambling yet purposeful pilgrimage to more than 1000 sacred sites in eighty countries around the world. I was able to determine the locations of these sites by researching the anthropology, archaeology, mythology and religious traditions of the world's past and present cultures.

My journeys to these places have been pilgrimages in the real sense of the word. The term pilgrimage means so much more than mere travel. In its original and pure meaning, pilgrimage describes a religious journey to a site or set of sites that have been invested with sanctity by tradition. Pilgrimage may also be defined as exterior mysticism, while mysticism is internal pilgrimage. Such has been the nature of my travels. Wandering extensively around the world, my journeys have fundamentally been an inner exploration of my heart and mind and soul. While I have been concerned with the scholarly study and photography of the sacred places, my primary intention has always been to interact with the sacred sites as a pilgrim.

The deep feeling-experience of pilgrimage to the sacred places is enriched by a parallel journey through their mythology and history. To do this, I have read more than 1500 sources of information, mostly books but also a large number of academic journals articles and Ph.D. dissertations. This material has ranged widely over mythology, earth sciences, astronomy, archaeology, anthropology, ethnology and folk lore studies, trance, magic and shamanism, comparative religion, geomancy and sacred geometry, hagiography, parapsychology and mysticism. Combining scholarly study with long-term pilgrimage experience, I have been able to make conceptual leaps of understanding which I will share in these pages with you.

Mt. Olympus, Greece

The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung was fascinated by this idea of humans communing with the natural world. Following a lifetime of research on the subject he wrote:

As scientific understanding has grown, so our world has become dehumanized. Man feels himself isolated in the cosmos because he is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional unconscious identity with natural voices now speak to man from stones, plants and animals, nor does he speak to them believing they can hear. His contact with nature has gone, and with it the profound emotional energy that this connection supplied...primitive man was much more governed by his instincts than are his "rational" modern descendants, who have learned to "control" themselves. In this civilizing process, we have increasingly divided our consciousness from the deeper instinctive strata of the human psyche, and even ultimately from the somatic (bodily felt and known) basis of psychic phenomenon. Fortunately we have not lost these basic instinctive strata; they remain part of the unconscious, even though they may express themselves only in the form of dream images. (2) [...]

This book has two textual chapters followed by several photographic ones (this web site includes both these textual chapters and a selection of photographs from the visual chapters). Chapter One gives an autobiographical account of my long pilgrimage to sacred sites around the world, and includes some of the visionary experiences, spiritual teachings and prophetic revelations I was given at various holy places. Chapter Two is concerned with the actual nature of sacred places and answers a number of questions about their legendary power. For example, what is this mysterious "power of place"? What factors cause it to be so highly concentrated at particular sacred sites? Why have humans been so strongly drawn to these places? How are we to explain the extraordinary, often miraculous things that happen at the sites? [...]


This book can also be used for guided contemplation of beauty and sacred art. The geographic places illustrated are among the most beautiful in the entire world. To gaze upon these lovely sites is to awaken the soul and fill it with awe. The architectural structures built at these places represent the greatest art creations of human civilization. For example, while artists such as the painter Eduard Monet or the composer Ludwig von Beethoven created many stunning works of art, those works are the creation of single individuals, often made in a matter or weeks or months. The great pilgrimage shrines, on the other hand, took hundreds or thousands of craftsmen many hundreds of years to create (often with unlimited financial patronage from royalty and religious institutions). The magnificent temples, mosques, cathedrals and stone rings at the sacred sites are the quintessential examples of humanity's artistic genius. [...]

Haguro San, Japan

When I was eight years old I began to have visions and dreams of things I might do when I grew to be an adult. Being a young child, I had not yet learned sufficient vocabulary to speak clearly with other people about the things I had seen in my visions and dreams. But I could pray. And my childhood prayers were that I might one day serve as a paintbrush in the hand of god, showering beauty and goodness upon the world. Such has been my prayer for many years, and it has also been the fundamental yearning guiding the creation of this book. I have held a conscious intention throughout the many years of traveling, photographing and writing. I wanted the photographs to somehow function as magical picture beams that would connect my readers with some place half the world away. More than carrying the homeopathic essence of the sites, this book, according to the power of your intention and imagination, may actually become the sites. Peter Lamborn Wilson, writing of pilgrimage in the Sufi tradition, explains:

In ordinary pilgrimage, the traveler receives baraka [spiritual energy] from a place, but the dervish reverses the flow and brings baraka to a place. The Sufi may think of himself or herself as a permanent pilgrim - but to the ordinary stay-at-home people of the mundane world, the Sufi is a kind of perambulatory shrine. (3)

Places of Peace and Power, is my bringing of baraka from the sacred sites to you. The book is itself a shrine. My purpose in creating this shrine has been to share the teachings I received as a wandering pilgrim passionately in love with the Earth. Perhaps these teachings will touch you. Perhaps they and the photographs that follow will compel you to travel, understand and listen to the Earth as only a pilgrim can. Perhaps they will inspire you to love and serve this wonderful Earth more than you have before. That is my hope and prayer.

above selections from:  

Biography of Martin Gray

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