A Questionnaire of Sacred Places

Questionnaires are interesting! Just a short wandering…

On the one hand, collecting the stories and practices and place sites may keep the stories alive, maybe practices alive; give light to the human and non-human (Spirit, and non-two-leggeds) mapping of a place, region. More folk may tell those stories. More folk may cooperate with such places, keep them clean, safe. This keeps sacred places alive. And us also. This makes for us two-legged a connection to the land, to the roots wandering below ground, to the mycelium, to the birds which need so many different landscapes, to the stones that have been there for-ever-so-long. Very simple. Dangerous also to fall into…

…the other hand. These places have been used also by authoritarian states, by military, by religions, by business and capitalistic ventures in controlling and destroying. Or by making a product out of a sacred place (don’t get me started on North Karelia’s get the gods and goddesses out to the tourist public-project). So many places overrun with busloads. Look at Lapland. Look at Greece.

I recently went with a few folk to a spring near a highly popular ski resort city in Lapland. I was asked if I could lead a ceremony with them with the spring. We heard stories about the spring: of the travellers, the ones who used this spring from hundreds of years. The place was along the route to get from south to north through this small “dry” gap between mountains. The local Lion’s Club have built up a small platform so one can stand above the spring, step down, and also go across into the jänkhä. Contacting the mistress spirit of this spring led to giving instructions on how to care for it. We gave gifts, made prayers, drummed and listened. But this did not include how to increase traffic to the spring. And that seems to be the “product” which is now going to be offered by one of the participants. My eyes were not open to this. And I regret partially. Teachings about this place and honouring Spirit from myself, the hostesses stories about this place were just a rehearsal for part of a tour package, it seems. Let’s see how this goes. Maybe some also take with them something of prayer and spirit and water. Water is Life.

My dear friend Annie lives in Bath. An ancient place of springs, hot springs, healing waters surrounded by seven hills. An ancient sacred water place with River Avon flowing through the hills. Full of people. Full of tourists flocking to the shops, the Baths, Jane Austens’ house, the Georgian architecture, museums, the Abbey. The Baths are built up, covered, parts visible in the ruins – under thick glass with walking bridges over them. A gaze into the past. A museum. A shop. Many shops selling tourist items related to the seven hills, the stories, the Baths. Most made of plastic and epoxies and from far-away-mass-production-human rights’/environmental violators lands. But being who Annie is and knowing a thing or two, there are ways to honour the springs in the area and tell their very ancient pre-Roman stories when the springs were in woodlands. Rehydrating one’s connection to Life and keeping the sacred alive in those tourist Baths through those stories and gifting to the springs and river.

“Until we make connection with the earth we will continue to do the same (destroying, depleting, over-foresting/fishing/grazing etc)…. bring gifts continually” – Annie Spencer

A few words from her opening ceremony at Sacred Activism‘s Co-Creating the Emerging World: Heart, Soul, Faith and Unity

On my neighbour’s hand, which I gladly accept to use in formulating my theories and wanderings, this questionnaire’s information may help save places from mining, deforestation and other human interference (read destruction and ecocide).

honouring sacred place three generations of Mongush present. C. A-H

Victoria Peemot (click and you can hear the 52 min presentation), a Tyvan-Finn, completing her post-doc gave a story recently about her clan in Tyva collecting the stories of their place where an industry site is being planned. They are able to delay its arrival so far because of being able to prove that they had inhabited that region for ages: each tree, rock, outcrop, valley, hill, waterway has a place in their nomadism – in their livelihood.

For Tyvan people human-nonhuman kinship includes land, pastoralist communities and nonhuman animals; and they support each other to keep more-than-human memories and when facing the common threats to their relationship, for instance, mining projects. – Victoria Peemot

personal correspondence for permission to touch the story of her clan

My time in Tyva in June 94 – winter 95 brought this alive. Every boundary between khozuuns / counties/territories brought about gifts to the land before passing through. Every ova (cairn-like offering site) and sacred tree brought stories of the Master and Mistress Spirits of the place. Every song sung by a shaman brought forth places, nonhuman animals and human-like forth. The places remain current, alive, connected to ancestors and to the ones arriving. Well, that is subject for a another major wandering for another day.

Re-covering an old sacred site, Tyva. Big ceremony. Remains of our fire which burned all night- and we drummed and sang our algyshes from mid-day all night and til next morning. 1994

As long as a (sacred) place’s story is kept alive, we have connection to our roots, to the roots of the place, the people, the history. And it matters not if we are born there or move there. The land “will open up to us”, says Annie, if we are true to being present with Her.

Go out onto your land, in your local area. Find again, if lost or not, the sacred places just in your local area. Give gifts to trees, to the rivers, the swamps, the lakes, the grand-rocks and cliffs. Give small things – give beautiful words in song and speech, question the place about the stories held there. Listen to stories of the neighbours. And Pass them on. Keep them alive. Give gifts.

The questionnaire –

The questionnaire is run by an Estonian-Finnish research project. Available in English, Finnish and Estonian.

Osallistu tutkimukseen pyhien luonnonpaikkojen käytöstä ja merkityksestä! Tämän suomalais-virolaisena tutkimuksen tarkoituksena on tuoda myös arkeologien ja kulttuuriperinnön kanssa työskentelevien tietoon erilaiset pyhiin luonnonpaikkoihin liittyvät merkitykset ja tavat käyttää niitä.

Kyselyyn vastaamisessa kestää noin 15-30 minuuttia. Takaraja vastaamiselle on 22.12.2021. Viestiä saa mielellään välittää asiasta mahdollisesti kiinnostuneille.

Linkki kyselyyn: https://link.webropolsurveys.com/S/D475BC457F0BB5AF
Voit olla kyselyyn liittyen yhteydessä Tiina Äikkääseen (Arkeologia, Oulun yliopisto, tiina.aikas[at]oulu.fi)

Participate in research into the use and significance of sacred natural sites! The purpose of this Finnish-Estonian study is also to bring to the attention of archaeologists and those working with cultural heritage the different meanings associated with sacred natural sites and the ways in which they are used.

It takes about 15-30 minutes to complete the survey. The deadline for replying is December 22, 2021. You are welcome to forward this message to anyone who may be interested.

Link to the survey: & nbsp; https://link.webropolsurveys.com/S/D475BC457F0BB5
You can be in connection with the survey in connection with Tiina Äikkää (Archeology, University of Oulu), tiina.aikas [at] oulu.fi )

Preseli Mtns Blue Stone close up. C.A-H.


This means events and happenings over what we call Time which are in a fractal process of Creatrixion – of learning. And the “western” (read consumptionist) of any colour or religion or political stance has much to re-learn. Not impossible.

Indigenous: people of the Land they live on, that they maintained in community and communally. Many think this as only specific groups as being indigenous. EU states that Sámi are the only indigenous in EU. I think that there are more indigenous peoples within in the EU, however that is not the point of todays thoughts.

Indigenous People may be and are ones who stay on the land and waters of their birth. Indigenous People are seemingly the ones who have their lands cut-up, redrawn borders, resized to small patches of “reservations”, and moved because of imperialism, colonialism, capitalism, communism and rape-war-womb stealing. Shit! in the city could be called gang-wars? Block parties? No.

Or they may be physically displaced because of imperialism, colonialism, capitalism, rape-war-womb mongering, etc., yet despite this trauma, they come to a deep knowing of their new homeLAND.

Indigenous is Knowing the plants, the waters, the flow of where rains travel and how; what grows where and how much; who walks and swims and borrows where; where are the springs and how do they flow? Where are the berries, the mushrooms and in which seasons do they arrive and leave? The birds migration – knowing how and when and where. The revere of the wolf and bear or raven. Yet it is not a book-knowing!

Indigenous may mean that one who sits on the land – everyday. The one who speaks with elders, listens to their stories about what happened where and when and how and with whom (all Kin). Maybe the one who speaks with all the kin around them. Maybe one who walks or even rides their bike all over the land and observes, listens, questions not the books yet goes out and understands the inter-connectedness and how reliant each are to the other.

I participated in an online talk recently, given by Grandmother and Knowledge Keeper Sophia Rabliauskas as part of Indigenous Climate Action learning (see end of quote for a video). Several phrases – or rather sentences struck me. Forgive me for not being able to directly quote, but with essence:

Why do we have to validate our being here for 6 000 – 7 000 yrs to a white anthropologist? In order to have the lands we have lived on all that time to be accepted? All our stories tell us so that we have lived there!… who better to know how to care for our land? We managed all this time…

Grandmother and Knowledge Keeper Sophia Rabliauskas on her involvement in Pimachiowin Aki World Heritage Site https://pimaki.ca

Indigenous stories – learning the stories of the land. The land where you live. Right outside your door. Nature. Greenery or desert or mountain or waterways or valley; forest, field, swamps, oasis. Not the landscape of the city or village.

How are we to know what is best for a place except by listening to those who live alongside and with the land? Biodiversity and the well-being of ALL KIN in that area needs to be considered. Do the human-kin know how fragile this Kymi River region is, for example? From observing the way forest “management” in the region (all of Finland), this is highly unlikely. I was told when I enquired about the plans for forest management near me that old birches were going to be taken out. The first cuttings have appeared – and now we are left with mono-culture once more: only left standing in the forest are same-sized birches – ready for culling in twenty years. And so the old school cycle repeats.

The bracken (sananjalka- suom) now has more room for spreading, and it is spreading rapidly (what a mess we shall have in the next generation!). The ground is churned up by the forest machinery so that one cannot walk there without twisting an ankle or wrenching a back muscle. The Finnish Every (hu)man’s right- law is violated because no one can walk there any more to pick berries or mushrooms or take children out on the land to explore or just to be. And we, the indigenous people of this village are to be grateful that they did not take everything down!

Indigenous knowledge of how the land and river cooperate with all kin in the region is ignored for various reasons. The “I deserve” and “my right” and “gotta make a living” all reflect non-indigenous thinking. Long-term – many grandchildren time – generations is moving towards indigenous thought. Making plantings in a clear-cut area is not long-term because the biodiversity is lost. Period. I am not saying we should not plant trees! AND they intend to repeat the cycle of cutting it all down. All of this is agricultural society behaviour and we have to go behind that.

The plans for culling forest in this watershed area are vast. The watersheds those places that feed water (silt, bugs, animals, birds, fauna also) are being clearcut continually. Small and larger patches. One cannot sit in the forest and see old-growth without seeing clear-cutting, machine tracks, same age trees. Outside our backdoor is now under threat. The birds, four-legged, butterflies, bees and other pollinators all rely on the biodiversity of this river forest. I think that if the owners of these places actually came out for a day to sit on the land, to listen, smell, feel, observe they would change how they approached living with land and water (and air). Maybe I or we could convince them to take the long-view, to step outside the forever eating itself cannibalism (and still taking selfies), self-masturbation consumption-ism. Only satisfies for a moment (be that first-quarter, second-quarter, annual or 5 yr).

Thinking with this rattling ball-thing on our shoulders is not enough. Sitting in meditation is not enough. Counting the money in the bank is not anywhere near the point. Succumbing to political and industrial pressure is very old school and definitely not enough. Thinking with how to make share-holders more rich or keep the machines in business is not enough. We must all become indigenous once again and Know our land and re-member long-viewing.

Key Findings of Territories of Life: 2021 Report

  1. Indigenous peoples and local communities play an outsized role in the governance, conservation and sustainable use of the world’s biodiversity and nature. They actively protect and conserve an astounding diversity of globally relevant species, habitats and ecosystems, providing the basis for clean water and air, healthy food and livelihoods for people far beyond their boundaries.
  2. Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ extensive contributions to a healthy planet are rooted in their cultures and collective lands and territories – in essence, the deep relationships between their identities, governance systems and the other species and spiritual beings with whom they co-exist. Thus, they are also contributing significantly to the world’s cultural, linguistic and tangible and intangible heritage.
  3. The global spatial analysis shows that Indigenous peoples and local communities are the de factocustodians of many state and privately governed protected and conserved areas, and they are also conserving a significant proportion of lands and nature outside of such areas. However, the mainstream conservation sector has a historical and continuing legacy of contestation for Indigenous peoples and local communities, depending on the extent to which their rights, governance systems and ways of life are recognised and respected. This poses both a challenge and an opportunity for future directions of local-to-global conservation efforts.
  4. Indigenous peoples and local communities are on the frontlines of resisting the main industrial drivers of global biodiversity loss and climate breakdown, and they often face retribution and violence for doing so. Along with other challenges, these multiple stressors can have cumulative and compounded effects on Indigenous peoples and local communities, which in turn pose longer-term threats to their lives, cultures and resilience. However, they continue to resist and respond to these threats in diverse ways.
  5. Even in the face of immense threats, Indigenous peoples and local communities have extraordinary resilience and determination to maintain their dignity and the integrity of their territories and areas. They are adapting to rapidly changing contexts and using diverse strategies to secure their rights and collective lands and territories of life. Although not without setbacks, they have made key advances and continue to persist in pursuit of self-determination, self-governance, peace and sustainability. https://report.territoriesoflife.org/executive-summary/