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
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).
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.
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.
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.