Summer is here, and you want to do something a little different for your two-week vacation, or for a long weekend. You’d prefer to go somewhere like the pyramids in Egypt, or Stonehenge in England, or Machu Picchu in Peru and connect with the ancient spiritual energies, but . . . well, that’s just not going to happen this year. Never fear, you can visit sacred sites right here in the U.S., and you can probably find ones right near where you live.
We don’t often think about the places in the U.S. that are considered sacred, yet there are many. But first, what is a sacred site? Some are places that are held holy by certain religions or cultural traditions; some are geological features like mountains, waterfalls, or caves; some have man-made structures on them. What all of these sacred sites have in common is an energy field that surrounds and saturates them. The invisible field of energy at certain places can have the ability to heal the body and awaken the soul. When a pilgrim enters that place of power and connects to it through meditation, prayer, or ritual, he or she can link up with the power of the place. As a spiritual teacher and a seeker, I’ve often connected to Source at sacred sites.
So where in the U.S. might you go?
If you live in or near the Ohio River Valley, for example, you are in the heart of the great ceremonial mound-building culture that developed along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Over 10,000 mounds and earthworks once flourished in the area, built by ancestors of today’s American Indians. Many of these earthen hills are filled with burials and funerary objects, while other mounds were used mostly for ceremony. Of the many that once existed, 1,000 mounds are still visible. Others have been destroyed in the name of progress. You know, the “take Paradise, put up a parking lot” mentality. If you play golf at the Moundbuilders Country Club, for example, you could be teeing off on top of the Octagon Mound. But there are still fragments you can see of the Wright Earthworks or the Newark Earthworks. You can also visit the quarter-mile Great Serpent Mound (pictured) near Dayton, Ohio, the largest effigy mound in the U.S., which represents an underworld spirit being. The serpent’s head aligns to sunset on the day of the summer solstice.
In Illinois, the Cahokia Mounds are part of an ancient civilization of Mississippian peoples that was once one of the greatest cities in the world. Part of the complex, called the Monk’s Mound, is the largest manmade earthen mound in the Americas, with a base larger than the Great Pyramid at Giza.
Many of the places that are still sacred to the Native peoples are in the West, such as Crater Lake, Oregon, sacred to the Klamath people whose ancestors witnessed the eruption that formed the lake; Blue Lake, NM, sacred to the Taos Pueblo; The Black Hills of South Dakota, especially Bear Butte, sacred to the Lakota Cheyenne and Kiowa (the Lakota called it the “Heart of All Things,” and an astronaut on the space shuttle who photographed it from orbit said the outline of the mountains looks like a human heart); for the Snoqualmie people, the massive Snoqualmie Falls waterfall is their spiritual focal point, with the mists from the base believed to connect heaven and earth.
If you can’t get out of the city, visit any of the magnificent cathedrals and temples that you may have passed a thousand times without entering—such as Trinity Church in Boston; the Baltimore Basilica; St Patrick’s, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (the largest cathedral in the world), or Saint Thomas Church in New York—and spend some time meditating there.
From Mount Denali in Alaska to the Bighorn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, from the Great Mother Mound in Mississippi to the Pipestone National Monument in Minnesota, from Mt. Kilauea in Maui (the home of the volcano goddess Pele) to the Badlands of South Dakota, there are incredible places to visit that don’t need a passport to get to. All across the U.S., there are thousands of sites sacred to the indigenous tribes and nations of this country, each with their own mythology and imbued spirituality. So whether you are aware of it or not, you could be living and working on or walking or driving over sacred land.
Do some research in your local area to discover what once existed there, or what may possibly still be available as a sacred site you can visit. Go online to one of the lists of U.S. sacred sites to see some of the places available in your state. Or come to an energy healing or life coaching course (/events-workshops//) and learn to connect to the sacred site of your own heart.
Sacred sites are everywhere!