Where does mankind seek his connection to the divine? Since the Christianization of Europe, people have looked to scripture, to orature in churches to find clues to the spirit. Like a roadmap the Bible served to navigate treacherous waters of a world full of temptation. Our grandparents and great- grandparents attended church and revered the word of Christ so they could have some hope of an afterlife. They contemplated the meanings and foraged their way through, often with very modest financial means. The church was their tie to community and spirit. Today, it is often thought that humans seek the spirit less, and find themselves in the material more. They concentrate on career, on money. They seek fame and recognition. They want romantic relationships, or at least a “good time”. Where does the spirit fit into all of this?
The East seems to offer some hint. Yoga and meditation are all the rage. They help to strengthen the body, the mind and the spirit. With a refreshed mind and a sense of an inner world, one is able to go through life more rooted and balanced. Yoga is a part of Hinduism, and some folks who get into it a the fitness studio also turn to hinduism’s many gods. They recite mantras, they pray and they learn.
Some people in the west also look to Buddhism. A belief in reincarnation, teachings of non-cruelty and simple living offer solace in the fast-paced, high-pressure modern world.
Others convert to Islam, Judaism or find devout Catholicism. The piety and religiousness of these respective faiths are welcomed by those hungry for respite from the materialistic, plastic day and age.
But is there something else?
In the wooded landscapes, the epic mountain lines, the seas, flowing rivers and rocky shores, the lakes and the brooks, the forests full of young birches, the stately old oak trees whisper of days long past. Our ancestors lived with nature long before the name of Christ was heard in Europe. Our forefathers and foremothers cooperated with nature to build their lives. They literally left their mark in caves, thousands of years ago. They had time to venerate nature, painting images of deer and elk. The ancient Europeans were in harmony with the stars, knew what the tides of the seas could tell them. They found food aplenty, and later began to cultivate and hunt for nourishment. Through these various phases, the natural elements and forces were very really, and were personified as gods who interacted with our ancestors in a way that was very, very real. This was not the belief that we hold today: it was a conviction honed from experience.
The energy the ancestors drew from nature, they also gave in return. Like breathing, there was a balance of give and take that we today can barely grasp. This had to do with survival, but it went further than that. Our forefathers and foremothers thrived in landscapes we would deem harsh. They celebrated the changing of the seasons, and they worked with the natural forces. Their rituals enhanced the energy of certain areas to create places that sensitive people even today can feel the reverberations of. The lasting legacy of our pagan ancestors survives in places of power called “Kraftorte” in German. This literally translates to “Strength Place”, or “Power Place”. These are sacred places where a heightened sense of psychic ability may be felt, or an increased awareness, or an enhanced sense of well-being. Where these places have been desecrated however, they leave behind a feeling most unpleasant, unsettling and perhaps even truly frightening….