ETIQUETTE for sacred sites
by Eva Willmann de Donlea and Uqualla James, Havasupai Ceremonial Caretaker
How to enter sacred sites – addendum to our article on Sacred Sites
If you are drawn to a specific site, to a specific frequency, follow your heart.
Make sure you have permission from the cultural care takes to travel to the site.
- Physically – make sure you have water, hat, good walking boots, are dressed appropriately to the conditions of the land and the climate;
- Take a guide, particularly if the terrain is unfamiliar or difficult. Perhaps take someone you want to share the experience with so you can compare notes afterwards.
- Understand the cultural significance of the site. In most cases, the sites are sacred to the resident cultures. Unless express permission is given in such cases, do not proceed.
- Meditate and connect with the site.
The approach to a sacred site is a meditative one, one in which you prepare yourself.
- Ask yourself why you are going.
- Infuse every step you take with your awareness that Spirit will be speaking to you. What do you want to ask Spirit about?
- Get into your body, be present, and be mindful.
- Be present. During this physical passage to reach the site, everything around you is significant.
- Your life is presented to you through sight, sound, and smell -, through all your senses. All that is happening are reflections on your path.
- Take the metaphor of the walking: is it easy to get there? How do you walk (sure, chaotic, tentative), what are you aware? It gives you time to understand your relationship with Spirit as it unfolds in physicality of your walking.
- Remember, often the most important part of the ceremonial unfolding for holy site visitation is not when you arrive, but what comes before.
In all Spiritual teachings it is the journey, which gives you the blueprint for what you must do once you reach the site.
At the entrance
- Don’t rush in. Stop!
- Ask for permission to enter.
- Express your sacred oratory, gestures, rituals, and requests in your asking.
If you are not allowed to enter
“You know that with your body, you get a sense that there is closure. It can be a physical sensation, such as nausea, trembling, it can express itself as fear, a foreboding, and it does not feel good in your guts. By listening to the sensations of your body, those are the signs that it’s enough now and it’s time to go.
Should you disregard the warnings, and you walk in, it’s not that you are going to get hit by lightening.
But you will have that feeling with you for a long time that you have trespassed, or overstayed your welcome. If it does not go away, then you realize you are not to go through with it, at least not on that day.
Equally, when you feel that Spirit says, no further, that you are only allowing so far, don’t go further than that. And do listen to that. Don’t push it”.
There is always another time.
Then when you are in the sacred site, be sure that you are aware of the reflections that nature and Spirit give to you, because they are significant to you.
Give gifts when you are there, as exchange, in gratitude, and in reciprocity with Spirit and the ancestors.
Use your time there to converse with Spirit, and once you completed your ceremony, sit quietly and listen.
Be unobtrusive. You leave the area just as you found it. “Don’t create grand structures, writing, or add things there that weren’t there before“.
And don’t stay long – that is, don’t overstay your welcome. You will sense when it is time to go.
“As you are leaving, again you are thanking Spirit.
Do a little ritual as you go out…as you would with any of your relations. When you are ready to leave, they get up with you, you give them a well wishing, thank them, and give them a blessing.
It is the same with Spirit. The best way to honor Spirit is to see Spirit as a living, breathing relation, a loving friend of yours.
Behave how you would treat them, this is exactly how you would treat access into Spirit’s sanctuaries and how you the exchange with Spirit“.
With love, respect and gratitude. And perhaps some humour.
Travel well. Be amazed.
History of the area around the sacred site
(Addendum to our article on Sacred Sites)
The red rocks are imprinted with thousands of years of indigenous occupation. People were drawn to the area as far back as 11,500 BC. The history of the ancestors is woven with a rich tapestry of human ingenuity that made this water-scarce region their home, testimony to resilience and resourcefulness required to survive in the face of such a dry, harsh country.
The first arrivals were the Paleo-Indian big hunters, known as the Anasazi. They left their petroglyphs on the canyon walls, with which they were honoring their prey. Once they moved on, the hunter-gatherers followed around 9,000 BC and roamed the area until 300 AD.
The Sinaguans (‘sin’ without, ‘agua’ water) were the first farmers, settling in in Central Arizona around 600 AD. They were the first people to create year-round dwellings, living in related family clans in stone pueblos, tucked away in deeply camouflaged canyon alcoves.
Today, some of the most famous ruins of their ancient settlements are Montezuma Well, Honanki, Palatki, and Tuzigoot.
Sinaguans made use of pottery for cooking and storage. When they abandoned their pueblos and cliff dwellings abruptly in 1,400 AD, they had left their lasting imprints through rock art and coloured potsherds in many sites around Sedona and Verde Valley. It is not known why they left. Many historians surmise that detrimental environmental forces such as successive droughts drove them to leave their settlements.