Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Offerings at Scheduled Ancient Monuments

"Any place can be a sacred site if a group of people regard it as such. To be of more general significance, however, it also has to be given value by a wider community, and the greatest importance should be given to those valued by the nation. Thus, an ancient or historic monument becomes of general importance if it is scheduled as a site to be protected as part of the national heritage, especially if no established religious group is responsible for its upkeep. Where such places become vulnerable due to damage through overuse or misuse, then the role of a network concerned with the protection of sacred sites becomes especially relevant, and urgent. (Ronald Hutton 1997ce) "

ASLaN Sacred Site Charter
Please take care when visiting sacred sites to leave them as the next Visitor would like to find them. Respect the land and all its inhabitants -spirits, people, animals, plants and stones.

Digging holes for any purpose will damage plants and probably insects and archaeological remains. Damaging any aspect of nature will not please the Spirit of Place. Damaging archaeology may upset the official guardians or owners of the site and lead to it being closed to all.

Lighting fires can cause similar damage to digging. A fire can damage standing stones - if they get too hot, they split. Fires can spread quickly in summer, killing wildlife, and it can be very difficult to make sure a fire is truly out. Heat, candle wax and graffiti damage moss and lichens which can take decades to recover. The Spirits of Place are more likely to be displeased at fire damage than upset that you haven't lit one.

If an offering seems appropriate please think about all its effects. Don't leave artificial materials. Choose your offerings carefully so that they can't be mistaken for litter. Please don't bury things. Please don't leave biodegradable materials that may be offensive as they decay. If the site is already overloaded with offerings consider the effects of adding more.

Taking things from a site needs similar careful thought. Much of the vegetation around sacred sites is unusual or rare so don't pick flowers.

Don't take stones - they may be an important part of the site in ways which aren't obvious.
In times past it was traditional to leave no traces of any ritual because of persecution. This tradition is worth reviving because it shows reverence to nature and the Spirits of Place.

Don't change the site, let the site change you.


Whole books have been written around the word respect, it has moral, ethical and philosphical areas that cover respect for human and non-human forms of life. It is a way of percieving the relationship that exists between the beholder and the object that he or she sees. It can be subjective, but its truth should be objective. It can, and must, be applied to the relationships between people, to all forms of religion - whether we believe them or not is immaterial - and in the light of our understanding of the world around us, to all living entities, whatever form or shape they take.

Respect governs the decisions of society and how we treat each other, respect for nature is perhaps a minority view, respect for old cultures is still in the throes of being defined by what is now a modern secular society, the questions as to how we should view our past and its history, is more often than not left in the hands of a scientific handful of people such as archaeologists, who are trained in the art of excavation for instance, but who lack education in the moral and ethical rules of society as a whole, past and present.

"care respect, which is exemplified in an environmentalist's deep respect for nature. Care respect involves regarding the object as having profound and perhaps unique value and so cherishing it, and perceiving it as fragile or calling for special care and so acting or forbearing to act out of felt benevolent concern for it. This analysis of respect draws explicitly from a feminist ethics of care and has been influential in feminist and non-feminist discussions of respecting persons as unique....."

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