When we think of natural sacred sites, images of monoliths and ruins in pastoral settings come to mind. We think of pilgrimages, fortitude, peace, and power. Most often we trace sacred sites through the history of our indigenous people.
Despite that the Piedmont area hosted Siouan, Iroquoian, and Algonquian tribes, their individual spiritual significances are lumped into a regional swath as wide as the entire east coast.
Certainly across the state, we know of such sacred locations as Kituwah (Cherokee spiritual home), Pilot Mountain (a convergence of several ley lines), and the Town Creek Mound (Mississippian tribal township).
Because we don’t have specific record of places sacred to those who lived in the Triangle Area first, we look to significant geological landmarks to tell that spiritual story.
The Devil’s Tramping Ground just outside the Triangle, by modern seekers is considered a vortex and is a favored site for Nature rituals now, despite not overcoming its old press.
Fuquay-Varina and the surrounding Holly Springs area host mineral springs (hence the names) that received much attention from wealthy spa-goers in the late 1800s. While we don’t have record of the Sissipahaw or Tuscarora honoring the waters, it’s pretty likely that in the several hundred years they occupied the area, the mineral springs were a vital focus to their culture.
Hemlock Bluffs (and the quartz fault line running alongside it) is remarkably the quietest place in Cary, a most unusual find in the busy supersuburbia. Consequently, this fault line has been credited with Cary’s higher than average incidence of lightning strikes, so I’m told.
Just south of Siler City, down Mt. Vernon Springs Road two natural springs verge in a basin. One is named “Health” and the other “Beauty.” Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, these springs were a focal point for Native tribes in the region, and were was also a haven for health tourists in the early 1800s.
Since my years at NCSU, I’ve found wisdom in rituals with the old oaks at Pullen Park.
Many other natural places carry significance to people in the area.
Some feel a draw to the land at the old Dorthea Dix Hospital.
Others find inspiration at the Rolesville Pluton, also called the Rolesville Granitic Batholith.
Many find the Eno River area to be sacred.
There have been giant runes made of logs built aside the trails at Lake Johnson, so clearly someone felt the forest there filled with spiritual energy.
In reality, sacred sites aren’t where our ancestors tell us they are. Certainly their insights into the spirituality of Nature can carryover into our busy lives. Rather, sacred space is all around us, wherever we intend to be fully present, aware, connected.