In recent decades, the influence of organized religion has declined throughout the world, while spiritualism is on the rise. Many of us today feel as though connecting with the divine ought to be a personal, subjective experience. In any case, while the countless religious pilgrimage sites throughout the world are for the most part widely known, spiritual sites tend to be less renowned, though are often equally powerful and moving places.
Though most of these locations don’t exactly lend themselves to the type of luxury and comfort most imagine when they think holiday, these seven places provide a break from the workaday money-driven world, and are sure to connect those with open minds to the powerful unity underlying existence, which we all share in, though many never get the opportunity to experience it firsthand.
Sedona, Arizona, USA
This stunning desert landscape has had deep spiritual significance since early Native American tribes inhabited the region hundreds of years ago. With its powerful red rock outcroppings, mysterious vortex energy whirlwinds, and status as a center for alternative healing therapies including Reiki balancing, shamanistic healing, and sound healing, visitors are sure to encounter a unique spiritual environment in the deserts of Sedona.
Machu Picchu, Peru
High in the Peruvian mountains, Machu Picchu is a world famous spiritual site with a spiritual history dating back thousands of years. The Incas, whose religion was intimately linked to astrology, built this high-altitude city to align with key astrological events. By doing so, they imbued the site with powerful energies and a breathtaking sublimity that can still be felt today.
Giza Plateau, Egypt
One of the most recognizable architectural wonders in the world today, the Pyramids at Giza are as mysterious as they are profoundly spiritual. Though some believe they were constructed as massive funeral monuments for deceased pharaohs, we still know little about them and almost nothing for certain. What is obvious, however, is their status a link to the otherworldly. Reaching mountainously up to the heavens, they fall into exact alignment with Orionís Belt. Whether a spiritualist or not, the sheer size and engineering complexity of these structures will inevitably be a deeply moving experience for anyone who visits.
Vipassana retreats can be done throughout the world, and are typically 10-day (though some can last much longer) intensive meditation programs dedicated to seeing things as they truly are. These retreats are intensely personal, difficult, and often life-changing experiences. Participants are housed in austere chambers, kept on a strict vegan diet, and forbidden to talk, write, exercise, or make eye contact during the entire retreat. While certainly not for the casual vacationer, Vipassana is often called a life-altering, clarifying journey of self-exploration by those who commit to it.
Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India
As the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment, the Bodhi Tree is a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists and Hindus from around the world. Of course, it also holds deep significance for people with a broad range of spiritual beliefs, and the place is believed by many to be home to powerful karmic energies.
Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India
Auroville is certainly not a tourist attraction, and can even seem somewhat unwelcoming for those who just arrive. If you come here, be ready to volunteer, work, learn, and participate in the one-of-a-kind community. Founded by and named for Sri Aurobindo, Auroville is a unique community dedicated to promoting human unity, and is legally recognized as belonging to all humanity. Spending time here can be an eye-opening, educational, and inspiring spiritual experience; and those who visit often return.
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Known for its Voodoo culture, the Big Easy is a city rich with tarot card readers, psychics, mediums, and fortunetellers. If you are interested in the occult, magical arts of the spiritual realm, New Orleans is well worth a visit.
It is important to remember that, while most of these locations may not have ties to formalized religion, they all have deep significance for countless people throughout the world. As such, they demand a high level of respect from visitors, and should not be visited with touristic intent. Instead, visitors should approach these places with open minds and an eagerness not only to observe, but also to engage with, absorb, and learn from their often-inexplicable power.
This article comes from Sophie, who blogs for the lifestyle and horoscopes section of The Mirror.