Sacred Forests, Sacred Sites &

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Presentation at the Wageningen Forestry Students\' Association, 29 March 2006

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Sacred Forests, Sacred Sites &

  1. 1. Sacred Forests, Sacred Sites Cathrien de Pater 1 WSBV Sylvatica, Wageningen, 29 March 2006 1 M.Sc. Forestry Wageningen University Student M.A. Spirituality, Radboud University Nijmegen Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (Ede)
  2. 2. Contents <ul><li>What & why ‘Sacred’? </li></ul><ul><li>Where? (India, Nepal, Netherlands) </li></ul><ul><li>Management of Sacred Sites </li></ul>
  3. 3. What & Why? <ul><li>What is a site/place? </li></ul><ul><li>What is ‘sacred’? </li></ul><ul><li>Why do people visit sacred sites/forests? </li></ul>
  4. 4. What places? <ul><li>Forests, parks, trees </li></ul><ul><li>Rocks, hills, mountains </li></ul><ul><li>Water: rivers, lakes, sea, islands </li></ul><ul><li>Lines! Songlines! </li></ul><ul><li>Graveyards, tombs </li></ul><ul><li>Shrines, temples, mosques, churches </li></ul><ul><li>Cities! </li></ul><ul><li>Remote / isolated <–----------  Close by / backyard </li></ul>
  5. 5. Why sacred? <ul><li>Social functions, justice </li></ul><ul><li>Dwellings of gods, demons, ancestors </li></ul><ul><li>Locus of myths </li></ul>
  6. 6. With what purpose? <ul><li>Place of quiet, retirement, study, ascetism </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(Aranyaka) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Place of inspiration, aesthetic enjoyment </li></ul><ul><li>Place of spiritual experience & practice </li></ul>
  7. 7. Spiritual Experiences <ul><li>Purification </li></ul><ul><li>Healing </li></ul><ul><li>Contact with the ‘other world’ </li></ul><ul><li>Balance, comfort, atonement </li></ul><ul><li>Individual experiences </li></ul><ul><li>In a group (social) </li></ul><ul><li>Individual experiences </li></ul><ul><li>In a group (social) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Spiritual experiences <ul><li>Purification </li></ul>
  9. 9. Spiritual practice <ul><li>Healing </li></ul>
  10. 10. How do people experience? <ul><li>Rituals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>daily, seasonally, yearly </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Rites of passage: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>birth, wedding, funeral </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Pilgrimage </li></ul>
  11. 11. India: Maharasa
  12. 12. Insights: Brhad-Aranyaka-Upanishad III-9:28 <ul><li>As a mighty tree in the forest, </li></ul><ul><li>so in truth is man, </li></ul><ul><li>his hairs are the leaves, </li></ul><ul><li>his outer skin is the bark. </li></ul><ul><li>'From his skin flows forth blood, </li></ul><ul><li>sap from the bark; </li></ul><ul><li>and thus from the wounded man comes forth blood, </li></ul><ul><li>as from a tree that is struck. </li></ul><ul><li>'The lumps of his flesh are the splinters of wood, </li></ul><ul><li>the fibre is strong like the tendons  </li></ul><ul><li>The bones are the hardwood within, </li></ul><ul><li>the marrow is made like the marrow of the tree. </li></ul>'But, while the tree, when felled, grows up again more young from the root, from what root does a mortal grow up, after he has been felled by death? 'Do not say, &quot;from seed,&quot; for seed is produced from the living; but a tree, springing from a grain, clearly rises again after death. 'If a tree is pulled up with the root, it will not grow again; from what root then, does a mortal grow up, after he has been felled by death? ‘ Once born, he is not born (again); for who should create him again?'
  13. 13. Insights Jan van Ruusbroeck in the Zonien Forest near Brussels
  14. 14. India <ul><li>Banyatra: journey to the 12 forests in Brindaban </li></ul>based on Krshna and the Gopis (cowgirls) mythology
  15. 15. Are Sacred places good for biodiversity? <ul><li>yes and no! </li></ul>yes: access limited or denied remote places no: parts are (over) used pilgrimage -> high pressure deprivation & social erosion
  16. 16. Management of Sacred Sites 1 <ul><li>Sacred Groves in Morocco </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(Culmsee, 2006): </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ This outstanding floristic diversity is related to a relatively constant and moderate level of human impact” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Management of Sacred Sites 2 <ul><li>Nepal, Andrew W. Ingles (1997): </li></ul><ul><li>“ Religious forests are not sacrosanct” </li></ul>
  18. 18. Management of Sacred Sites 3 <ul><li>Canada: National Aboriginal Forest Association (NAFA): Aboriginal Criterion with Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management (March 2005) </li></ul>
  19. 19. Canada 2: Lewis (2005) Cheam First Nation, B.C.: respectful land USE (not static total preservation)!
  20. 20. Canada: RPF discussion 1 <ul><li>Spiritual Forest Values: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>are intangible & difficult to measure </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>are subjective & assiciated with a moment’s (‘peak’) experience </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>evolve over time </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>influenced by setting & location and by different religions & perceptions! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>change with structure of stands </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>change as we observe them </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>canbe created by ceremony / ritual </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>are created by history </li></ul></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Canada: RPF discussion 2 <ul><li>Management issues concerning SV: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How can SV be managed without piecemeal approach? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>resistance from forest workers? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>role of foresters as advocates of SV? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>who identifies SV? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How to measure & quantify SV? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How to manage today’s SV without compromising future generation’s SV? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How to reconcile individual ‘mystique’ of SV with standardised measurement? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How to reconcile individual SV with job requirements? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Who to make decisions? Community, global citizen? </li></ul></ul></ul>

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