Claiming Sacred Ground: Pilgrims and Politics at Glastonbury and Sedona

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Claiming Sacred Ground
Pilgrims and Politics at Glastonbury and Sedona

Adrian J. Ivakhiv

A study of people and politics at two New Age spiritual sites.

In this richly textured account, Adrian Ivakhiv focuses on the activities of pilgrim-migrants to Glastonbury, England and Sedona, Arizona. He discusses their efforts to encounter and experience the spirit or energy of the land and to mark out its significance by investing it with sacred meanings. Their endeavors are presented against a broad canvas of cultural and environmental struggles associated with the incorporation of such geographically marginal places into an expanding global cultural economy.

Ivakhiv sees these contested and "heterotopic" landscapes as the nexus of a complex web of interestes and longings: from millennial anxieties and nostalgic re-imaginings of history and prehistory; to real-estate power grabs; contending religious visions; and the free play of ideas from science, pseudo-science, and popular culture. Looming over all this is the nonhuman life of these landscapes, an"otherness" that alternately reveals and conceals itself behind a pagenant of beliefs, images, and place-myths.

A significant contribution to scholarship on alternative spirituality, sacred space, and the politics of natural landscapes, Claiming Sacred Ground will interest scholars and students of environmental and cultural studies, and the sociology of religious movements and pilgrimage. Non-specialist readers will be stimulated by the cultural, ecological, and spiritual dimensions of extraordinary natural landscapes.

Adrian Ivakhiv teaches in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto, and is President of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada.

April 2001
384 pages, 24 b&w photos, 2 figs., 9 maps, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4, index, append.
cloth 0-253-33899-9 $37.40 s / £28.50


1 Power and Desire in Earth’s
Tangled Web
2 Reimagining Earth
3 Orchestrating Sacred Space

II Glastonbury
4 Stage, Props, and Players of Avalon
5 Many Glastonburys: Place-Myths
and Contested Spaces

6 Red Rocks to Real Estate
7 New Agers, Vortexes, and the
Sacred Landscape

8 Practices of Place: Nature and
Heterotopia Beyond the New Age

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews


"... Ivakhiv packed his 'sociology of religion' template with him on his journey and the results are fascinating.... Superb analysis." —Choice, March 2002

Choice - F. M. Szasz

The Scots have a phrase to describe those swept up by transcendental themes: they are off with the faeries. But Ivakhiv (Univ. of Wisconsin—Oshkosh) packed his sociology of religion template with him on his journey and the results are fascinating. Focusing on Glastonbury, England, and Sedona, Arizona—two internationally famous New Age power places—he analyzes the myth/history and contemporary politics at each locale. Glastonbury is noted as the burial spot of King Arthur, the locus of the Holy Grail, and the site of a terraced Tor that reflects Earth Energy. Local farmers, long—term Avalonians, and a new, rag—tag band of itinerant seekers jostle one another for social control. In Sedona, Hollywood filmmakers, retirees, and upscale realtors mingle with spiritual pilgrims amidst towering red rocks. In somewhat dense yet sympathetic prose, the author suggests that many visitors to these sacred sites may encounter the nonhuman Other, but that the message received is always personal and cloaked with puzzle and mystery. Increasing interest in these sites reflects an alternative rationalism that Ivakhiv believes sets forth a serious challenge to modern technological society and the reign of global capitalism. Superb analysis. General readers; lower—division undergraduates through faculty and researchers.F. M. Szasz, University of New Mexico, Choice, March 2002

From the Publisher

"The case studies of Glastonbury and Sedona are fascinating reading. Further, Adrian Ivakhiv convinces us that what matters about sacred sites is not what makes them sacred but how multiple actors, at least one of which is non-human, struggle, negotiate, and ultimately orchestrate what can and cannot happen there." —Jennifer Daryl Slack

Indiana University Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253338990
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Adrian Ivakhiv teaches in the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

One. Power and Desire in Earth's Tangled Web
Two. Reimagining Earth
Three. Orchestrating Sacred Space

Four. Stage, Props, and Players of Avalon
Five. Many Glastonburys: Place-Myths and Contested Spaces

Six. Red Rocks to Real Estate
Seven. Vortexes and Crossed Currents: Sedona’s Multichannel Wilderness

Eight. Practices of Place: Nature, Heterotopia, and the Postmodern Sacred


Indiana University Press

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