Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Sense of a Place

My sister is going on a road trip and along that journey, she and her husband are taking the time to visit Little Big Horn. I am so jealous.

Little Big Horn resonates with me for three particular reasons: 1) I am deeply interested in Native American history and have read and watched almost everything I can find about this particular battle; 2) I have also read extensively about Custer; 3) the place is reportedly one of the most haunted battlefields in the U.S.

I am drawn to Little Big Horn, but there is a teeny, tiny little part of me that is also terrified at the idea of going there. So I told my sister, "Take pictures." I want to see what turns up.

While I was lying in the bed in the dark, thinking about my request to my traveling sibling, I began to wonder about particular places in this world. Are there sites that have become so infused with a battle or a tragedy or a disaster of some kind that they are forever changed? I believe there are sacred places on this planet. I have been to areas where the atmosphere is so energizing or so warm and friendly or so very, very peaceful, that the sense of that permeated me to the bone. So  much so that I don't even need to see pictures, I can go there in my head and relive that wonderful burst of feeling that I experienced when I was there in person.

So if that can happen, can the negative stuff hang around an area just as strongly? Interestingly enough, the places I found to be sacred were pretty much untouched by people: they were out in open areas and fairly wild, some of them. But the negative places I have been have all been stamped by man's indelible hand, whether through war or other violence. Sometimes through a tragedy. 

A friend of mine from college went to Europe and during the course of his trip, visited Auschwitz. He told me that even though he went on a beautiful summer day, with the sun shining and no clouds in the sky, that the site of the concentration camp was so eerie it was almost unbearable. He said that once inside the actual camp, there were absolutely no insects. There were no little animals of any kind. He said it was like the entire area was devoid of life. 

Some years ago, I was able to get to the site of 9/11. I can't even begin to explain how heavy it feels there. That is the only word I can use for it: heavy.

I think sometimes if these places had voices, if they had the language, they would tell us stories filled with terror, with anguish, with suffering and tears. Maybe it's a good thing that places can't actually cry aloud with what they have witnessed. I don't know if humanity could bear the sound.

As it is, those of us who are sensitive definitely pick up on the energies of places, whether serene and tranquil, or disturbing and sad. We may not get all of the story these places could tell, but we never walk away without something of their history.  I wonder what my sister will take away from her visit to Little Big Horn. I can't wait until she gets back.


  1. Many years ago I visited the Shiloh National Military Park where a 2-day battle took place in April of 1862 during the Civil War. I am a Civil War buff and have visited many battlefields, but none affected me like Shiloh. Walking over the fields and through the forests where the battle took place was like walking through a world of ghosts. It was very eerie. I could sense the spirits of the men who fought there, as if they were alive and moving around me. I felt as if I could hear the dip of the oars in the river by the landing where so many troops came ashore. It's hard to explain what I felt there that day, but in recounting my experience to other Civil War buffs who'd been to Shiloh, I discovered that two others had had the same experience as I did when they visited the site. Like I, they said this had never happened to them at other Civil War battlefields. To me, Shiloh is a very special place where the horror of that war is indelibly printed in the land.

  2. Mary, I had no idea! We'll have to talk about that the next time we see each other!