Guidelines for Visiting Sacred Sites

  • Get permission from the proper people before visiting a sacred place. This might be a caretaker, holy person, elder, or the governing agency affiliated with the site. Be aware that even after attaining permission from a governing agency you may be offending indigenous people who may not have jurisdiction over their own sacred sites.
  • Learn about and respect traditions associated with a sacred site. For example, there may be special attire required; sometimes only holy people are allowed in certain areas; for example, women may not be allowed in certain area or at certain times.
  • Do not assume that it is acceptable to perform personal rituals at a sacred site. Most sites have holy people who are specially trained to perform sacred rituals associated with the site.
  • Ask about participating in rituals being performed at a sacred site. Sometimes outsiders may not have the proper instruction or preparation required for participation.
  • Do not assume that it is always correct to leave offerings. It may be welcomed but first ask about what is customary. Sometimes offerings need to be blessed or cleansed before they are left at a site.
  • Always ask permission before taking photographs. Photography may be forbidden at many sacred sites or at sites where sacred rituals are being performed.
  • Keep to marked paths at sacred sites especially at ancient shrines and temples which are often very fragile.
  • Never alter, move, or remove anything from any sacred site, including natural sites like mountains, rivers, springs, or trees.

Developed by Sacred Sites International, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of sacred sites, their associated cultures, and surrounding environments.

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