Book review by Robert Scheer
I have been researching sacred places and power sites for more than ten years, and in that time I have not met nor even heard of anyone more knowledgeable or more experienced in this field than Martin Gray. Martin is a National Geographic photographer as well as an anthropologist, and in my opinion there is no more qualified expert to write about “places of peace and power” than Martin. What makes him unique is that he has been there — which means just about everywhere!
For the past 25 years, Martin has been making pilgrimages to and experiencing the power of sacred sites — more than 1,000 sacred places in 80 different countries.
Several years ago, Martin published a short booklet “Places of Peace & Power: Teachings from a Pilgrim’s Journey.” It recounted the story of how he became fascinated by sacred places and how they gave direction to his life. It also discussed the different kinds of sacred places and analyzed their mysterious powers. To call his latest book, “Sacred Earth,” an expansion is an understatement. It not only is lavishly illustrated with hundreds of Martin’s stunning photographs, but it also details the spirit and significance of hundreds of pilgrimage destinations, holy places and power sites in Europe, the Middle East, North America, Asia, the Pacific, South America and Central America. “These holy places have the power to heal the body, enlighten the mind, and awaken the soul,” Martin says.
Martin Gray begins with his own personal story of how sacred places played an important part in shaping his destiny. He ultimately went on a lengthy bicycle journey across Europe, where he experienced and photographed an astonishing number and variety of sacred sites — from traditional pilgrimage destinations such as Santiago de Compostela in Spain to ancient stone circles on windswept islands of Scotland.
Martin not only provides fresh insights into such well-known places as Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, the pyramids of Egypt, Ulury (Ayer’s Rock) in Australia and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, but he also gives the reader a rare look at relatively obscure sites in Iran, Lithuania, Denmark, Myanmar and Sudan.
There are detailed maps showing the relative location of hundreds of the major holy places, and in an appendix are abbreviated descriptions of more than five hundred additional sites.
This remarkable book not only reflects the profound love and respect Martin Gray has for the planet, but it also helps explain why it is that these places posses such power and how their energy can have a positive effect on the people who visit them.
There are dozens and dozens of books about sacred places in my collection, but if I were only allowed to have one, this would be it. It is the definitive work in the field.
A special, autographed copy of the book, that comes with an accompanying DVD is available at Martin’s website, Places of Peace and Power.
Sacred Earth: Places of Peace and Power
by Martin Gray
2007 Sterling Publishing
275 pages, Large format, Hardcover, $35.00