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Spiritual landscapes in the 21st century: the geography of Power mountains and healing waters of the southern Appalachian region

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Amanda J. Todd (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Advisor
Susan Walcott

Abstract: This research focuses on the non-secular uses and perceptions of selected topographically prominent natural landscape features in the Southern Appalachian Region. The research assesses if people continue to use natural landscapes for non-secular activities in the 21st century and also explores place perception. Cultural groups throughout the world consider particular mountains and water features as sacred or culturally meaningful, as evidenced in creation myths, folklore, and/or use as ceremonial grounds. Mountains are often associated as powerful spots providing inspiration; water features are often known for their healing abilities. This research compiles local folklore and historical documents about uses of five different landscape features within the region. These sites are assessed if they can be classified as spiritual landscapes based upon non-secular use, experiences, and perceptions of people at the sites today. This research aims to better understand the idea of a spiritual landscape which is defined by the experiences of the numinous, cosmic, and aesthetic dimensions. This knowledge also helps in furthering the study of topophilia. Multiple sources and methods were used in this research, and included archival research, in-depth unstructured interviews of knowledgeable experts and structured questionnaires of visitors to the target locations, as well as observation of and participation in non-secular events at each site. Today individuals and groups choose to use these locations for non-secular activities such as weddings, memorial services, private meditation areas, and spiritual group events which is researched for understanding the cosmic dimension of a spiritual landscape. Many people visit these sites for personal experiences they have had or hope to have while there and thus perceive these sites as somehow special and/or different from places in their everyday lives.

Additional Information

Publication
Dissertation
Language: English
Date: 2010
Keywords
Appalachia, Cultural Landscapes, Mountain Geography, Non-Secular, Sacred Places, Topophilia
Subjects
Mountains $z United States.
Psychological aspects.
Spiritual life.
Sacred space $z United States.
Water $x Religious aspects.
Appalachian Region, Southern.
Geographic perception.