Accepted Paper:

Surveying the shrine of the healing stones: spiritual readings on the megalithic landscape of Carnac, France  


Yael Dansac (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales)

Paper short abstract:

This paper on Western esoteric practices in France explores how a group of individuals with different religious beliefs understand Carnac as a sacred landscape. Attention will be paid to the rituals they execute to unleash the healing energy, both telluric and cosmic, located under local megaliths.

Paper long abstract:

In recent decades, the multicultural, multiracial and multireligious dimensions of contemporary France have been the background for the awakening of different spiritual practices, some of them notably related to the New Age wave originating in the United States in the 60s. Among these practices, the one related to the energy healings surrounding French megaliths has drawn our attention. In order to explore this religious phenomenon, we have commenced doctoral research on the subject.

This paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork among the members of a multireligious group founded in 2008, who hold monthly meetings in Carnac in order to apply the spiritual knowledge of the ancient civilisation that built the local megalithic landscape. Through the analysis of their eclectic energy rituals, I will show that people of different spiritual traditions use archaeological sites as 'power places' in order to develop their spiritual welfare.

Brittany, the region where Carnac is settled, has a strong Celtic heritage and maintains a fierce local identity. For centuries, the population of this rural territory has reproduced oral traditions portraying the megaliths as healing stones capable of curing various diseases such as infertility, fever, meningitis and deafness. Through our research we have stated that these local beliefs have been entangled with James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis, leading to the perception of Carnac as a 'naturally sacred landscape' that contains underground telluric energies. In Carnac, traditional and modern spiritual practices come together in the form of ritual interactions with the archaeological landscape.

Panel P130
Unity in diversity? Anthropological reflections on interreligious devotion and dialogue in Europe [Anthropology of Religion Network]