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Accepted Paper:

'The stones want to be touched': exploring affective entanglements with the megalithic landscape of Carnac, France.  
Yael Dansac (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales)

Paper short abstract:

This paper on contemporary animistic practices in France explores how believers and spiritual seekers create affective entanglements with the community of spirits who are believed to inhabit trees and 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.

This paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork among the members of several groups who hold regular meetings in Carnac Archaeological Site in order to celebrate nature and communicate with the genius loci or 'spirits of the place' who are believed to inhabit every organic and inorganic elements located in this landscape: the Neolithic megaliths, the trees, the rivers, the wind and the ground, among others.

These individuals visit Carnac in order to develop their spiritual and physical welfare; executed rituals blend science, indigenous beliefs and local folklore. 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 and New Age philosophies, leading to the perception of Carnac as a 'power place' and a 'naturally sacred landscape'.

Panel P080
(Re)connecting with Earth Beings: ritual innovation and affective entanglements in contemporary ecopolitics