Accepted Paper:

Ancient ideologies and modern practices in the newly established holy places of Latvia  

Author:

Rūta Muktupāvela (Latvian Academy of Culture)

Paper short abstract:

Factors promoting the establishment of the so-called “modern holy places” in the last decades of the 20th century in Latvia, with the ideology mostly based on the elements of Baltic pre-Christian world view, are analyzed, yet a process of universalization of these places can be observed.

Paper long abstract:

As social movement for restoration of independent national state began in Latvia in the last decades of the 20th century and as the search for self-confidence and values intensified, besides ecologic, rock-music and neofolklore movements, an increased interest was displayed towards rediscovery, restoration and putting in order of culturally and historically significant objects, including "pagan" cultic places, ruined churches etc. Simultaneously, the so-called "new holy places", mostly of pantheistic character, were established. The ideology of these newly established holy places was mostly based on the elements of Baltic pre-Christian world view, yet, especially after Latvia joining the EU, a process of universalization of these places can be observed, and the New Age style rituals and practices, such as cleansing of chakras, absorbing of cosmic energy, balancing of biorhythms, healing etc. have been performed, and simulations of the methods of natural sciences, manipulations with concepts drawn from information technology have been used with an ever increasing frequency.

The intensity of the establishing of the new holy places in post-Soviet Latvia can be explained with the unstable social, political and economical situation, with the new possibilities of spiritual life and with predisposition towards it. Nevertheless, even after 20 years of independence, almost every local community considers it the matter of honour to "discover" at least one holy place of ancestors, or paleoastronomic observatory or megalithic astrological calendar.

Based on the fieldwork done in 1999, 2009, 2010 and 2011, the factors promoting these "new findings" are analyzed in the paper.

Panel P20
Fluidity, mobility and versatility of the sacred