Practical Spirituality and Journey with Sacred Mountains

  • María Constanza Ceruti


The industrialized western civilization has been trained to look at mountains merely in connection to the resources that they offer to the humans: the various minerals, the glaciers as reservoirs of water, the forested slopes as providers of timber, and the enriched agricultural lands at their feet. Occasionally, beyond their role as providers of material resources, mountains become objects of esthetic contemplation, sources of artistic inspiration, winter playgrounds or places of relaxation where urban dwellers can find some peace of mind. However, these are not the only ways in which mountain landscapes have been perceived historically and geographically. If we transcend the modern western perspective we will notice that in most parts of our world, and virtually throughout the history of mankind, mountains have been seen in a much deeper light. As a matter of fact, mountains have been looked upon as sacred. The universal sacredness of mountains has been acknowledged in a diversity of ways, according to the different cultural frames and religious systems involved. In the first part of this paper I will summarize nearly twenty years of personal research in the fields of high altitude archaeology and anthropology of sacred mountains, in an attempt to provide an overview of the multiplicity of ways in which mountain cultures in the Americas, Oceania, Europe, Africa and Asia have interacted with the landscapes that they perceive to be sacred. In the second part of the paper I will explore some of the connections between modern mountaineering and spirituality. In the discussion, I will seek to identify values shared by native communities and mountaineers in different parts of the world, by analyzing the transformative potential in the experience of mountains and their sacredness. Traditional societies have long been aware of this, but the industrialized world is only starting to explore and acknowledge the role of mountains in modern practical spirituality.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • María Constanza Ceruti
    • 1
  1. 1.Catholic University of Salta (UCASAL)/CONICETSaltaArgentina

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