By: Megan Pasche
People travel for different reasons; sometimes to find themselves, sometimes it’s just to get away from it all, and sometimes it’s to indulge a complete love of going somewhere new and experiencing different things. But some people travel to certain places with one specific goal in mind: get healed.
Since the beginning of time there has always been those spots in the world that just seem to have a special kind of power. It doesn’t seem like too far of a stretch to say that there are places on this planet that hold an abundance of energy and that could possibly heal someone, whether it is from a physical ailment or mental fogginess. It’s not as easy as showing up and suddenly saying, “there, I’m healed”; these sites all require a certain amount of reflection and openness. These are the kinds of locations that take you out of yourself, and make you pause long enough to think ‘yah, there’s something more here’. Whether that’s due to healing energies, religious miracles or the fact that the world is just so darn beautiful, I guess is up to the individual. But there has to be a reason that people continue to trek to these places in droves, in wheelchairs and in weak and sickened states. And why sometimes, for the few lucky ones, they leave as if illness never ravaged their body or mind in the first place.
This has been a popular pilgrimage destination for Christians for decades now. Legend goes that in 1858 a young girl, Bernadette Soubirous, began to see visions of a woman in a white robe who urged her to tell the village priest to build a chapel in the spot that she stood. The lady in the vision eventually revealed herself to be the Holy Mary. After this revelation, Bernadette fell into a trance like state and began to dig in the ground with her bare hands. Eventually, water appeared, and it soon became the spring that Lourdes is now famous for.
The site began to attract thousands of visitors a year, with this number only growing when tales of healing began to emerge. Pilgrims who visit Lourdes, bathe in the pools that are pumped directly from Bernadette’s spring. Miracles said to have happened here have been examined thoroughly by a team of medical experts and many seem to have been proven true. 4 to 6 million people visit this site every year.
The red sands of Sedona in Northern Arizona are said to be an incredible source of energy with vortexes and spots of concentrated energy all around the red cliffs. And while these claims have not really been substantiated by any scientific evidence, that doesn’t stop tons of people from embarking on healing vortex tours and visiting one of the areas many healing spas. It is said to be a great place for becoming spiritually enlightened.
Machu Picchu, Peru
This ancient location on the top of the Andes Mountains is made up of ruins of palaces, temples, baths and houses. It appears to have served as a self-containing city for the Inca, with one of the primary functions being astronomical observation. The holy stone, the Intihuatana, marks the sun at the two equinoxes, and would indicate the days of celebration for the Inca people. Legend says that touching your head to this stone will open up a world of spiritual enlightenment. These Intihuatana stones were at every Inca shrine and many were subsequently destroyed when the Spaniards came to Peru. When the stone was broken, the Inca believed that the gods of the site died or departed. The location of Machu Picchu eluded the Spaniards though, and the Intihuatana remains in its original place to this day. The site sat in disuse for many years, and though visited by numerous people over the years, it wasn’t until 1911 that its existence was made known to the world. Nowadays, thousands of people flock to the site every year to experience the healing power of the sun, and there are many tours led by spiritual teachers and healers.
Black Virgin of Guadalupe, Spain
Numerous legends surround the Black Virgin of Guadalupe in Spain, but somewhere around the 4th Century, healing miracles began to be attributed to this statue. It disappeared for five centuries, until as the story goes, the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant and revealed the statues location to him. By the middle of the 15th Century, a shrine was built in the spot where the statue was found and to this day, it remains a popular spot for pilgrimage. There is no historical proof that the statue that was found is the same one that was lost centuries before, but the claim of healing powers remain. It is said that this type of “healing icon” serves as an almost storage battery of spiritual energy, which comes from all the people who continue to visit the shrine every year. It is essentially a never-ending chain of energy feeding off energy, and some believe that the statues healing powers come from this cycle.
Onsen’s in Japan
Onsen is the Japanese word for “hot springs”. Japan has thousands of these scattered throughout the country due to its position over volcanic fault lines, and they attract millions of visitors every year. The healing power of the onsens is said to come from their mineral content, with different springs containing different minerals. The Japanese believe that the onsens can heal numerous pains and diseases.
Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre Shrine, Quebec
This beautiful church sits in a tiny town outside of Quebec City on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. This church attracts close to one million visitors per year, many of who are hoping to be healed. The first miracle was said to happen here in 1658, when a crippled workman was miraculously healed. After that, the miracles kept happening, and a huge display of wheelchairs, crutches and canes are a testament to that claim. The source of the miracles is said to be an oak carved statue of St. Anne that is painted brightly and covered in a crown of rubies, diamonds and pearls.
These places are only the tip of the iceberg. Our world truly is an incredible and mysterious place, and it’s full of all kinds of these wondrous spots. Ancient structures, statues, healing wells and springs, temples, oracle caves, stone circles…whatever the site may be, they continue to inspire hope in a lot of weary travellers. Skeptics abound of course, but does anyone really know for sure? Usually the best experiences happen when you go into them with an open mind, because even if you don’t get your very own miracle at one of these spots, you’ve still gotten to experience a cool part of this great, big, amazing world, and that, is never a bad thing.