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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The experience of visiting sacred sites: An organic inquiry/grounded theory study
by Maffei, Daniela M., Ph.D., Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, 2012, 277; 3509625
Abstract (Summary)

Human mystical experiences in natural places such as forests, caves, and mountains have been documented in the scriptures of many of the world's greatest religions, as well as in research. Because many sacred sites are considered places of power and worship, and as destinations for spiritual travel, as has been observed by religious authorities and emerging research in ecopsychology, this present research explored the experiences of 16 individuals at Mount Shasta, California and Chimayo, New Mexico. This research inquired into the transformative impact on human consciousness from visiting 1 of 2 known sacred sites. Using a qualitative research design blending approaches of grounded theory and organic inquiry, semi-structured interviews with individuals who have visited either of the 2 sacred sites were conducted. Questions were geared toward understanding the process, interpretation, and integration of transformative experiences. Thematic analysis was employed, contributing to the development of a midrange theory attempting to illustrate a dynamic interplay among geography, nature, psychology, and spirituality.

Research results suggest that transpersonal transformations at sacred places are the result of interaction among preceding psychospiritual circumstances of the experiencer and the physical, social, and subtle attributes of sacred places. The implications of this research include geographical and geophysical correlates of spirituality and consciousness and ecofeminist and/or feminist perspectives on the relationship between humans and the natural world. This research may also facilitate deeper discourse regarding the role of Earth in general psychology, transpersonal psychology, and perennial philosophy.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Brooks, Christine
Commitee: Alexandre, Chandra, Swan, James A.
School: Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
Department: Residential Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 73/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Environmental philosophy, Clinical psychology, Spirituality
Keywords: Ecofeminism, Pilgrimages, Sacred sites, Transformation, Transpersonal experiences
Publication Number: 3509625
ISBN: 978-1-267-36297-1
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