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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Discovering Meaning in Ireland: Megalithic Spiritual Experiences
by White, Paul M., Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2021, 113; 28316282
Abstract (Summary)

This research uncovered links to existing studies which described what it meant for the five participants to draw meaning from their spiritual experiences. Jung (2015) determined that embracing the experience of the numinous meant reestablishing contact with one’s inner self while manifesting a deeper understanding of the process individuation. Smith (2007) explored the shamanic qualities of residing in liminal space within natural settings, bringing to life the practice of interconnectivity and interdependence with nature and self.

Regarding nature, Perlus (2012) highlighted the conscious act of spiritual healing through nature. Indigenous peoples oft spoke of a visceral connection they had to geographic locations (Greenberg, 2009); Greenberg noted how tribal identity was tied to certain land features. McVeigh (2017) shared research on the formation of identity through experiencing the spirit of place. Positing a new clinical approach to mental health issues, Swan (1988) noted how ecopsychology could be a foundation for therapy. Yunt (2001) wrote that changes within the psyche were fostered through experiences with place and nature. 

Bragg’s (2012) study described how environmental motivations led people to connect with nature and culture. For the environmental perspective, Hutchinson (2001) advocated for an understanding of the political climate to facilitate connections with personal and Irish cultural identity. Through an exploration of the spiritual side, Hengst-Ehrhart and Schraml (2013) identified the need for community to bring about profound healing. White (2013) spoke of discovering meaning in life through spiritual dimensions of personal transformations. Stewart (1993; 1998) was a strong advocate for creating, not waiting for, the numinous by consciously engaging in ritual designed to facilitate a personal understanding of the realm of deep healing. With the guidance of the methodology, descriptive phenomenology, I have investigated the eidetic structure of spiritual experiences at megalithic sites in Ireland and identified five essential psychological constituents: connections to nature; cultural identity; spiritual healing; connectivity with ancestors; and discovering greater depth to life’s purpose. This study contributed to a clearer understanding of how spiritual experiences at megalithic sites transform people from within. Further research into factors influencing the formation of identity and connection to significant cultural elements is needed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Spaeth, Drake
Commitee: Applebaum, Marc, Rockefellar, Kirwan
School: Saybrook University
Department: Mind Body Medicine
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 82/8(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Psychology, Spirituality, Environmental philosophy
Keywords: Culture, Ireland, Megaliths
Publication Number: 28316282
ISBN: 9798582508755
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