Professor Wade Davis
BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk
Professor of Anthropology
University of British Columbia
This presentation celebrates a myriad of cultures that through ritual practice infuse life with a sense of the sacred, even as they honour reciprocal obligations that define their relationship to the natural world. These rituals may involve movement through mystic space, pilgrimages that involve separation from the social space, a passage through a liminal dimension, and a final reintegration to the community. They may feature metaphysical journeys to the divine, mediated by sacred plants, or encounters with objects in a landscape made holy through generations of desire, like old tools warm from decades of human touch. These include sacred mountains, venerated trees, holy waters, ritual caves, and healing springs, as well as places of deep memory where ancient art and human activity resonate with spiritual authority; what the Irish describe as the thin places, where heaven and earth come together to reveal glimpses of the divine. Movement through sacred geography, rites of passage, prayer, healing, mystical union, and devotion. The goal ultimately is to reveal what these traditions have to say to the world, and how they might contribute to what is so desperately needed today — an utterly new dream of the Earth.