Where Are There Sacred Mountains and What Makes Them Magical? A Material Religion Perspective


  • Michael York




material religion, mountains, religion and ecology


The persistent notion of the holy mountain, both as a special place infused with divinity and as a pilgrimage or tourist destination, is to be included among the physicalistic foci of material religion as an emerging study. The mountain is not only a feature of the natural world but also a material object that intersects with worship throughout the world’s diverse religious and spiritual traditions. It also is increasingly becoming a concern of the environmental movement in terms of both ethical arguments and considerations of embodied enchantment. Among the selected axes mundi surveyed in the present article are those found in the Himalayas, North America, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, Greece, and Japan. What constitutes a mountain’s alleged sacredness, where are such mountains to be found, what awe and wonder associations might they have with earlier religious understandings as well as present-day spiritual beliefs, and what are some of the social consequences of mountain veneration in terms of today’s ecological awareness? These questions belong to the remit of material religion as it examines the interface of corporality and divinity.

Author Biography

  • Michael York

    Michael York is professor emeritus of cultural astronomy and astrology, Bath Spa University and University of Wales / Trinity Saint David. He has authored the Paganism as a World Religion trilogy and The Divine versus the Asurian: An Interpretation of Indo-European Cult and Myth. 


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How to Cite

York, M. (2021). Where Are There Sacred Mountains and What Makes Them Magical? A Material Religion Perspective. Pomegranate, 22(2), 146–173. https://doi.org/10.1558/pome.39052