sacred sites

To the Dark Tower

Industrial towers have functions that demand they are built upwards. A tall chimney takes smoke high into the sky. Power-lines are raised safely above us by pylons. Water towers create pressure to propel water along pipes. Steeples, pagodas and minarets point up into the sky, too. Stupas are three-dimensional mandalas that taper up and radiate outwards. Height creates awe, and spiritual towers employ complex designs and symbolism to enhance the mystery.

In China, lone pagodas reminded me of Browning’s poem ‘Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came’, in which the knight is compelled to search for a dark tower that he finds to be doorless and without apparent purpose. Arthur C. Clark describes a smooth black monolith in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ that fascinates and inspires apemen to evolve. Millions of years later, a chosen astronaut is drawn irresistibly toward the same black shape.  New York’s twin towers had a more dangerous magnetism.

Close to an industrial tower, I felt awe. All towers could be beanstalks that channeled mysterious ‘vibrations’ down to us while inviting us to the top and beyond. Man has always chosen a tree, a mountain or a rock to symbolize something bigger than him, a reflection of his soul. Towers exude mystery, entice us and inspire us.

Pagoda Landscape II