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MartinGray-9-14---Titi.jpgDevotion drives photographer Martin Gray to lengths most would never consider. If getting the perfect photograph means hanging over a cliff — risking a thousand-foot drop to the ground — Gray might try it. He’s done it before.

By Tyler Midkiff
Larson Newspapers

Devotion drives photographer Martin Gray to lengths most would never consider.

If getting the perfect photograph means hanging over a cliff — risking a thousand-foot drop to the ground — Gray might try it. He’s done it before.

 Courtesy Photo

For more than 25 years, he’s traveled the world to photograph sacred sites — power places people have journeyed to for hundreds or even thousands of years.

He’s endured injuries and robberies, bribed foreign militaries and been forced to trespass onto sacred lands, but he does it all for the art, he said.

He set out to capture images of the world’s most venerated sites, but he takes little credit for the stunning photographs that are now available to the world in his new book “Sacred Earth: Places of Peace and Power.”

There’s a certain art that goes into it, but “I didn’t build these places,” Gray explained. “I’m just the photographer ... I’m not important ... The places are important.”

And they’re places few will ever visit. People tell Gray he’s lucky to have had such extraordinary adventures, but it’s not luck, he explained. He gave up a lot to do what he’s doing.

For years, he ran successful businesses in Florida, and he made a good living. But he was unhappy, he said.

Looking for something more, he traveled to Easter Island and Machu Picchu, a sacred site in Peru, during a week in 1982, and the experience changed him, he said.

When he returned to the U.S., he began planning the beginning of what would be a 25-year journey along the pilgrimage routes of the world’s ancient religions.

Long before there were religions, there were regions of the world — sacred sites where people developed powerful relationships with the earth, Gray said. Over time, religions arose, which weren’t just about God and spirituality.

Political, economic and militaristic ambitions mixed with faith and ideology, and conquest ensued.

“If one region is controlled by a particular religion and another religion moves in, they’re going to take over the sites of that particular religion and make them their own,” Gray explained.

The same is true of specific times of the year. Soltices and equinoxes were important astrological periods for early pagan people — even before agriculture — but all four were later supplanted by Judeo-Christian holidays, Gray said.

There’s no evidence whatsoever that Jesus Christ was born anywhere near Christmas Day, but it’s no coincidence that it falls within days of the Winter Solstice, Gray explained.

The Christians, Jains, Buddhists and others have attached various myths and meanings to astrological periods that were sacred long before their times.

The loss of previous cultures is sometimes saddening, but in a way, the conquest was good, Gray acknowledged, because it allowed sites to be maintained over the years. Because of that, many still existed when Gray embarked on his own journey.

He explored and photographed hundreds of sacred sites throughout the world and eventually set up his own Web site,, to share what he found.

Years later, Gray published his own book. Released last month, “Sacred Earth” includes Gray’s own text and a foreword by author Graham Hancock, known for his books “Fingerprints of the Gods,” “The Sign and the Seal” and numerous others.

“Sacred Earth” documents Gray’s amazing journey, and for some, the images may serve as stepping stones for their own travels.

People often ask Gray where they should visit, but he doesn’t know, he tells them. They need to follow their instincts.

If they look through “Sacred Earth” and feel drawn to a particular location, it may be because that place has something that can help them through their spiritual evolution, Gray explained.

“Don’t look at them as photographs,” he said. “Look through them as windows. There’s a quality of the place that can touch you.”

Gray has visited nearly every sacred site on the planet over the years and now it’s time to share what he’s seen with others, he said.

On Saturday, Sept. 15, and Sunday, Sept. 16, he’ll begin a national slide show and book signing tour at Seven Centers Yoga, located at 2115 Mountain Road in Sedona. The event begins at 7 p.m. Admission is $15.

For more information about Gray’s photography, visit his award-winning website, “Sacred Earth” is available through most book distributors.

Tyler Midkiff can be reached at 282-7795, Ext. 122, or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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