Dark Mountain: Issue 12 – SANCTUM

I stepped back into the editor’s chair to take the lead on this Dark Mountain special issue on the theme of the sacred.

In October 2017, we brought out a Dark Mountain special issue on the sacred. As soon as the theme was decided, I knew that I wanted to take the lead on editing this book.

It was a chance to turn the usual format of our books upside down. In place of the open submissions process, we asked for proposals and commissioned twelve longer essays which formed the core of the book. Meanwhile, art editor Thomas Keyes brought together a gang of collaborators – somewhere between a monastic scriptorium and a graffiti crew – to illuminate the words of our contributors. And Sylvia Linsteadt and Rima Staines teamed up to create a commentary that ran through the margins of the book, before leaping in to claim the final word in its closing pages.

The editorial work on this book was hands-on and several of the contributors became friends and ongoing collaborators as a result. Sara Jolena Wolcott’s essay ‘From the Darkness’ became the starting point for the video we made in 2020, ‘When Your Ancestors are the Problem’, while Elizabeth Slade’s ‘The God-Shaped Hole’ turned out to be a staging post on a journey that led her to become chief officer of the Unitarian Church.

The production cycle of a Dark Mountain book is tight, the budget tighter, and at times we pushed our ambitions beyond what was sensible, but SANCTUM remains one of the publications of which I’m proudest.

Further reading