Pilgrimage

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A pilgrimage is:

  • A physical search for metaphysical enlightenment (e.g. a solitary trek to a revered location)
  • An adventure to find holistic meaning for life and death
  • A process of separation-initiation- return
  • A rite of passage that holds value for the participant (just going along won’t do)
  • Risky, a challenge outside the known and the comfortable
  • A vision quest, an openness to hear a calling
In Hindi and Sanskrit pilgrimage has the meaning of a crossing place, a ford between two sides of a river, two dimensions.
The Islamic Hajj is a pilgrimage. The word comes from an ancient Semitic word meaning “to go in a circle” in time they would say “around a center”.
A famous Christian pilgrimage is the Camino Santiago in northern Spain.
“When your ship, long moored in harbour, give’s you the illusion of being a  house. . . put out to sea! Save your boat’s journeying soul, and your own pilgrim soul, cost what it may.”
Archbishop Helder Camaia

Pilgrimage requires:

  • A spirit of curiosity
  • Desire for deep self connection to both human(body) and Divine (soul)
  • A search for a higher quality; love, beauty, perspective, peace, sacredness etc
  • A desire for healing
  • Self reflection
  • Openness to synchronicity and the metaphysical
    I learn best by using my body, by moving until I have insight” Ann Linnea
    As the poet R M Rilke says:
    “I am circling around God
    around the ancient tower, 
    and I have been circling for a thousand years,
    and I still don’t know if I am a falcon, 
    or a Storm, 
    or a great song.”

“You are ceremonially free,” says Stephen Foster in The Book of the Vision Quest, “to bury, burn, smash, change your name, bathe, vow, draw blood, cut your hair, heap stones, chant, rattle, dance, sing, tie knots, light a candle, go nude, make gifts, use incense, pray, kneel, meditate, nightwalk, paint yourself, or behave in any Other way that is meaningful to you.”

“We may have questions about a call we seek: What is my purpose? To whom do I belong? What can I believe in? Who are my teachers? What is the name of the dragon in my life? What changes must I make? How can I use my talents? How can I serve the world? Where am I going and how can I get there? Or we may have questions about calls we’ve already received: How do I make community? How do I learn to forgive? What conditions foster cooperation between people? How can healing and laughter be combined? How can conservationists work with business rather than against it, to protect the environment? How does the mind influence the course of disease? How can I raise compassionate children?”

Gregg Levoy from ‘Callings’

 

Pilgrims, says theologian Richard Niebuhr, “are persons in motion, passing through territories not their own, seeking . . . completion or clarity, a goal to which only the spirit’s compass points the way.” 

 

We must be intent on spending time searching for soul, moving toward something that represents to us an ideal : truth, beauty, love, perspective, strength, serenity, Transcendence, sacredness, whatever.
Without this intention, our pilgrimages are only vacations, our vision quests are struck blind, our retreats are not also advances.
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