|The Pilgrimage, Stephanie Dalton. this is a mixed media piece|
Pilgrim: 1. one who journeys to a foreign land: Wayfarer. 2. One who travels to a shrine or holy place as a devotee. Merriam-Webster Dictionary on-line.
"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." ~ Martin Buber
“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” ~Max DePree
“Changing the way you do routine things allows a new person to grow inside you." ~ Paulo Coelho
“That’s the thing with fear though. When it overtakes your heart, your vision becomes shortsighted. You forget the grand beauty of life. The knowledge that the Universe is here to take care of you becomes a thought only for those Annoying Optimists.” ~ Thais Guimaraes
In a couple of weeks I will be traveling and hiking with a friend to celebrate her 25th year of being cancer free. We are journeying to the Canadian Rockies with spectacular views. Our agreed upon mission: taking the time to renew and nourish our spirit.
It was fantastic to discover that we’re hiking in a sacred place to the ancient ones and native peoples. The area has been called a living cathedral with sacred loving and healing energies. My initial research showed this place would reinforce our pre-planned mission. We’d be pilgrims trekking, being in relationship with this land and beings; allowing the sacred to enter within, and being opened to learn new ways of seeing.
In her book, The Celtic Spirit, Caitlin Matthews writes about the difference in being a tourist and a pilgrim. She states both enjoy the looking and exploring a place, but the pilgrim goes deeper in their engagement with the land. When we arrive at a sacred site we are opened to the “ancestral guardians and spiritual presence who have awaited for our coming” (16). She also writes that the land can restore and nourish our soul and body. Matthews reminds us to not forget a thank-you gift to the land and its beings that includes a grateful heart (317).
I’ve continued my research and have begun thinking of what gifts I should bring to the guardians of this land I will be visiting.
By Caitlin Matthews
Though the long tracks know no glad step,
And the circle goes unblessed.
From their long homes may the old ones
Welcome travelers upon their quest
Early on in my exploration of WOW-sites, I learned that many Celtic Christian sites were originally pagan. Initially, the Christian church began destroying and taking down these ancient holy sites. They soon realized that their method of violence and destruction didn’t have a positive effect on converting the Celtic people to this new religion. The church took another tactic, take over the site and build a church on it or sprinkle the statue with holy water and call it Christian.
If people aren’t familiar with this pilgrimage or also called “The Way,” this is one of those Christian converted Celtic sites. The Way dates back to the ancients. Starting in southern France, the road travels across Northern Spain following the edge of the Milky Way and also believed a major ley line. For Christians the road ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, but for the ancients the road ends on shores of the Atlantic Ocean. The Way became a popular pilgrimage during medieval times; it was a relatively cheap and safe trip to do penitence rather than traveling off to Jerusalem.
By Susanna Reece
Blessed are those who don’t even want to begin,
preferring the sunbeam surface to the dark
uncharted oceans below.
Blessed are those who dive in anyway,
anyhow, who know how to equip themselves
with oxygen, a diving-suit, lights, a lifeline.
Blessed are those who’ve plumbed the depths
many times, the underwater cartographers
who are never complacent.
Blessed are those who risk all, plunging
to the ocean floor, living at the breathless
edge between death and adventure.
And blessed are those who return with news
of coral pink cities and creamy white
pearls beyond price.
Caitin Matthews Exercises for Pilgrims
Find out where your own nearest source of sacred water is to be found. What are the traditions surrounding it? Go and visit it if you can, and experience the waters for yourself.
Meditate upon your favorite place in the country and visit it in soul-flight. Consult the spirit of the place and ask its advice and permission about your next visit. Ask what gift (a song or a blessing, perhaps –something that will not harm the land) would be acceptable. Do this whenever a visit is planned.