Life as a Pilgrimage

Life as a Pilgrimage

For a pilgrim, the outer landscape becomes a metaphor for the Unknown inner landscape. A pilgrim travels differently, seeking a change of mind and heart, John O’Donohue reminds us. He also said, “When you bring your body out into the landscape, you’re bringing it home where it belongs.”

As I watched him speaking on a favorite DVD, I thought…My life is a pilgrimage. I remembered John saying that in the Celtic Imagination the insight is that the landscape is alive. We’re not walking into simply a location or dead space but rather we are walking in a living Universe and in this way of being, our journey becomes different…it becomes a pilgrimage.

Two years ago a friend of mine and I traveled to northern England for a pilgrimage. We called our journey that from the beginning of our planning. Our intention was set clearly and together Maria and I journeyed on a pilgrimage. We didn’t want to just visit places, we wanted to connect with the landscape–with the ancient stone circles and elemental energies of the land and water.

I located my journal from the trip and read about the first encounter with Castlerigg Stone Circle. After taking a while to connect with the energies of the place, I had a most amazing experience of shamanic journeywork. Or meditation. Or simply connection with the Spirit of the Place.

Throughout the pilgrimage, I wrote of vivid dreams, of being chased by an antlered man through the forest, of connecting deeply with the Feminine energy of Earth. At one point in our travels I drove us to Grasmere and when we parked near Wordsworth’s home, Dove Cottage, I started sobbing. There was such a powerful connection to his work and the place.

Upon returning to the USA I reflected, “Whispers of the Ancient Ones echo within me as I reflect upon the magical pilgrimage experienced with my spiritual sister and friend. Conversations with companions from a weekend retreat, that closed the journey, still weave a web of light around me. Past invasions of Romans and Saxons perhaps instilled into the Collective unconscious of the people there a maturity of spirit, a way of being civil and gentle with each other and with strangers. Every person I met was helpful, generous, supportive, kind and many had wicked and dry humor. The individual journeys and experiences will be told over time but for now, in the afterglow of it all, I feel profound gratitude that I was embraced so fully by a land and people that welcomed me as one of their own. My heart beats in sync with the land there and longs already to return and feel ancient stones vibrate and sing their wisdom and the land embrace me as a daughter. From magnificent caves to snow-covered mountaintops from villages older than the country in which I reside to stone circles dating back to 4500 BC, I traveled the path of a pilgrim–open to hearing and learning the lessons given by magical Britain.”

As I finished reading the journal, it felt as if I was back there among the stones of Castlerigg, Long Meg and Swinside circles, in Elderbush Cave, in Thor’s Cave, or walking along the trail near Keswick…or sitting at Dove Cottage weeping with joy at feeling so at home. It’s not ever simply a trip or vacation for me….it truly is as John O’Donohue says, “If you enter into the dream that brought you here and awaken its beauty in you, then the beauty will gradually awaken all around you.”

Life is a pilgrimage to me. Every day gives new opportunity to be outside in nature seeking reflection into my inner landscape…to learn more about how I can connect deeper to nature and all life and find the common threads that join us together.

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