To be a Pilgrim
“A pilgrim is someone who sees life as a sacred journey, who sees the Earth as a sacred home, who sees the universe as a process.”
We are on the move continuously, journeying through life, developing ourselves on all levels. We have a choice to do this with an awareness of the sacredness of our Earth and inhabitants or we can simply blunder through life in a survival mode and taking what we need without thinking of the consequences. The ecologist and writer Satish Kumar asks us a question in his book ‘Earth Pilgrim’: are you a tourist or a pilgrim? If you can see and acknowledge the sacredness of Earth, then you are a pilgrim.
Many people think that a pilgrimage is to follow a certain trail (often religious). Pilgrimage is not just about physically travelling to a certain sacred or holy place to honour God, Allah, Buddha, Krishna and so on. This is one way to get closer to the divine represented by a religious figure, but being a pilgrim is about so much more. It is symbolic for the Divine that we seek to connect with. The Divine is everywhere and not just in Mecca, Jerusalem and other places. It is mostly in Nature and as we are part of Nature, the Divine is also in ourselves. There are however places that have more power to connect on a deeper level with the Divine. They are for instance places that are called sacred by indigenous tribes who are very much in tune with Earth energies: a sacred mountain, a special lake connected to legends, magical forests and so on. But they are also in manmade structures like temples, stone circles, churches, mosques, etc. Places designed with the intention to connect with the Divine which over time because of prayer and ceremonies of the many people that come there, create an energy that builds up and touches everyone who comes there.
So what happens when you come to a sacred place in nature? According to the Native American author Vine Deloria Jr in his article ‘Reflection and Revelation’, (one of the articles in the book ‘The Power of Place’ by James A. Swan):
“The sacredness of land is first and foremost an emotional experience. Is that feeling of unity with a place that is complete.” He also says that being a pilgrim is a state of mind and travelling is symbolic: “Wherever you are, with your consciousness, with your way of being, way of looking at the world, with how you connect to the world – you are a pilgrim”
I have experienced this many times myself. Ever since I started on my spiritual journey discovering more about the invisible dimension of everything, I became more aware of the effect that certain places in nature especially, had on me. I would walk in a forest and be drawn to a certain tree or trees and felt something stirring in me, a peaceful feeling and at the same time being in awe of a wonder. This feeling would connect me with existential questions: why am I here, there must be more out there, how can such a magnificent tree been created, what force created this? It is difficult to describe but at that moment I was part of everything, of creation itself and it felt good. I have also seen it happening many times to other people.
I live in Glastonbury – a place of pilgrimage with a beautiful strong heart energy. I am a sacred tour guide and take people to power places in Glastonbury like the Tor, an ancient hill with many ley lines crossing, The red and white Springs with healing water and to other power places outside of Glastonbury like Stonehenge and the Avebury Stone Circle. Just taking people to the Tor already opens them up and some start to cry because they feel an energy that loves them and accepts them unconditionally. They are at that moment free from the demands of society where they give themselves away and finally feel space to look inward. This I call the natural way of being, feeling part of the earth, the world, the universe. When you are in that state of being, you feel a flow that does not require you to adapt and hide away pieces of your true being.
Being a Pilgrim all the time throughout life is not an easy task: events will shake you, influence you, conditions will challenge you and that is also part of Life’s journey. At the moment we are ruled by a system focused on individuals instead of communities and tribes. There is much loneliness in the world and it should not have to be so. Nature is the great healer and connecter. So try at least to make pilgrimages as often as you can to special places in nature that speak to you. It will help you keep your balance better and realising that there is so much more than just our little world.