“The gods seemed to have possessed my soul and turned it inside out, and roadside images seemed to invite me from every corner, so that it was impossible for me to stay at home.”
– Batsu Basho
Every once in a while in our lives we see a place on TV, in a movie or on the internet that reaches down to the very toes of our soul. You feel you know it. You want to go there. This Sacred Place seems oddly like home be it standing stones, a crystal cave, a vibrant hidden blue lagoon or pyramids. When that happens you may wish considering a trip to see one of these places. Well if you have the wherewithal to go there, you must understand that the journey to a power center−be it here or across the globe – is not simply a nifty vacation or side trip.
Stages of a Personal Pilgrimage
In studying the paths taken by pilgrims around the world to sacred sites, we discover that this is an important spiritual undertaking that seems to have certain stages associated with it.
7 Stages of Pilgrimages
- One: Preparation: Here the individual takes time to cleanse herself through ritual baths, fasting, abstinence and prayer so that she is pure and pleasing to the spirits of a place and the divine.
- Two: Stepping out: All great journeys begin this way, with something to mark the transition from what was to what can be. Sometimes this “thing” is an outward statement, like cutting one’s hair or accepting a taboo. In other cases, it is simply an inner change in attitude from mundane to esoteric.
- Three: Release: Here you acknowledge a partnership between you and the powers with which you’re working in co-creating personal or planetary transformations. An old Gaelic charm expresses this cooperation very well. It says: “God over me, under me, before me, behind me. I on thy path o god, thou o god in my steps.”
- Four: Attentiveness and Awareness:During this stage you really refine your goals and purpose, and then begin honing all your senses to achieving those aims and receiving whatever message the spirits have for you.
- Five: Struggle, Persistence, Overcoming For whatever reason a pilgrimage is rarely embarked on without some type of difficulties. The barriers test your spiritual mettle and determination. To what extent are you willing to keep trying to achieve your goals? How patient can you be? Was it worth all the trouble? These are the kinds of questions that arise in stage five, for which you must find adequate answers.
- Six: Relearning and Reawakening This is what we call the “Ah ha!” point, where the proverbial light bulb goes on, and everything comes together and finally fits. No matter what your initial intention was in coming to a sacred site, the real reason for you being here is illuminated in your mind and soul. Stage six often has life-changing ramifications and is typically very hard to verbalize to others because of its intimacy.<.li>
- Seven: Reflection and Integration: Stage seven often happens during the journey home and is frequently accompanied by tears, laughter, and other emotional releases. Without reflection and integration your experience will fade into a distant memory, so let it happen, take notes, and meditate on your insights often. The more you do, the more this place and this experience will become an active part of daily reality.
Throughout the multi-stage process, the pilgrim is always aware that the journey may be physical, but it affects far more than just the body. Traveling to a sacred site is as much an inward quest as it is outward and upward. So look within, extend your senses to the energies around you, and reach up to the heavens for your answers and aid.
Pilgirmage in your own Back Yard
“Wherever you live is your temple if you treat it like one.”- Buddha
Not everyone has the chance to see wondrous sacred places in their lifetime for any number of reasons. Yet the human souls crave that connection. For lack of a better word, we thirst for a sense of holiness. At its core holiness is a sign of sanctity – somethine set apart, special and saturated with that unquantifyable feeling of Presence.
Waterhole, Well, Fairy line, Fur Tree
When you can’t find a sacred site, or travel to a known one, you need not feel at a loss. Early people were in a similar boat. They had few, if any, sacred places already established for them and were unable to travel far to seek them out. So, they got creative and made their own, many of which we still enjoy today and use as prototypes!
How did they achieve this? Our ancestors observed the patterns in nature when determining the placement and design for temples, burial sites, and other sacred structures. The final expression of these patterns depended much on the culture, era, and individual(s) in charge of the project. Some used designs to decorate the walls of a structure, like those seen in labyrinths and burial chambers. Some people marked sacred land with megaliths and dolmans, like Stonehenge and New Grange. Still others made sacred spaces inside the earth, like the Oracle at Delphi, creating a womb to nurture energy.
Many sacred sites seem to be laid out in line (along ley lines) with one another, or in a configuration. Sacred geologists and other people in the modern metaphysical community have begun mapping this pattern, which ties the whole world together into an energy matrix. Because of construction, war, and other man-made intrusions into the natural world, many lines along the map are no longer whole. When an incomplete, disrupted, or destroyed pattern is perceived, these mystical naturalists try to repair the damage using earth-awareness and the energy map to guide the work. In effect, they create sacred sites to positively repair and channel the powers that humanity interrupted, and you can do likewise!
Feng Shui: The Art of Placement
One excellent example of mystical naturalism is the reemerging art of Feng Shui, which originated in China. Feng Shui masters might be considered an odd combination of artist and scientist. They use their knowledge and awareness of the earth’s spirit (qi) to determine where and how to build places of worship, burial sites, birth sites, and homes. If structures already exist, the Feng Shui master looks at the land’s natural curves and energy, then adjusts the living space to augment the most positive powers.
This is the type of awareness and knowledge you’ll want to hone in creating your own sacred spaces, both permanent and temporary. It’s not necessarily something that can be “taught” −a better description is that you “feel” rightness deep within. Examples:
- Your Stonehenge is a little gathering of healing crystals on a window ledge or in a garden.
- Your mystial water retreat turns into a fountain feature that you bless for emotional peace and tranquility.
- A tree that you love becomes a welcoming space for Fairy Folk with a few whimsical additions.
- A pyramid is the one you build at the beach with your wishes so the power washes out to sea.
Each of these is Sacred because of your intent, attitude and sensitivity. Simplicity has tremendous power and beauty. The efforts you devise nearby are those to which you can “pilgirmage” any time you wish. Give it a try and revel in the delicious energies that fill your spirit.
Adapted from Magical Places by Patricia Telesco all Rights Reserved.