There are of course different types of spiritual journeys. Some people head off to explore ancient historical sites or to have an experience with others seeking some sort of spiritual enlightenment. Others are looking for answers or at personal direction. There is another group seeking more knowledge of a certain religion or spiritual path. These are the pilgrimage travellers. Here is a great article about these sites with suggestions about how to best benefit from these journeys as well as some recommended spiritual tour companies. The article, “In Search of Sacred Places: Spiritual and Pilgrimage Travel” is written by Peter Scheer, himself a tour company director, and is posted on the website Travel with a Challenge.
First, let’s look at the suggestions to help the traveller get the most benefit from the journey. First, prepare yourself mentally and physically. Many of these places are not easy to reach and it’s a good idea to do some research about the site as well how best to arrive there. In times past, people fasted for days or even took hallucinagenic herbs before approaching these sites. It’s important to approach with reverence and respect for local customs. They are places that are very important some people.
In the European Middle Ages, most pilgrims to Canterbury, Santiago de Compostela and other Christian sites went there on foot which allows one plenty of time to prepare mentally. Travel to sacred sites required planning, persistence and often great sacrifices. No wonder arrival created such excitement!
The second suggestion is to leave room in your travel schedule for unexpected events to happen or time to visit with people you meet. This will leave you time also to just stop and soak up the incredible energy of these places that has built up over the centuries. There is not only the energy of the place itself but layered on top is the energy of all the other pilgrims who have come and gone away again over the centuries.
In ancient Greece, sages built an Earth Goddess shrine at Delphi because of the abundance of plenum, an energy they believed bubbled out of the slopes of Mount Parnassus. In the Chinese tradition there is a similar life force called chi. Sufis call it baraka and Hindus know it as prana. If this invisible energy seems fanciful to you, don’t forget that is how people felt about radio waves a mere 100 years ago. Perhaps 21st century establishment scientists will verify earth energies, but regardless of official endorsement, many travelers are creating their vacations around visiting places of power and spirituality.
American folklorist and mythology expert, Joseph Campbell once met a woman going to Greece to discover the spirit of the Goddess. After she showed him her elaborate, highly-detailed itinerary, Campbell said, “Dear lady, I sincerely hope that all does not go as planned.” He explained, “Unless you leave room for serendipity, how can the divine enter in? The beginning of the adventure of finding yourself is to lose your way.”
Lastly, Mr. Scheer suggests that you decide why you are going. What is your goal? What do you want to find or experience? Of course the answer may change during your journey. Are just looking for a special experience or are you wanting to explore religious connections? People will ask you why you are going and also why you are there, so it’s a good idea to have some answer in mind. It will help you get more out of an experience that can end up being life-changing.
To read the original article and check out the spiritual tour companies listed at the end of the article, click here.
In sum then, it’s best to loosely plan your trip, find out more about the place, don’t cram in too much and be open to whatever happens. Remember that teachers come in all forms. The person living on the street might be one of them.
Red rocks of Sedona, Arizona
Mt. Kailash, Tibet. Pilgrimage site for 15,000 years.