Lockdown Loopholes

Where shall we go this weekend? Where shall we go this summer? Until recently the answer depended on how itchy your feet, how expansive your wallet, how much time you could take away from work, school or family. It has been something of a shock to lose the liberty we once took so much for … Continue reading Lockdown Loopholes

Redemption and why it pays to compromise

When leaders misjudge the mood of the public, repentance can help, and so can pilgrimage. July 12th, 1174, and the crowds have gathered to watch a spectacle. The King is dressed in sackcloth and is making his barefooted way from St Dunstan’s Church through Canterbury, to the crypt of St Thomas Becket. Here he is … Continue reading Redemption and why it pays to compromise

The Future is Another Country

In the 900 years or so since Peter the Hermit incited thousands of paupers from across Europe to join the First Crusade to ‘take back control’ of Jerusalem, historians have speculated about what provoked so many poor men and women to risk everything on the back of rousing religious rhetoric which promised so much (although notably not … Continue reading The Future is Another Country

A healing odyssey

In ancient Greece the quest for a cure was a central driver of pilgrimage activity. At the heart of this was Asklepios, the god of healing and son of Apollo. Both shared the epithet, ‘paean’ (the healer), a reference to a healing deity which can be traced back to the much earlier Mycenaean culture and … Continue reading A healing odyssey

Davos Pilgrimage or Market?

“The force that drives the water through the rocks, Drives my red blood” Last week I took a phone call from the PA of a Gulf Sheikh. "His Highness is wondering, will he see you in Davos?" The PA was referring to the annual 'pilgrimage' of political and commercial leaders who cram into the otherwise … Continue reading Davos Pilgrimage or Market?

Search for enlightenment – On the Road

Driving from London to Lausanne over new year, Jack Kerouac's exuberant 'On the Road' kept me immersed each night in the question of why we are pilgrims. Whether or not you have read the book, you will no doubt know that  'On the Road' is a relentless quest by the narrator - Sal Paradise and … Continue reading Search for enlightenment – On the Road

Reason #3 – Faith

“At the call of an idea they had left their forests, their clearings, the protection of their rulers, their prosperity, their poverty, the surroundings of their youth and the graves of their fathers” (Joseph Conrad - Lord Jim) In recent years, there has been a significant expansion of non-religious pilgrimage, especially in Europe where many … Continue reading Reason #3 – Faith

Why we are pilgrims – Reason #2

Pilgrimage to a shrine or a place of significant spiritual or cultural meaning brings with it the promise of feeling ourselves to be part of something much bigger than our family, our immediate community of friends and colleagues, or even fellow worshippers. Pilgrimage offers a somehow reassuring sense of our own insignificance: a speck of dust … Continue reading Why we are pilgrims – Reason #2

Why we are Pilgrims – Reason #1

The migratory instinct to travel to thrive and survive is something humans share many other species, from butterflies to whales, birds to herds of wildebeest. As far as we can tell, from the Neolithic period onwards, early pilgrimage rituals grew out of seasonal gatherings where through larger collective action, small bands of hunter gatherers were … Continue reading Why we are Pilgrims – Reason #1

Does pilgrimage have to be religious?

Polish photographer Michal Iwanowski recently walked from his home in the UK to his family home of Mokrzeszow in Poland: a journey of over 1000 miles. His journey was prompted by graffiti saying 'Go home Polish' scrawled on a wall in Cardiff. Is this a pilgrimage? There is certainly a tradition of ritually returning to … Continue reading Does pilgrimage have to be religious?