After being locked down in our cities, or ever-more crowded countryside, the timing of these isolation-paradise movies is impeccable. But what hooks us into these escapist dreams, these illusions, is no different today than it was in the 19th century. Like pilgrimage itself, it taps into an eternal impulse within us all.
It's Boxing Day, reading books and eating dates...
Today is International Roma Day. There is something of a paradox here. We Europeans love to roam – as evidenced by the increasing number of pilgrim ways and national footpaths - but those who roam as a way of life – the Roma people - are perhaps the most persecuted minority in Europe. International Roma … Continue reading For those who roam
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
“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
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
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
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?