Spring has arrived and with it the pilgrimage season. I have recently returned from a trip to the Kurdish region of Iraq (KRI). I was there to interview female Peshmerga for my history of Women Warriors. Given that most wars are largely fought by men, the book looks for answers to one question – what causes some women to take up arms?
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.
For much of the last four decades I have lived within walking distance of the Thames in London. This weekend I ventured out to explore a stretch of the river’s meandering upper reaches. Setting out from Lechlade in the very early morning mist only larks and reed warblers broke the silence.
This week I spent a glorious hour in conversation with Karwan Jamal Tahir on the topic of female Peshmerga soldiers - research for my book - 'Women Warriors'
Stanford is a Catholic and the content of his book is heavily weighted towards Christian routes and shrines such as Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes, and Rome. Nevertheless, he treads a balanced and respectful line across the wider religious terrain.
Surely this is the richest fortune of all - not only to live a good life, but to recognise it as such.
Books are a key to the future - time to get back to the library to look for clues about tomorrow..
Trees and pilgrimage have been linked since ancient times, not least in the autumn
During the research for my book We are Pilgrims I encountered many pilgrim travellers but none quite like Martin Gray. Over the course of 38 years, this photographer and anthropologist has visited thousands of pilgrim sites and sacred places in 160 countries across the globe. His web-site World Pilgrimage Guide is an essential source of information for anyone contemplating … Continue reading A Life of Pilgrimage
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