Hey Muses! Ever dreamed of taking a pilgrimage and don’t know where to start? Well, lets look at some of my favorites and hopefully inspire you to go!
What is a pilgrimage? The more traditional definition is: A journey to a sacred place or shrine
But what resonates with me and hopefully with you is seeing it as a: A long journey or search, especially one of exalted purpose or moral significance.
So literally you can have a pilgrimage to the worlds largest McDonalds if it has a higher purpose….doubtful, but hey.
Let’s start with my favorite place in the world: Japan! It’s one of the quirkiest places from vending machines with panties to hamburger with 10 patties…seriously. But we are talking about a meaningful journeys here so hope on over to Kumano Kodo in the Kii Mtns.
About an hour outside of Osaka, this shrine is located at the top of the mountain and is host to hot springs, local food along the way and a really steep incline. At 40 kilometers to the top it’s quite a staircase to climb. For those not so into making it happen in one day there are several stops along the way to overnight. There are 7 routes you can take to get to the top too and its one of only 2 UNESCO recognized pilgrimages.
Next is somewhere I really want to go: Turkey! St. Paul had the right idea taking to the streets here. The trail is a 500km footpath. The trail begins in Perge and ends in Isparta. It’s a much wilder path than the Lycian way, which is a more famous trail, as it changes terrain from mountains and forest and goes all over the Roman roads. It’s suitable for mountain bikers if you are into that goodness! Not only that, but you will be following in the footsteps of one of the greatest proselytizers.
For North America there are really only two options: The Pacific Crest and The Appalachians. These are considered more modern day pilgrimages, but in my eyes hold just as much weight, I’m going to go with the lesser known, Pacific Crest Trail for . On the Pacific trail from Mexico to Canada you are going to encounter so many different kinds of culture and scenery and you get to explore the hippie trail, where authors like Henry Miller and Kerouac wrote some of their most famed pieces.
Camino de Santiago is perhaps one of the most famous pilgrimages. Made famous by the likes of the Knights Templar as a path for christians during the medieval period. There is soooo much ground to cover about this trail, but we will keep it short for now and say that there are many different starting points throughout France, Spain and is connected to other pilgrimages along the way. A unique feature of this walk, will not only be the people you meet ad form bonds with, but you will see the image of a scallop at different points, which is supposed to be a metaphor for the different routes and eventually arrives at the single destination of the tomb of St. James de Compostela.
And last but not least, journey up the Incan trail to Machu Picchu for an uber connected experience. Expect to take a 4-7 day trip to acclimatize to the 13,800 ft peak. Most tours offer stops along the way to explore the Andean markets and traditions and see the sacred ruins. The scenery will change from snowcapped mountains to lush green cloud forest and is said to be stunning. This is definitely on my list. You will also get to leave your ritual offerings at the walls before you make the trek and enjoy hot springs once you are done at the base of the mountain.
That’s all for today. I’ve included links to some pretty great tour companies that lead their own opporations in all of these so feel free to check them out and mention that you saw
Machu Picchu: http://www.alunajoy.com/incatour.html
Kumano Trail: www.okujapan.com/
Camino De Santiago: www.caminoways.com/CaminoWaysTours
Pacific Crest Trail: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Guide-g28926-i935-California.html