Sacred journeys change us in ways we can’t imagine or foresee. It’s a living, organic experience. Long before the first step is taken subtle messages appear, synchronicities, dreams, challenges, and blessings. Our resolve and courage are tested. At some level, we realize we won’t return as quite the same person, and we sense that the experience might challenge us in unexpected ways. Usually there is a period of integration that can last for months afterward, and there may be an accompanying feeling of a “call to action,” a desire to do something significant with the experience.
Should you choose to embark on a sacred journey, it’s important from the very beginning to realize that a pilgrimage is NOT the same as a vacation. It is a process of spiritual awakening and not just physical renewal. An actualization of spiritual transformation, and inner resolution is absolutely necessary, if we are to gain the gifts we seek. We can’t drive down the road to the mall, and we are often faced with a collision of cultures that challenges our normal patterns. Of course, that’s the point, isn’t it?
Sometimes people get triggered by something unfamiliar that makes them uncomfortable. It can be something as simple as an change in the itinerary that dramatically upsets their equilibrium. Or someone can experience an unexpected emotional reaction to a particular site or temple. Intense joy or deep, inexplicable grief can emerge. We can choose to be open to what arises unexpectedly and experience an alien culture as well a powerful connection to the past. When we travel to Egypt we enter the realm of the Middle East, and the media has done a masterful and malicious job of making the term itself frightening. For many people just the idea conjures up images of terrorism. This offers a profound mirror to watch our responses to life. Do we see the experience as a gift, a lesson, or a threat? It can be a great teaching to consciously shift our perspective and understand what is happening on a deeper level when we start to feel uncomfortable. In fact, this is the potential gold mine of the experience as it takes us to the level of unconscious patterns and fears that need to be transformed.
The pilgrimage begins with the intention and signing your name, or paying the deposit, which represents a commitment. It is my experience that it is at this point that the journey begins and simple, but profound, events may start to occur months before the plane takes off. I always find there is one person who takes the plunge early and holds space for whoever else may choose to join the adventure along the way.
Millions of people from around the world visit Egypt each year. I believe one reason Egypt draws us so strongly is a subconscious memory of a time when the Mysteries were acknowledged and taught in the temples. Egypt’s ancient culture is still miraculous in many ways. We have no idea how they built the pyramids or why, despite theories and Egyptological orthodoxy. Egypt was once a land of magic, and something deep within our psyches remembers this and aches to reclaim the knowledge. At some level we understand that sacred sites are like pressure cookers, with the potential to accelerate healing and stimulate our memories.
Even if our journey is only internal, and we never leave the comfort of our couch, connecting with the potency of a sacred site with which we resonate can act as a powerful trigger for memory. Ancient Egyptians believed that true intelligence resided in the heart. In other words, life was meant to be lived in balance and every thought and deed measured by true spiritual sight with love and compassion. In fact, it was believed that after death the heart was symbolically weighed in a balance against the feather of the goddess Ma’at who embodied right relationship to all things. Therefore, a spiritual pilgrimage can be a way to shift our perspective and connect with our hearts. It is my personal belief that we are drawn to scenes of past lives, but the process works whether or not we hold or agree with this belief.
In this context as we experience different incarnations we build up positives and negatives which need to be brought into equilibrium. For some people ancient wounds, which have replicated pain through many subsequent incarnations, need to be recognized and destructive patterns released. For others karma which magnetizes painful and destructive relationships need to be cleared. Special gifts or talents which have been forgotten or lain dormant for lifetimes need to be retrieved, integrated and offered in service in the present life. As people gain their own recall these memories may emerge spontaneously as a “new” invention or revolutionary healing technique. I have witnessed and shared many amazing experiences with people.
Even though time and space are illusions, and other dimensions move at the speed of light , we are encased in physical bodies. So we experience limitation because the motion is slower. It’s my experience that sacred travel, embarked upon with humility and intention, can bend space and fold time in consciousness in a way that is mysterious and miraculous. At the site of an ancient temple, perhaps where we lived and worked before, we can accomplish soul growth in an instant which might otherwise take a lifetime. It’s more like a shamanic journey, bestowing a state of grace where we can step outside of time and miracles of healing occur in the blink of an eye.
As an analogy, when we were limited to the technology of cassettes, finding information was linear, requiring either reversing or fast forwarding the tape sequentially to locate a specific piece of information. With the advent of CDs and digital technology, we can access any portion of the stored information instantly as it resides everywhere all at once.
I believe each person carries a carefully protected fragment of hidden wisdom, like a coded piece of a giant jigsaw puzzle. If we can reclaim our own memories, accessing the personal hall of records waiting deep within our own psyches, we can work to reassemble the collective picture. Undertaking a pilgrimage of power, whether the journey is an inner one of consciousness, or a trek to the other side of the earth, the healing work accomplished can help transform the world. And that is why we go.