Having lived a bunch of places in both hemispheres of the planet, I seem to have picked up a few tricks on how to do sacred travel well.
As far as I’m concerned, sacred travel does not require me to pile into a thirty year old bus with a swarm of ancient hippies or sleep in a campsite that ‘suggests’ you wear flip flops in the shower to avoid fungal infection.
I see no economical or spiritual value in these kinds of trips. You are clearly paying above market rates for what passes for accommodation and transport on these tours.
Plus, when I consider the fact that humans have been going on pilgrimages for at least six thousand years I just can’t shake the feeling that you are “supposed” to work this journey out for myself… Otherwise, what’s the point of calling it sacred travel? It’s just a bus tour.
Full disclosure: I like my travel the way I like my men – covered in money and requiring me to do as little as possible. We’re going First Class where available for our trip in a few weeks time.
But that doesn’t mean sacred travel should be expensive. Shit… You could trust in The Fates and just walk out the door one day. (Start a blog if you do this because I will want to live vicariously through you.)
A road trip with a few like minded friends can be sacred travel if you do it right (or wrong). And so, toward that end, I have compiled a few suggestions on how to get the most out of sacred travel… Gleaned from years of mistakes and hard-won experience.
1. Pick A Theme
Granted this is a whole lot easier when you live in Europe. But my mother (who reads this blog so say ‘hi’!) has also been part of some amazing spiritual journeys in Australia. The Outback, sleeping in the desert under the stars, ancient Aboriginal women’s magic… The whole deal. She’s also done ashram trips to India, been to Lourdes, swum with whales in the Pacific, etc but my mother has been at this for longer than me.
So if you’re not planning on going to the ends of the earth, tap into a sacred story that is closer to where you live. The key is for it to have a cohesive theme.
I know it’s a weird way of looking at it but that’s exactly what pilgrims have been doing for a few thousand years. Pick an objective, quest or outcome and head out into the big wide world.
The theme for our imminent trip (my parents are coming to visit) is Camelot and possibly Avalon. So we’re off to the ancient mystical land of Cornwall. (British readers will find that last description quite funny.) And yes, the above picture is one of our destinations; it’s the holy isle of St Michael’s Mount.
2. Do Your Research
I’ll be honest, I have been ‘researching’ this trip since I first learned to read. Camelot and Avalon? Yeah… I might just have this covered. But if your own quest is leading you somewhere different then don’t skimp on the research.
And here’s the deep dark secret: sure, you’ll be bowled over by the energy of all these places but if you don’t know their backstory then they are just so many crumbling rocks, silently posing for hundreds of Japanese tourists.
Do your research! don’t think you’ll just read up about something on the plane or that you’ll “feel your way through it” when you get there. You won’t. Sacred places -in my experience- have a tendency to make you really stoned.
3. Use Last Minute Websites
It ill-becomes a chaos magician to refer to such silly things as Fate and Destiny… But… But… Sacred travel has this funny way of not playing by the rules. If you approach your trip with the proper intent (ie, it’s not just a stag party going to Prague) then you may find yourself staying in some amazing places that cost less than a night in a fucking caravan.
Obviously, you need to be reasonable about this and go during shoulder seasons (magic requires manifestation pathways, after all) but I am almost confident enough to guarantee that if you hold off on your non-transport bookings and see what Chaos delivers you will be very pleasantly surprised.
These are the sites I use:
Although there are plenty of others, depending on where you’re looking.
4. Think Like A Pilgrim
This is the real secret to sacred travel.
Question: Do you think medieval pilgrims ate in the hotel restaurant? No, they certainly did not. And not only because there was no such thing in medieval times.
They bought bread and fresh fruit and calfskins of wine from local markets. I’m on the fence about buying wine served in a calfskin but you get the idea. Eat local and eat ‘pilgrimy’.
Remember that the food you eat is just sustenance on a significant personal, karmic journey. If you wanted to live it up large then you would have gone on that foodies tour.
If you’re staying somewhere for a while, always go for an apartment over a hotel. Not only do they turn out to be cheaper on a per night basis, but you are forced to eat and live in a much more ‘pilgrimy’ fashion.
5. Record It
You’re not on a shopping tour. Th value of sacred travel is in the act of actually travelling somewhere. So forgo the silly t-shirts and snow globes. Instead, get yourself a pro Flickr account, a decent camera and a decent video camera. You’re allowed to splash out on these things if you know beforehand that you aren’t going to piss your money away on tea towels with a map of Ireland on them.
On the easy-to-use HD video camera front, I like the Kodak Zi8. It’s cheaper than a Flip but the internal microphone isn’t as good. I have an external microphone so this isn’t a problem for me. To be honest, most people wouldn’t notice the difference but I studied film and poor audio quality is one of my buttons.
6. Mark The Occasion
Do something to ‘lock in’ your sacred journey. In the case of my upcoming trip, I’m going to perform a little ceremony at the spring where, according to legend, King Arthur baptised his Knights of the Round Table… As well as being baptised himself.
Fun fact: There was no St Nectan. It’s a christianisation of the Cornish Water God, Nechton.
Here’s a clip from a UK television program about ‘wild swimming’ at St Nectan’s Kieve. (It’s the second clip, called ‘Exclusive Outtake 1′.)
If the video works outside Britain please don’t judge us on the quality of this program. It’s from our second-worst station… Yes, that means there is a worse station.
If the video doesn’t work, then the picture on the left is what it looks like… On a good day.
But you don’t need to do something as cold as this. (The water will be cold.) Just building a little cairn of stones in a Place of Power is more than enough.
If cairns aren’t practical then mark the occasion with a stick of incense stuck into the ground or some flowers cast into the sea… You get the idea.
The key is to mark the fact that you have changed by undertaking this journey. It’s not about picking up something at the gift shop on your way back out to the parking lot… Although I will totally be buying myself a bunch of souvenirs at the gift shop of St Michael’s Mount, Tintagel and the Witchcraft Museum… Which is also just down the road from St Nectan’s Kieve.
Can you think of anything I have missed? Have you got any particular sacred travel tips you would like to share? Drop me a line or leave a comment.