Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
These northern hemisphere days when the nights grow longer and the sun lower in the sky is my favorite time of year. I especially love that the sun rises later and later so I am able to get up on calm mornings and stand at the threshold of sea and shoreline to witness the beauty that unfolds. (The photo above is from a recent October morning walk).
This is the time of year when the ancient ones honored the growing darkness as the season of mystery, rest, and incubation. It is the time when the veil between worlds is especially thin and the saints and ancestors reach toward us, offering love and wisdom and guidance. Are you listening?
The pilgrim archetype is one I hold so dear. I have always been a wanderer, even as I love the coziness of home. I know the transformative power of stepping into new landscapes and letting my vision be expanded. When we journey as a pilgrim we come open to holy disruption asking to be changed, to be drawn more nearly to who we are called to be. A tourist wants everything to happen according to plan. The pilgrim knows that when Spirit guides us, we open to possibilities we were never able to imagine for ourselves.
Pilgrimage was a core practice of the Irish monks and even the wise ones who came before them. The Imram was a journey of letting wind and current carry them to new horizons. Living on a land surrounded by the sea, the ocean carried depth of meaning and promise of adventure.
The Irish monks stepped into their boats pushing off from shore without oar or rudder praying to be carried to their place of resurrection. They sought out the wild edges in imitation of the desert mothers and fathers before them. They knew a radical encounter with a wild and holy One could be found at the edge places.
These last few years have brough so many challenges on the global front. The pandemic still spreads and replicates, but we have to navigate it in new ways. Some of us might not yet be comfortable with travel, some might not have the opportunity right now due to responsibilities or finances.
What if you could make a pilgrimage in your daily life? What if you could show up with a community of kindred souls gathering from across this beautiful globe to say yes to the holy call to step across the threshold. Perhaps you are in a place of transition, maybe you have recently experienced loss, or maybe you simply long to immerse yourself in Celtic wisdom for a few days and see what the saints and ancestors want to whisper to you.
We led two Novenas during the height of the pandemic which were such meaningful times to gather together as a community in prayer. Last February at the turning point of Imbolc and the feast of St. Brigid we offered our first virtual pilgrimage and it was a joyful, vibrant time of opening our hearts to new possibilities.
I am delighted to be joined by my dear friend Simon de Voil again. Simon is an interfaith minister and gifted musician. He is a joy to work with and together we will be creating sacred space and entering into ritual every day for nine days. Nine was a sacred number in the Irish tradition, three times three. It is said that over the nine waves of the sea is paradise.
For this Samhain season we are inviting in the wisdom of Saints Kevin, Ita, and Enda to especially guide us. Kevin was the founder of the community at Glendalough and is known especially for his profound kinship with creatures. Ita was a powerful woman and leader who educated many of the monks of her time, including St. Brendan who often returned to her during his life for spiritual direction. Enda was the founder of a community on the island of Inismor (one of the places we will visit on this pilgrimage) and considered to be one of the early founders of Irish monasticism.
We have a wonderful community of pilgrims gathering and a terrific team of guides offering their wisdom. We have spent several months filming and preparing for this journey together at this sacred season. We’d love for you to join us. We know times are difficult right now so if the lowest amount on our sliding scale is still too much get in touch with us. If you are unable to join us due to other commitments, we ask for your prayers that our pilgrims be nourished in ways that support our healing journeys and our discernment of the best ways to serve a wounded world in this season.
You can find all the details of the Virtual Celtic Pilgrimage here. October 31-November 8 with daily pilgrimage sessions and the option for breakout groups at the end each day, two additional sessions with poetry and keening, recordings of everything with lifetime access, and being a part of a community of seekers who love Celtic wisdom.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Image credit: October Sunrise over Galway Bay © Christine Valters Paintner