Wisdom's Way has gathered seven pilgrims at the Tearmann Spirituality Center in Glendalough, Ireland for a five day retreat; Sacred Cauldron: The Wisdom of Ritual.
Cathy and I have just completed a ten day pilgrimage with Vox Peregrini, a pilgrimage choir. The choir walked the hundred miles of the Wicklow Way and then performed two concerts in Dublin. Hard work. Magical experience. Cathy and I symbolically represent the transitional constancy of life. We live life as pilgrims. Embracing the transformational process of pilgrimage. Knowing pilgrimage as a way of life. Moving from one pilgrimage experience to another; all intertwined, all built upon one another.
Daily transition is the substance of a pilgrimage. Transitioning out of the routines of our life into an unfamiliar setting; leaving home to come to Ireland. Walking a hundred miles in eight days pushes my body through several transitions of soreness to discomfort to pain. Every night settling into a different hostel. In the morning, rising from a strange bed, packing once again, walking another unfamiliar trail. To pilgrimage is to embrace the dailiness of transitions.
Cathy and I, making the transition from one form of pilgrimage to another. Accepting the transitory nature of life. Making friends, if you will, with the human condition of change.
Transitions have challenged humankind from the first moments of self-realization. Humans watched the sun rise in the east. Travel across the sky. Then settle into the darkness. Humankind wondered if the great ball of fire would return. The transition of the Sun created the daily transitions of human life. Creating rhythms, cycles, and seasons. All transitions. With the realization of the human self came the questions: Who am I? Who is the Other?
To know who I am is to realize that I was born, grew into an adult, and face the reality of all humans, death. To experience the Other is to imagine I might be a part of the great cycle of life. Maybe when I return to soil I become a part of the Earth. To rise into the life of the plants. To bath once again if the light of the Sun.
Humankind has pondered the questions of life's transitions and created rituals to mark the greatest moments of life. Transition and how to memorialize life changes has been the genesis of ritual. Naming ceremonies at birth. Vision quests to mark adulthood. Union rituals brought adults together. Counsel circles sharing a pipe to make communal decisions. Burial rites at the transition from life to death.
Here is Ireland, where the Tuatha Da Danaan, the people of Danu, built the remarkable burial mound and tomb, Newgrange, 5,000 years ago, the ideas of ritual have been considered before the pyramids and stonehenge. In the land of gods and goddess', faeries and wee people, where the myths of ancient religions morph, we gather to consider our own transitions and rituals to mark and honor them.
For five days we will study the rituals of the ancient peoples of Ireland. We will examine our lives through the art of mandala. We will create a personal ritual for the transitions in our lives. Cathy is working on a Croning ceremony. And I am creating a ritual for the transition from one pilgrimage to another. Each person at our retreat is processing the work of their own ritual. Creativity. Art. Birth. New life. I am excited and deeply curious.