I am an expression of the divine, just like a peach is, just like a fish is. I have a right to be this way...I can't apologize for that, nor can I change it, nor do I want to... We will never have to be other than who we are in order to be successful... We realize that we are as ourselves unlimited and our experiences valid. It is for the rest of the world to recognize this, if they choose.
Our first full moon labyrinth walk happened under a cloudy sky, gifting us with a quietly introspective candlelight walk. As the days grow noticeably longer and warmer, the nights here in Portugal are still downright chilly. Winter and spring continue their dance as we stand at the threshold of season's change.
Why walk the labyrinth under a full moon? Besides the obvious benefit (on a cloudless night) of being able to easily see the path in luminous moonlight, there is the full moon symbolizing culmination of power, coming to the peak of clarity, and obtaining fullness of expression. Walking the labyrinth is one way to seek clarity or reflect on what has come into fullness recently in your life. On the day after the full moon, a cycle of release begins - the waning moon symbolizing the act of surrender, of turning inward into contemplation and a period of incubation. The first of the 3 Rs of walking the labyrinth is to Release.
Our April 22nd labyrinth walk, with no full moon in sight, adopted the latter tone, feeling much like a preparation for the cycle of release that is now upon us. I felt drawn to include the color purple in our walk - in part as a tribute to Prince, whose passing this week reminded me how much his music touched my heart and colored my more tender years - and because purple is the color associated with the crown chakra, which is said to connect us to the divine source of all that is. We began our walk with the Alice Walker quote from above, reflecting as we walked on what limits we could release as we made our way toward center.
Once at the center of the labyrinth, we were invited to take a long strand of deep purple ribbon to carry out with us - a tangible symbol of our connection with the divine. Upon exiting the labyrinth, we were encouraged to either tie our purple ribbon on the cord above the labyrinth entrance as a symbol of release, or carry it home as a reminder of our connection to the divine. We closed our evening recalling that each of us is not just an expression of the divine, but that we are also called to share that divine spark with the world.
One of my favorite reminders of this comes from this sacred text: "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house."- Matthew 5:14-15
Alice Walker also wrote, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.” Perhaps not noticing the purple in a field is akin to keeping the lamp hidden from the world. As winter bows out of the dance this season, and spring puts on her best colors, plant a little something purple in your garden and remember Ms. Walker's words: We are as ourselves unlimited. Couldn't we all use a little more of the color purple?
"Soul" is not a thing, but a quality or a dimension of experiencing life and ourselves.
"Pilgrimage is transformative travel to a sacred place." This is how Phil Cousineau, author of The Art of Pilgrimage, describes it. A sacred place in this context is a place to which people travel in search of meaning, which could be a baseball field in Boston, Peru's Machu Picchu, or Vatican City. What makes a place sacred is not so much what happened there, but what meaning we ascribe to the place itself.
It was 9 years ago that I left a high tech career in Silicon Valley and moved to Portugal to be with my husband. Since then, I have fallen in love with Portugal and have hosted people here on pilgrimage. In 2013, I completed a master of wisdom studies that has served to ignite my interest and explorations in mythology, transformational art, and earth energetics - particularly place-based legends and myths.
"The earth is full of Soul,” wrote Celtic mystic John O’Donohue, and in my experience place-based myth is the initation doorway into the soul of a place. Jeremy Taylor, founding member and past president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, has said that “dreams have multiple layers of meaning and significance woven into them,” from the physical to the spiritual. Like dreams, myths, too, can be understood in layers of meaning and significance. "A myth is a sacred story set in a time and place outside history, describing in fictional form the fundamental truths of nature and human life," writes Thomas Moore. Thus place-based myths offer insight into the deeper truth of a place and our experience of it.
A place-based myth is a legend or mythical story associated with a particular location. Sometimes the place name itself hints at the myth, for example, Rome is named for Romulus, its founder and one of the twins suckled by a she-wolf in Roman mythology. Richard Leviton, author and geomantic researcher, suggests looking at place-based myths “upside down and in a mirror” to peer into the deeper truth about what people have experienced at that site.
Mount Rushmore, for example, was a sacred site for Native Americans long before its granite face was carved into the likeness of four US Presidents. Mount Rushmore was known to the Lakota Sioux as Six Grandfathers. It is interesting that the creators of the monument, envisioning the faces of four influential men on the peak, had a similar - although cruder - response to the mountain. Having never visited South Dakota, it makes me wonder if being at the mountain itself (without taking into account the sculpture), one would have the sensation of being in the presence of a council of wise male elders. If so, perhaps this reveals the soul of the place.
Ultimately, it could be said that in every place we encounter we find in some way a reflection of ourselves. On pilgrimage into the soul of a place, thus, is where we meet ourselves. And this is why I go on pilgrimage, and why I invite you to join me. Pilgrimage offers us the opportunity to see ourselves anew, and thus within every pilgrimage is the possibility that we will be transformed.