Sacred Pilgrimage & The Essence of Spiritual Travel


Have you ever longed to embark on a journey of pure wonder and transformation, a journey that may stretch your personal boundaries and open your heart, mind, and spirit to new possibilities and new insights? If so, a sacred pilgrimage is the trip for you. Spiritual journeys, pilgrimages, and sacred sites tours are becoming more and more popular – here we explore their importance.

sacred pilgrimage
Phil Cousineau on a sacred pilgrimage to Ireland

What Is Sacred Pilgrimage?

For centuries, people of all cultures have gone on pilgrimages to sacred sites around the world. These journeys acted as rites of passage, an expression of faith and devotion, an answer to a sacred call, or merely a seeking of spirit. In his book, The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred, Phil Cousineau writes that, “in each of us dwells a pilgrim. It is the part of us that longs to have direct contact with the sacred… What is sacred is what is worthy of our reverence, what evokes awe and wonder in the human heart, and what, when contemplated, transforms us utterly”.

hill of tara
The Hill of Tara in Ireland – a powerful sacred site

“For millennia, the cry in the heart for embarking upon a meaningful journey has been answered by pilgrimage, a transformative journey to a sacred center. It calls for a journey to a holy site associated with gods, saints, or heroes, or to a natural setting imbued with spiritual power, or to a revered temple to seek counsel. To people the world over, pilgrimage is a spiritual exercise, an act of devotion to find a source of healing, or even to perform a penance. Always, it is a journey of risk and renewal. For a journey without challenge has no meaning; one without purpose has no soul…”

machu picchu peru
Machu Picchu in Peru draws thousands of pilgrims

Why Go on a Sacred Pilgrimage?

The reasons why modern day pilgrims embark on such a journey are very personal and individual. For many, there is a deep desire to touch and connect with the sacred energies that are palpable at sacred sites. Perhaps one has a lingering question and feels drawn to a certain place for answers, or perhaps one wishes to find a community of like-minded spirits by venturing on a pilgrimage with others.

There are many soulful reasons why one chooses to go on a sacred journey rather than just travel some place new. Essentially, pilgrims are spiritual seekers, people who are searching for the divine, a force which can be found in a myriad of spaces. Cousineau describes a pilgrim as a “poetic traveler, one who believes that there is poetry on the road, at the heart of everything”.

spiritual travel mexico
Sacred ceremonies like this one in Mayapan, Mexico are part of a sacred pilgrimage

Soulful Travel: Becoming a Pilgrim

He also explains how the sacred can be found all around us if we travel with a certain mindset. “The practice of soulful travel is to discover the overlapping point between history and everyday life, the way to find the essence of every place, every day: in the markets, small chapels, out-of-the-way parks, craft shops. Curiosity about the extraordinary in the ordinary moves the heart of the traveler intent on seeing behind the veil of tourism.” If you are able to see, feel, and experience the sacred even in the most mundane of things and places, then you are already on your way, you have already become a pilgrim.

In the Global Spirit program, “Sacred Travel: The Pilgrimage Experience”, Cousineau further explores this ancient spiritual phenomenon, addressing questions such as, “What can the ritual of Pilgrimage tell us about deepening the sacred dimension of life?”; “What spiritual state or benefit are pilgrims ultimately looking for?” and “How do they know and express it, if and when they find it?” With invited guests Pico Iyer and Peruvian anthropologist Zoila Mendoza, as well as compelling footage of pilgrimages to India, Peru, and more, this new program is a must-see for anyone interested in spiritual travel. Enjoy a short excerpt from the program below!

There is no better time to begin your own sacred pilgrimage experience than the present. If you have been drawn here and are reading this article, then you have already been called. It is now in your hands to heed this call and respond as you will. We wish you an exciting, enlightening, and transformational journey, wherever the road may lead you.

Browse our current sacred journeys and find your own unique calling today!

 ~ Sacred Earth Journeys