This article was first published in “Mindscape” magazine, Vol.3 http://www.mindscapemagazine.com
In 2002, Henrik Urdal of the International Peace Research Institute (PRIO), Oslo, presented his study entitled “The Devil in the Demographics,” providing hard data to confirm the already firm belief that increased populations of single, unemployed men between the ages of 17 and 25 are bad news for a society. We all “knew” anyway that testosterone has to be channelled in some way – if not, violence and mayhem ensue.
I wonder…? Hasn’t the Spiritual Quest also been an option for those of us with enough time on our hands to start reflecting on Life – or nothing else to lose?
In more ancient times, pilgrimages were undertaken as a part of one’s social and moral responsibility – this is still the case of the Muslim Hajj, which is understood to have begun long before Mohammed, perhaps around 2500 BCE. Groups of people travelling together to places considered holy or sacred have long spun the economic wheels of Europe – churches and monasteries in medieval times were in fierce competition with one another for the spiritual tourist’s business, fuelling the…um…creativity…of finders and forgers of sacred relics. A splinter of wood from the One True Cross, a tatter of a holy person’s clothing, a piece of bone from a saint’s corpse – the better and more powerful the relic, the more pilgrims and patrons would be eager to spend their money to venerate and preserve it. Just think of the drawing power that the Shroud of Turin still holds to this day…
Although a pilgrimage was initially supposed to provide the duress necessary to cleanse a traveller of impurities, by the time Chaucer wrote “The Canterbury Tales” the pilgrimage of penance was becoming more popular as a fun time away from home.
Is the pilgrim’s path once again speaking to humanity, and what is it we’re looking for these days?
The Office of the Camino of Santiago de Compostela (also known as the Way of St. John) states that many undertake this 800-km pilgrimage at times of upheaval in their lives. They were expecting 200,000 pilgrims in 2010 – that’s a fair amount of upheaval, no? Their most recent statistics note that normally at least 40 percent of pilgrims are likely to be women, though 2010 was a Holy Year in which July 25 fell on a Sunday and the last time this occurred the percentages of men and women were inversed. Hmmm.
Everywhere I have travelled recently (and I’ve been travelling a lot) I’ve encountered flocks of spiritual tourists, meditating, chanting, doing rituals and Experiencing the Energies in caves, churches and crop circles, in temples and tombs. Is it my imagination, or have the busloads of Japanese tourists clicking away with their cameras been replaced by equally numerous (mostly) single people, the vast majority being female, avidly stalking God in sacred sites around the globe from Utah to Uzbekistan? Google “spiritual pilgrimage” to see what I mean – you can choose your Path from over 2 million entries – and these are just the ones in English!
There seems to be a proliferation of spiritual tour guides who bring questing souls on “voyages of initiation” around the world – these are often people who themselves have had potent experiences in these sites, derive great satisfaction from sharing them with others, and get to travel to their favourite places as well. But I think there is something else going on…
We are living in precisely pinpointed, prophesied times.
Ancient seers and wisdom keepers gazed inward to their Knowing and outward to the constellations; they focused on a distant future and left messages etched in stone and metal, drawn on hides, and encoded in their buildings, warning their descendants of what they saw was to come and when it was to occur.
They told us that great secrets would be revealed and that the land would undergo great transformation through water and fire – that there would be miracle workers and that prophets would be on every street corner. They told us that the world as we know it would die a difficult death – the labour pains of a new planetary reality would be strong and hard.
Wisdom Keepers of the planet’s indigenous peoples – from Tibet to Peru to Hopiland to the Arctic Circle to Australia and Africa – are doing several things these days: they are moving to the high places on earth and preparing for potential earth changes; they are performing earth-healing ceremonies, ritual and prayer and they are coming down amongst the masses to reveal teachings that have hitherto been seen as the realm of the high initiate and shaman.
Many otherwise perfectly normal folk have also been moved to action, by what at first might have been brushed aside as just a passing whim – something imagined. The whispers became more urgent, though – we eventually had to leave the dishes in the sink and follow this guidance, no matter how crazy everyone else thought we were. I heard Drunvalo once estimate there were only 70 or so of us a few decades ago, mostly going about our business quietly, placing crystals in precise spots, chanting in forgotten temples and opening long-closed passageways, sometimes simply being somewhere we knew we had to be, with no expectations other than the peace of heart and mind that attends serving the best we know how.
This coincides and, I believe, connects in an important way to another factor…
In the now almost extinct Shaker communities of New England ( founded by Jane Wardley and Ann Lee in 1774), the oath of celibacy freed woman so that they could assume positions of equality and serve God and humanity through prayerful work. The communities had schools to teach orphans and the children of people who joined because they were not able to take care of them on their own – this was in the time of the American War of Independence, when there were many in this situation. Although celibacy is not really a viable option for most of us, contraception has effectively replaced it. In 2008 there were 1.9 million childless women in the U.S. aged 40 to 44, compared with 580,000 in 1976. Nearly 20 percent of American women now end their childbearing years without having given birth, compared to 10 percent in the 1970s. This trend fluctuates only slightly in other countries around the world.
So the question we should perhaps be asking now is: What happens when the population of single women with no children increases?
We need not just focus upon women of child-bearing age or who have never had children – let’s also look at those who no longer have the responsibility of house and home:
Agnes van de Beek, 60’s, Dutch, energetic healing of sacred sites
AliAma, 60, USA; channel, guide, visionary
Ani Williams, 60’s, USA and France; guide, musician, and sound healer
Brenda Cann, 40’s, Canadian now in Malta; guide and energetic healer of sacred sites
Catherine Gaze, 58, British; guide and sound healer of sacred landscapes
Gabriella Kapfer, 50’s, British; musician, sound healer and teacher
Gloria Amendola, 50’s, USA; channel and guide to sacred sites.
Jade Chabot, 51, Quebec; guide and healer in Inca tradition
Kahn-Tineta Horn, 70’s, Mohawk; film-maker and activist
Uva Meiner, 70, Costa Rica + Damanhur; midwife, healer and teacher
Judith Moore, 62, USA; channel, visionary, spiritual pilgrim
Rosalien Strating, 50’s, Dutch; guide to sacred sites
Selma Sevenhuijsen, 62, Dutch, now in Italy; guide and spiritual seeker
Starhawk, 60, USA; author, earth-activist, spiritual leader and teacher, earth-healing
Peace Pilgrim, 1908–1981, USA; walked 25,000+ miles for 28 years on her pilgrimage for peace http://www.peacepilgrim.com/
Donna Read, 70’s, Canadian; film-maker, earth activist
The list could go on and on – these are just some of the beautiful women I know who are heeding the call of Spirit, often finding themselves in the strangest of places, trusting their guidance with their lives.
Yes, there are men travelling the path of the spiritual pilgrim. And there are couples. They are just greatly outnumbered by the multitudes of women, especially those “of a certain age”, as they like to call us, wandering the world, consciously serving the Earth, listening carefully for what to do next. The guiding forces are variably defined as our consciences, God, the higher self, Life, inner Knowing, the Universe, Gaia, guiding angels, multidimensional beings or councils, extraterrestrial brethren….
What began as tiny individual droplets being breathed to and fro over the face of the Earth has turned into a gentle wave of devotion. Information is channelled, transcribed, collated and sent at the speed of thought to a burgeoning, connected world community.
At a Peace Summit in Vancouver in September 2009, the Dalai Lama said “the world will be saved by the Western woman”.
From HH’s mouth to God’s ear….