By all scientific accounts we are in profound crisis on the physical plane. The Sixth Great Extinction is no longer a possibility, but has become a brutal unfolding reality as plants and animals become extinct at a mind-numbing rate 1,000 times faster than they did before humans walked the land; meanwhile the climate crisis steadily intensifies to the level of planetary emergency. On the land the most obvious causes and responses are physical, but as important are metaphysical causes and responses.
In recognition of this foundational truth, I am pleased to announce that I have authored and published a new Soul*Spark eBook: A Primer for Pilgrims. Pilgrimage can serve as yet another healthy response to the call of the land, in this case with devotional intelligence and action.
In a wealth of ways across a wide span of traditions and hundreds of generations, pilgrims have sought out holy places: forest groves, healing wells or springs, pyramids, mountains, churches, temples, stone circles or labyrinths. Millions of people have traveled for a host of reasons.
In the end, whether we go willingly or unwillingly, whether we regard ourselves as tourists, business agents, or sacred travelers, we are all, pilgrims. A pilgrimage is a journey, not only outward to a faraway place, but also, inevitably, inward toward spiritual understanding and growth. In our era pilgrimage can be as well a critical geospiritual deed to help maintain the balance of our land, our planet, our lives.
This eBook is an invaluable guide to personal spiritual growth, as well as to earth healing. It’s also a collection of riveting and beautifully told true stories about critical geospiritual actions in North America
This nonfiction eBook by veteran journalist Steven McFadden also acknowledges, honors, draws from and strives to integrate the many cultures and traditions which have streamed onto Turtle Island (North America) over the last 500 years or so.
We have long needed, and finally have begun to find ways to graft the far-flung traditions from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, Asia, and beyond — onto the rootstock that is so deeply embedded here: Native ways. So many teachings make beautiful sense, in both the short and the long term, in ways both common and rare. We need all the wisdom we can summon to meet the challenges of our times, and native pilgrimage teachings offer a deep foundation.
The book offers a wealth of insight about the challenges that arise in pilgrimage and the profound good that such a spiritual exercise may bring – not just for the individual pilgrims, but also for the world at large.
Pilgrims may set out to do penance for past evils, to find answers to questions, to invoke blessings, to pursue spiritual ecstasy, or to seek a miracle for a friend or family member. Increasingly in our era, pilgrims also set out to help heal the earth.
In most mystical traditions it is said that the human soul itself, every human soul, is on a pilgrimage, consciously or unconsciously. He or she is bound for a holy place and therefore life is not just for enjoyment, but the soul also has dharma, a purpose or objective that must ever be kept in focus.
Now as you set out on the literary pilgrimage of reading this book, my hope as the author is that it will offer up useful compass points to help you maintain your bearings.
Journeys to luminous locations are often undertaken by people with scant understanding of what pilgrimage is and the principles that have been found to enhance it. Thus, they may see only what they have come to see, whereas intentional pilgrims may more readily open doors of perception, encounter revelation, and gain constructive power.
To the extent any or all of us are alienated by modern life from the natural world, a pilgrimage to a sacred place can help heal and restore this. The energetic atmosphere of sacred places can awaken a slumbering soul, providing not only renewal, but also a clearer sense of purpose. The energy can invigorate and promote balance — assisting human beings to realign through physical, mental, and emotional planes.
Just as I finished writing and prepared to publish this new eBook, my mother died. Marie Dolores Fitzsimmons McFadden was herself an inveterate pilgrim. Over the 92 1/2 years of her life she traveled to just about every region of the planet, and to an impressive number of sacred sites including Jerusalem, Rome, Fatima, Lourdes, El Santuario de Chimayo, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, and many other places. To honor her memory, this new book is dedicated to her, as well as to all of us who are “on the road” in an era when extreme circumstances call out for our presence and our intelligent healing participation.
A Primer for Pilgrims delivers nonfiction insight, excitement, inspiration, adventure, and more. It’s available in 10 different eBook and Smartphone formats through Smashwords, and also available for Kindle through Amazon.com and for all Apple devices such as iPad and iPhone in the Apple bookstore.
Nineteen years ago today – June 23, 1995 – a small band of pilgrims set out walking from the Atlantic to the Pacific on an epic journey that I have come to regard, and to write about, as the Odyssey of the 8th Fire.
The saga of their journey is well worth knowing, for it remains critically relevant to the journey all of us are making now through an era of profound change upon our Earth.
As well as the tale of the pilgrims’ travels on foot across Turtle Island (North America), Odyssey of the 8th Fire is the essential story of their meetings with dozens of traditional, learned elders of North America. They gifted the pilgrims with messages to deliver to all the people.
Reading Odyssey of the 8th Fire online is a demanding quest. The story is exceedingly long. Because of this, and because many of the elders who are part of the story noted that their teachings take both time and attention to understand, I recommend this literary pilgrimage be undertaken step by step, over a span of eight months or so.
Odyssey consists of a lengthy Prologue, and then 225 accounts, one for each day of travel. Those journal entries are ordered chronologically.
By engaging this online account of the epic walk one day at a time, a reader can make a steady eight-month literary and spiritual pilgrimage from East to West across Turtle Island (North America). The journey proceeds place to place, elder to elder, teaching to teaching.
“I ask you to listen not just with your minds. I ask you to listen with your hearts, because that is the only way you can receive what it is — what we are giving. These are the teachings of our hearts.
“This walk is going to take eight or nine months. There are lots of elders out there across Turtle Island, and they have many beautiful teachings, many teachings that all the people need now. It is our hope, it is our prayer that they will come forward now that the Eastern Door is open
“It is our prayer that they will meet us as we walk; that they will teach and share what they understand from their hearts. Be patient. Listen to the elders. You need patience to receive these teachings. It doesn’t all come at once. You need patience.”
– Frank Decontie, Algonquin – June 23, 1995 – First Encounter Beach, Massachusetts
This month a small band of women from the Ojibwe native nation is walking the land in prayer from the source of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca in the North, more than 1,200 miles in a south direction along the shore to the point where the great river spills into the sea at the Gulf of Mexico.
The Mississippi River Water Walkers sang the Water Song when they began their walk on March 1, 2013. By now they are many hundreds of miles further south, still in ceremony, still walking on to fulfill their vision.
When the women walkers reach Memphis, Tennessee in a week or so, their north-to-south trail will intersect with the east-to-west trail of the Sunbow Prayer Walk, which was guided 2,500 miles across the land 20 years ago by Grandfather William Commanda, now in spirit.
The trails of these two pilgrim bands will intersect in space and across time, forming a Four Directions wheel anchored in prayer and ceremony on the land at the Memphis shore of the Mississippi.
The eight-month long, male-driven Sunbow Walk from the Atlantic to the Pacific crossed the Mississippi River from Tennessee to Arkansas on the ninety-eighth day of the journey (Sept. 28, 1995). They traveled then under the teachings of the Seventh Fire and the skysign of the Whirling Rainbow
The women who are the Mississippi River Walkers, now on foot in real time 2013, are approaching intersection with the Sunbow trail in Memphis.
You can friend the Mississippi River Walkers and support them on their Facebook page, a page which is growing as the walkers make their way to the south, stopping at key points along the way to offer ceremonial blessings.
“We want the walk to be a prayer,” says Sharon Day, walk organizer, on their Facebook page. “Every step we take we will be praying for and thinking of the water. The water has given us life and now, we will support the water.”