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The Pilgrimage Project

“There are times when, in order to go forward and create new ways of living, we need to look back from where we came, to revision the American heritage and experience; not just in terms of battlefields or industry, but in terms of the sacred sites that deeply support us. Can we honor them and actually listen to the holders of these sites and their messages? This is the intent of the Pilgrimage Project. Each site is both an honoring of what the land holds; and a portal to our highest future, a gateway for builders of the New World.”

This unique and groundbreaking event is designed to blaze a trail in American culture, to deepen our understanding of American spiritual resources and their ability to promote healing and reconciliation in an emerging diverse economy and culture.

The 2013 Pilgrimage sets a template that will allow thousands of people to walk, share, and relate to one another in profoundly meaningful ways. It opens portals of vision and inspiration as it honors our land, its people, and its sacred geography. The Pilgrimage Project offers an open forum that can bring people together on higher ground with open hearts and minds. It is unique in its construction as a “listening pilgrimage.” At each stop the group listens to the stories and from those who have “held the power” of these sites for generations, as well as ideas about how these sites can help foster peace and innovative change for all peoples.

The 2013 Pilgrimage Project is a healing journey to honor and celebrate the diversity of sacred locales that have captured the imagination of so many of our people. The pilgrimage is a deeply democratic way of opening a possibility to many different communities to honor the depth and sacred history of this land and to open to new ways of living on it.

A bus of pilgrim-participants will take off from the East coast in early June on a twenty-eight day journey around the continental U.S. Participants will be able to ride for a full month or for weeklong legs of the trip. They will pay for their own food and essentials as has been customary throughout world pilgrimages. This is not a profit-making enterprise. This is a journey through the heart of the land that has birthed us as a culture; it is an opportunity to reflect upon what we have built and what kind of world we want to leave for future generations. As has been customary in other cultures, businesses, philanthropic institutions, and intentioned individuals are asked to support this pilgrimage.

The journey by bus will stop at twelve major pilgrimage locales to gather and listen to the keepers of that sit, to invoke and celebrate their energies, and to hold public forums to raise the awareness of the significance of these sites and the visions they hold for our future. Each site has a unique presence and power and holds information about how to live in community, how to relate to the natural world, how to develop humane economies, how to honor our past, and how to move powerfully into our personal and collective futures. This “pilgrimage of reconciliation” brings the past and present, the races and religions, the young and the old, together in mutuality and understanding. It is about honoring the peoples and traditions that have emerged in and contributed to our rich spiritual history. This rediscovery of the “power of place,” will mark a sacred trail that can be expanded into a new, lived reality. The ceremonies and forums at each site will be personally crafted by participants who will include music, movement, performance and fine art. At each locale, the group will listen to and receive teachings and will have the opportunity to learn from the keepers of our most rooted traditions. Formally listening to the elders and keepers of each place generates humility and new levels of knowledge that can be shared with the entire country through the video documentation of the 2013 pilgrimage. On the way, the group will camp and engage each other and members of the local community in processes of healing, sharing life journeys, and opening to the sacred potential of the very ground we walk on every day.

A film team will accompany the group to create a documentary that can be used in education to help people understand and appreciate the rich spiritual heritage of this country. The film will powerfully present this new form of respectful travel for future pilgrimages, for students of American culture, history, and religion, and for future generations.

The following is a preliminary list of sites to be visited:

Walden Pond – home of Henry David Thoreau’s experiments in living that set the tone for meetings of East and West in the New World

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island – honoring the light of hope and the great journeys so many of our ancestors took

Ohio Serpent Mounds – acknowledging the shamanic cultures that predate our verbal knowledge

Martin Luther King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta – the place where the conscience of modern America was born

Mississippi Delta – home of the great Blues tradition that emerged from African American spirituals

Our Lady of Prompt Succor, New Orleans – bearing witness to the faith that allows for compassion and community in response to natural disaster

El Santario de Chimayo, New Mexico – one of the great healing churches in the United States, destination of pilgrimage by local Southwest and Hispanic communities every Easter

Hopi Land & Sedona, Arizona (here we are hosted on the Mesa both Ernie M., Hopi guide, and in Sedona by former mayor and sustainable community architect Renauld Roddacia),

Spider Rock – center of Native American creation narratives

Big Sur- Home of the Esalen Tribe, and Great Medicine Wheel by the shores of the Pacific Ocean, cite of the practice of permaculture.

Mount Shasta – looming high over redwoods, claimed by Native cultures, Buddhists, and other Transcendentalists as America’s Holy Mountain

Big Horn Medicine Wheels, Wyoming – great astronomically aligned Medicine Wheel of the Plains People

Site of the Parliament of World Religions on the shores of Lake Michigan; birth of public interfaith dialogue in the U.S.

America’s Stonehenge, New Hampshire – testament to the cultures that were here before us

Vietnam War Memorial, Peace and Reconciliation with the mission of America, July 4

On the way to these sites, the caravan will travel through both natural wonders of this land and urban places of note; integrating both nature and culture on this historical journey.

The 2013 Pilgrimage Project is an open process meant to rekindle an ancient way of being deeply and soulfully present with one self and others. Its documentation will lay an inspirational and informative foundation for a new cultural form of awakening. Philanthropic donations will help finance, organizational infrastructure, transportation, permits, honorariums to elders that will the support sacred shrines, and allow for the intent and process of this work to be shared with a significant audience.