Contribution to a Book

Book Title

The Many Voices of Pilgrimage and Reconciliation


Ian S. McIntosh and L. D. Harman



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Pilgrimage requires a journey. Humans are walkers, traversing the landscape seeking adventure and home. Walking pilgrimages along historic routes and concentrated journeys in a labyrinth all involve circling a centre. Places of natural grandeur have long attracted those undertaking journeys to sites of magic, prophecy, safety, hope and the supernatural. The landscape informs the journey and pilgrims notice things that can only be revealed by walking through that specific landscape. The boundaries between inner and outer landscape become blurred as the pilgrim enters an expanded relationship to the self. Walking engages the body while freeing the mind for deep contemplation and potential transformation. Following a labyrinth, a nature trail, or a saint’s footsteps requires surrendering control and trusting the journey. Walking in a state of focused contemplation while holding a question or an intention of quiet attentiveness is a core pilgrimage practice. A heightened state of receptive self-observation can evoke an almost visceral recognition of one’s own truth, a profound surprise of the potential for reimagining one’s life as a coherent story of meaningful events and cohesive purpose. From the first step across the threshold of the familiar to the last step returning home to where the pilgrim began, we are called to the journey. Circling the centre, whether walking the labyrinth, circumambulating Mount Tamalpais, or following the devotional route of early monks around Iona, orients the pilgrim to a greater understanding of their place and role in the cosmos. In my own awakening to the power of place and the profound longing for fields of sacred landscape, I have come to describe all sickness as homesickness. The journey home is the central quest for wholeness. The land shapes the pilgrim just as centuries of pilgrims shape the land. Contemplative walking is a powerful practice to find one’s way home.



Publication Date





Wallingford, UK


CABI Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage Series


Mount Tamalpais, Mount Tam, Circumambulation, Pilgrimage, Labyrinth




Full-text of book chapter made available here with permission from the publisher.

Circling Centre, Finding Our Way Home:  Circumambulation Pilgrimages around Iona, Mount Tamalpais and Labyrinths

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