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Midwinter Rituals: Imrama + the practice of sacred travel

I love all forms of travel. And it’s more than just a hobby of mine. It is a dream + a way of life.  And, sure, if I could hop on a plane or visit faraway cities or wander the earth in silence, taking photos + writing full time, then that would be a dream come true. But, honestly, that’s not really necessary. You see, I believe in a thing that I call sacred travel. I believe that we don’t actually have to go anywhere in order to wander + search + seek + explore + discover. Ultimately, what I love about travel is the pilgrimage of it all. The practice of traveling to sacred spaces. And that is an an attitude/mindset/belief that includes everything from far off travel in exotic, wild places to being a tourist in my own town to traveling within. 

The thing is, it’s all about the journey. And every single fucking day can be a journey if we simply approach it that way. Whether we head off to work or school, or head off to the airport, or hop in our car, or stay at home. We are on a journey. The most important journey. The journey of discovering who we are + who we are called to be. 

Of course I believe in the power of visiting new and amazing places, with new + amazing people. That inspires us + expands our world. But, I also believe in the power of visiting regular, normal places as well; so that we get in touch with what everyday life is really like for all kinds of people. And that inspires us + expands our worlds as well. But, honestly, I believe most in the power of traveling with our soul – whether far away, close by, or within our soul. I believe in the power of understanding that every single moment is a moment of the sacred journey of life.

For me, all travel is (and can be) sacred travel. That is something that I deeply believe in. Sacred travel means dedicating ourselves to a pilgrimage experience. What makes a pilgrimage different from a regular trip is that there is an element of spiritual growth to it. The purpose of a pilgrimage, of pure sacred travel, is enlightenment. It is about getting to know ourselves better, of evolving + growing, by encountering the places + people around us. There is a deep intention that goes along with sacred travel. It is not simply about traveling to experience + learn new things about other cultures + people. That’s all part of it, yes. An important part. But, sacred travel/pilgrimage is, in its grounded form, a journey to know one’s self more deeply, through the places + people that encountered along the way.

And, that means that sacred travel can be experienced anywhere + at any time.

Today’s card is all about sacred travel. It is a card that calls forth a journey to sacred spaces. That can be a physical, outward journey; or it can be an inward journey of the soul. No matter where the journey leads, it is a pilgrimage. A journey of enlightenment, discover, and transformation. Of leaving behind one place + moving on to another sacred place. 

Imrama is a Celtic word that means sacred journey. A soul journey. There are many Irish/Celtic tales about people who set sail, head off into the unknown, seeking to discover who they really are. Hoping to get in touch with their soul. To listen, learn, and to be changed. Not because they need so badly to change who they were, but because they need to be inspired and discover newer, deeper parts of their own soul.

Imrama is a spiritual quest taken with the intention to become enlightened. It’s inspired by a feeling that something is missing. The automatic thing to do, then, is to begin to seek for that missing element. Along the way, there are, of course, obstacles, adventures, challenges, and inspiring moments of bliss. All serving to refine our souls, helping us to become who we really are. Helping us to discover our own truth. And with every pilgrimage, with every sacred journey we undertake, we become more + more in touch with that deep truth. 

This card, at this time of the year, on the threshold of a new year, encourages us to travel. For you it may be that you can travel to a literal, physical place. A sacred place to your soul. Or, it may be a calling to travel to the sacred space of your own soul. Without even leaving your home. It doesn’t matter what kind of travel you feel you can make right now, the message is clear either way: It’s time for a sacred pilgrimage. 

Our souls are ready to travel deep, to take us someplace new. The question is: are we up for a little sacred travel adventure?

Honestly, I am not certain if my calling to sacred travel is a physical one or an inner one. In one week I will be literally traveling to the sacred space of my roots. Home to North Carolina for the holidays. Perhaps there is something there for me to encounter + experience. Perhaps there is great enlightenment waiting for me on this trip home, as I visit those “ancient” places that stir my soul.

But, it could also be that my sacred travel is much more internal. It could be that I am on the cusp of a deep, inward journey toward my soul. One of leaving behind a lot of baggage so that I can be freed up to travel more authentically + lightly into a new phase of life.

It could be a combination of both. And, most likely it is. The thing is, this is the time to explore. To study something ancient + old that is sacred to our souls. To read an old book or watch an old movie that has been sacred + meaningful to us. To visit places + spaces, new or old, that are soul spaces. Places that inspire, where we know that our souls are awakened. For me, that just may be cathedrals, churches, or other holy sights, like mountaintops or rivers.

In any case, this is the time to go. It is the holiday season, we are all traveling in some way or another, even if we are staying at home. We are traveling + moving through the seasons as they change from dark to light or light to dark. We are moving through the end of a year, the end of a revolution around the sun. And into a new, fresh year filled with empty pages + deep possibilities. We are traveling to see people, or traveling to the recesses of our minds, remembering past holidays. But, we are all traveling somewhere at this time.

Questions for you to ponder:

If you could go anywhere, where would you go? Why?

What special sacred places do you hold dear to your heart?

What kind of imrama (soul journey) are you being called to? Inner? Outer?

Imrama, the soul journey, wants us to make wherever we are going, or staying, a sacred pilgrimage. A journey through this holiday season that will peel off layers, uncover hidden truths, and help us explore who we want to be as we travel onward. It is a sacred time, this time of year. And it is the perfect time for a little sacred travel.

xoxo. liz.

Published in life coaching

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