Pilgrimage: Secular vs. Sacred

J. Douglas Porteous
University of Victoria
Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 3P5

( ) Pilgrimage is intimately linked to spatiality: it is a landscape of the heart. It often seeks some sort of epiphany either while moving towards or on reaching a locational goal. In a model of intangivle human relationships with environment pilgrimage is generally located at "spirituality", but can be reached in a variety of ways via "attachmetn", "aesthetics", or "ethics". On a secular pilgrimage to the barren landscapes of teh Canadian High Arctic at 80o N, several persons interviewed claimed epiphanic experiences, usually while alone, tired and still. Similar conditions can be attained in the semi-natural landscapes of the monastic theocracy of Mounth Athos, Greece, where twenty monasteries and many hermitages are also available for religious experience. Nevertheless, none of my inteviewees there reported epiphany. I speculate why a neutral, secular environment devoid of people might be more conducive to epiphany than an explicitly religious one.

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