Top 5 Things You Need When Preparing for a Pilgrimage

When preparing for a pilgrimage, what are the top five things you need? This list of to do’s will be beneficial for you regardless of the type of special travel you choose to take.

The Top 5 Necessities

  1. An Intention

Simon Senek in his book Start With Why says “Working hard for something we do not care about is called stress, working hard for something we love is called passion.” When you embark on a pilgrimage, you want to make sure your intention resonates with you.

What do you want to get out of this trip? What is your why for going on this voyage? If you are doing this pilgrimage just to check this item off a list, it’s likely there may be regret. Depending on the length of the pilgrimage, you will frequently ask yourself “why am I doing this again?” There will be times where struggle and pain arises. If this is the case, you want to ensure that your why is valid for you. Your why is your foundation.

Even if your pilgrimage is not on foot, but you are flying or driving hundreds of miles. Your why is important. You have spent money, time, and energy. All of these aspects are precious, make sure your why is legit.

  1. Mantra/Prayer/Affirmation

For most religious pilgrimages, this is the most vital piece to have. It will be inevitable that times will get tough. Be prepared for this. Bring a prayer or affirmation you can repeat to get through the moment? When difficulty arises, negative self-defeating thoughts reverberate in our minds. We may say to ourselves something like, “I’m not going to get through this. I’m not going to get through this.” When we make these statements, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The world will show us we are right. “You can’t.” But things don’t have to be this way. We can make a shift. It’s similar to the old children’s story of The Little Engine That Could. Instead one can change their self-talk from “I’m not going to get through this” to “I think I can.”

For example, a list of prayers that can be said for the Camino de Santiago can be found on this official website .
But you can do your own. It can be as simple as “I think I can” or “I got this.” It can be more esoteric, such as “The Universe supports me on my path.” Or there is a chance lyrics from your favorite song will replay in your head. Note what works for you, and repeat.

  1. Journal

It does not matter what type of intentional trip you are taking, have a journal or notes section in your phone to express all that is coming up for you. If you don’t write this down, you may forget. Capture the moment in words or drawn images. Emotions will arise.

You could have opted for an art pilgrimage and visited the beloved Mona Lisa. It’s one of the world’s most famous art pieces, and you have been curious to see what all the fuss is about. Prior to this moment, you may have only seen replicas of it on magnets, tee shirts, or films that featured this piece of art. It will be important to note during this time the emotions that arose for you. The thoughts that were going through your head as you waited in line to get a brief glimpse and selfie with the woman and her questionable smile. It’s possible that you may need time to soak this in.

Various thoughts can go through your head. It may range from such things as what the fuss was about. Additionally, you may be moved that you need to transcribe the excitement that’s arising inside onto paper. Journal about your experience as it is fresh in your head.

  1. Offering

An offering to this site could be in the form of payment of entry, but it could also be something deeper. This is dependent to rituals and traditions of the location you are visiting. When one visits The National Park on the Big Island, people have traditionally brought offerings to the goddess Pele. This is the Hawaiian Goddess, who is known as the goddess of creation and destruction, and the ruler of the active volcano on the island Mauna Loa. Although discouraged by the park and other locals, offerings (also known as hoʻokupu in Hawaiian) have been left that included wine, food, or a lock of one’s hair.

Yet offerings do not have to be physical, it could be verbalizing gratitude and love for this site we trekked miles to attain. It could be simply touching the sacred site with our hands, bowing down in reverence, or saying a prayer. Explore what this is for you and what fits for the particular location. For more information on this practice in Hawaii and what is recommended check out this site:ʻokupu-offerings/

  1. Story For Your Return Home

A pilgrimage wouldn’t be complete without your return home. Your friends and family will ask you how it went. What will you choose to share with them? Sometimes a pilgrimage can be so sacred for us, that it is difficult to put it into words. But we try. Some may downplay the impact, thinking others will not understand the experience you just embarked upon. Other people will get into the deep details of the whole journey, offering lessons learned to anyone who will hear.

Pilgrimages can serve as soul awakenings. And forever more we will view ourselves as a pilgrim. This has been the case for many people who have walked the Camino de Santiago. People want to share their stories, and connect with other peregrinos. This has been in the format of books, blogs, online groups, and podcasts dedicated solely to the camino. One of my favorite podcasts about this is found here:

Pilgrimage Plan

We explored the five things you need for any pilgrimage which are: Intention, Mantra, Journal, Offering and Story. There are many more aspects that can be useful for a pilgrimage. Explore the wisdom that others offer to prepare for a pilgrimage, but remember to make it your own. This is your journey, live it in such a way that it resonates for you. For this trip, you want to remember with each step you take, mode of transportation you use, person you meet, it’s all part of the path.

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

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