How often does it happen that someone comes into the practice and says. „I can’t be angry anymore“? Unfortunately,...
The word pilgrim originates from the Latin word peregrinus, which means stranger. Literally a pilgrim is one who comes „per agrum“ :over the land. Usually ager means field, a piece of land that is owned by someone. So stranger seems an appropriate translation, because the one who comes over the field is not the one, who ownes it.
The pilgrim belongs to the archetype of the course of life, he represents one of the stages that everone of us has to go through, else it would not be archetypal.
Many religious people consider a pilgrimage as integral part of their spirituality. However what I am speaking about today is not religion nor spirituality (at least not necessarily), it is about a certain stage in our development, that everyone has to go through be he or she spiritual or not. Fortunately there is a flower for everyone.
Let us take a closer look on this archetypal stage in life. If you were a little cynical you could call life an endless series of heavy loss. One has hardly got used to living in a soft, warm, wet world, when one is kicked out the first time: labour begins. Outside it is very strange and loud and everything is new and different and really frightening. However there is no way back: ask your mother.
But this however is only the beginning. You are so lucky in case your moher, father, sibblings try to become an adequat replacement for the warmth and safety of mother‘s belly. But this, too, does not last too long. Then your family throws you out, and some strange place called kindergarten is already waiting to frighten you. Again you step on unknown territory.
That is the way is goes: out, out, out! Out of the kindergarten, out of school, out of childhood and so on, until the big final heave ho goodbye.
Anyway things we cannot change we have to live with and adapt in order to avoid depression or whatever. Some also try it the nostalgic way and complain their whole lives about what they miss. It does not help but if you like it that way, go ahead - or try Honeysuckle. Else you will find yourself all alone, but have gained another reason to complain: all the missed chances...
Being thrown out is always followed by a time of intense search. What can fill the emptiness in our lives?
The emptiness works like a magnet and attracts a couple of emotions nobody likes: fear, depression, insecurity. Our automatic response to this is the search for hold, stay and orientation. No wonder that our insurance companies grow and grow and... they represent our inner wishes. Unfortunately they have not anything to offer but illusions. They cannot protect us from any harm and prevent us from accidents. Gravity is stronger than insurance companies when a brick approaches towards our head...
You could say that all our insurance companies are merely the result of our effort to avoid the pilgrim stage. And that is exactly why the pilgrim stages comes repeatedly: it teaches us to accept that nothing is for sure and nothing lasts for ever. Perhaps you have heard about Alan Watts, philosopher and writer. One of his books about Zen can be seen as introduction to the pilgrim stage of human development, it`s title is „The Wisdom of Insecurity“.
So we may interpret insurance as a kind of flight from insecurity. There are people who directly move into a mariage when they leave their parents‘ home, they try to skip pilgrimage. Others try to avoid being alone at any price and become relationship addicted. And there are some people, who do not do anything, do not look for an education or a job as long as daddy or social welfare office pay. As long as they do not have to search and take risks and effort without knowing they will win in the end.
Pilgrimage is part of a regularly repeated archetypal development cycle and means new orientation und search. The earlier we accept pilgrimage as part of our being the easier we can cope with it.
The important thing about pilgrimage is that there is no goal. It is the search that counts. In the middle ages pilgrimage was essential part of the craftsman education. After our final school exams many many of us went to India to visit Buddha and/or USA to have a chat with Jack Kerouac (ok, it was the 70`s), however this, too, was a kind of pilgrimage. In most cases Buddha and Jack were not even at home when we came around, so indeed it was searching not finding what became important to us.
The search without a goal, that is pilgrimage as it is meant in the archetypal realm. We only know that we are looking for something, but not what it is. Remember: we were thrown out, nobody saved us, nobody lead us home, now it is up to ourselves - will we give up, cry and pity ourselves? Or will we stand up, accept our fate and try to find something good that will make our lives worthwhile? What have we got to lose? So get up and walk, no matter where, your intuition will lead you to new experiences and realms.
What we can win is not that obvious. The lesson can be hard and there is no golden medal to win. However we learn to stand on our own feet, we learn to care for ourselves, feed ourselves, become autonomous. This indeed is necessary if we should ever consider to have children ourselves. What kind of parent would we be, if we should not even be capable of caring for ourselves. Going through the pilgrim stage works like an anti-depressive vaccination.
These are some Bach flowers that help us overcome depression anyway:
- Larch - Larix decidua
is an essence for people, who are troubled by an inferiority complex, they have no confidence at all, who do not trust their own abilities, so they do not even try. They know they will fail, so why should they try. - The pilgrim however has learned that he can make it on his own. He started something without knowing where it will lead to, without the help of family and friends. He can do it, so why should he take Larch?
- Gentian - Gentiana amarella
is for people who tend to give up too easily. Any obstacle will do to keep them from going on. That is not how pilgrims do it.
- Willow - Salix vitellina
complains the whole day about everything and everyone. He is not in peace with himself, but he makes no effort to change anything. A pilgrim does...
So: the goal is not the goal. Survival is the goal. There is no shortcut, too sad. We have to take the bumpy road. That is what pilgrimage is about.
Anyway we are fortunate to get some support by flowers:
Perennial Cornflower - Centaurea montana
This is the essence that helps to discover oneself, especially one‘s senses and sensuality. Perennial Cornflower helps to enjoy your body, work as well as sexuality. The essence changes pilgrimage from a burden into an adventure.
Pineapple Weed - Matricaria discoidea
While Perennial Cornflower helps to enjoy the input (what we feel, touch, smell etc.), Pineapple Weed is about output. This essence helps to realise ideas and plans. You see its direction is from inside out. The lesson of the essence is to make good use of your brain and your muscles. Sense of balance and new skills are supported.
California Poppy - Escholtzia californica
You may think pilgrimage is one of the less comfortable stages in life (and you are right), but even this yin has its yang. One of the worst things that can happen is that search becomes an addiction. In cases when the search does not lead to clarity and insight, confusion and depression are the results. Sometimes we have found a purpose but we do not recognize it. This, too, is an indication of California Poppy. In German the words indicate the relationship: search is „suche“, addiction is „sucht“. An addicted can be seen as someone searching. Unfortunately he uses the wrong means. Drugs can be helpful indeed, on the other hand they can cause serious damage, they take away our freedom and replace it by slavery. Tn that case pilgrimage leads to disaster.
California Poppy is the appropriate essence to avoid the traps of pilgrimage. It calms and frees from dependencies, supports meditation and help to find inner peace while outside turmoil, insincerity and chaos try to put us down.