Walking the Songlines of the Soul: A Pilgrimage Walk, Le Puy-en-Velay to St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, on the Camino Path of Stars, An Inner Journey in the Outer World
Veronica Goodchild, PhD
(Copyright – All rights reserved)
How does pilgrimage help the Earth? …
a pilgrim’s relationship with the Earth, with the landscape, can be a love relationship. Just like us, the Earth longs for such love and calls us to love her. The Earth in her love for us helps us towards illumination, and we can help her towards hers. That is the hidden purpose of pilgrimage – the so-called redemption of mankind and Nature, the raising of all to light, wherein Light is the manifestation of Love.
Peter Dawkins, Elder and co-Founder, Gatekeeper Trust, UK
The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.
I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown,
for going out, I found, was really going in.
John Muir, Naturalist, Conservationist, and Founder, Sierra Club, USA
When we touch the Earth mindfully every step will bring peace and joy to the world.
Thich Nhat Hanh, Touching the Earth
On the return trip home, gazing through 240,000 miles of space toward the stars and the planet from which I had come, I suddenly experienced the universe as intelligent, loving, harmonious.
My view of our planet was a glimpse of divinity.
We went to the Moon as technicians; we returned as humanitarians.
Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 Astronaut and IONS founder.
Part 1: Le-Puy-en-Velay to Conques
Chapter One: Our Environmental Crisis and the Call to Pilgrimage
Dear Reader, Walking the Songlines of the Soul, is a companion to my previous book, Songlines of the Soul: Pathways to a New Vision for a New Century. In that Songlines, I wrote about the breakthrough of the imaginal world – or Other world as I sometimes call it – into this world in experiences of synchronicity, UFO phenomena, Crop Circles, Near-Death experiences, and the Mystical Cities of the Soul. The focus of these direct encounters of a subtle world in this world happens with the opening of the heart, rather than the interpretations of the mind. Despairing about the prospect of yet another war (this time in Syria) and lamenting the continued disregard of environmental concerns in the collective, not to mention a feeling of overwhelm and helplessness about these large issues, I felt I had to undertake something on a smaller and more human scale, something that I could actually do. So living at the foot of Mt. Ste. Victoire near Aix-en-Provence during the summer of 2013, and hiking almost every day on this sacred mountain, I made plans to walk part of the El Camino de Santiago, not in Spain, but in France, called there Le Chemin de Saint Jacques: I would start from Le-Puy-en-Velay in the Haute Loire to Conques, a mediaeval village in the Auvergne, a journey of some 230 kilometers (or approximately 140 miles). In the autumn of 2015, I walked the second part of the Le Puy route (as it’s called), from Conques to St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, some 550 kilometers (or 330 miles).
This book is a story of how, in unexpected and unanticipated ways, imaginal experiences with the spirit and spirits of nature during my walks helped to transform my grief into what I can only describe as a deepening of love both for our Earth, and from the planet toward me. These chance encounters that opened me in subtle ways to other dimensions then led me to the next phase of my life, as if a resonant field of songlines or dreaming-tracks was orchestrating the invisible threads of fate. The encounters also reminded me of the first time I had had an experience of the ‘light of nature’ which was also a felt expression or manifestation of love. I was somewhere between the ages of four and six, and it took place in our vicarage garden in Sussex in my native England one summer evening.