The Art of Pilgrimage:
The Timeless Search for Meaning
“Pilgrims are poets who create
by taking journeys.”
- H. Richard Niebuhr
For at least 60,000 years people from around the world, in every age and culture, have dealt with personal or historical crises by setting off on pilgrimages—spiritually transformative journeys to sacred sites—in order to revitalize and reorient themselves. Our time is marked by a series of such crises, including a crisis of meaning, and the precipitous rise in pilgrimages in every faith reflects an ardent search for meaning— personal answers to ultimate questions—in modern times. In our workshop we will use animated discussion, photography and film clips from the presenter’s own work, contemplative music, poetry, journaling, walking the famed Chartres labyrinth, as well as daily prompts so we might reflect upon the soul-stirring pleasures of pilgrimage.
The ultimate goal of our time together will be to learn a few simple but poetic daily practices that have the power to transform virtually any kind of travel into a sacred journey. In this way, we can return home after our travels and, as the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh suggested, recognize our own backyard as sacred ground.
Phil Cousineau is a freelance writer, documentary filmmaker, independent scholar, creativity consultant, and travel leader to sacred sites all over the globe. He has published over 40 books, including several best-sellers such as The Hero’s Journey: The Life and Work of Joseph Campbell, The Art of Pilgrimage, and Burning the Midnight Oil. His most recent works include The Book of Roads, And Live Rejoicing: The Life and Times of Huston Smith, The Accidental Aphorist, and The Lost Notebooks of Sisyphus. As a filmmaker, Cousineau has written or co-written over twenty-five award-winning documentary features, including the Oscar-nominated "Forever Activists: Stories from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade," and the landmark “The Peyote Road: Ancient Religion in Contemporary Crisis.” Since 2009 he has served as host and cowriter of "Global Spirit," airing on PBS and LINK-TV.
For the last thirty years, Cousineau has worked as an expert on myth in the movies at Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, MLB.com, NFL Films, Smithsonian Channel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar Animation Studios.
Currently, he lives with his family on Telegraph Hill, in North Beach, San Francisco.
The Chartres Experience
What better place to feel nurtured than the sacred space of Chartres Cathedral? We begin with a reception to meet each other followed by an opening ritual and orientation to the program. Then each day, there is a morning seminar, a small processing group, and an experience of what Chartres has to offer. On Tuesday afternoon, there is a tour of Chartres Cathedral. Then, on Wednesday, there is an orientation to the labyrinth followed by a once in a life-time candlelit labyrinth walk with medieval music on the Chartres Labyrinth. Thursday afternoon is a tour of the Crypt , and a closing celebratory reception and dinner are on Friday.
- The Art of Pilgrimage, Phil Cousineau, Conari Press, 1998, revised 2022
- The Book of Roads, Phil Cousineau, Sisyphus Press, 2015
- Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Practice
by Lauren Artress
- The Path of the Holy Fool: How the Labyrinth Ignites our Visionary Powers
by Lauren Artress
- The Universe of Stone by Phillip Ball
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