Pilgrims and pilgrimages

The Road to Canterbury: A Modern Pilgrimage

By Shirley Du Boulay

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This work is a personal account of Shirley du Boulay's journey along the Pilgrim's Way, which runs from Winchester to Canterbury. She walked the 120 miles in ten days, and a chapter is devoted to each of the days. A further four chapters introduce the theme of pilgrimage, the route itself, the object of this particular route (the shrine of Thomas Becket) and its history, and the preparation. Shirley draws many parallels between inner and outer journeys, and contrasts the modern "home counties" with the countryside of the Middle Ages.
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Climbing Brandon: Science and Faith on Ireland's Holy Mountain

By Chet Raymo

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"Mount Brandon is one of Ireland's highest and holiest mountains. Located in the far southwest, on the famous Dingle Peninsula of County Kerry, Brandon raises its gray head into seaside clouds. A pilgrim's path winding up the mountainside is traveled year-round by those searching for inspiration from nature and nature's creator. In late summer, near the Celtic feast of Lughnasa, the annual 'pattern' of the area includes a ritual ascent of the mountain.

'In carefully wrought, short essays, philosopher and scientist Raymo uses his own decades-long knowledge of the mountain as a springboard for meditations on the juncture of science and spirituality. Raymo, longtime science columnist of the Boston Globe, shows how science, far from being in conflict with spirit, can inspire and illuminate the mystical mind. Not only for those interested in Ireland, this fine, short book should appeal to readers interested in earth spirituality as well."

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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, is one of those simple, spiritual tales that captures modern-day imaginations and becomes a best-seller. As I read it on the beach, I felt the brush of Jonathan Livingston Seagull’s wings—or perhaps those were the wings of the laughing gull trying to steal my son’s peanut butter sandwich.

In this extended fable, the teenage shepherd Santiago has chosen his free and lonely life over a more respectable one that would have bound him tightly to his community and family. Content as he is with the wisdom he gained while wandering the Spanish hills, he is nonetheless being drawn to change his path. The dark-eyed daughter of a prosperous merchant awaits his marriage proposal, but Santiago’s prophetic dream in an abandoned and ruined church leads him further away from his homeland than he ever imagined.

Islands of Sorcerers and Unlikely Pilgrims

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

No one really liked Duny. The boy was wild, proud, and full of temper-- well-suited to the company of the goats he herded. Then came the day when he overheard his aunt chanting a spell to call her goat down from the roof of her house. He remembered the rhyme and later spoke it to his own herd:

"Noth hierth malk man hiolk han merth han!"