Pilgrimage: Walking in the Footsteps of Goddess

Categories: Pilgrimage

You are almost through an intense period of waiting. The learnings of the recent past are adequately fermented and are now ready to issue forth a great elixir; you are almost ready to bring into creation a great amrita, that sacred substance of moon juice ambrosia so treasured by Goddess. Remember to breathe. Look inside. Are you impatient for an outcome? If so, relax and ask yourself if you will be able to responsibly handle whatever happens…or are your expectations so great that they may shatter brand new potentials?

Pilgrimage–a sacred journey–has the capacity, should we choose to engage it, to take us to the heart of our beingness. Every year, I set out for India, land of the ancients, homeland of the Divine Mother and the one to whom I have dedicated myself, Kali Maa. On these trips, I do my best to open to the possibilities and to the realities; for India is a place of shattering, and I am no stranger to the perils (both seen and unseen) of each voyage.

I go knowing that what happens there is ultimately good–the challenges of this world only serve to amplify the potentials open in the realms of intuition–and I remind myself over and over again that faith is but courage tied to yearning. So I deal with all with which my senses must contend, and I open wide my eyes to the harshness of the legacy of colonialism. All the while, I stare at Her, she who has been kept alive in the hearts and minds of the people for millennia. Certainly, there were valiant attempts to shut Her out; but to no avail. Active is Her worship, alive and well, potent and ubiquitous on the subcontinent.

My visits these past eleven years have focused on the most holy of Tantrick shrines, the sacred seats of the goddess where shakti, the universal feminine force, dances before your eyes in the diyas (ghee lamp-lights) offered in devotion as much as in the spark of Her eyes in the temple. At Kamakhya, Kalighat, Tarapith and the other shakta pithas (the 51 sacred seats of goddess), She is revealed in the grace of both beauty and harshness, catalyzing transformation.

This year, my practice having settled into a new place, I asked myself why I go. “Maa,” I whined, “if you are everywhere, why do I traipse half-way around the world to be with you?” The answer I found lay in the footsteps of the men and women carrying more than their own body weight up the hilly alleyways of Kolkata for a meager meal and insurance of another day of living:

“My power,” She said, “lies in the simple acts of faith that move us into life rather than away from it. You who reside in the West forget too easily what it means to be alive, what a responsibility it is. Here, where my roots are strong and deep, you are reminded of the fight; of how important is the struggle; of what it means to climb out of the hole of despair because you must. You are reminded, but only if you pay attention, of how truly reflective my world is of yours and how much you live in denial of this truth. Here, you wake up just a bit more whether you are ready or not…and that is my gift to you. ”

Have you been on pilgrimage? What have you learned or experienced that has made a difference, been a catalyst for change, or propelled you to new adventures?

2 Responses to "Pilgrimage: Walking in the Footsteps of Goddess"

  1. Chandra Posted on 07/23/2009 at 4:37 pm

    Jai Maa! Glenys, thank you for sharing. The image of the seal pups does feel resonant…thank you for the tie to this other form of nature.

  2. Glenys Livingstone Posted on 07/23/2009 at 2:32 pm

    I feel resonance with how you express the significance of your pilgrimage, though my pilgrimage of the last year has been only to the primary Place of Being – my own bodymind. I am aware that the Mother has been giving me a gentle lesson in paying attention … just a little resistance to sharpen my understanding of the edge, of what it means to be alive. I have self-imposed some limitations for the sake of “changing my mind”, other limitations have come upon me … and I am at last not so impatient for an outcome, accepting of Her “reining” me IN, teaching me somethings.

    I watched (on a TV show last night) mother seals trying to defend their new pups from the ravages of a storm – some managed to save their pups, some didn’t … it is a wild Universe. Many humans know this daily as you have said.


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