Tuesday, 30 April 2013


Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween) or Halloween had its beginnings in an ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of the dead some 2,000 years ago. It is a Celtic word meaning "Summers End". The Celtic peoples, who were once found all over Europe, divided the year by four major holidays. According to their calendar, the year began on a day corresponding to November 1st on our present calendar. The date marked the beginning of winter or the darker half of the year. Since they were pastoral people, it was a time when cattle and sheep had to be moved to closer pastures and all livestock had to be secured for the winter months. Crops were harvested and stored. The date marked both an ending and a beginning in an eternal cycle.

Photo Source http://www.witchymama.com

In the Southern Hemisphere, in places like Australia and New Zealand it is Samhain that is celebrated on 1st May. The fields are bare, the leaves have fallen from the trees, and the skies are going gray and cold. It is the time of year when the earth has died and gone dormant. Every year on May 1, if you're in the Southern Hemisphere the Sabbat we call Samhain presents us with the opportunity to once more celebrate the cycle of death and rebirth, an acknowledgement that without death, there can be no rebirth. Samhain is a time to reconnect with our ancestors, and honour those who have died. This is the time when the veil between our world and the spirit realm is thin, so it's the perfect time of year to make contact with the dead. The powers of divination and communication are strengthened on Samhain night, and it is considered a powerful time to communicate with lost loved ones. It is a time of reflection, of looking back over the last year. At Samhain, the darkness increases and the Goddess reigns in her powerful aspect of the Crone.

Samhain became the Halloween we are familiar with when Christian missionaries attempted to change the religious practices of the Celtic people. In the early centuries of the first millennium A.D., before missionaries such as St. Patrick and St. Columcille converted them to Christianity, the Celts practised an elaborate religion through their priestly caste, the Druids, who were priests, poets, scientists and scholars all at once. As religious leaders, ritual specialists, and bearers of learning, the Druids were not unlike the very missionaries and monks who were to Christianize their people and brand them evil devil worshippers.

Photo Source http://blog.stonehenge-stone-circle.co.uk
In much of the Gaelic world, bonfires were lit and there were rituals involving them, as at Beltane. People and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock and the old plants of the harvest were cast into its flames. It was a method of giving the Gods and Goddesses their share of the previous years herd or crops. In addition these sacred fires were a big part of the cleansing of the old year and a method to prepare for the coming new year. Often families would engage in a good "fall" cleaning to clear out the old and make way for the new. Starting the winter months with fresh and clean household items. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. It has thus been likened to a festival of the dead.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, and danced around the bonfire. Many of these dances told stories or played out the cycles of life and death or commemorated the cycle of Wheel of Life. These costumes were adorned for three primary reasons. The first was to honour the dead who were allowed to rise from the Otherworld. The Celts believed that souls were set free from the land of the dead during the eve of Samhain. Those that had been trapped in the bodies of animals were released by the Lord of the Dead and sent to their new incarnations. The wearing of these costumes signified the release of these souls into the physical world. Not all of these souls were honoured and respected. Some were also feared as they would return to the physical world and destroy crops, hide livestock or 'haunt' the living who may have done them wrong. The second reason for these traditional costumes was to hide from these malevolent spirits to escape their trickery. The final representation was a method to honour the Celtic Gods and Goddesses of the harvest, fields and flocks. Giving thanks and homage to those deities who assisted the village or clan through the trials and tribulations of the previous year. And to ask for their favour during the coming year and the harsh winter months that were approaching. 

Photo Source http://www.themeshack.net

In addition to celebrations and dance, it was believed that this thin veil between the physical world and the Otherworld provided extra energy for communications between the living and the dead. With these communications, Druid Priests, and Celtic Shamans would attempt to tell the fortunes of individual people through a variety of methods. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter. These psychic readings would be conducted with a variety of divination tools. Such as throwing bones, or casting the Celtic Ogham. There is some historical evidence that additional tools of divination were also used. Most of this comes from writings recorded by Roman invaders, but there are stories of reading tea leaves, rocks and twigs, and even simple spiritual communications that today we'd call Channelling Some historians have suggested that these early people were the first to use tiles made from wood and painted with various images which were the precursor to Tarot Cards. There's no real evidence to support this, but the 'story' of these tiles has lingered for centuries. When the community celebration was over, each family would take a torch or burning ember from the sacred bonfire and return to their own home. 

The home fires that had been extinguished during the day were re-lit by the flame of the sacred bonfire to help protect the dwelling and it's inhabitants during the coming winter. These fires were kept burning night and day during the next several months. It was believed that if a home lost it's fire, tragedy and troubles would soon follow. With the hearth fires lit, the families would place food and drink outside their doors. This was done to appease the roaming spirits who might play tricks on the family. "Trick-or-treating" is a modern tradition that probably finds it's roots in the early All Souls' Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called "soul cakes" in return for their promise to pray for the family's dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as "going a-souling" was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighbourhood and be given ale, food, and money. "Dressing up" for Halloween gets it roots from dressing up around the sacred bonfire during the original Celtic festival. Some suggest, this practice originates from England, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world on Halloween. People thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes, so to avoid being recognized people would wear masks after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. In addition, these early English people, would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter or cause harm to their homes. A tradition obviously taken from the ancient Celtic pagans. 

Photo Source http://www.lifesmysticaljourney.com
As European came to America, they brought their varied Halloween traditions with them. Celebration of Halloween in colonial times was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. Primarily because Celtic immigrants settled more in these regions than in the north. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups meshed together a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included "play parties," public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbours would share stories of the dead, tell each other's fortunes, dance, and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country. In the second half of the nineteenth century, America entered an age of mysticism. What was more often termed spiritualism. Metaphysical groups and clubs began to spring up throughout the Golden Age and the wealthier set of Americans. At the same time, America was welcoming a new group of immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland's potato famine of 1846. This new cultural influence brought with it a melding of Irish and English traditions, and a new Americans culture was born. People began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today's "trick-or-treat" tradition. 

Photo Source http://www.egreenway.com

Young women believed that, on Halloween, they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings, or mirrors. In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighbourly get-togethers, than about ghosts, pranks, and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season, and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything "frightening" or "grotesque" out of Halloween celebrations. Because of their efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century. 

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By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centred holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centres into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. 

Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighbourhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. By the 1990s, Americans have made Halloween one of the largest commercial holidays. Spending an estimated $6.9 billion annually on Halloween costumes, accessories, decorations and pumpkins.

I thank http://www.paganspath.com for much of the information used above which explains so well the traditions and practises of Samhain or Halloween. 

Monday, 22 April 2013

Living more Deeply

Over the weekend I was fortunate to attend a retreat in beautiful bushland with 10 other wonderful women. We were called together gathering in community with other women to go deeper and find our soul's pathway, which together we supported, laughed, cried, shared, recharged and grew. Friendships were formed and steps were taken to find or continue our soul's vision. This work was done in sacred space as the other women held safely, guided, nurtured and supported our ideas. We were not designed to give birth alone we were created in life to gather in tribes or community and through this network of soulful  and supportive collective women's energy our ideas and dreams take hold and flourish to take wings and fly like arrows through the skies to hit the mark on our life's pathway to bring new life into our soul and being.

Photo Source http://uzuridesigns.wordpress.com
I thought I would share here my thoughts on my continued journey of expansion and growth, from the beginning steps into unknown territory full of paralysing fears to my growth of being able to hear my soul's calling and then surrendering my life to follow that calling again into the unknown. This time there are challenges and fears however there is an overall layer of deep knowing that when you follow that calling with true surrender that the fears (False Evidence Appearing Real) are only remnants of my past conditioning trying to pull me back into the familiar known playing field and have no power over me as I see them, acknowledge them and then let them go.

The birthing of my soul's calling has been long journey of removing and dissolving the conditioning and programming of my youth from other people's ideas and dreams of my life to form one of strong, stable, firm foundations of beliefs and truths that I have formed from my own life's experiences. As this process has taken place we are able to stand in our own truth and our own magnificence is able to shine and fill the world with our light. Like a ripple in a pond that starts from a small drop the effects keep radiating outward to all those that we love and have in our immediate life's then continues further out to those we have as acquaintances then further still out to the whole world. Because of this ripple I see that it is my life's soul agreement to work hard to come into this place of magnificence so that I am able to then share my gifts and wisdom with others. 

Photo Source http://followingyourheart.org
When we stand with an open heart we are able to pull into our lives all the people, events and opportunities we need to encounter in order for our inner guidance to step forward and point the way forward to obtaining our ideals and dreams. Connecting deeply with our soul allows us to stand in integrity of who we are and what we stand for and in this place we are able to dig deeper within, take greater risks and see our fears and doubts from an outside perspective where we can learn and let go opening space within to be filled with our new purpose and dreams. Life should be seen as an eternal process of joyous spiritual discovery and growth.

For me what matters most in my life is my connection with divine and  myself, being fully present in each moment and feeling blissful. Having a deep, loving relationship with my spouse. Maintaining meaningful relationships with people, being able to connect with people on deep levels.  To live everyday fully as if it was my last.

We are all gifted with things that we are able to share with the world which allows the ripple to flow out to others. It is by our enhancement of these gifts and stepping up in our comfort zones that we can build on our strengths and expand our own life's purpose. These gifts are so numerous we just need to see them as the divine gifts that they are such as dancing, singing, writing, painting, crafts, teaching, healing, supporting and mothering. It is in knowing and nurturing these gifts that will lead you to re-membering and knowing yourself.

Photo Source http://www.sparrowmagazine.com
By asking yourself questions it can assist you in finding your soul purpose. The first thing that comes to mind without thinking too much about the question is usually your soul's answer to the question so note it down, don't dismiss it - you can think more on it afterwards. Just keep answering the questions without editing or adding to the answer let you soul speak to you.

What activities make you lose track of time?

What makes you smile? (Crafts, activities, people, events etc.)

What makes you feel great inside when you do it?

What are you naturally good at? What comes easily to you? 

What do people tell you, you are good at?

What do people ask your help with?

What were your favourite things to do in the past? 

What are your favourite things to do now?

What matters most to you in life?

Who inspires you most and what qualities of their's inspire you?

What have you overcome in your life - fears, challenges or hardships? How did you do it?

What are your values in life?

With your talents and values. How could you use these to serve and help others? 

What would you regret not doing in your life?

What could you teach others?

Photo Source http://thepurpleoasis.com
Answering these questions serves to help you look at your life from a much larger and spiritually expansive perspective than your normal day-to-day view. Identify which aspects came up regularly in your answers. By acknowledging and then making steps to participate in whatever area your soul spoke with you about, you can build on your current strengths and in doing so you will expand your energy to be the most inspiring person you can be.

We all know how to give the gift of a present to our friends and loved ones, but it is more important to share our soul's gifts that we were born with. When it is Christmas or somebodies birthday we all go about purchasing gifts to pass onto the people that our special in our lives. We do this without holding back we have the mind set that the item was never ours and we pass it on with love to the other person. If we could apply this principle of unquestioning generosity with out inner soul's gifts we might be able to give of ourselves more freely without fear and doubt.

The gift is of no purpose to anyone if we do not pass it on, if we keep it in the cupboard in the dark it has no benefit to anyone. So if we hold back and not share our internal gifts we deny the other people in our lives the gifts of our love, wisdom and growth. Once we step up and give more of ourselves the easier it is and we find we have more to offer others as our confidence grows our ideas and things to share grow along with it. 

Photo Source http://thegospelcoalition.org
With this confidence we learn to speak well of our talents and offerings and like any performer or artist the more beautiful the presentation this just enhances the gift we have to offer. The presentation of the gift is as much a part of the energy of the gift as the gift itself. We can make it a joyful experience for all involved the receiver and ourselves in giving our offering to the world.

As our world is shifting around us at this time it is also a time when we ourselves are being called to make changes. Expand your vision for what you are can accomplish. Clarify your soul’s calling, taking this new fully embodied vision for your life and how it will benefit our world. When you want to touch people and be the brightest light you can be, and you are willing to die to an old way of being so that something new and much more soul aligned can be born, you will be walking the path of your soul's journey.

We can harness the take-no-prisoners intensity symbolized by Kali and integrate the sensual grace of Aphrodite. And that’s only just the beginning. Every one of us has many Soul gifts; the qualities that we embody without even thinking about it. Yours might be courage or wisdom or kindness or vulnerability or faith or enthusiasm. Simply by existing, you offer these Soul gifts to the world with every breath you exhale.

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Sunday, 14 April 2013


Today I was thinking about awareness and thought I would share my ideas on awareness. There are so many levels on which we are able to be aware if we take the time to listen to our bodies and our inner knowing.

Photo source http://hopenrecovery.wordpress.com
There are very obvious symptoms our bodies give us to be aware of, such as changes in sleep patterns, changes of emotions, changes in eating patterns, skin irritations, power surges, physical illness, vivid dreams, changes in weight, food allergies, falls, dizziness, heart palpations, heightened senses such as taste, sight, smell, hearing and touch. Things that change so obviously are easy to recognise and our bodies are urging us to listen and therefore if we choose we have the ability to look into what is behind these actions and do something different if we wish to.  

Activity in the crown chakra, a need to find yourself, emotional or mental confusion, loss of interest in things, creative ideas, a sense that time is passing too quickly, a yearning for something, impatience, something speaking to you from a profound deep level, intuition, a sense of wonder and memories coming back to you are less obvious signs that your inner knowing wishes you to take time to become aware of what is happening in your life and perhaps change or increase certain activities.

Photo Source http://www.abundancehighway.com
The key is to get in touch and become aware of the messages that are being sent to you in order to live your life in a more harmonious way. No matter what spiritual path you have chosen to walk you need to set time aside to be still and push aside all the unnecessary chatter to find the truth that your inner essence is trying to show you. We all know what is best for us, we just get caught listening to all the should's and could's that create barriers to living our true purpose. When we are separated from our true knowing we become confused and start asking questions like Who Am I? Is this all there is to life? Is there something missing from my life?

It is when we sit and listen to our own inner voice and act on the wisdom that is shares with us that we can become whole and reunite our spirit with our physical activities and day to day life. We always have the answers to all the questions we have deep inside. It is in taking the time that is needed and not rushing through our day that these still voices can be heard.

Be still, Be Calm
Allow the love to flow
And as the love flows
The pure diamond
That is within
Reveals it’s light
It begins to shine
And reflect to you
All the love it holds
Sit still for now
And feel
The power of
Your own being
-Suzie Cheel
Your way of connecting to your inner spirit will be different for each of us, it should not be a struggle, it is
in your willingness to take the time and intention to be still that the knowledge will flow. When we are still we are free to look within and see things from a different perspective and the more the awareness grows the more we look. You will know the truth when you allow your spirit to just be.

Taking time to mediate is an easy was to empower your spirit and the more you practise the more comfortable it will became and your spirit will start to recognise that this is the time for it to step up and show you all the ideas, plans and actions it has waiting for you. When you spirit is empowered in this way it like you will flourish and before you know it you will sit ready to start mediating and all the answers will flow almost immediately when this has become a regular practise. It is only your mind that is holding you back in fulfilling your truth and becoming all you want to be.
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Owen Waters talks on the Seven Facets of Spiritual Awareness

Life can be a treadmill of mundane details or it can be an inspiring adventure of uplifting experiences. Through the regular, daily practice of meditation, you can start each day by raising your frequency of consciousness above the mundane, work-a-day level into the spiritual realms of consciousness.

Here are seven facets of spiritual awareness which unfold as a result of daily meditation. Any technique will work.

Spiritual Awareness Facet Number One – Flow

A sense of flow attracts synchronicity into your life’s events. This almost magical sense enables you to always be in the appropriate place at the appropriate time in order to gain the most out of the experiences that the complete you, your inner self, planned for this life.

Spiritual Awareness Facet Number Two - Unconditional Love

You develop a sense of unconditional love for the inner, spiritual essence of all the people that you connect with in your life. Even the difficult people, as they are often holding up a mirror for you to understand an aspect of past habits which, deep down, you would like to examine at this time.

Your sense of unconditional love naturally includes full acceptance of yourself, just as you are, with the personality that you adopted for this lifetime of experience. You can catch those old thought patterns of self-criticism and remember that you live in a universe which is naturally full of love and unconditional acceptance.

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Spiritual Awareness Facet Number Three – Abundance

Accept abundance as the natural flow of the universe. Forget those opinions about there being something wrong with money. It’s a form of energy and the universe is filled with energy. Life gets a lot more convenient when you are abundant. It gets really inconvenient when you are not.

When you follow your innermost joy, you find yourself doing work that you love and find absorbing. When you find your work absorbing, you become very good at it, without feeling that it took a lot of effort to become that highly skilled. When you are good at your work, employers and customers alike hear about you by word-of-mouth recommendation and they seek you out. The more in-demand your services become, the more they are worth. Following your inner joy is the secret to finding and developing an occupation which brings natural abundance.

Spiritual Awareness Facet Number Four - Intuitive Insight

Both men and women find that, with regular spiritual practices, their sense of intuition develops smoothly and naturally. Soon, your insights grow to become very valuable in dealing with the challenges of life.

Spiritual Awareness Facet Number Five - Creativity

A growing sense of creativity becomes apparent when spiritual practices become your daily routine. You discover new ways to achieve results because you see situations from a broader perspective.

Spiritual Awareness Facet Number Six - Wisdom

Advances in spiritual wisdom and understanding come with deep meditation. In meditation, it is important to let distracting, surface thoughts dissipate so that deeper realizations may surface at the time that they are needed.

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Spiritual Awareness Facet Number Seven - Raising World Consciousness

When you detach from worldly concerns and express a higher frequency of consciousness, the conflicts of the lower frequencies of consciousness become automatically healed. When you let go of any form of conflict within yourself, you are able to rise to a higher frequency of consciousness in a state of harmony and balance.

Higher frequencies of consciousness hold a higher power. Not just a slightly higher power. The power ratio of spiritual consciousness to conflict-oriented consciousness is many thousands to one. If you allow balance to enter your life through a spiritual state of consciousness, it will manifest immediately and very powerfully in your daily life. You will also be helping to raise the global consciousness in a very powerful and constructive manner.

“Live to learn to love.
Learn to love to live.
Love to live to learn
so that you may live the life that you yearn.”
Rico Dasheem

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


As my time lately has been taken making plans for my upcoming trip to the UK I thought I would talk on what I believe a pilgrimage to be. It will be something different for everybody but it will have great impact and perhaps even life changing effects upon those who take the journey.

A transformational journey to our sacred centre. I like this phrase “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” sorry I do not know who spoke this very authentic sentence. The travel to historical sites is the outward and visible sign the drawing closer to our divine source is the inward journey.
Photo Source http://musicpilgrimage.webs.com
Pilgrimage differs from a regular holiday as it is a deliberate act of travel from that of just relaxation and sightseeing. The most obvious difference I have experienced is that it is a calling a sense that there is no other way to go. It comes to mind over a period of time from chance events, programs you watch on TV, things you read, different people coming into your life, synchronicities that happen. Circumstance seem to change and move around and opportunities offered to you all within a short space of time. This is when you know that your path has opened up before you and it is your choice to walk down open to all that may occur. There is a quite acceptance that this is the right thing to do.

It is a journey without and within, when we take time to connect with the ancient, the earth and hear the messages that are given to us along our path. These can be from fellow travellers, things that we read, inner knowings we connect with as we view an ancient site.

When we are in a particular place it is about taking the time to commune with our divine essence shutting out the outside world of chatter and distraction. Taking in life's wonder and magnificence, through the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of our environment. Sitting still beside giant forests, trickling waters, ancient ruins, holy buildings and allowing our internal source to be filled and nourished by all that is around us.

Photo Source http://www.demotix.com
Whilst taking the journey of the pilgrim it is about being in the now, not thinking of the past or future just totally allowing the moment to devour our every sense. Knowing that for many thousands of years our ancestors have taken these same roads and their presence and knowledge can still be felt today when the time is taken.

This is a solitary journey even when shared with loved ones or friends, our experience of each moment is ours alone, whilst our fellows journeyers will be having their own sacred moments. It is also about being completely open to whatever may happen, feelings may arise that need to be purged from our soul, allow these emotions to flow with no fear as this is all part of the process the pilgrim will experience. Where these openings are made they then can be filled with the new truths we have learned.

No pilgrimage can be repeated even if we follow the same trail our experience will never be the same as the last. We will be created anew at the end of the journey and our life experiences going forward will therefore  be different to those if we had not made the journey at all. These changes will continue long after we have returned home as our physique slowly shifts and moves within us. Each experience we have will call upon the new truths we have gained and our dance in life will be to new steps.

For me personally my pilgrimage is to visit the ancient sites of our ancestors, places where Mother Earth and the Goddess where worshipped such as Newgrange, Stonehenge, Kildare, Glastonbury, Tintagel, Orkney Islands, and the list goes on.

Photo Source http://you-me-and-charlie-official.tumblr.com
I am very excited to be taking this journey. Having travelled extensively previously it has never been with the intent and purpose on which I take this trip. I know that I shall return a very different person, with a deep richness to my life and I am in deep gratitude to have this opportunity in my life.

T S Elliot in the Four Quarters put it this way:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Photo Source http://www.weekendsherpa.com
Pilgrimage is important to many people for religious reasons.

It is important for Muslims to have pilgrimage in their 5 pillar of Islam which hold the religion. It is called Hajj. In Hajj, Muslims from all over the world go to the city of Mecca, a city where only Muslims can go in. Inside, Muslims go to the Ka'bah which is a black cube and circle it 7 times.

Christians see life itself in terms of a journey, coming from God and returning to God. A pilgrimage is a symbol in action. It represents the journey of the Christian life from earth to heaven. The Church is sometimes described as a pilgrim people.

Ancient Judaism pilgrimage practiced by Jews was going to the “western wall” three times a year. When Jews settled down after leaving Egypt they used to go to Shiloh to worship. They also visited Bethel where they believe that Abraham had built an altar. But when, in about 960 BC, Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, the city gained special significance for Jews.

Pilgrimages have a great importance in Hinduism. Millions of Hindus travel across India for pilgrimages every year (Hindufacts). There are about 29 pilgrimages in Hinduism. Some of them may require going to more than one place. For example, the Twelve Jyotrirling Yatra consists of 12 places to go. The greatest of Hindu pilgrimage is Kumbh Mela. It is considered the greatest human gathering in the whole world. Once every 12 years about 10 million people bathing at the Kumbh Mela festival at Allahabad in order to wash away their sins.

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Back in the Middle Ages pilgrimages were very popular. It was not like going on holiday. Pilgrimages often took years. Journeys were long and dangerous and many died en route. They usually travelled in groups and would stay in monasteries or hostels on the way.

Pilgrims undertook these journeys to holy places because it was important for their faith. If they had committed sins they believed that by going on a pilgrimage they could show God how sorry they were. Sometimes they were sent on such journeys by a priest as a penance. Sometimes they went for healing of a physical condition.

The earliest centres of Buddhist pilgrimages were the places associated with the life and Teachings of the great Master. These four places are Lumbini, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kusinara. Lumbini, in what is now Nepal, is the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. The others are in India: Bodh Gaya was the place, under the pipal or Bo tree, where the Buddha was enlightened after practising meditation for several years. Sarnath was the scene of His first teaching and Kusinara was the place of His death or final Nirvana.

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The four major pilgrimage places are: Jerusalem, Lourdes, Mecca, and Varanasi. However there are many places around the world popular with people taking pilgrimages:

Allahabad -South Asia 
Amritsar - South Asia 
Ayodya - South Asia 
Badrinath & Kedarnath - South Asia 
Czestochowa - Eastern Europe 
Dwarka - South Asia 
Emei Shan - East Asia 
Fatima -Western Europe 
Guadalupe - Latin America 
Gaya & Bodh Gaya - South Asia 
Hardwar & Rishikesh - South Asia 
Ise - East Asia 
Kanchipuram - South Asia 
Kandy - South Asia 
Kerbela - Southwest Asia 
Lhasa - East Asia 
Loreto - Southern Europe 
Medina - Southwest Asia 
Montreal - North America 
Puri - South Asia 
Rameswaram - South Asia 
Rome - Southern Europe 
Santiago - Western Europe 
Shikoku Is. - East Asia 
Tai Shan - East Asia 
Tirupati - South Asia 
Ujjain - South Asia 
Vrindaban & Mathura - South Asia 
Wutai Shan - East Asia