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The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  868 ratings  ·  126 reviews
For the intrepid traveler, there are more resources than ever before. But what about the traveler who is at a crossroads in life, longing for something else, neither diversion nor distraction, beyond escape and mere entertainment? What about those eager for a journey that is personally meaningful? For millennia this cry has been answered by pilgrimage, the transformative j ...more
Paperback, 258 pages
Published April 28th 2000 by Conari Press (first published 1998)
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Carmen like the opera
Nov 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book helped me prepare for the inner journey of the pilgrimage of the camino to Santiago de Compostela. If it weren't for this book, I may not have completed the camino. While I prepared myself physically (training/walking) and mentally (research), the pilgrimage is really about the inner journey. The physical landscape and lessons learned along the way became metaphors for life. I met a lot of people who were better fit or more knowledgable than I, but I found along the way, they quit beca ...more
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
If I think about the criteria for a sacred journey as outlined in The Art of Pilgrimage, I have been applying Cousineau’s suggestions for the past decade or so. (1) Ask yourself what would constitute a sacred destination for you. (2) Read deeply on the desired goal. (3) When you get there try to absorb the mystery of the place and the spirits that have preceded you. As a travel writer that is what I do. What he does not emphasize is how important it is to go by yourself so that you may sink into ...more
S. Donovan
Mar 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
"Personal answers to ultimate questions. That is what we seek," said Alexander Eliot.

Sacred travel often starts with an itch. If you listen to the itch, or even begin to scratch it gently, it may lead you to the strangest places. Macchu Picchu. A cafe at the end of the world. Your heart. Home.

Our reasons vary; so do our destinations. But the process of journeying is universal. The man who survives the accident that kills his family wonders why he's left alive. The abuse victim struggles to unde
Lucy Pollard-Gott
Dec 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of my all-time favorites and a very useful framework for considering many sorts of pilgrimage, including literary ones. I wrote a post about this a while back: "The Literary Work as a Place of Pilgrimage." ...more
Rose Offner
Dec 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
"The art of Pilgrimage,"is not just for travelers but for seekers. As a life long traveler I would say that this book is a must read. It can be read and re-read because author Cousineau speaks about the adventure. When I travel I often leave before I leave because I begin my journey with the research and the stories and I hear from other travelers.Then when I am traveling I meet my kindred spirits, those who must travel, must see the world, climb to the top, lay on their belly to get that shot s ...more
Evvie Williams
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It’s official - mid May I’m walking a portion of the Camino de Santiago! This read was a great preparation for all pilgrimages be they somewhere near or far. A good reminder that the journey should include your interior as well as where your feet take you.
Fiona Leonard
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
My husband bought this book last year on the recommendation of a friend and I came across it recently while sorting through our kindle account. In light of my (then upcoming) trip to Morocco I thought I would give it a read. I thoroughly enjoyed and was moved by this book. As I read through I highlighted thirty-nine passages, and each one, when I go back and read now, sets ablaze a host of ideas and reflections.

One of the highlights of travel is attaining those moments of travel nirvana. Turning
Amy Moritz
Apr 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I suppose I was attracted to this book because I already attempt to be mindful when I travel. Even when I'm on the road for work, I try to find something unique, something local to do or experience -- even if it's just a run through a section of town which gives a completely different feel for the area than moving around via car. But I digress.

Phil Cousineau's book is woven with his own personal tales, anecdotes from others pilgrimages, retelling of heroic myths and prompts for the reader to exa
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel
If you get a lot of meaning from New Age thought and writing, this is the book for you.

If you find New Age thought and writing incredibly annoying, this isn't.

There are some good insights scattered throughout the book...there would have to be, considering the large number of stories and quotes by pilgrims of various sorts...and there are some incredibly inane observations made as well- mostly by the author.

Example: We learn by going where we have to go; we arrive when we find ourselves on the
Chris Lemig
Jun 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
What a compodium of knowledge and wisdom this book is! Phil Cousineau draws from so many sources: Joseph Campbell, Thoreau, Henry Miller, Basho, Thich Nat Hahn, Rumi, H.H. the Dalai Lama, Goethe and (really) countless others. I dogeared and underlined this book more than any other I've read this year.

The essential message of the book is that travel is a sacred inward journey into our soul and spirit as much (or more so than) a journey to the world outside. It has been a great inspiration as I pl
Patricia N. McLaughlin
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
"Imagine how you might walk your own path to the holy ground of your heart's desires," coaxes Cousineau in this thoughtful, beautifully written book about The Way. ...more
Apr 21, 2022 rated it liked it
I read this book despite my bishop having recommended it. He is a delightful fellow -- well spoken, handsome, resourceful -- but he has abysmal taste in literature. Too many book recommendations for clergy tend toward either the patently political or the sort of la-la land spirituality which is endemic in the Episcopal Church. This book, in contrast, was pretty good. Cousineau is an American author who has written a lot of things: poems, novels, travelogues, film scripts, TV scripts and essays. ...more
Jeff Sullivan
Mar 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book helps the reader consider how travel can be sacred and maximize appreciation for visiting any place in the world through a philosophical and spiritual lens. Often we may visit places and in a way to "collect" them in a superficial and touristy way-like ticking off boxes. However, we should consider travel through our senses, mindfulness, and with intentionality to better appreciate why we are traveling in the first place. This book provides insightful tools and a deeper understanding o ...more
Aug 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
This is probably the worst book I've read in modern memory. Every page of it smacks of listening to "that guy" - that guy who wants to sound worldly because they've been on tours of Europe for their "gap year" - and preaches wisdom while only learning about selfishness.

I'm pretty sure this guy's idea of a pilgrimage is getting on a plane, carrying around a backpack, eating at restaurants, and sleeping at hotels. My reasoning for this is that the advice he gives about foot travel is awful, if no
Nov 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cultures, travel
I love travelling to places I have never been and to places I have before. There were many passages in this book where I felt like I had experienced the level of being in the mooment, the there and now of a place. And yet, I have learned there are other, time honoured ways I can follow to bring more to each place I go to.

This book is about taking time: time to slow down, time to really see with your inner vision and your soul, time to be there in the moment and place, time to really appreciate t
Vanessa Rincon
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel so much gratitude towards this book. It put into perspective many things that I felt once or twice and also gave me answers about what to do, about the importance of attetion and intetion in one's travels, about others pilgrim, about how being a pilgrim is not always easy but you can get through it if you are open to the magic of the universe and its synchronicities.

I think this one is going to be one of my essential ones from now on. It's really, really good. 100% recommended to anyone l
Keith Skinner
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Cousineau gives us something to consider before we start packing and before we start jamming our travel days with popular sites and destinations. He gives us the question to ask ourselves - why - and challenges us to forego the quick answer and dig deeper. It's invaluable insight that I find myself using every time I step out my front door. ...more
The start to this book was intriguing but left me feeling bored and waiting for the end to come. At the beginning the writing was personable but then left that to become quite lofty and the term that came to mind is airy fairy. Too pretentious and full of ideals and spirituality that I just couldn't relate to. Too bad because I love the premise of the book but it failed for me. ...more
Steve Woods
This was a rambling nonsense with little point; of course if it is there I missed it! The book was just a boring self indulgence, just froth with no substance. I just can't see where its ratings acme from. Of course there are always, horses for courses. A waste of time and money for me. ...more
Sep 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
Very disappointed in this book. He never developed any of the themes. The entire book was a collection of quotes and anecdotes.
Dec 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Not much to say about this book. It started out well, with lots of dog-eared pages. Then went downhill with me just skimming to get it done.
"Remember Rilke's words to the young poet: "The necessary thing is after all but this: solitude, great inner solitude ... What goes on in your innermost being is worthy of your whole love; you must somehow keep working at it and not lose too much time and too much courage in clarifying your attitude toward people.""

"It's time to decide when to leave on your journey, during what season and what break in your own life, time to determine if you should depart alone or with a group. Time to take time
Todd Stockslager
Review title: Mindful traveling, or finding the quest in your question

Cousineau writes "inside every question is a quest trying to get out" (p. 88), and he has written this book to help travelers find their questions and their quests. It is short on practical advice, but fits neatly into the discipline of mindfulness so popular today as a technique for reducing stress and increasing mental and physical health.

Applied to traveling, this means for Cousineau turning every journey into a pilgrimage
Paul LaFontaine
Feb 13, 2022 rated it really liked it
A short book on what constitutes a pilgrimage and how the activity can add value to, if not change your life.

What I enjoyed about the book was the central theme of how pilgrimage lies within us. It is the activity of our seeing and reacting to the journey and the completion of movement through time and space. I liked that the pilgrimages are not necessary religious. The author includes sports locations, unknown towns, personal stories and other contexts to round out the potential for what we ca
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pilgrimage
An excellent publication to read in preparation for a pilgrimage! This book is well-written with various short narratives, reflections, some graphics, thought-provoking quotes from various authors over the ages and helpful suggestions to make a pilgrimage a more meaningful experience for the individual. Drawing from his own experience and the experience of others, the author guides the reader through a variety of themes such as preparing for the pilgrimage, the meaning of pilgrimage, the journey ...more
bibliotekker Holman
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pilgrimage is an approach and way of engaging with travel that adds meaning and depth beyond the actual act itself. It can be religious or secular and makes travel all the more meaningful. The author's thoughtful writing on the subject is worth reading for anyone wanting to get more depth out of their travels. Recently, I made the trip to the Capas National Shrine, the site of the infamous camp at the end of the Bataan Death March in the Philippines. Pilgrimage demands engagement with a place, i ...more
Kristi Black
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a great find in a marina book exchange! This is a great book that offers delicious resources and quotable quotes for those of us that seek soulful travel. It opens my eyes and sparked my curiosity of reading authors that have specifically written about their journeys. Wherever I travel, I submerge myself in my new surroundings, using all of my senses, I find purpose in all my journeys. The Art of Pilgrimage offers further insights into purposeful travel, how and what to record of your j ...more
Thomas DeWolf
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Such a beautiful, profound book filled with sacred stories and inspiration. As I prepare to journey to Ecuador for the first time, with my cousin and godson, I'm filled with reminders of how best to make travel sacred.

"Remember again and again that the true pilgrimage is into the undiscovered land of your own imagination, which you could not have explored any other way than through these lands, with gratitude in your satchel and the compassion for all you see as your touchstone."

Yes, indeed.
Amanda Brooke
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-books
The point of pilgrimage , as a Buddhist priest told the traveling author... "Is to improve yourself by enduring and overcoming difficulties."

"Ancient wisdom suggests that if you aren't trembling as you approach the sacred, it isn't the real thing."

"Don't be satisfied with the stories that come before you; unfold your own myth." Sufi 7 centuries ago.

Above are notes I took when I read this several years ago. It was very Joseph Campbelesque
Colleen Spillers
Kind of had to give this one up. I found it repetitive and redundant - or maybe I just didn't get to the good stuff.

Yep - I get it. You need to find your own pilgrimage and your own spiritual journey - whatever that may be and however it may come to you...

I guess I was looking for more of a "how to" step by step than overarching philosophy - because I already knew that...

or maybe what I really needed was to just let my brain be at peace with whatever was to come...
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Phil Cousineau is a writer, teacher, editor, independent scholar, documentary filmmaker, travel leader, and storyteller. The author of more than 30 nonfiction books, Cousineau has more than 15 documentary screenwriting credits to his name, including the 1991 Academy Award-nominated Forever Activists. His life-long fascination with art, literature, and the history of culture has taken him on many j ...more

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“Uncover what you long for and you will discover who you are.” 3 likes
“The time has come to set out for sacred ground...that will stir our sense of wonder. It is down the path to the deeply real where time stops and we are seized by the mysteries. This is the journey that we cannot Not take.

The old hermit along the side of the road whispers, Stranger, Pass bythat which you donot love.”
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