Spiritual Tourism

Spiritual Tourism

Making a journey to visit a spiritual site is nothing new, people have been doing that since the dawn of time.  One of the oldest spiritual pilgrimage sites is Mount Kailash in Tibet, people have been making the journey there for 15,000 years and Buddhist believe that the month long trek up the mountain can wash away all of your sins.  Today, Spiritual Tourism is turning into a lucrative mainstream business.

Spiritual Journeys in the West

When we think of pilgrimages we automatically think of the churches in Europe or the holy land in the Middle East, but they aren’t the only places where a spiritual journey can take place.  Natives in North and South America all have their own holy site.  First Nations people in British Columbia believe that the Stein Valley holds their sacred sites and tribe members go on vision quests here.

Celebrities and Spiritual Quests

Celebrities not only take it upon themselves to visit sacred sites around the world but their presence there attracts other visitors as well.  Back in the 80’s movie actress Shirley MacLaine wrote a book about her spiritual journey in Peru.  In 2006 the best-selling book Eat Pray Love was turned into a movie and it featured treks to India and Bali to find balance.  After that tourism boomed for women looking to live out the journey featured in the book and the movie.

The Rise in Spirituality

The rise in spirituality came with the hippie movement in the 60’s with the baby boomer generation.  Spiritual journeys are as much about exploring your psyche as it is about the physical journey.  These journeys are about reinforcing your faith or communing with Mother Earth.  Many of the baby boomers of the west are heading to places that are outside their traditional faith.  They aren’t heading to the Vatican to see the birthplace of Christianity but to Macchu Picchu or to India to see other places of faith.

Travel companies are seeing these spiritual journeys as a new market to explore.  Many of the tourists come back from these places with a new perspective and glowing recommendations from their trip.  Travel to visit a sacred site or to go on a pilgrimage is nothing new, however today there is a much different demographic taking the trip.

 

A Spiritual Journey to Delphi

A Spiritual Journey to Delphi

Delphi is central to Greek history and mythology, it was the home of the mythical Oracle and for years it was considered the center of the universe.  Today Delphi stands as a World UNESCO Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination in Greece.  Nestled in the foothills of Mount Parnassos the location and surrounding landscape add to the beauty and mystery of the place.

What to Expect

Today there are mostly ruins here of what was once some of the most significant and powerful buildings in Greece.  One of the places you need to check out is the Athena Pronaia, a sanctuary that was dedicated to the Goddess Athena.  In ancient times if you came to Delphi from Athens the temple would be the first thing you would see.

Outside of the temple was the community of Delphi and the Castalian Springs, which is still considered sacred.  In ancient times visitors who came to consult with the oracle would come here to bath and drink the waters of the sacred spring first.  Inside the sanctuary you will find three temples with the most famous being Tholos.

The Sanctuary of Apollo

In the central section you will find the Sanctuary of Apollo, and you really need to take your time and explore this part of Delphi.  If you go through the main entrance and the southeast corner you will be on the Sacred Way.  When the temples were being used by ancient Greeks this path would be lined with treasures as a gift to the god.  Today the temple has been incredibly preserved and it is one of the highlights of the trip.  This is where the priestess Pythia delivered the wisdom of the oracles.  If you trek to Delphi then you need to see the museum it has some incredible artifacts that were found around the site.

Coming from Athens

Delphi is less than 200 kilometres from Athens so the trip will take about 2 hours, making it a pretty popular destination for Athenians looking for a day trip to the countryside.  If you are staying in Athens then you can find a number of organized day trips that you can take to tour the area.  Purchase your tickets at least a day earlier if you are taking a bus tour.  If you are going on your own then check out some of the nearby towns along the route, try out some of the local cuisine and just take in the history of the region.  In Ancient Greece this was one of the most important places in the world.

 

Why People Come to Sacred Sites

Why People Come to Sacred Sites

In every culture across the world there are destinations that are considered power centers and places of healing, sacred places where people go to find healing or restore their faith.  These can be anywhere from Stonehenge to Macchu Picchu, there are thousands of place that are considered sacred for one reason or another.  The leads us to explore why people come to sacred sites and what they expect to get from the experience.  Let’s look at some of them and why people travel there.

Healing Places

When it comes to healing places there are three in particular that jump out where people to flock to every year to get healed.  The first is El Santuario de Chimayo just outside of Santa Fe where pilgrims come here for healing.  Cornwall in England is another place where there are holy wells and the water is meant to heal the sick.  Perhaps the most famous is Lourdes, located in France where a number of miracles have been reported throughout history.  Here is a look at Lourdes.

Seeking a Vision

Vision quests are common in Native North American traditions as well as Pagan traditions in Western Europe.  To go on a vision quest you bring yourself to an isolated area, preferably somewhere in nature in order to receive guidance about your life.  In Native American tradition you can have a vision quest almost anywhere that is up to the individual.  However in Western Europe there are a couple of sites where Pagans go to visit, one is in Iona, Scotland to a holy called Tobar na h’oige.  The other is the burial ground of the ancient Scottish Kings.  This place was important to pre-Christian Celts and Druids.

Places of Energy

There are places throughout the world where people flock to because they are considered “energy vortexes” the most famous being Macchu Picchu but there are others.  One of the most popular is Sedona in Arizona, it is considered an energy vortex because of the four energy vortexes that can be found here.  Considered to be the center of the New Age movement in the US the city started out as an artist’s colony and was home to Kahlil Gibran and Max Ernst.  To this day it still has a vibrant arts community.

People travel from all over the world to come to these sites and dozens of others while on a spiritual journey.  If you want to experience these places for yourself then come with an open mind and see what you can get from them.

Sacred Sites You Need to See

Sacred Sites You Need to See

There are sacred sites that can be found all over the world and are part of every culture.  These sites generally have some historical or spiritual connection and attract visitors every year for retreats or pilgrimages.  Here are some sacred sites you need to see from around the world.  These sites are in no particular order but millions of tourists come to these sights ever year for spiritual quests.

Macchu Picchu

Millions of tourist head to Peru on the western coast of South America to visit Macchu Picchu.  The historic and spiritual site is believed to be an “energy vortex” and there are supposed to be high concentrations of energy here that can transform your spirit.  The site is supposed to help with healing, personal growth and provide a sort of spiritual awakening.

Jerusalem

The city of Jerusalem is a sacred spot for many faiths including Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Here is Jerusalem there are many sites of historical and religious significance, you can walk the path of Jesus, go to the Wailing Wall or the Al Asqa Mosque.  You really can spend days here trying to see everything.

The Ganges River

Millions head to India each and every year on a spiritual quest but for the Hindus the Ganges that flows through Varansi is their holiest of sites.  This is where it is believed that here lies a Goddess that can wash away your sins.  Every day there are Hindus here looking for forgiveness and spiritual cleansing.  Nearby there are almost 2,000 Hindu temples dedicated to their various gods and goddesses.

Lhasa

Nestled high in the Himalayas in Tibet, Lhasa is a holy site for Buddhists all over the world.  The Potala Palace is located here and it serves as the home for the Dalai Lamas and nearby you will find the Jokhang Monastery, both of these destinations are sacred to the Buddhist faithful.  Millions come here every year for a spiritual pilgrimage.

Istanbul

Istanbul is an old city with a rich and colorful history, it has been home to Emperors and Kings.  It is where the east meets the west and you can truly feel the history and energy of the city.  While you are here some of the sites that you are going to want to check out the Sultanahmet where you will find the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, both are important to those of the Muslim faith.

These are but a handful of sites that are sacred and significant around the world, but at least once in your lifetime you should take a trip to at least one of them.