I was initially drawn to my first pilgrimage over two decades ago when a friend sent me a photo postcard of Machu Picchu, Peru. In that moment something uncanny happened and I experienced a place recognition at a soul level. It would take 12 more years before I was able to travel there in person. Then the journey changed me in ways I couldn’t have imagined at the time.
I don’t think it’s possible to fully comprehend the enormity of a pilgrimage unless you’ve actually taken one. It’s a living experience. No amount of verbage can adequately convey this. I encourage anyone who deeply desires to journey to a sacred place to simply go.
Long before the first step was taken I was given subtle messages, synchronicities, alerting me to the possibility that I might not be returning from this quest. In fact, I was told it might challenge me in ways incomprehensible, and that I might even die. At that time, Peru was in the midst of cultural and political upheavel. My decision to take the journey culminated in a telephone call from a friend who worked in Peru, and knew the country well. He encouraged me to follow my heart and use common sense. His matter-of-fact groundedness helped me reclaim my own. It was shortly after this conversation that I vowed to take the journey. At that point I realized that the death that kept coming up for me, might well be a metaphor although other people didn’t think so. There was pressure from loved ones not to take the journey. I have come to realize that others will often mirror their fear back to you. Prepare to be tested.
In order to overcome these obstacles it was necessary for me to stand firmly in my inner knowing. This is a singular path and it is not an easy journey. Therefore, it’s important from the start to realize that a pilgrimage is not a vacation, nor is it for the faint of heart. It is the process of actualizing a spiritual transformation. Inner resolution is absolutely necessary if you are to gain the gifts you seek.
I had voiced my intent to take the journey. This was a major decision. I had long known that I wanted to change my life allowing for a deeper spiritual transformation to emerge. I didn’t know it at the time but I had already taken my first step. My spiritual awakening had already begun simply with the intent to do so.
I would in fact, die a spiritual death on that journey. The small death is the shedding of the material in order to make way for an inner transformation to emerge. In my case the result was the spontaneous uncoiling of the kundalini. My intuitive senses had been right. Following the pilgrimage a process of undoing culminated after several months, allowing the new life to blossom forth. In releasing the old I was able to make a profound leap into the new. At a soul level I was in agreement with the process.
It is said that when the student is ready the master will appear. Although I had no living mentor to facilitate the journey, the process was lovingly guided and always provided, sustaining me throughout the journey. I was only given what I was ready for–a classic awakening guided entirely by one’s connection to source. A spiritual teacher may help one avoid many pitfalls but ultimately, it is a singular journey.
Many fine books have been written about the journey of awakening, including the rising of the kundalini. Throughout the ages ordinary people have encountered different levels of kundalini as their experience unfolds. When this energy rises it activates inherit light-codes (chakra’s), and the sometimes otherworldly abilities associated with them. The kundalini is not a mysterious force, although it may seem so at the time. But quite simply our life force connection to the Divine.
If you seek true enlightenment you must take the inner journey. However, you need not experience the utter and complete unfolding of the inner fire to come away with the many gifts of awakening. It’s what you bring to the moment that is important. You can make giant leaps or take small baby steps in your unfolding. This is your special gift to yourself, when you are ready. The sacred place is, of course, within. But it is the magic of these outer places that can facilitate years of questing into moments of pure illumination. And that is why we go.
Kathy Doore is a tour host, publisher and the author of Markawasi Peru’s Inexplicable Stone Forest. She hosts a yearly sojourn to the ancient sacred sites of the Andes. In 1990 during a late night visit within the inner sanctum of Machu Picchu, Kathy was catapulted headlong into a world of intrigue and mystery, and suffered the shamanic death: the spontaneous initiation of the light-body, resulting in the uncoiling of the kundalini. Today, Kathy facilitates others in their remembrance and awakening. As one who treads the ancient mystical landscape, she is both an accomplished facilitator for journeys of the inner and the outer landscape. She invites you to journey with her to the ancient sacred temples of Peru.