Walking in the World

Tag Archives: Sweden

Layers of Pilgrimage

pilgrimstad

I didn’t mean to be a tease. When I last posted, I was heading off on pilgrimage, full of intentions to blog my journey. Oh when am I going to learn? Pilgrimage inevitably takes on a life of its own that has very little to do with intentions and goals. By Day Two, it was clear that blogging was going to distract me from my path, and the further I traveled, the less inclined I was to connect to technology at the end of the day.

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Fortunately for me, I dropped more and more deeply into the unfolding layers of my journey. Unfortunately for my readers, I disappeared from cyberspace without warning or explanation. For weeks.

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I’m home now, slowly unpacking my experiences and insights. It was a pilgrimage of pilgrimages as we moved on and across a number of pilgrimage routes in both Sweden and France. Each one felt unique and enticing, each continues to call to me. Along the way, we acquired passports, met fellow pilgrims and kindred spirits, and were inspired by the saints in whose footsteps we followed.

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And who can be the same after an experience like that?

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I don’t think I can recreate a day-by-day travelogue for you, and to even attempt it moves away from the immediacy that defines this particular blog. And yet I really want to share some of the magic of my travels with you. So, I’ve decided to indulge in a bit of time-travelling hopscotch. I’m going to stay current by posting some of my daily walks, but I’ll also weave in a few posts about the highlights of our pilgrimage. Watch this space!

26 Sep 2016

New Friends, Old Stories

We are having a wonderful journey, deeply profound for both of us,  on many levels.

We arrived in Vaplan, Sweden, yesterday afternoon. Lisa’s father was born here, and is obviously still well regarded and deeply loved, and his family is delighted that his daughter is visiting. Being a witness to this family reunion has been a moving  experience for me, which I will say more about in due course. The stories I’m hearing are like precious beads on the string of life. 

Today we spent a lovely day visiting the area in the company of his cousin, Bengt, and his wife, Marianne, who are hosting us for these few days. In addition to feeding us phenomenally good food, they have shown us beautiful lakes and waterfalls, ancient petroglyphs, a ski mountain, and taken us to lunch at an organic restaurant set inside a greenhouse…  and so much more. 

02 Sep 2016

2016 Swedish Labyrinth Pilgrimage

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Regular readers will remember my posts about our 2015 Swedish Labyrinth Tour, and we are now working hard on plans for returning in 2016. Once again, we’ll be working with Lars Howlett from Discover Labyrinths, and this year we’ll also be working with Veriditas to weave in an increased emphasis on the spiritual aspects of pilgrimage. Yesterday we recorded a WEBINAR to talk about this year’s journey and show photos of places we’ll be visiting. (Thanks to Anne Bull and Veriditas for making this webinar happen!)

If you long to explore Swedish labyrinths and culture with a small group of like-minded labyrinth enthusiasts, please consider joining us. For more information, please click here to go to the appropriate page on the Veriditas website.

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22 Jan 2016

Farewell Bow

Rainbow

This was the view out the window of the plane as we flew out of Sweden on Sunday evening – an ulta-bright double rainbow, a symbol of promise and love. Thanks, Sweden, for a wonderful week of labyrinths, friendship, and culture!

Oh the best-laid plans… I put a small gallery of photos from the National Day celebration into yesterday’s post, but it didn’t appear in the email version, so if you get my posts in your inbox, you might want to click HERE to see the photos of the museum and its lovely recreation of a traditional Swedish celebration.

Meanwhile, we are busy getting ready to head north for this year’s Scotland tours. I will continue to blog (hopefully daily), but am going to scale back just a bit, simply posting a daily photo or two along with a few accompanying words. For a more detailed account of the places we go and the things we see, you can find my posts from last year’s tours HERE.

My walk today will be a short one, as it is windy and not-too-nice outside, and I have a huge stack of work waiting on my desk.

09 Jun 2015

Sweden’s National Day

We spent our last day in Gotland (last Saturday, but I’ve fallen a bit behind) driving to the southern tip of the island to attend a special event at the Bottarve Farm Museum. In celebration of National Day of Sweden (on 6 June), staff and volunteers dress in traditional dress to serve homemade baked goods and boiled coffee that is made over an open fire. The museum was decked out in lilacs and other flowers from the garden, and guests were welcomed into what really felt like a family home.

There is a labyrinth out in the farmyard, but it was curiously overgrown, and not walkable at the moment, though I’m sure it will be tended as the season wears on.

The drive was long enough for us to visit some of the other labyrinths and historic sites along the way:

Gannarve

Gannarve, a prehistoric ship burial site.

Frojel

Frojel Church and labyrinth

Fresco

Wall fresco in the church at Hablingbo.

08 Jun 2015

Sun, Sea, and Sky

I just can't get enough of the sun, sea, and sky here on Gotland. The peace of the island and my joy at being in this beautiful place is permeating my bones. The fact that we are also walking labyrinths every day deepens the peace even more.

 

06 Jun 2015

Exploring Gotland

A nigh unto perfect day for exploring and labyrinth walking yesterday… the sun was out, the wind was easing, and spring is in its prime here on Gotland. It was a day of discovery, reunion, and surprise.

We started our morning with a walk up along the cliffs overlooking the Trojaborg and the sea, then headed off in our vans to see what we could find over on the eastern side of the island. Our first stop was near the tiny fishing village of Sysne where we walked the 50 year old labyrinth that sits right on the coast, then spent time enjoying the view, the wildflowers and the rocks.

Our second stop was at a forest labyrinth near Alskog that had been almost totally overgrown last time any of us visited it. To our surprise – and delight – it had been uncovered and restored with benches and signage added. Let me tell you, the grin on Lars's face went from ear to ear! It's a large labyrinth, with 15 circuits that was built by the school teacher, Mr. Lindgren, in the 1860's. There is still some maintenance work to be done at the center, but clearly there are some locals who have taken on the project and are making good progress!

Next up was a visit to Folhammar, where there is the most amazing rambling stone path that snakes and spirals across the landscape. Started some 50 years ago, it is still growing and evolving; it is a single path that eventually does lead to a goal, but it feels almost like a magical maze of loops, switchbacks, and spirals. It is not scary, like a maze can be, but has a happy, playful feel to it.

At nearby Majbacken, there is a 7-circuit labyrinth from the late 19th century. There is a stile in place to assist visitors in getting into the field, and today there were just a few sheep looking curiously at the invading strangers. The labyrinth was a bit overgrown, but perhaps the curious sheep will prove to be worthy groundskeepers.

We made several more stops on our way back to Visby, including a visit to the church at Hemse which has some of the most beautiful medieval wall frescos on Gotland, including this portrayal of St. Brigida, patron saint of Sweden.

 

05 Jun 2015

Labyrinth Search

We drove up to the north end of Gotland to see two of the old labyrinths, at Hallshuk and Othem, and to search for a newer one that we had only heard about. The lushness of the scenery and the soft peace of the Landscape were profound. The lilacs are in bloom all over the island, and the sun’s gentle warmth allowed their perfume to scent the air.

Our first stop was at Hallshuk, a labyrinth with 16 lines of stone that was built over a hundred years ago by the keeper of the nearby lighthouse keeper. The labyrinth is a bit overgrown, but thre paths are still navigable – perhaps by summer’s end it will have been walked enough to manicure the paths a bit.

From there, we drove on to Othem, a slightly younger 12-walled labyrinth probably built by a schoolteacher for and with his students circa 1900. It was quite overgrown possibly in danger of disappearing altogether before too many more years go by.

After lunch, we returned to the Othem area to search for a recently constructed little labyrinth that turned out to be a beautifully simple spiral, done in stone labyrinth style. Our team of explorers immediately set to work straightening the stones, leaving it in good shape for future visitors.

We returned to Visby in time for dinner and an evening walk of the famous Visby Trojeborg across from our hotel.

03 Jun 2015

Destination Labyrinth

We have arrived on Gotland and have spotted our first labyrinth. My heart always thrills when I see these big ferries coming in to take us to faraway places. Our crossing was smooth and easy, with time for us to gather in the on-board conference room to talk about the labyrinths we’ll be visiting over the next several days. Once in Visby, it was a short drive around the perimeter of the medieval walled city and out to our hotel which is directly across from the splendid Trojeborg:

01 Jun 2015

Clean Lines


One of the best parts of travel is experiencing how different places feel and look. In Sweden the lines are eye-catchingly clean and crisp, and there is an efficiency that I find quite freeing and enlivening. I tend to weigh myself down with more baggage and clutter than I need – both physical and emotional – so I appreciate the reminder of how much easier it is to move in and through the world when I pare down and carry with only that which actually serves me.

01 Jun 2015

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