Quotes from the Pilgrimage Project Interviews

The Pilgrimage Project began as an interdisciplinary research project at Oxford University in 2007. Covering Anthropology, Psychology, History, Sociology and Religious Studies, it aims to discuss the motivations and experiences of people from different Western religious groups as they journey to sacred spaces. The excerpts below are from interviews with Pagans who had travelled to Glastonbury for a summer Goddess ceremony.

On Paganism
“A lot of what I think makes me me is them.”

On War
“I can understand that [soldiers] are the people of peace… but I don’t believe that we’re gonna find peace staring down the end of a barrel and… like… “I’M GONNA SHOOT YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFF!”, and… what are you gonna do? Make your mind up. Are we gonna just say, OK, fine, yeah, I’m gonna be nice, I’m gonna do whatever he tells me to, so that I’ll find peace? No.”

On Reawakening the Abbey at Glastonbury
“So, it’s not a monk, it’s women, and we’re not Benedictines, but we are the new monks.”

On Dark Magic
“I think where people are being manipulated for the benefit of the manipulator, I would call that a dark path.”

On Women
“But I learnt some wonderful things about working with women there. I was used to working with men; we just make a decision and get on with it. And we’d have an important meeting about something here, and we’d all be together, it’d be me and the four other… whoever the trustees were. And they would start by saying “Isn’t it appalling what that girl Gladys is doing?” “Yes, I think she’s run away with somebody else…” All this stuff would go on. And I would sit there boggling, like I thought we’d come to talk about… we must just clear this first. And I learnt a really important thing: that these women, they needed to clear the emotional stuff that was hovering in the room. Once that was clear, we could get on with the discussion. It’s not at all how men work, but it’s really important, and I’ve learned – here I’m working all the time with women – that you must allow the emotional charge to be diffused, it’s perfectly valid. It’s hovering, you see. They’re worried about something. It’s got nothing to do with what we’re talking about, but it’s really important.”

On Intuition
“But my brain can’t solve it, it’s… my intuition accesses [spirits’] wisdom and back comes the answer.”

On Dying
“I’m delighted to die whenever it’s time. And in a way, I have to make a huge effort to be here now. I’m really actually somewhere else. Not physically. No, physically I’m very fit. But I’m actually – my consciousness is somewhere else, and I have to make a tremendous effort to be here. If you understand it.”

On Glastonbury
“I think Glastonbury’s just a little microcosm of where we’re all going. I do believe… self-employment, self-empowerment, but sharing, is the way that society’s moving. And it’s very threatening to a lot of people, it’s very frightening, the old structures are collapsing. You can see they’re not working. And I think we’ve got here a microcosm of what’s happening worldwide. And I think we have a responsibility to make it work here, and it doesn’t work completely. But if we can make it work, and there’s a model, then other people can begin to say “Right, that mad lot in Glastonbury have got something going there.” That’s what I think we are. I think we’re a sort of petri dish for the new consciousness.”

On God
“I have a problem with the term ‘god’, and I don’t know whether it’s because of the association with the Christian god, or certain dogma. Also it makes it very monistic, is it? Meaning it’s only one. Yeah. It tries to make concrete something that is very massive.”

On Pilgrimage

“It’s like a concentration of normalcy.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt more… it sounds so sappy, but more human, really. More human but not human as a special creature on the earth, just like another one.”

“This has the capacity to be profoundly not abstract.”

“It was not really a feeling of belonging, but it was a feeling of not belonging. Somewhere I’m not looking to belong, something like that.”

On the Motivation Behind Pilgrimage

“To find out something true. Not the truth, necessarily, but to find something that’s true.”

“I think I’ll be able to maybe… more fluidly be consistently abstract.”

“Over the last few years I’ve become a committed atheist, so I’m investigating this belief in nothing. That’s what I’m investigating. How much there is to this nothingness.”

On Consciousness
“I’m becoming more… maybe more conscious of my unconscious actions.”

On Prayer
“There came a point where prayer… where life became prayer.”

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