Today Peter, my stepfather, begins his pilgrimage along El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, The Way of St. James. (Some of you may be familiar with the Camino from the 2010 Martin Sheen movie, The Way.) One of the world's oldest pilgrimage routes, Peter's 600 mile, two-month journey starts in Pamplona (famous for their running of the bulls), and ends at Cape Finisterre, a name which means "the end of the earth."
Peter asked "The Rev," as he calls me, to prepare a blessing ceremony for his pilgrimage.
Peter sees the Divine in the face of the Goddess; I knew he made this pilgrimage to open himself to her wisdom and guidance in this, his 70th year. I also knew he wanted a simple ceremony - nothing complicated or fussy...only to receive the blessings of the Goddess through me, one of her daughters (and at 9 months pregnant, fully embodying The Mother herself!).
I mulled over ideas for the ceremony during the week leading up to their visit, when I'd have to chance to see Peter off on his journey. Finally, on the morning of their arrival, the ceremony came to me fully formed and scripted. I had only to write it out and gather the supplies.
After lighting the candle, ringing the singing bowl and smudging with sage, we began:
The appointed time draws near
When you will walk the pilgrim’s path
Now fully ready
To receive whatever the Goddess wills for you.
I, Hannah Grace,
Daughter of the Goddess,
Offer the Lady’s blessings for your journey.
Next, I anointed his heart, third eye and hands with oil:
On this walk, may your heart be opened once again, knowing it is safely held
in her bosom.
On this walk, may you see clearly, as if through new eyes, her world of
beauty and grace.
On this walk, may you know you are ever in her hands,
and may all you touch
and feel be so blessed.
One of my favorite parts of the ceremony was the despacho I made for Peter to carry on his journey. A sacred Andean tradition, meaning "dispatch" in Spanish, I carefully chose small, symbolic items to convey prayers, blessings, gratitudes and love. I then wrapped these in handmade paper, tied it with silk string and sealed the bundle with wax.
Despachos are burned rather than opened, releasing the energy and blessings back into the earth. Only I know the magic woven within its contents.
Take with you this despacho,
Made by my hand and with my prayers,
That you may walk with the blessings of those you love.
Child of the Goddess,
You are her beloved son.
From the mother you came into this world
And to her you shall return.
Every day between now and then is her gift to you.
Use them well,
And ever in her service.
My mother offered the final element for Peter's blessing ceremony: a handmade leather pouch, traditionally carried by pilgrims, bearing a scallop shell, the emblem of St. James and the Camino. Peter takes with him no phone, no camera, no book...only the despacho and pouch, a few changes of clothes and money for meals and the albergues where he'll be staying each night.
We're both embarking on a journey, both physical and spiritual. When Peter returns I will have given birth to my first child. I can't wait to hear what is birthed from within him.