WAYMARKERS IONA PILGRIMAGE
June 22-29, 2020
…find your way here…
Are you feeling called to trace ancient steps to discover, and remember, your wild and precious life? Do you desire a deeper connection with the divine through our wild and wondrous world? Perhaps you desire a way to mark a transition in your life, a threshold, with meaning and memory.
Make a transformative journey to the wild edges of sea and sky, where the powerful presence of female companionship, revelatory elements, and ancient, spirited stories will awaken in you deep memories and divine inspiration to live forward renewed and reconnected to the primeval sacred text of creation. Our world and earth community needs people more than ever who understand our interconnection, that our soul-life is coupled with the health of the soil and salmon, seasons and sea. This pilgrimage provides an immersive rites of passage experience that will invite this deep wisdom and eco-spiritual awakening.
Join your guide, ecotheologian and writer Mary DeJong, in pursuing themes related to the archetypal stages of this ancient pilgrimage practice; the recovery of the rich heritage of Celtic spirituality; remembering sacred rewilding practices as engagement with the wild text of creation; and discovering ecotheology as a way of reading scripture anew. Through these traditions, praxis and lens, you will be invited into a restored communion with the natural world, and a remembered sense that our planet is home to the holy. You will be provided ample time to relentlessly seek and wander through the island's holy history and explore its wildest nooks and crannies while being guided to explore your own wild interior. Here you will rediscover a land of enchantment where wonder, reverence and delight are experienced in a place through the medium of your attentive presence. Here you will be inspired to return home transformed by the prayerful pace of this holy place.
This journey is for the seeker, the questioner, the yearner. It is for those with faith and those with doubts. It is for those who are ready to respond and return to, and be in relationship with, the wild and sacred source of life. While rooted in the Celtic Christian tradition, this pilgrimage is ecumenical by nature and accessible to all who are curious about the Creator; all are welcome to seek the sacred together in our shared cathedral of creation.
Pilgrimage cost includes: communal lodging at a gold-rated Green Tourism facility, plentiful vegetarian meals, unique and historical island tours and hikes, daily beach-front yoga offerings, and transformational, intimate group sessions held in the power of the female circle. Daily rhythms are created with care and from experience, and include the Iona Abbey's morning and evening prayer times.
The 2020 Waymarkers Iona Pilgrimage
June 22-29, 2020
$2100 for Early Bird Registration (before December 31, 2019)
$2300 for Regular Registration (after December 31, 2019)
NOTE: Both registration fees include a $500 non-refundable deposit. International travel and remote locations continue to experience inflation due to the very real costs associated with fuel and transport. The increase in cost for 2020 reflects the reality of airfare prices as well the value associated with offering quality programming, teaching, and yoga instruction.
The Iona Pilgrimage is limited to 12 female-identifying participants.
What's Not Included in the Price?
Airfare to/from Scotland
Ground travel to/from Iona, Scotland
Recommended overnight lodging in Oban, Scotland
One dinner meal out at a restaurant on Iona
What's Included in the Price?
7 nights/8 days of communal lodging at the Iona Hostel, Iona's gold-rated Green Tourism facility, which is situated on the northern turquoise shores of the island surrounded by beautiful, black Hebedrian sheep. Participants are lodged together in comfortable bunk-bed rooms that boast of breathtaking vistas of the Iona Sea!
Plentiful and delicious, vegetarian meals created together! This includes daily breakfast, six lunches, and six dinners. In order to keep the costs of this pilgrimage as low as possible, we will cook our evening meals together with a pre-planned menu based on the island's food availability. Buffet style lunch and breakfast will be available daily. Participants are invited to work together on a rotating basis to prep meals and clear dishes as a testament to the pilgrim-community! One evening towards the end of our pilgrimage, we will dine out at a favorite local restaurant as a celebration of our collective and individual journeys. This meal will be a personal expense.
Unique tours that will deepen our sense of place and connection to this sacred, storied landscape. We will tour the Iona Abbey, Staffa Island, receive expert teaching on the island's geography, meet with local artisans, and discover the wildest nooks of the island! While considered a priceless value to the journey, all tours and walks are optional; however, do note that not all are ADA accessible and require a moderately active fitness level.
Rewilding Wonder Yoga Sessions Daily beach-front yoga sessions led by certified yoga instructor Sarah Steinke that will invite an embodied practice to your pilgrimage journey. Previous experience with a yoga practice is not necessary or required.
Daily Circle Sessions facilitated by Mary DeJong where together we will explore the archetypal themes of pilgrimage through the Heroine's Journey; rediscover the rich heritage of Celtic spirituality; recover wisdom and a flourishing imagination through ecotheology; and remember our belonging through rewilding prayers, practices, rites and rituals. These sessions will be held in various places including the sacred space of The Byre, roofed walls containing stories, dreams, and laughter; the teal-tinted north beach; St. Oran's chapel; and other powerful places throughout the island. Ceremony and sacred space will be held and engaged together daily to engage the the work of the holy descent that is requisite within the pilgrimage journey.
Personal Time will be held and honored every day, ensuring that your soul can be nourished by silence and the sacred presence of the sea.
Guided Hikes will be offered on most days to assist in getting you off the common trails and to some of the most stunning coves and beaches on the island.
Reflections and resources to guide your pilgrimage planning and integration both before you leave home and upon your return. Upon securing your spot with your nonrefundable deposit, you will receive emails that provide in-depth information on how best to travel to Iona as well as thoughtful writings and resources on the various stages of the pilgrimage journey.
DESCRIPTIONS & INTENTIONS
The Waymarkers Iona Pilgrimage is not necessarily a relaxing retreat or luxurious vacation. A pilgrimage is a soulful journey that demands a purposeful rigor, a posture that is curious, compassionate, and courteous to oneself and others. The decision to lodge at the Iona Hostel is intentional and has been the primary location of the Waymarkers Pilgrimages since 2004. In this place on the far north end of the island, where other pilgrims from all over the world also take shelter, we are invited into a primary posture of the pilgrim: to see the stranger as a sacred guide. Here we must walk to return to our island-home passing many a stranger on the only road on Iona. We not only are in close quarters with one another, but we may very well be sharing the communal dining room with other seekers. At the Iona Hostel we engage the ancient practice of hospitality and discover more about ourselves in the company of the other.
We reserve the two largest bunk rooms at the Iona Hostel for our pilgrimage group. Our intimate group of twelve peregrina will share these sleeping quarters. There are no private rooms available.
The facilities are full of care and conscientious creativity. The Hostel's fully appointed kitchen is a joy in which to cook communally. The comfortable restroom facilities provide both poetry and prose to cultivate an ecological mindset. This location fully deserves its Green Tourism Gold award!
While we share much of this space with the other, our group of pilgrims daily retreats to the Byre for our morning and evening circle times. Here we have the private space to learn, journey, and weep together. The daily circle we create in this salty and storied stable holds ceremony, courage, and a profound and precious kindness that is created when wild women come together as a sacred sisterhood. Meditation materials, art-response supplies, and provocative writings related to the categories of pilgrimage, the Heroine's Journey, rewilding and sacred ecology are provided in this space.
The Iona Hostel is a working croft that tends a wild and wooly flock of black Hebedrian sheep. Our group is invited into the exhilarating work of helping with herding the sheep for shearing day, a meaningful experience that resonates with pilgrimage participants in a powerful way. The land of Lagondorian is also an example of an ecological rewilding project, another fantastic reason to stay at this site as our group works at the wild edges of our stories and understanding of the Sacred.
Unique and Soulful Tours & Adventures
The Waymarkers Iona Pilgrimage aims to create unique space for you to engage Iona's wild and enchanting elements through its rich history as a place of worship, residence of ancient and contemporary creativity, and its particular location within the Hebedrian Isles. Over the course of our week together, not only do we seek after the Holy within the walls of the Iona Abbey, but we expand our search amongst the ancient stones guided by a resident expert of Iona geology; we take to the sea to feel the enormity of the swells and to experience the awe and wonder of Staffa Island and its resident puffins; we experience the sacred and storied landscape through a deeply meaningful island pilgrimage; and meet with local artists whose ancestry and heritage link them deeply and directly to the creative pulse that thrums within this place. Time is set apart each day for personal solitude with one full day devoted to silence and contemplation. Together these excursions and the lessons from this sacred land weave together a wonderful tapestry of the themes of Celtic spirituality, pilgrimage, ecospirituality and sacred rewilding we engage together on this pilgrimage.
Rewilding Wonder Yoga Sessions
As a way to integrate the pilgrimage journey into the body, the Waymarkers Iona Pilgrimage offers daily yoga expressions with poet, psychotherapist, and certified yoga instructor Sarah Steinke. Our yoga sessions are an elemental experience on the North Beach, the location of the legendary white sands and turquoise waters of Iona. With the tidal rhythms of the sea and the whispers of the wind, we move our bodies in response to our sacred journey. Morning Yoga Matins are offered as a way to move our body in prayerful positions, bringing ourselves into an embodied form of the Celtic encircling prayer, a seven-directional prayer that acknowledges the imminence of the divine with-out and within our physical bodies. Afternoon sessions provide an opportunity to go deeper into the griefs and joys of the day, bringing our body, heart and soul into attunement and alignment with wonder and awe. No previous yoga experience or special equipment is necessary for these gentle and restorative offerings.
Praise for the Iona Pilgrimage
Pilgrimage Fee & Registration Requirements
Balance of Early Bird payment is due on March 1, 2020. Balance of Regular Rate payment is due on April 1, 2020. There are no refunds after these dates. It is advisable to purchase travel insurance to protect against emergency situations. The $500 deposit is an administrative fee that secures your space in this small pilgrimage and is nonrefundable. There are no exceptions to the refund policy. The balance of the program fee is due by the dates mentioned above and is nonrefundable after that time. We require that you obtain travel insurance to cover financial losses from any personal emergencies or other events which require your cancellation. Please consider purchasing "cancel for any reason" coverage.You will receive a reminder by email for the final pilgrimage payment along with an invoice for payment. Payment for the balances can be made through the Waymarkers website, by check, or by bank transfer. Please contact us with details.
When you register for the Waymarkers Iona Pilgrimage, you are committing to the following requirements:
You will need a passport to travel to Scotland. U.S. citizens can visit for up to six months on an automatic travel visa. EU citizens can enter visa-free. You are responsible for checking with your local Scottish embassy for requirements.
While there is one taxi on the island of Iona, walking is our primary mode of transportation. We will be walking to/from the Iona Hostel for most of our excursions and experiences. This pilgrimage will also require some hiking and walking over rough and muddy ground. You will need to be able to walk 3-4 miles comfortably over very uneven terrain and be able to climb stairs and over things. The day of the Iona Island Pilgrimage will require being able to walk eight miles over the course of the day. Pack sturdy waterproof shoes/hiking boots and clothing suitable for both cool and warm temperatures, and rainy weather. Rain pants and a good rain jacket are both essential for comfort.
While there is intentional programming and effort to ensure that everyone has independent time and reflective solitude, much of this journey is taken within the company of others. Please be ready to graciously share sleeping quarters, meals (including prep and cleanup), and one another's hearts and stories.
This journey invites a profound presencing and self-awareness, both of which are invited into growth as we engage the pilgrimage circuit. Your registration indicates that you are of sound mind and body, able to engage in both physical activity and soulful circle times that support the collective of our group experience.
Influenced by the lives of Celtic saints, Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey and the emerging field of ecopyschology, Mary facilitates retreats and pilgrimages in the Pacific Northwest and in Iona, Scotland, that strengthen the unique and mystical interconnection of participants, the sacred, and the natural world. She has studied and practiced within the Celtic Christian spiritual tradition, her own maternal line heritage, for over twenty years, receiving mentoring and vocational guidance from Vivienne Hull, co-founder of the Chinook Learning center and the Whidbey Institute and the director of the Iona Retreat Programs. Mary is also a second year student with the School of Celtic Consciousness, a learning program founded and taught by John Philip Newell. She has been leading groups to Iona, Scotland since 2004, delighting in the pilgrimage process of recovering the sacred within, and throughout the cosmos and creation.
With a Masters in Theology & Culture and a focus in eco-theology from The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology; post-graduate certificates in Ecology & Religion from Yale University, and ecopsychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute; and intensive trainings with Animas Valley Institute, Mary competently guides conversations and connections towards a renewed communion with the natural world. Her theories around a Theology of Place have found practice through her own restoration work within a local neighborhood wood, where she regularly leads community restoration events and hosts groups desiring to make faithful interconnections with the greater community of life. Mary's book, Waymarkers (2011), is heralded by pilgrims globally who long to journey to Iona with intention and purpose
Pilgrimage is an external embodiment of an inner journey. Daily yoga offerings are intended to invite our female form to show up in soft strength, remembering that our skin is what we are meant to be in.
Wonder resides in places of quickening, those moments where new life is first felt, and where words often fall short. And wonder, for Sarah, is what compels her to stay and listen. And then to enter more fully, senses alert. As a yoga instructor and poet, she finds these are both practices of quickening. She believes the longer we tolerate this place beyond words, the more deft we become to movement—allowing what needs to drop to the ground to drop, and allowing shape to what needs to take shape. Sarah’s yoga and writing practices reflect her commitment to the poetry of the ordinary, and she invites others to awareness and connection, the places of quickening in their own lives.
Sarah’s teaching has had the benefit of much practice—over twenty years of writing and editing experience, and ten years of yoga practice. She is a RYT 200 certified yoga instructor who received her MFA in poetry from UW. She currently teaches yoga classes in a local studio in Silverdale and corporate sessions in Seattle. Her work has appeared in the Laurel Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Crab Creek Review, the Other Journal, the Southern California Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Words Could Not Make It More True, was published in 2014 by Finishing Line Press. Find out more about Sarah at her website.
The Pilgrimage Process
Our world is in uncertain times with an even more uncertain future. As spiritual seekers, we look for signs of the sacred to clarify and guide our path into this unknown territory. We long for authentic expressions of our unique gifts and talents so that we might truly live into the challenge to engage our culture and change our world.
To discern this path, to genuinely know our meant-for-ness, we need time and space to be able to seek after and listen for the sacred within our souls, the soil, and the stars. In our busy, cluttered lives, it often feels next to impossible to hear that still, small voice that is luminous within the liminal space of Iona.
Journey to a sacred site, a world-renowned pilgrimage place: Iona, Scotland. This unique island will require the necessary intention of a pilgrim while also fulfilling the need for journey's end to place you in touch with holy ground.
It is the arrival to this deeply spiritual space, which then spurs hope onward. For that is the great value of making pilgrimage: we are able to state a deep intention for the trip, travel with an eye, and heart, for the sacred detail in every moment, and arrive in a place where we experience the numinous in new, powerful, life-changing ways.
Iona has a unique and challenging call to modern pilgrims. Whereas in the past, pilgrims would seek to rise above their physical nature to engage and experience God, today we must seek to integrate all of creation to live a more healthy and whole existence. By going to Iona we are looking to learn from a place and a spiritual tradition that honors this interconnectivity; our prayer is that we might leave bringing this harmony with us so that we truly can be change-agents in this world!
You are considering setting out to make pilgrimage-one of the most ancient forms of journey for people of faith from all cultures and religions. While this word may sound antiquated and seemingly irrelevant to modern-day ears, there is an awakening sense that making a pilgrimage is a way to find answers to your deepest questions and experience a spirit-renewing ritual.
This type of journey invites the traveler to see the sacred in every step and in every turn. With a deepening of focus, keen preparation, attention to the path below our feet, and respect for the destination at hand, it is possible to transform even the most ordinary trip into a sacred journey, a pilgrimage. And the beautiful irony of such travel is that indeed, one must return HOME. And when one does, they find it changed, renewed, transformed…or is it you that has been forever altered? It is this returning that allows you to live forward with fresh intention and solidarity with the sacred answers provided you on the road.