Iona Pilgrimage: July 6-13, 2019

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
— Mary Oliver

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.

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.

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 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. 

  • Dates: July 6-13, 2019
  • Early Bird Price: $2000 *Register before January 1, 2019
  • Regular Price: $2200 *After January 1, 2019
  • The Iona Pilgrimage is limited to 12 participants. Reserve your spot today!

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What's Not Included in the Price?

  • Airfare to/from Scotland
  • Ground travel to/from Iona, Scotland
  • Recommended overnight lodging in Oban, Scotland
  • Alcoholic beverages 
  • 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. 
  • Plentiful and delicious, vegetarian meals created together! 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!
  • 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 John's Barn, roofed walls containing stories, dreams, and laughter; the teal-tinted north beach; St. Oran's chapel; and other powerful places throughout the island. 
  • 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.

Your Guide

Mary DeJong: Ecotheologian, Masters in Theology and Culture

Mary DeJong: Ecotheologian, Masters in Theology and Culture

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. 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, and a certificate in Ecology & Religion from Yale University, 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

Yoga Instructor

Sarah Steinke: Yoga instructor and Poet

Sarah Steinke: Yoga instructor and Poet

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.

If the journey you have chosen is indeed a pilgrimage, a soulful journey, it will be rigorous. Ancient wisdom suggests if you aren’t trembling as you approach the sacred, it isn’t the real thing. The sacred, in its various guises as holy ground, art, or knowledge, evokes emotion and commotion.
— Phil Cousineau