It was an unusual pilgrim experience for me to come off the path in the middle of a pilgrimage. I questioned it, yet it happened so easily that I could feel that there was something very right about it.
I actually came off the path on Thursday night when Sheila ran after me and invited me into her home. Looking back, I now know that her invitation was much more than what it originally seemed. Sheila lives right on the Mary line. Her home comes down to the water right in front of her house. Aware of it or not, she is a keeper and protector of the path. Sheia's coming after me was actually a message from the path to call me off of it.
I had been feeling a lot of resistance and questioning about this next section. Something didn't feel right, but I could not place my finger on what it was. I knew on a certain level that once I left Perranwell Station that I was committed to twenty-five miles on quite isolated walking. But I knew that it was something more than that.
Unsure of what I was feeling or even what I was resisting, I woke up with a clear idea to call Richard Dealler - www.marymichaelpilgrimsway.org - who is responsible for translating and mapping the dowsing of these sacred paths into a walking path and guidebook. Of course, Richard answered when I called, and we then had a wonderful, fifteen-twenty minute conversation about the section of the path between King Harry Ferry and St. Austell. He confirmed what I have been feeling, and even he was struck by that he is walking with a group next week to the Fal (King Harry Ferry), and then another group in August leaving from St. Austell, and that he too will not be walking this section inbetween. Interesting, eh?
I realized that my resistance was well founded, for two different reasons on different levels. On one level, that the path to walk and detailed in the guidebook does not actually follow the Mary line in this section because it cannot, due to main roads and the geography not supporting public paths. As a result, I was going to end up walked ten or more miles on paved roads. On another level, I became very aware that there is an energy to the path here that is not open and inviting, and that actually there has been some deep trauma that has not been cleared from this area. Richard writes about the execution and quartering of a Catholic monk, Cuthbert Main, and of which one of these quarters was hung on the bridge at Tregony as a warning to other. I was to walk across that bridge. As Richard and I talked, I could feel in my body and became very clear that I am not to walk this section by myself. WIth a group sometime perhaps, but not this time, and not alone.
So, similar to Richard, I will reconnect with the Mary Line at St. Austell and walk across to Lostwithiel, intesecting with the Saints Way (that my cousin, Karen, and I walked nearly two weeks ago) near Luxulyan. It was also at this point that Karen and I walked in circles and could not quite figure out how it happened. Strange that was where these two ancient and sacred paths cross. I am curious to experience this area again tomorrow and see how I fare the farmer who seems to delight in confusing signposts on his land!
I am so grateful for Sheila being a guide along my path, and pulling me off at the absolutely perfect spot, for Richard being available to assist me to uncover the mysteries of this clouded section before St. Austell, and for Diana being with me as we walked in spirals along the north coast in this area of Cornwall that we both feel and experience such a deep connection.
I do feel something different in this area that I have not felt elsewhere in Cornwall. Even though I loved west Cornwall and its wildness out on the end of the penninsula, and even as my Penzance proprietor said to me, "the veils are much thinner down here", I feel a connection and resonance to the land and people here in mid-Cornwall in my belly and heart. I wonder what magic and miracles I will experience as I actually walk this ancient and sacred land over these next few days!