PILGRIM (Community Interest Company): Introducing the Vision
Pilgrim CIC is a social enterprise with two distinct but connected areas of activity. One is to take the bereaved, the burned out, p*ssed off and generally out of sorts and give them a restorative experience of pilgrimage on healing retreat in the beautiful landscape of Snowdonia and Anglesey.
The trading surplus from this will subsidise the other part of the business which will be to take young people who are bereaved, traumatised or experiencing other profound challenges in their life and to use the vehicle of “pilgrimage” to undertake a rite of passage and vision quest.
What do I mean by “pilgrimage” in this context? Conscious time in Nature. Walking with an intention of inner transformation. The act of pilgrimage is as old as the hills. It features in some form in all faith traditions. Beneath the waymarked pathways that carve between sacred wells and places of worship there are ancient earth-lines that saw people follow the Sun to the ends of the land long before religion.
Pilgrimage is not easy. The long days walk takes stamina but the physicality of the challenge is the least of it. Without technology, work, school and other people to distract you – you are left with you. Beautiful you. Filled with fear, doubts, rage, insecurities, resentments and madness… gateways to joy, laughter, vision, love and new hope.
And what do I mean by “rite of passage”? In all indigenous cultures young people undertake a rite of passage which marks the transition from childhood into adulthood and holds adolescence as sacred. In our modern culture the caterpillar is forced to become butterfly without the chrysalis phase. How many of us feel like we are children trapped in an adult body in a world too scary and big to comprehend? Our inner youth is crying to be healed. A rite of passage, by nature, needs to include some hardship so, to me, using “pilgrimage” as the framework is the perfect way to take young folk through the alchemy of the rite of passage process because it is safe, it is acceptably painful and sufficiently rewarding to bring about the inner transformation without it being at all brutal.
About me (my credentials for such an endeavour)… I am Alexandra, an interfaith minister and spiritual counsellor. Prior to embarking on spiritual self employment 4 years ago I had a successful management career in social care commissioning specialising in community engagement. I fostered young people leaving care and realised that the most basics of being in nature, breathing deeply and being loved were almost alien to them. I have worked for and been personally supported by a wonderful organisation called Youth Charter, a global charity and NGO dedicated to inspiring and coaching young people and communities, for over 7 years now. I have a post graduate degree in management from Warwick Business School and supplement my ministry income by offering consultancy to small charities and social enterprises around good governance, policy development and safeguarding.
I am one of the directors of the Greenhouse in Bangor, a grassroots community organisation that nurtures new enterprises. I am a pilgrim, a poet, a clairvoyant healer and all round free spirit. I recently undertook the North Wales Pilgrim way from Holywell to Bardsey and had the most incredible inspiring and profoundly beautiful experiences en route. From my days as a cadet and later instructor in the Army Cadet Force doing my Duke of Edinburgh’s award, to hiking the western Himalayas, to my intimate knowledge of Snowdonia, to Santiago de Compostella and more recently to Bardsey… I am humbled that Mother Nature has been my healer, my saviour and my guide.
Pilgrim CIC is already calling together some extra-ordinarily gifted people as facilitators, volunteers, elders and vision holders. I am putting this out to my community to ask for the following:
I would like to be invited to give my presentation to interested groups; this presentation includes my pilgrim poetry, an interesting talk on pilgrimage in particular the North Wales Pilgrims Way and a short pitch for support for Pilgrim CIC.
I am also looking for another director; someone with compatible beliefs (inclusive spirituality/not necessarily religious) who has experience of pilgrimage and shares my passion for working with young folk and to keeping them safe. I imagine that that someone will read this and just “know” it is them.
I intend to drum up financial support from people who see the value in the vision. Pilgrim CIC will not be induced into dependency on loans or grants: it will be birthed naturally and nurtured into standing on its own two feet. The business plan stacks up and I believe wholeheartedly in it. I intend to raise the seed money locally through giving my presentations for contributions before then using some of that money to produce a crowdfunding film to finance the development of the infrastructure, governance and purchase of equipment required.
Just to finish I feel I should add that I also have a longterm vision that Pilgrim CIC will take on some land and young folk can come and learn skills as they help build an environmentally sustainable centre – drawing on inspiration from Felin Uchaf and Cae Mabon. I see a retreat centre with a large hall, interfaith chapel, healing herb gardens, organic vegetables, a labyrinth, accommodation in roundhouses and yurts, a vegan café and a vibrant community around it. I feel in my bones that there is piece of land on Anglesey that is whispering this vision to me.
All right things happen in their right time. For now I am launching the vision out into the world. If prayer is your thing please pray for Pilgrim and me. Please share the idea with anyone you know whose soul will just say Yes! Please link me to people that you feel I need to know. If you would like to be on my Pilgrim mailing list please email email@example.com to say so.