Walking Water was invited to partner with Black Mountain Circle’s 2019 Geography of Hope as they expand from a one weekend conference to a year-long series of gatherings, pilgrimages, films, conversations and art exhibits that explore the theme of “Sacred in the Land.” This year’s conference, “Pilgrimage Redefined” gathered on March 16-17 in Point Reyes Station to explore the meaning of pilgrimage within the environmental, political and cultural contexts of our times. Walking Water co-founder Gigi Coyle served as the “ MC “and through-thread to an incredible lineup of presenters sharing about pilgrimage in many forms:
John Francis, founder of Planetwalk, began walking in 1971 and walked for 22 years, including a walk across the United States. He was in silence for 17 of those years. He shared stories, insights, inspiration and banjo tunes.
Weston Pew, visionary of Sacred Door Trail in Montana spoke of his journey to re-membering the Sacred through pilgrimage and his current vision to bring pilgrimage to urban spaces and advocating for the rights of nature.
Desirae Harp and Michael Preston, young indigenous representatives of the Run4Salmonprayer journey led by Chief Caleen Sisk to welcome the salmon back home to Mt. Shasta, spoke of the salmon’s sacred journey from the ocean to the headwaters as teachers of pilgrimage. They shared the creation story and history and contemporary struggles of the Winnemem Wintu tribe against colonization and the slated rise of the Shasta Dam.
Toby McCloud, filmmaker and founder of the Sacred Land Film Project shared a short piece of his film “Standing on Sacred Ground: Pilgrims and Tourists” documenting indigenous resistance to massive government projects in the Altai Republic of Russia and Northern California.
Kate Bunney, Gigi Coyle, Orland Bishop, Krystyna Jurzykowski and Justine Epstein spoke on behalf of Walking Water, sharing story, film and song emerging through this prayer and action, walking for 3-weeks over 3-years from ”source” Mono Lake to “end user” LA and Long Beach. They shared some about the work which continues, listening to what next serves, while bearing witness to water walks and prayerful actions around the world.
On the second day of “Pilgrimage Redefined,” Kate and Point Reyes local Wendy Johnson led a community pilgrimage at Bear Valley, offering participants and community members the opportunity to embody the practice in community.
In addition to the conference, Walking Water is also collaborating with BMC on 4-seasonal pilgrimages along the Muddy Hollow and Estero trails on Point Reyes national seashore. The first of these pilgrimages, in celebration of Spring, took place on March 30th, led by Kate Bunney with WW team members Justine Epstein and Scott Davidson. The next walk will take place June 23rd. To join register here.