I was put off by religion at an early age by the Evangelist Church in Johannesburg after the preacher claimed God told him to buy a lear jet. Even as a 11 year old I could recognise a load of crap when I heard it, especially as the African half of the congregation were living in abject poverty.
However, on this journey we have both felt a deep and heart felt connection with St Mary and St Margaret in particular, and so we decide our last port of call on the pilgrimage will be the famous St Mary Shrine in Walsingham, Norfolk.
Walsingham has both a Catholic and Anglican Shrine to St Mary. We visit the Catholic Shrine first which has been awarded small Basilica status by the Pope.
We have arrived on the first day of an Evangelical gathering called The Golden Dawn and in the background we can hear a huge drum playing. There is an air of excitement about the place. There is indeed a new ‘Golden Dawn’ awakening but I do wonder how important gender equality is going to be in their equation? Will Astraea Goddess of the Sacred Arts be mentioned? Will Sheila Na Gig get a look in?
It is a beautiful and special place and I try to quieten my cynicism. I feel very emotional and hold back the tears as I walk through the Rosary garden. We sit briefly in the Lady Slipper Chapel and I say a prayer of wanting to serve St Mary in the future in whatever way I am able. We buy a small rosary for Ursula with a silver trinket for St Mary, St Michael and St Christopher to represent our pilgrimage. We buy a sticker of the Holy Dove for the rear door which is very pleasing as I can see it now when I’m driving.
I feel much more in my spiritual power than I perhaps would have before the pilgrimage. I don’t feel that anybody’s judgements can take away the love and beauty of our pilgrimage and the connections we have made to Mary and Jesus. I feel this is one of my soul purposes, to express the Dark Madonna energies, as I was born with Lilith and Dark Moon Lilith conjunct my ascendant. I hope my experience will make some difference to how the more ‘Lilith’ women feel about themselves in their spiritual life.
We visit the Anglican Shrine next where I go in on my own leaving Jay in the garden of The Bull pub with a shandy. I leave her listening to an extremely boring American couple and a British priest talking about church politics. As I enter the shrine a Christian pilgrimage group are just finishing a service and singing a hymn about the end of a pilgrimage. It feels very moving and I sit down at the back with tears in my eyes. I find the healing well and drink some water. We have purchased two small water bottles of the well water, no doubt also blessed by a priest for good measure, at the Catholic Shrine. I do believe in the miracle of healing waters.
Finally we enter the grounds of the old Abbey. Here is the place where the Saxon shrine was built in 1061 AD by the Lady of the Manor Richeldis de Faverches, following her dream where Our Lady gave her very specific instructions three times on where to build a Shrine based on the measurements of the Nazareth House in Jeruselum. The story says that two places appeared in the dew which were dry and so Richeldis knew it was one of these places. She instructed the carpenters to build on one but it kept falling apart.
She prayed again and overnight the Shrine built itself pretty much in the right spot. We didn’t bring our dowsing rods in, but having spent a month on ley lines I would bet my bottom dollar the site of the original Shrine, which is now a bank of grass, has energy lines running through it. We lay down and relax our aching backs on the grass with the sun on our faces. We tell the dogs to show us the ‘ley lines’ and they go completely bonkers rubbing themselves up and down the grass. (Video evidence to follow!)
Too soon the time comes to leave and we drive North West away from Norfolk towards our final campsite. As we sit down at Walnut Lakes with a glass of wine, we see three white doves flying around. My final experience is with the fish in the pond as I take the dogs for their last walk of the journey, reminding me of Glastonbury Abbey and an unusual encounter with intelligent fish. Our camper lies in a small grove of Apple trees which seems very apt. Farewell until we meet again St Mary and St Michael.