Firstly, like academics who send ‘call-outs’ for papers, I have sent my ‘call-out’ to the universe for a suitable mount to accompany me. Now I must consult the map.
Maps are by definition, utilitarian. They are a means of routes into and out of the unknown. We are given access to the visual language of conventional maps via a set of codes (key) which enables us to physically translate these from the cartographic motifs on the map to the ground beneath our feet.
First, I need to establish a route and plot a course on the ground. Where to start? I buy a 3 x 5 foot map of the UK off the internet, attach it to a large piece of broken plaster board scrounged from the local builders merchants, prop it up on the bookcase in front of my bed. And stare at it. It’s the last thing I glimpse before I close my eyes and the first thing that greets me when the light creeps into my room in the morning. As it stares back at me in my bed, I am hoping that it will in some way infiltrate my being whilst I sleep.
Gradually, the shape of this island we call home becomes more familiar, and I realise, wow! How little I really know about this oddly shaped little dot on our globe. Another realisation: from the handy mileage chart I see it’s a long way from Lands End to John O’Groats. 1000 miles give or take. But I won’t be going the more familiar LE to JOG route to begin with, nor travelling as the ‘crow flies’. Let me introduce you to my initial idea for a possible trip across England:
A diagonal route from the far SW corner (where I live overlooking Mounts Bay) to the far NE corner of England, specifically linking two holy islands: St. Michael’s Mount to Lindisfarne.
The dog-leg will be finding a way into Wales after travelling up through the West country to get back onto the ‘line’. By the time I have meandered around Wales and got up to the Scottish borders and my destination on the holy island of Lindisfarne, I am guessing I would have covered at least 1000 miles.
So what can I make of this in a sacred cartographic sense like the lovely map above? Devise my own ‘key’. I download a plain outline diagram of the UK and print off a few copies. This simple map acts like a kind of abstract graphic in which to overlay any imaginary calligraphy. A visit to Smiths to buy a school geometry set and a whole new set of possibilities materialise.
Firstly, I draw a straight diagonal line across it between St Michael’s Mount and Lindisfarne. Then a series of arching lines (in green, image above) that dog-legs back into Wales crossing the straight line at strategic places to roughly represent my actual route. Then a zig-zag line in blue (in same image above) that looks like a bolt of lightning, just like the Runic sign that represents the Spiritual Warrior and symbol of the sun’s energy. According to Ralph Blum, it embodies ‘the impulse towards self-realisation and indicates the path you must follow, not from ulterior motives but from the core of your individuality’.
At this point I give my Plan A ‘Pilgrim’ Route a very grand title. I have decided to call it, (for the time being):
The St Michael to St Cuthbert Pilgrims Way. I am not aware that this route has been done/ documented before. I dare say someone is ready to tell me otherwise. Of course I want this route to make sense in a geomantic way (www.elementalenergies), and make sacred connections along the route of my Michael / Cuthbert Saints Way. I rather suspect it is already a well-worn ancient pilgrim track that stretches back into the distant past, but if I was the pioneer of such a track, I would effectively be laying down a new lay line or spirit path.
As you can see, my maps are very crude. If there is anyone out there in cyberspace (or closer) who could advise me how to do the same thing, digitally using maps, I would be extremely grateful. Also how to plot a course with a GPS and upload it to the web? These are the sort of skills I hope to master before my journey and if there is anyone interested enough to have an imput in my adventure (in any capacity, be it digitally, spiritually, graphically , technologically, logistically, geologically etc,) you would be welcomed with open arms.