Pilgrimage as meaningful process: from decision to go to the return home

Warfield, Heather A. (2016) Pilgrimage as meaningful process: from decision to go to the return home. In: 6th Expert Conference on Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage (IRTP 2014): Promoting and Experiencing Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage, 19-22 Jun 2014, Veszprem, Hungary.


As participation in pilgrimages ascends globally, it is beneficial to explore macro participant trends, the socio-political dimensions of pilgrims' countries of origin, and the impact of pilgrimage routes on the local community. A further contribution to the pilgrimage literature is the investigation of the lived pilgrimage experience of individuals, which is the foundation of this paper.
In a qualitative study exploring a diverse range of religious and secular pilgrimage experiences, ten participants were interviewed about specific time points comprising a pilgrimage journey. The time points were important for specific recall and were extrapolated from previous scholarship on the topic. Included were making a decision to go on a pilgrimage, preparing for the pilgrimage, journeying on the pilgrimage, and returning home from the pilgrimage. Embedded in the interview items were the psychological dimensions of motivation and meaning construction.
Participants described the decision to go on a pilgrimage as a definitive moment in time in which previous decisions and experiences seemed to align. The preparation for the pilgrimage was characterized as a separation from routine such as preparing to leave one's family or surroundings and engaging in physical exercise. Participants found meaning in the preparation in such ways as constructing a commemorative motorcycle to participate in the USA 'Run for the Wall' pilgrimage while processing memories from military service in the Vietnam conflict. The actual pilgrimage journey was meaningful in that participants reported connecting with one's sense of an 'authentic self' or reprioritizing life. Upon the return home, participants reported a renewed sense of purpose in life and feeling less depressed than before the pilgrimage.
The implications of the study are important in validating that rich data can be gained from individual pilgrims about the pilgrimage phenomenon. Knowledge about specific meaning constructions can be utilized by travel and tourism stakeholders to promote pilgrimage routes and sacred sites. And, laypersons can be informed about the transformational nature of a pilgrimage journey and encouraged to pursue this as a meaningful type of travel.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Unpublished.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Psychology and Counselling
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2017 02:11
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2018 03:13
Uncontrolled Keywords: pilgrimage; motivation; constructivism; qualitative research
Fields of Research : 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170199 Psychology not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970115 Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/26153

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