chapter
pilgrimage
Pages 2

Pilgrimage in all religions is pre-eminently a journey of the religious imagination. It obviously constitutes physical movement from one place to another, but at the same time involves spiritual or temporal movement. Pilgrimage may project the believer across lines of *gender, *ethnicity, *language, *class, and locality. Yet even as pilgrims believe that they are transcending the ‘imagined community’ of their immediate locality or group, pilgrimage creates new boundaries and distinctions. In the hope of creating new horizons or reaffirming contact with a spiritual centre, pilgrims set off from home, encounter ‘others’ and return with a sharpened awareness of difference and similarity. In sacred centres shared by pilgrims from different faiths, such as Jerusalem or the Tomb of Abraham in Hebron/al-Khalil, the heightened sense of distinction can be particularly intense (Webber 1985). Pilgrimage may also create a different sense of ‘home’, so that some pilgrims come to identify it with some place other than their place of origin or departure.