About a month before Christmas, the Sun enters the fire sign of Sagittarius, signaling the start of the holiday season. The lively crackle of conversation; the warm humor and expansive goodwill; the generous giving of gifts: these are among the qualities of Sagittarius. Yet like the sparkly wrapping that conceals a precious gift, the real treasure at the heart of this outgoing sign is its devotion to truth. Ruled by Jupiter, the ever-roving ruler of Olympus, those born under the sign of Sagittarius are, as the poet Yeats wrote, “pilgrim souls”—lifelong seekers in pursuit of the priceless pearl of eternal wisdom. Thus it is that time of year to follow in the footsteps of the wise men and embark upon your own pilgrimage, guided by the star of truth that shines the way forward.
The mystical traditions of the world teach that life is a journey—a passage to a mysterious destination. The ancient Sufis pictured the journey of life as a caravan of seekers content to live lightly on the earth, storing up instead the treasures of the soul. “God’s creation is vast—why do you sit all day in a tiny prison?” wrote Rumi, “Go beyond your little world and find the grandeur of God’s world.” From the practical CEO to the responsible parent, within each of us, there is also a happy wanderer, a pilgrim soul in search of truth.
The month when the Sun is in Sag, it’s wise to connect with your inner pilgrim. When you do this with your imagination, your psyche receives it as real. Picture yourself shedding your everyday clothes and, along with them, the outer persona that you rely upon to interact with the world. Stripped of all pretense and guise, imagine next that you don a pilgrim’s robe—plain, sturdy, and hooded to symbolize your freedom from the strictures of individual identity. Released from the cares and responsibilities of your daily life, a feeling of unbounded possibility descends; you feel gripped by a state of readiness. Departure on the trip of a lifetime is imminent.
Then, imagine that a call comes. It could be the sound of a bell ringing in gentle overtones, the tinkle of camel bells signaling the arrival of a caravan of Sufi dervishes, the echo of a summons to join a band of wandering monks and nuns. Next, imagine following this sound and joining up with a band of like-minded pilgrims. Together, you are setting forth on a journey with no end and a path with no destination.
Taking up your staff, and girding up your robe, place your foot on the trackless road that opens wide before you. As you do this, a feeling of expansive freedom suddenly envelops you. Everywhere you look—to your right and to your left, behind you and before you—stretches an open horizon. As free as air, a happy wanderer, you traverse the cities and towns, mountains and meadows, of the wide, wide world, encountering fellow seekers and drinking in wisdom from earth’s sacred places.
After spending some time on this visionary quest, imagine that suddenly, you find yourself arriving at the place from which you first began. Taking off your robe and folding it as a keepsake talisman, you step back into your old identity and resume once again the challenges of the everyday circumstances you left behind. As the imagery of your spiritual pilgrimage fades, however, something lasting remains – an expansive, unfettered state-of-consciousness. Those situations that once seemed to restrict you, now appear altered when viewed through the new, broader perspective you bring to them. For though you may assume once again your former roles and responsibilities, there now dances within your heart the laughing soul of a pilgrim, for whom life is an endless, delightful journey toward God. The only proof that this is so, is the smile that lingers on your face.