DOI: 10.3390/rel14121485 ISSN: 2077-1444

Walking Pilgrimage as Ritual for Ending Partnerships

Kathleen E. Jenkins
  • Religious studies

Scholarship in pilgrimage studies suggests that people use travel to sacred sites to mark life transitions such as moving into adulthood, retirement, the death of a loved one, or the ending of an intimate relationship. This research has also illustrated how walking pilgrimage can provide physical and symbolic structures for individual therapeutic and spiritual practice. However, pilgrimage scholars have not put the experience of ending long-term partnerships at the center of analysis, and family scholars have yet to explore how people might use extended walking pilgrimage as ritual when relationships end. Recent scholarship in pilgrimage studies has called for a more dynamic and inclusive approach that highlights the multiple and varied social forces at work in travel to and around sacred spaces. I draw from existing empirical studies, recent theory in pilgrimage studies, the literature addressing divorce rituals, and my qualitative document analysis of published narratives of extended walking after ending long-term partnerships to identify important sociological questions, methods, and perspectives for future research.