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Abstract

After decades of challenges to many other definitional elements of ‘pilgrimage’, the centrality of motion and physical movement, whether literally enacted or realized virtually or through metaphor, remains largely uncontested. This paper examines practices of creative writing and home decorating among participants in the 1990s British subculture of ‘Aristasia’ (an outgrowth of a New Religious Movement known in the 1970s and 80s as ‘Madrianism’ but now more commonly referred to as ‘Filianism’) to argue that these practices functioned together for participants as static pilgrimages, accomplishing the same psychological and social tasks as traditional modes while suppressing even metaphorical concepts of travel or motion. This unique form of pilgrimage, it is argued, was made possible by traits identified by Carole Cusack (2010) as defining a category of ‘invented religions’—an analysis that supports Sarah MacMillan’s (2011) emphasis on ‘place and body’ as the constitutive elements of pilgrimage by demonstrating practically how these elements might provide pilgrimage functions in the absence of motifs of motion. In further elaborating how the deliberate suppression of such motifs supports metaphysical views that symbolically align motion with the loss of the sacred and the breakdown of social order, this case study also extends the theories of Peter Geschiere and Birgit Meyer (1999), as well as William Swatos and Luigi Tomasi (2002), on pilgrimage and globalization by highlighting the unanticipated development that modernity’s dissolution of place might paradoxically open imagined spaces from which the fluidity of modernity might be challenged and critiqued. In all of these ways, the Aristasian example suggests that pilgrimage definitions dependent on motion may be of limited applicability to emerging forms of spirituality.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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