Different levels of meeting (with other participants, with other
cultures, with art, with oneself, with nature or God) and the sense of
community are essential experiences during a pilgrimage. The following text
deals with the meaning and functions of pilgrimage rituals concerning community
and team spirit. What part does the performing dimension of symbolic acting
play and how does the ritual intention differ from the intention of everyday
acting? The recent attraction of pilgrimage goes back also to a growing longing
for rituals and tradition enabling people to leave the everyday life in a
limited, well structured and most of all repeatable way.
The article deals with various therapeutic aspects of writing down one's requests and problems in a so called pilgrim book. With help of text passages people's strategies and different scopes are illustrated. Simple formulas e.g. established within the religious context can help to bridge speechlessness and silence, the falling back on traditionally proven forms and behaviours may create a certain feeling of security. Certain tendencies of “using” religion become apparent: religion has to place categories at people's disposal to compensate experiences of contingency connected with pressing problems, personal crises and social border experiences. The “benefits” of the religious system are in demand above all in the case of individual crises, where the social mechanisms of contingency absorption do not work any more or do not work enough. The article focuses also on the specific communication with God, Jesus or Mary: as they “know” what people mean, there is no risk to be misunderstood. The pilgrim book figures as mirror of longings, deficits, doubts and fantasies in recent societies.