The four stages of being a pilgrim ~

Yesterday on our way to the Cannes Film Festival, Jennifer and I met up with Julian Lord, who is the truest pilgrim I know.

Many of you might know Julian from this blog. He posts comments under the name JabbaPapa. He’s highly intelligent, very strong in his religious views, and most other views too! – and makes for a bracing presence on this blog. I always have to switch my brain into gear when I respond to one of his comments.

Mostly, my brain is in idle…

Julian first walked the Camino in 1993, and it changed him forever – including causing him to convert to Catholicism. Julian and I have sparred many times on this blog about religion vs spirituality. In particular he took umbrage at a post I wrote comparing religion to a Fatburger. Here is that post:

We met Julian for drinks late yesterday, and then we had dinner. It was a delightful evening, full of vigorous rambunctious conversation. We agreed that we agree on most things, it’s just that we articulate those things differently.

Towards the end of our dinner, Julian proposed something quite interesting which I hadn’t heard before – that there are four stages of being a pilgrim. These are:

The Postulate
The Apprentice
The Journeyman
The Master. 

The Postulate is the pilgrim who hears the call, doesn’t really understand why he or she is called, but responds to the call nonetheless. Every pilgrim starts out as a Postulate.

The Apprentice is the pilgrim that, having done the journey, begins to question why he or she is called, yet finds no answers.

The Journeyman is the pilgrim that begins to understand the why, and can begin to answer those questions that confound the Apprentice.

And the Master is the pilgrim who can tell others why they are doing the journey.

I asked Julian which category he fitted into, and he rightly and humbly said the Master. I then asked him what category I fitted into, and he said Journeyman. I loved that – because in my film  PGS – Intuition is your Personal Guidance System I actually describe myself as a journeyman.

Now, it was late into the evening when Julian described these categories to me, and by that stage we’d had some wine or two – and so I might be a bit skew-whiff in my descriptions of the categories.

I know Julian reads this blog religiously – haha – and so no doubt he will correct me or elaborate further on these four categories. But I found the delineations fascinating.

Julian is soon to embark on a long pilgrimage – possibly very long, from Fatima back to his home in Monaco, a journey of some 2500 kms. He has crook knees though, and still hasn’t fully decided – but like me with my “Front Door” walk next year, the pull is compelling and inexorable.

I value my friendship with Julian immensely
He is the real deal.

19 thoughts on “The four stages of being a pilgrim ~

  1. wonderful. I really love the 4 stages….makes perfect sense. I wish Julian well on his marathon walk….2500kms!!! that’s about 1500 more than I would do 😉 I’m so looking forward to the people I will meet on my Camino. I’m normally a very antisocial (but not anti-people) person, enjoy my own company and can happily spend days on end without talking to or seeing anyone, so this walk is going to be very interesting….I wonder what lessons the Camino is going to teach me.


    • Hi – I’m not sure what to call you. I’ve just visited your blog to find your name but you haven’t posted it there either. We do have a policy of using names here, because it keeps commentators accountable for their words and thoughts. And because of that, this is a very safe and warm and friendly place. There’s good energy here. All that aside, you are a wonderful writer, and you are certainly active and productive. And the Camino will open up so many things within you, I’m sure – but if I can say, don’t worry about dying, death, or personal safety. Here is a very interesting statistic: the Pilgrim’s Office estimates that for every single person who receives their Compostela, another ten have walked, or are walking, some part of the Camino and won’t get their Compostela. Last year more than 250,000 pilgrims received a Compostela, that means more than 2.5m pilgrims walked some part of the Camino. Given that statistically, more older people than younger people walk the Camino, and hence are more likely to have health issues, take 2.5m people each year putting themselves under some level of physical stress, and it’s no wonder some cark it. But it would be interesting to compare the mortality rate on the Camino to the mortality rate in the same demographic in the general community. I don’t think it would be much different. This is a long winded way to say don’t worry – have fun – enjoy the people you meet, and take plenty of photos. You’re a wonderful shooter too! Bill x

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah Steve – Jen and I are glitterati for sure! haha. Actually I hate Cannes with a passion, except we have to be here because it’s the year’s biggest trade fair for independent filmmakers such as we are. We always stay in a small village in the hills behind Cannes, in a hotel that is 1/10th the cost of accommodation in Cannes itself, and we drive in only for those meetings that are necessary, then we flee back to the non-glitterati environs of this village, where no-one gives two hoots about Cannes! Nice to hear from you btw…


  2. I love that you are at Cannes, it must be a spectacle! I am glad you stay outside the chaos. I am sure you will have some interesting moments and meet some interesting people.
    I love the idea of Journeyman all together. as it is a picture of moving forward with purpose and meaning. “cool”.
    Hello to Jen.
    June we go to Africa and I am very excited!! Its a birthday with a zero and so this was my big gift from Michael. we shall be journeymen of a different sort!
    xo Kathryn


    • HI Kathryn – Africa? How fabulous! I’ll email you separately so you can tell me more. A birthday with a zero? You mean forty??

      hugs to you both! Bill


  3. Hello Bill – Just back from my first Camino, so your post is timely! Still clearly in the apprentice category, I still found the trek to be amazing, short as it was. Enjoy Cannes!



    • George, congratulations on your fantastic achievement! I know you had been anticipating it for a long time. Now you have to start planning your second one, and shifting up to becoming a journeyman! Bill


    • Like you’ve no doubt heard numerous times, George, your real Camino will start now … enjoy whatever the near and far future brings you and hopefully somewhere along that, another actual Camino 🙂 Britta


  4. Hi Bill – thanks so much for this wonderful post.

    Julian is so right in his view that there are four stages of being a pilgrim – what a gift to us all this view is. Thank you Julian.

    Julian – I send you my best wishes for your upcoming camino when you feel the time is right.

    Buen Camino in spirit until you are out once again on those ancient and sacred paths –

    Cheers from Oz –



    • Thanks Jenny – it’s an interesting proposition isn’t it. And the same stages could be app,iced to life too- just as most things to do with the Camino!! Hugs, Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  5. interesting indeed – Julian has made a huge error though. Only the pilgrim can learn internally why they are doing pilgrimage, or how it moved from Camino to pilgrimage – if it does …. the answers are already within, to be revealed, not to be given by a ‘master’ – a master would never tell someone why they are doing pilgrimage, or what stage they are at! What a ‘master’ would do is to find ways of making that person confront something that needs to be confronted .. to ask rhetorical questions that don’t have answers so that person goes off and the question nags at them, sometimes to appear as the fool so that the lesson is imparted without them even knowing there is a lesson. No ‘master’ would ever tell someone why they are doing their journey – it is, after all, a life journey and it is theirs, and does not fit in to any ‘shoe box’ answer. The obligation of a ‘master’ is to wake people up, in small ways, big ways .. but never to give answers, only to open that person to the questions .. then it is up to them to face things within themselves, to discover the nature of the reality they inhabit, and also try to wake up – so, a grave error – an error that shows that he has no idea whatsoever what a ‘master’ actually is!! 😉
    also, no master would ever name themselves as a ‘master’. Think of dear Francis – he only named himself as a penitent.
    Also, this ‘stages’ thing – it is quite false for to clarify it one would have to add inner-stage stages, and then divide them with further inner stage stages – but there is no road, no path, no state to attain – the shock understanding that we do (or do not) get to is that we are already there, it is just that we have forgotten that – so there is only waking up, don’t you think???

    Think of Yeshua – with his parables he never tells people what to do or what to think – he gives no answers – what he does is to tell a story in such a way that it leads the listener to make a logic leap – a Zen moment – and this removes blindness of heart from those who can hear – and not all can hear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • David, welcome to the blog, and thank you for posting these fascinating commentaries. Julian I’m sure will relish the intellectual thrust and parry! And in Julian’s defence, as I mentioned in the original post, Julian put forward the details of these stages late in the evening, after a fullsome meal of wine, and I didn’t take notes. I should have. It only occurred to me later, when reviewing thenvening, that I thought it might make an interesting post. I guess what I’m saying is that I might have either misrepresented what Julian said, or not fully detailed all that he said. As I mentioned though, I look forward to Julian’s response. Mine? I think you’re both right!!

      Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks David. And not so much a diplomat, but I knew when it’s best to step back and let greater minds, as I say, thrust and parry! Thanks for your kind words about the blog. It’s not always Camino related, but I try and bring it back on point as much as I can.

          Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.