About 200 - 600 hippies and christians gather and walk together about 100-150 miles during 2 weeks long trip.
Every year, there is a different route. It is in Poland most of the time. Sometimes, it starts in Moravia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Lithuania..., but quickly moves on to Poland. Your luggage, tent, sleeping bag can be put on a truck that comes to the next place of overnight stay.
Many drums will be heard as well as guitars and flutes. Nobody judges You, come as You are and enjoy. There will be catholics, atheists, hare krishnas, Poles, Czechs, Russians, maybe an Italian, musicians, photographers, students, poets, teenagers, a few families with little children, dogs, and lots of flowers.
People will be walking thru woods, across rivers, mountains, stay in people's houses, sleep in schools, tents, or at farms.
Founded as a catholic pilgrimage, it carries many religious attributes. I am an agnostic and prefer philosophy over religion. I got pretty disgusted by many pushy church people around the world, just how intolerant and prissy some of them are.
But here I felt warmly welcomed. I must admit that, in this case, religion is benefiting the whole atmosphere. People have horizon, ideals, common bond, something to make them think. Yes. This is not a dogmatic atmosphere. And it is about love and not fear.
This catholic character brings along many unique oportunities. We are welcomed in every village. And even though many locals are perplexed by the hippie look and behaviour of the participants, most of them stay friendly and, following the tradition, invite us for dinner or staying overnight [the idea in local people minds is - we give pilgrims food and hospitality and they travel and pray for us].
We stop at many churches, cool off in there, relax, music is played [the acoustic is excellent and the drums with guitar sound very interesting in such a place], mass is held [it is more like an interesting DIALOG with poems and insights than just a boring and ever-repeating ritual]...
No drugs are used (but nobody will police You), instead of drugs, people get high on music, togetherness, being alive. Some people like to drink, but we really don't want to look like junkies. If You must drink, don't drink too much, and don't show it off too much. Sometimes, there are small "natural marihuana smoking rings" formed. Some people smoke cigarettes.
This "pigrimage" has over 27 years long tradition. Started deeply in the times of totalitarian state system, often associated with the opposition to the System (well people taking part in it didn't want to fight, they just wanted to do things their own way, even if it could bring problems upon them).
Now that Poland is free, this gathering still evolves, giving people a beautiful alternative to stress, money-haunting, alienation.
The person who made this pilgrimage what it is is Andrzej Szpak. A charismatic catholic priest, belonging to the Salesian order, hippie-oriented. He had to defend the hippie character of the pilgrimage several times against the church authorities, and always won - so far. Nobody knows, whether a pilgrimage with such an unique character would be possible without him. Probably not.
Many people here feel related to a text called Desiderata.
Do You want to join the pilgrimage? You can come or leave at any point. Everything including food and sleeping arrangements is free, You only pay a modest fee to buy diesel for the accompanying truck (around 15 Euro) - if You can afford it. No invitation neccessary - just show up!
Every year, there is a hippie gathering following the pilgrimage in the little town of Olsztyn near Czestochowa. Grassy, windy hills, old castle, caves and campground sheltered with pine trees help You to recover after the long journey.
Come if You have a young and open heart, if You are playful and if You like people. Come as You are. 90% of people there are under 23, but everybody is welcome, really. Be very perceptive and respectful of the atmosphere and try to harmonize with it - not alter it. Add to it, perhaps.
The language of communication is Polish. Many people understand English, Czech, Russian, but since the masses are held in Polish, some knowledge of the language is a big plus and You should try to learn some basics before You show up - bring a dictionary and travel thru Poland for some time prior to pilgrimage, for instance. If You set Your mind to it, it shouldn't take much time to learn it!
Make a movie about it as this gathering is very special and unique.
Enjoy the Summer
On this site:
Pictures from the past pilgrimages - collection of photos by
a professional photographer Ota
Many more pictures will be added later. If You have any pictures from pilgimage or hippie movement, send them to me and I will add those to this internet collection! The same goes for any poems, articles, ideas in electronic form. Also, You can translate this page to Polish so I can add the Polish version here.
Czech hippies: Vitex's pages.
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