Marusanici, C. (2022). Camino de Santiago as a portal to the inner world: A heuristic inquiry into the experience of transformation for solo female travelers [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Alef Trust & Liverpool John Moores University.

Pilgrimage, one type of long-distance walking, has long been associated with transformation. Despite the growing number of female pilgrims and anecdotal evidence, little research has been directed toward understanding their experience. The aim of the current study is to examine the solo female travelers’ experience of transformation associated with walking the Camino de Santiago. The research project makes use of the qualitative method of heuristic inquiry which is known for its autobiographical, embodied, and holistic approach. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven co-researchers. Five of them contributed additional material such as poems, blog posts, and journal entries. The findings suggest that the participants became more authentic, connected deeply with others and nature, and discovered a new appreciation for their bodies. They reported implementing various lifestyle changes upon return and spoke about wanting to be of service and make a difference in the world. Although they all experienced moments of profound realization along the way, the co-researchers acknowledged that transformation is an ongoing process. After discussing the findings in relation to previous literature, the study concludes by recommending pilgrimage as an antidote to the epidemic of busyness, materialism, and alienation from self, others, and nature. Limitations are discussed and future research suggestions, including the investigation into whether going on a pilgrimage periodically fosters the transformative process, are made.

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