A Pilgrim’s Reflections

©Karel Jasper

We were delighted to have the opportunity to catch up with Karel Jasper recently and talk about her new book.

Last year Karel joined the Ancient Connections Creative Camino pilgrimage with 12 other people. Their journey along the Wexford-Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way five days in Ireland and three in Pembrokeshire.

I asked Karel if she was a person of faith. “I am not a Christian as such,” she says, “but I would say I have been on my own spiritual journey for the past few years and this pilgrimage has been such a personal gift.”

Karel has walked a lot in the 17 years she has lived in Pembrokeshire and thought she knew the county well, but this journey took her off the map and into sacred spaces some of which she had not known existed.

“Finding sacred places, some dating back into Neolithic times that were on my doorstep has given me a deeper sense of belonging to the land I walked.”

©Karel Jasper

The things that made her feel most connected were the wells, the water and the bees – all have a great significance for Karel with regard to her spirituality.

She talks about the experience of being out in nature in these ancient places that has had a profound effect on her: “It wasn’t just the original pilgrimage – it is the sense of connection I have been continuing to discover and which has given me a special kind of peace.”

The part of the pilgrimage in Pembrokeshire took the 13 travellers along the coastal path from Goodwick to St Davids, stopping on the way to rest each night.

“The four days we walked in Ireland were mainly along roads but each day in both places had a magical quality. The many connections between Ireland and Pembrokeshire really struck me as we travelled.

“The book provides a creative illustration of the spiritual experience, the journey and a taste of the unique and beautiful landscape along the Wexford-Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way, through reflective words and photographs. Hopefully inspiring people to discover the magic and the beauty of the pilgrimage for themselves.”

As the pilgrimage took place in May last year, I wondered what the weather was like.

Karel laughed: “A bit of every weather, some days with rain that blew upon us, soaking us, but it didn’t matter. I have always found that the colours are brighter and more sparkling in the rain and on this journey it was a question of surrendering to it. There is great power in that surrender.”

©Karel Jasper

As a photographer Karel has been retracing her step over the past year, actually walking some of the journey but also making notes and looking over the photos she took at the time.

“I feel I have walked the journey over and over, seeing things I missed the first time. It has been an incredible experience and in a way also helped me to  reconnect to myself.”

Out of that experience has come a fine book, not only of images from the pilgrimage but also her poems or, as she prefers to call them, her “reflections”.

The book is a limited edition and each copy will be signed by Karel herself.

©Karel Jasper

The book is being launched at an exhibition in the Refectory at St Davids Cathedral. It  runs until 29 July. The book itself will be available there at £35 a copy, and Karel will be available to talk to visitors on 20 and 27 July from 11am to 3pm. There will also be a limited number of photographs from the book available to buy.

There will only be 275 copies of the book and all will be signed by Karel. if you cannot make it to the Cathedral,  look out for it at Seaways, Victoria Bookshop, Tregnwt Woollen Mill or through her website. But don’t take too long about it. They will be selling fast.

Karel is also available for events and personal photoshoots. You can contact her at www.jasperphotography.co.uk or on Instagram and Facebook or  kareljasper3@gmail.com.

For more about the pilgrimage route: www.wexfordpembrokeshirepilgrimway.org

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for pembrokeshire.online, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says "Pembrokeshire.online has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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