Laura Perry, previously an herbalist and naturopath, is an author and artist with a special interest in ancient cultures from around the world. She writes both fiction and non-fiction and has recently created a Tarot deck with original artwork based on the ancient Minoan frescoes. To find out more about Laura’s work, visit LauraPerryAuthor.com
Why do you travel?
I travel to break out of my habits and allow myself to become someone new. Once I get a certain distance from home, I’m free of the conventions of my daily life and that ‘box’ we’re all working so hard to think outside of. I love to connect with different people and places and see things I’ve never seen before. I also like to travel to favorite places over and over again, since I discover new and surprising things with each trip – things about the place and about myself as well.
Sunrise over the Caribbean at Belize City
What does travel do for your soul?
It keeps me from being jaded. It renews me and reminds me that I’m a part of something much, much bigger than myself or even my local community. It also helps me connect with the past – my own ancestors as well as ancient cultures from around the world. That offers me a sense of depth and history that gives weight to my worldview. Travel helps me see that every place is sacred, not just the spots we’ve given that label to. And travel helps me connect with the many and varied faces of nature as well.
West wall frieze on Mayan temple at Xunantunich Belize
What was the most significant journey you have taken and why?
I traveled to Belize to visit the ancient Mayan cities and temples there, and I discovered that the Maya haven’t died out but still have a thriving, though reduced, culture in the modern world. I felt very blessed to be able to climb those temple steps and walk along the paths the Maya people walked centuries ago. That trip inspired my novel Jaguar Sky, about a young woman who discovers the world of Maya culture and spirituality while on a college archaeological expedition. I used the places I visited on that trip as the setting for the novel.
El Castillo Mayan temple at Xunantunich Belize
Where is your most inspirational place on earth?
Castlerigg stone circle in Cumbria, UK in particular, and the area that surrounds it: northwestern Britain and southwestern Scotland. The region is starkly beautiful in the winter and wonderfully green and lush in the summer. The stone circle has been dated to 3000 BCE, one of the earliest examples of megalithic construction in the British Isles.
Castlerigg stone circle Cumbria UK
Why? What do you experience there?
Most of my ancestors came from the British Isles, and I feel an especially intense connection at Castlerigg and the surrounding area. Though I’ve lived my whole life in the U.S., at Castlerigg I feel I’ve finally come home. When I think about it, thousands of generations of my ancestors are a part of the soil there, so I connect with them – literally – with every step I take. Visiting that area refills a part of me that life sometimes empties out. In a sense, it restores my soul.
Which sacred place would you most like to visit and why?
My next major travel goal is Crete, particularly the ancient sites of Knossos and Malia along the north coast of the island. I feel a connection with ancient Minoan culture and spirituality and I would love to explore the ruins of the cities and temples there and walk where the ancient Minoans walked.
How do you choose your travel experiences and destinations?
I usually pick destinations that I feel a connection with or that intrigue me in some way. I love to travel to places that have a history, and I like to be able to experience nature to some extent as I travel. My family jokes that my favorite ‘speed of life’ is somewhere between ‘19th century’ and ‘Buddhist monastery’ and that’s true of my travel as well. I like to take my time and get to know a place, not just check it off my list and move on to the next one.
Sheep and old stone shepherds hut Scotland
What was your last trip and what was special about it?
The southern Appalachian Mountains, from north Georgia on up into North Carolina and Tennessee, have been a favorite destination since I was a child, and I love returning there regularly. I prefer to stick to the smaller towns and less-crowded areas so I can enjoy the beauties of the landscape without too much distraction. I’ve been there in every season, and every time I go back, I discover some new natural wonder that makes me feel like I’m a kid again.
Do you believe travel can support rapid spiritual transformation?
It can, when it allows us to break free of our daily routines and habits. If you travel with the intent of maintaining yourself in ‘normal mode’ (like the character Macon Leary in Anne Tyler’s novel The Accidental Tourist) then the journey isn’t likely to be transformative. But if you allow yourself to be open, not just to move outside the box but to let the box disappear altogether, then amazing things can happen.
The best book you’ve read whilst travelling?
It was on a road trip that I discovered Leslie Marmon Silko’s fabulous novel Ceremony.
You can find out about Laura’s novel Jaguar Sky, which won the Indie Book of the Year award here: Jaguar Sky