Today is the birthday of Sir Richard Burton (1821 - 1890) who was one of England's greatest explorers, a renowned anthropologist, a brilliant linguist, an accomplished translator (including the Kama Sutra and 16 volumes of Arabian Nights), an inexhaustible writer of 50 books, and an obsessive traveler whose journeys to Africa, Asia, and the Americas made him a man in perpetual motion. His lifelong quest for gnosis led him to participate in a number of esoteric religious communities. The key to appreciating this extraordinary man is found in his own words: "A journey appeals to Imagination, to Memory, to Hope — the Three Sister Graces of our moral being." (from Burton's book Zanzibar).

To Name This Day:

Spiritual Practices

Sir Richard Burton practiced openness with a largeness of mind that was interested in other cultures, religions and peoples. To honor his questing spirit, welcome some author, philosophy, or religious perspective that you have always regarded as weird or alien. Read an article or go to lecture to learn more about this subject.


Mountains of the Moon (1990) is an engaging and robust tale of exploration directed by Bob Rafelson. Based on the 1982 biographical novel Burton and Speke by William Harrison, it recounts two expeditions during the middle of the nineteenth century to discover the source of the Nile in Africa. Patrick Bergin plays Richard Burton who has a yen for cross-cultural experiences. This is an old-fashioned adventure movie filled with colorful characters, soaring music, perilous events, exotics cultural practices, and breathtaking cinematography. Mountains of the Moon, which was filmed in Africa and England, will bring out the quester in you.