Walking the Camino de Santiago
In April 2010 I set off in an unseasonably late snow storm to cross the Pyrenees from Saint Jean Pied du Port in France staggering through thigh deep in snow heading for Spain. My goal was to walk the Camino de Santiago all the way across Spain and learn what I could about the earth energies and sacred sites along the way. This ancient pilgrimage route is said to be far older than its well known Christian heyday in the 12-14th centuries. Now, waking up like sleeping dragon, it magnetizes hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world to abandon modern transport and re-engage the land on foot. Many other routes leading to its goal, Santiago de Compostella, are also now waking up as from their centuries of slumber as hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world are increasingly walking these paths. From a tiny handful of people in the 1970’s, last year when I walked in a holy year some 200,000 pilgrimage completed the main Camino pilgrimage across Spain.
Where to begin? There is much to say about the history, earth energies and sacred places along the Camino. I had the unique opportunity of being introduced to it by dear friends Elyn Aviva and Gary White who have walked it, studied it, lived on it and served on it. Elyn did her PhD in Anthropology at Yale on the Camino at a time when it was just waking back up in the European heart and psyche as a living pilgrimage route. Our teacher and co-founder of the Boulder Center of Master builders, Dominique Susani, has been studying the principles of geomancy along the re-incarnating, pilgrimage route across in Spain. So too is our Spanish colleague and fellow student of geomancy Ferran Blasco (aka Enzo) of Barcelona, who leads groups to explore the sacred geometry and earth energies in the cathedrals and holy places along the path . From hearing their enthusiasms and passion for the Camino I knew full well there was much to be learned from this ancient pilgrimage route. I chose, for my first experience of it, to walk it some 500+ miles alone to feel what it was like to be a simple pilgrim on the path, before diving into more detailed learning about its special places.
I wondered what it would be like. Friends warned that now there were “too many people doing it”, that “the people doing it were crazy and had no real idea why they were walking”, that “it was now mundane” and even that it was “still brutal and medieval”. These conceptions of it mingled with other idealized versions of spiritual awakening, miraculous experiences, and just plain happiness expressed in an ever widening array of books on the topic. Despite all this information I felt like an empty slate waiting to see what my own experience of it would be.
From that first day of wading through the thigh deep snow for hours I knew that nothing could be mundane when I was on my own two feet under the stars, the sun, in the rain, snow and sun. I was on my feet on this magical and miraculous earth. Even as I walked through cities, field, suburbs, giant cities I was on the path in the singular serenely of being and being seen as a pilgrim in a contemplative mind while walking through life around me. I determined to feel the path as a whole.