Here at the end of my Camino, I'm chilling out in the wonderful retreat house of British-Canadian writer Tracy Saunders. It's a beautiful stone house opposite the church in a little Spanish village not far from Muxia. I've just finished reading Tracy's novel Pilgrimage to Heresy which contains two stories in one: a modern-day tale of romance and walking on the Camino Frances crossed with a mediaeval story of the Gnostic bishop Priscillian of Avila whom the author suggests is the true owner of the bones in the cathedral of Santiago. Controversial, fascinating and well-researched, it's an all round good read. For more information about the retreat house and the book see: www.littlefoxhouse.com.
Reached this beautiful city today, the end of the Christian side of the El Camino. Overwhelmed with emotion and still absorbing the whole thing. Got my compostela in Latin and will be attending the mass tonight where the giant fumador incense dispenser goes flying through the cathedral. Then, after two days rest and enjoyment of Santiago, Iĺl be off to complete the Celtic camino which ends in Finisterre and includes Muxia. There will be loads of photos later.
My guidebook makes a one sentence reference to the fact that the Camino Santiago was a pilgrimage for the Celtic peoples before it was Christian. This makes sense as sacred places and sacred ways tend to remain so through time and the change of nations and religions. After the Celts it was Roman. Now someone commented that the Romans only used the way for trade purposes - I stayed in a village where there are Roman ruins, Calzadilla de los Hermandillos, and I´ve also walked Roman roads still sturdy and cobblestoned - but I doubt this is true as there is at least one altar to Mercury along the way. And what better god for walking pilgrims than one with wings on his feet? But it is the Celtic Camino that most interests me as my ancestors would have walked it long before they became Christian. I need to explore this more and when I get home I will talk with my friend Daibhi O Croinin, a professor of Early Irish History at the University of Galway, but here is one thing I´ve noticed. All along the Way there are statues of Santa Maria Dolorosa and she is always in black, sometimes showing a red heart pierced with swords, but not always. And though this Camino is in honour of St James, Maria del Camino, i.e. Mary, the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, is the patron of the Camino. So I wonder: is this an ancient memory of the Great Goddess, the Mother of the Celtic gods, the Morrigu, the Great Queen? Her colour was black and her birds were the ravens. I had a strange dream before I began thinking about this matter: a veiled female shape, all black, and these words in my mind: I was the first. There´s more but I will keep this for the book.
Alas, unable to upload photos to the library computer (understandably) so can´t include visuals but maybe I can do it in one of the albergues. We´ll see. It´s almost impossible to describe this experience at the moment. There isn´t time to absorb or reflect. Too much happens in any given day - miles walked, food eaten, people met, languages spoken, churches visited (the exquisite gold altars). Then I barely have time to make some notes about the day as I have to take a shower, wash my clothes and fall exhausted into bed at 10:00 pm. Funny thing, the snoring doesn´t affect me at all! I thought it would be a nightmare. But I lie in my bunk bed every night in a room full of men and women and I think "here I am with all my brothers and sisters on the Camino." I´ve come up with a title for my book if I do sit down and write one: Hobo Soul. It would be my first work of creative non-fiction, not counting reviews and articles.
Irish-Canadian pilgrim about to head off for the Camino Santiago and hoping to walk all 500 miles! I'll be making notes along the way and taking photographs for the book. Already have a title but I'll keep that a secret for now. But first, to bed, perchance to sleep. zzzzzzzz
As I prepare for my own long walk from southern France across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela, I'm enjoying reading the tale of these two men - one a monk, one a naturalist - on pilgrimage to the sacred sites of Buddhism in northern India. Just finished the bit where they were attacked in Bihar. Harrowing! My pilgrimage is a Roman Catholic route and I intend to join in the masses and any other devotions along the way. But I'm bringing sandalwood mala beads along with my rosary beads and will say a few mantras as well. All is beautiful, all is holy.
Jampa Ling, my heart's home and Buddhist Centre retreat, has worked its magic as always. Here for the month of May,I have already completed the script I started a good while ago and couldn't finish. I'm very excited about this. It feels magical. Will be sending it off to agent (Marianne Gunn O'Connor), manager in Hollywood (Barry Krost) and a few producers I know. Then I am heading off for the Camino to go on pilgrimage - ticking off a major bucket list item - and leaving my work in the hands of destiny (and various professionals).
I was born in Ireland and grew up in Toronto, Canada with my seven sisters and two brothers. Left home at seventeen to live in a commune, then headed off across Canada with my pal, Carole, and we hitch-hiked around California for months, then back up to Vancouver(Van as we called it then) and across Canada with two more pals, Linda and Peggy. A year later, headed off to Malaysia and Borneo with Jeunesse Canada Monde/Canada World Youth for a year. Baik-lah! Back home, went to Trinity College at the University of Toronto (posh blokes) while also joining the Canadian Naval Reserve as an Officer Cadet. Trained on the east and west coasts of Canada every summer. Great fun. Then what? Hmm. Started to write books, dodgy personal life (that's personal but let's just say it's been a long time between drinks) started to wander around the world, had a darling daughter, settled down in Ireland, wrote more books.