Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Celtic Camino

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.

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