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.