In the summer of 2016, I decided that I would take time out from everyday living to walk the legendary Camino de Santiago. The Camino de Santiago is a network of trails that run throughout Europe with a suggested end goal. The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the alleged final resting of St James.
I was to go on a pilgrimage and live the simple life of a pilgrim to experience the Camino spirit. What I like to call the magical in the mundane.
I intended to walk the Camino de Santiago Frances, one of the oldest and most popular of all Camino de Santiago routes.
Before I began my Camino, one concern raised its head time and time again. Would my Camino de Santago experience be affected by religious dogma due to the pilgrimage’s links to the Roman Catholic Church? A patriarchal organisation that has sought to dominate and control the Camino de Santiago since medieval times.
I need not have worried. Apart from the occasional “Camino fundamentalist,” a pilgrim on the way who forces their views on their fellow pilgrims that the Camino is about God and God alone, their way or the highway, which creates nothing but a divide between us all (I do believe in God before you ask), I soon came to realise that the Camino de Santiago is a universal pilgrimage for all.
You see, while the name “Camino de Santiago” came into being around the 7th century, when the alleged remains of St. James were found which led to the creation of the city of Santiago de Compostela and the building of the Cathedral in his name, the Camino de Santiago Frances route was a pilgrimage way, way before this time.
Ancient druids would walk what is now known as the Camino Frances route by following a different type of map. The stars of the night sky guided their journey, as they followed the stars of the Milky Way all the way to Finisterre, once believed to be the end of the world during these times. Indeed the Latin word “compostela” translates to “field of stars.”
With the alleged discovery of the remains of St James in the 7th century, the ruling monarch, acting on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church, hijacked this ancient route by claiming the pilgrimage as their own.
On the instruction of the Roman Catholic Church, pilgrims during medieval times walked as an act of penance for previous sins committed, instead of the spiritual experience that a pilgrimage of this nature can offer to all. Where a pilgrim can experience a different way of being. Where compassion, acceptance, empathy and kindness are practiced but all.
Thankfully, we no longer live in similar times. Instead, the Camino de Santiago has evolved into a modern-day pilgrimage for people of all faiths, cultures, colour, and creed. The Camino de Santiago has become a universal pilgrimage for all, free from the control of one specific religious organisation. In this case, the Roman Catholic Church.
The reason why I call the Camino de Santiago “Wild Camino” is simple. To be wild is to be free, my friends. I’m referring to the fact that the Camino de Santiago is now a free Camino. Free from the control of a patriarchal organisation. In this case, the Roman Catholic Church.
So, if you are called to walk the sacred trails, to follow in the footsteps of our civilisation going right back to a time when the Camino de Santiago was a universal pilgrimage for all, remember this. All are welcome on the journey, regardless of their faith or belief system, their culture, colour, or creed.
Just as in ancient times when pilgrims followed the stars of the Milky Way, the Camino de Santiago is a universal pilgrimage for every person. A free Camino for all.
If you plan to walk the Camino de Santiago, check out my book, A Wild Woman’s Guide To The Camino de Santiago. I share everything you need to know before you begin your Camino. Read at A Wild Woman’s Guide To The Camino De Santiago or click the link below.
(c) Samantha Wilson 2020. All Rights Reserved.