I have taken this itinerary from a book called ‘A pilgrim’s guide to the Camino de Santiago: St. Jean – Roncevalles – Santiago’ by John Brierley. As far as guide books go, this looks pretty good.
To consider when setting the itinerary
There are a couple of things I still need to consider before I nail down the itinerary:
- Should I factor in a couple of rest days – essentially non-hiking days? These could be good to let the body recover, do regular touristy-type stuff, get to know a particular place in more detail, spend the day in reflection, get a massage, lie with feet up, and/or sleep!!
- Should I do the extended walk that continues to Finnisterre, on the ocean? Why? Well, long before the Camino de Santiago was a Catholic pilgrimage, it was apparently walked by Celts – ending at Finnisterre (the End of the Earth) where druidesses/druids would converge to perform sacred rituals and where the tomb of the Celtic goddess Orcabella is found. This path was known as The Way of Orcabella or the Way of Enlightenment. You can see the attraction to walk just that little bit further – treading deeper into ancient religious paths – but after 780 (or so) kilometres, I’m not sure how the body will be holding up!
Arriving at St. Jean Pied de Port
This, I imagine is where the dream hike (the one where my fellow hikers and I are all feeling upbeat, all hiking like demons, all totally in touch with each other, ourselves, the earth, the history of the place, the people we meet along the way, and whatever it is that we define as our spiritual purpose for hiking) will crash frighteningly, excitedly and probably painfully with the real hike (I imagine feeling overwhelmed by the landscape as we arrive at the beginning point, facing blisters, sore feet, sore legs, struggling with our own inner demons as we stagger to find our pace, trying to keep it together enough so we can interact with our fellow pilgrims with the semblance of polite etiquette). Even though I’m totally living into the dream hike right now, I am aware that reality will have its ups and downs, and its external and internal struggles.
I’ve never done anything like this, I feel like I should be scared at the prospect, but I’m totally lit up by the idea of this pilgrimage. And an itinerary of 33 days of hiking does nothing to dampen my spirits!
So why am I doing this?
I’m not religious…okay, so as full disclosure, I was born into a religion chosen for me by my parents, but neither they, nor me, practice that religion. So clearly, I am not doing the Camino de Santiago for religious reasons – though I am completely fascinated by this and by the idea of pilgrimage as a religious act. I really want to spend my preparatory months and the hike itself to explore the concept of pilgrimage.
I am spiritual. And while I don’t have a clearly defined sentence or two that defines what this means for me, I do know that I believe in energies greater than myself, in synchronicity, in beauty and in the love of humanity – despite all the tragedy in the world. I believe in connection, compassion, curiosity and joy. And I believe that I will connect more deeply with all of these things as I put one foot on the earth in front of the next, day after day for 33 days.
My pilgrimage is also one of letting go….of shucking off emotions of the past, of walking away from useless baggage, of finding forgiveness, of skin-shedding, each step peeling away the layers of myself that no longer serve me well and finding who stands beneath it all. The Camino is a great place to call her out of hiding…that brave warrior woman with that deep connection to the earth, strong consciousness, childlike curiosity, unbridled joy, tangible strength and an unwavering sense of equality and justice. On this pilgrimage, I want to sink my bones into the earth and wrap my body around it – and fully immerse myself in a sense of connection, to self, to place, to other.
I’ve written a couple of other Camino related blogs: