Att gå Caminon. En resa mot sig själv för många. Att vandra mil efter mil i vackra omgivelser för att möta sig själv. Det inre rum många inte har lärt att hitta. Det är ofta en ny början att gå Caminon. Millioner pilgrimar har gått från från Pyreenerna till den yttersta punkten i nordvästra Spanien – Santiago de Campostela.
Kanske är det vi allra mest behöver i dessa tider. Att finna oss själva, vårt centrum och balans. När världen ser mer och mer kaotisk och polariserad ut är resan till sig själv den viktigaste att ta. Det är inte nödvändigt att ta vandra den. Hur vi reser in i oss själva finns det oändliga sätt. Det viktigaste är att ta första steget.
Karen Tee från Australien gick Caminon. Här är hennes resa och beskrivning som pilgrim mot Santiago.
Kram från Ulrika och Tora
Footprints of New Beginnings
One morning it really happened.. I had one of those rare coherent moments when all parts of the whole came together… Bolting upright in bed I awakened to the words of an old Tom Jones song blasting out on the radio. ‘The Young New Mexican Puppeteer’ apparently he saw the people all live in fear… so he decided to carve a puppet to send out messages of hope and inspiration… and folks let go of their fear, they came running from far and near to hear his words of wisdom… and so their journey began, a journey of courage and change while walking in the Footprints of New Beginnings…
Walking in the Footprints of New Beginnings
I had no idea what that would mean for me at that point, but I felt my spirit had just been elevated to somewhere in the clouds. This feeling was accompanied by an idea that had taken shape. I will walk 800km across an ancient trail (Santiago de Compostela). A trail shaped by the footprints of the past, present and future all coming together in the now. Like many before me this would be a great leap of faith as I stepped out of my comfort zone to embrace the unknown, this I did as I too walked in the Footprints of New Beginnings….
Now my plan seemed simple enough I was to catch a taxi from Pamplona to St Jean Pied de Port, a small French village situated at the foot of the Pyrenees approximately 75kms north of Pamplona. The Pyrenees being a popular starting point for pilgrims (Peregrines) about to embark on their pilgrimage (Journey).
However, this was not going to happen as I envisioned, not for this modern day pilgrim anyway. Apparently all taxi’s had decided to go on strike – Arggh.. don’t they know I am a pilgrim on a mission to save the world or myself (whichever comes first Lol..), at least raise my awareness along the way.
Stepping out of the Comfort Zone
Stranded in the middle of Pamplona and completely lost having stepped out of my comfort zone with no sense of direction, how could I possibly reach St Jean by night fall. Nobody spoke English and my limited attempt at Spanish was totally inadequate ‘Una cerveza por favor’ (one beer please) wasn’t exactly what I needed right now. Or, then again maybe it was exactly what was needed…
My heroine in this story was to present herself in the form of a magnificent guardian angel by the name of Maria from Brazil. This chance encounter took place in the central bus station whilst I was trying to speak Spanish, and of cause raised a few eyebrows. Maria I discovered was another peregrine trying to get to St Jean by nightfall with one big advantage she could actually speak Spanish, this I reasoned was a godsend (right time right place)..
Together we navigated our way through the Spanish transport system riding a tangled web of intrigue connected by buses, trains and automobiles. This we managed by traversing halfway across the countryside in search of the pilgrims express, a train journey that would begin our quest for that something new, something different and something more we were all seeking.
St Jean Pied de Port full of pilgrims high on hopes and adventure, alive with the expectation of days yet to come, distances yet to conquer, and dreams yet to awaken as we walked in the footprints of New Beginnings. I thought about all those brave souls who had walked before me in a land shaped within the broader aspect of ancient myths and legends. In that moment my braveness faltered and I felt apprehensive while standing beneath the mighty shadow of the Pyrenees Mountains.
Napoleon’s route appeared on the horizon a rather daunting spectacle that only those willing to come to the edge dare attempt. Fear put aside it was time to head towards the office of the peregrine, there we would collect our pilgrim’s record (credential). This passport is your pilgrim’s identity and needed in exchange for pilgrim’s lodgings as a further proof of your pilgrimage (apparently foot blisters were not enough evidence). Little did I know at that point what being a peregrine would actually mean.
In The Spirit of New Beginnings
My journey had begun as excitement filled the air and in the spirit of New Beginnings I was about to walk in the footsteps of time itself as I followed an ancient trail. I could feel the spirit alive and embedded within the landscape of ancient memory walked by thousands of pilgrims before me all seeking that something.
The journey would take me through ancient medieval villages such as:
- Santo Domingo de la Calzada,
- Leon &
- Santiago de Compostela.
This is a journey like no other a journey of the soul reaching out across the many nations united in the spirit of New Beginnings….
Whatever, the initial reason for embarking on this pilgrimage, for many it becomes a spiritual endeavor of great change? I started out thinking it would be a simple walk in the countryside, however it soon became a sacred journey of spiritual significance. The more I merged with the land, the history, the culture and the architecture, the more I became aware of the many religious events shaped by galactic intrigue, myths and legends along the way. Somewhere along the way this became a journey of letting go, a journey of discarding the old to make way for something new.
One Foot in front of the Other
Morning saw my first challenge (Napoleons route), after the first couple of hours I still felt alive, perhaps my strict physical preparation came in handy after all? My feet were still moving I can do this, or at least that was my thoughts before the end of the day. Try walking on sharp broken rocks on steep inclines and even steeper declines with tender feet. As I neared the abbey at Roncesvalles that first day I was no longer aware of anything except focusing on placing one foot in front of the other, while trying desperately to remember what it was that led me to step out of my comfort zone and opt for change.
Needless to say I literally dragged my body into the abbey at Roncesvalles produced my passport received my stamp and was shown to what was the sleeping quarters, which turned out to be a massive room with over a hundred bunks all lined up in rows. This pattern pretty much repeated itself for me and most other peregrines in the days to come, I found a bunk headed for the shower and collapsed into a heap to sleep the sleep of the dead for an hour or two.
Later that night when I found my feet I headed for the church to celebrate the pilgrims blessing a service held for the pilgrims walking to Santiago de Compostela, a special dinner was held and the atmosphere was charged.
That night I was to meet many peregrines that I would bump into frequently in the days to come sometimes sharing food sometimes sharing pain and sometimes sharing the many tales of the magic in life we discovered along the way.
Next morning 6.ooam sharp I could not believe my ears, lights on monks chanting, pilgrims wake up the day has begun. I took a moment to remember where I was before action set in and I bolted upright what the….!!!!!!!.
Coincidence or not, who would have believed I was sleeping opposite a couple of peregrines from my home town. What was the chance that out of the many nations traversing this ancient way, I happened to be placed next to some fellow neighbor’s amazing. After much shared enthusiasm we pull on our boots looked for the painted yellow arrows and started walking another day filled with New Beginnings.
The next couple of days were possibly the most difficult for me as my feet were constantly in pain my body was trying to adjust to the weight I was carrying (which apparently was far too heavy for my size!), and so the struggle I was going through both physically and mentally became my only focus. One thing was certain I had to discard anything and everything I no longer needed in order to move forward.
At some point I didn’t think I was going to be able to continue and started questioning why I was there and what on earth was I thinking when one morning out of the blue I got up and decided to walk 800kms anyway???. These thoughts are common when great change is unfolding (or so I am told).
My feet became so painful the pressure of resting them on top of the bunk at night was agonizing. I often lay there thinking there is no way I will be able to walk the next day, and yet to my surprise somehow the pain would disappear by morning, my body would repair itself and ready to lace up my boots again for another day.
Eventually you do walk the pain out along with the discarding of your baggage, and this is a common tale told by many a pilgrim. The path was once explained to me like this; the Camino consists of 3 sections in your personal growth, the first part is the physical the second the emotional and the third the spiritual.
As in all New Beginnings the path is not smooth or easy and often consists of broken rocks along the way; this however in some part is due to the detioriation overtime of the ancient Roman roads. But the rewards are there in every step taken as the landscape is spectacular, from deep ravenous mountain blues to undulating rolling hills a patchwork of greens and creams. A true cohesion of nature as people and place merged into forests of ancient trees and winding streams.
The Camino is the spirit of the pilgrims who walk its path in solidarity with one another and in partnership with the land, the pilgrims are represented by every nation and all bound together by a common purpose of Self Discovery. The comradeship is strong and instant, greetings are familiar and friendly Buen Camino is the common salutation which means “may the road be good to you”.
Friendships are developed within the footprints of New Beginnings, as we let go of our baggage and shared our emotions shaped by struggle, pain, laughter, tears and celebration. The human spirit is amazing in all its aspects and often worth the hardships sometimes experienced. I was continually amazed and honored to be sharing a part of many pilgrims’ journeys.
The decision to walk the unknown in itself determines your quest for New Beginnings and the Camino is a true testament to the human spirit. There were days I walked with many unique characters all seeking to find their New Beginnings. At one time I walked with a blind man and his partner who would described every rock every tree and every cloud in great detail continually with such compassion and dedication to each other, I was humbled. There was a 68 year old woman who had been walking her Camino and finding her way for 3 months. I walked with many pilgrims of all ages some from Scotland, Ireland, Alaska, Brazil and Ethiopia all stepping out of their comfort zone in that leap of faith to explore the unknown and perhaps find themselves in the quest for something new..
The Camino is a canvas of the collective and the pilgrims are the brush strokes of life dripping with bright splashes of color, we all spoke of life our hopes our dreams, and we all shared our food, our wine and shelter as pilgrims have done throughout the ancient times before us.
One anonymous pilgrim in the thirteen century wrote:
“Western Christendom is bubbling with new vitality. The pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela is bringing entire generations together in pilgrimage at its purest form. Along this path which, little by little, is being mapped out with the footprints of many forming a new way forward and bringing new hope.”
Today this ancient way finder is still there and for some parts little has changed since AD 813, all you have to do is lace up your boots, follow the yellow arrows and be prepared to let go of your baggage while walking in the footprints of New Beginnings.
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Karen Thornton / Author
On behalf of the Wholyland Council