Under the Milky Way

Let us create, and nurture warm, bright fires..

In todays rational age our spiritual traditions and capacity to respond to numinous symbols and ideas  have largely disintegrated.  Perhaps this is why embarking on an ancient  pilgrimage  is so compelling. The contemporary pilgrim can find herself relating to those who came from a society that engaged in symbolism and ritual. 

As well as participating in old traditions and rituals, the modern day pilgrim also engages in new rituals which have spontaneously arisen in recent years. One such ritual is based on the so called legend that when pilgrims reached Finisterre,  they bathed in the waters of the Atlantic while watching the setting sun. It is popular belief that pilgrims would also burn their clothes in a fire ceremony.

Whether this is an authentic tradition doesn’t seem so important to me. What is interesting is that this popular belief has captured our collective imagination. These rituals are ‘authentic’ in the sense that they help express archetypal experiences. The bathing and the burning is the acting out of the liminal process of transformation that is experienced when we go through a rite of passage. This desire for ritual, and birthing of new traditions, shows us that the Camino is a living tradition. A living tradition at its best is dynamic.

It is truly a joy to live on this road that is animated and in movement. It got me thinking about rituals and the importance of creating our own meaningful ones, ones that are alive and that stir and nourish the heart and soul. During one of our retreats in october, we created an “intention fire” ceremony. On little pieces of paper, we wrote down our burdens, all that we wished to let go of, our intentions, prayers and blessing.  We silently stood around the fire together, placed our pieces of paper into the dancing flames and watched them burn.  It felt like they were being released up into the heavens, up towards the beautiful Milky Way above us.

As I closed my eyes, I suddenly saw many other fires burning brightly in the distance. I realised that we need to tend to our fires and make them, warm beautiful and bright. If enough of us do this then perhaps we can light up these dark times we are living in. And, so it is now our Flores Del Camino tradition to nurture this ritual of intention fires with pilgrims and guests. Each time we do it, it is beautiful.

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