For over 1,000 years people or “Pilgrims” have traveled thru Northwestern Spain on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela where it is said the remains of St. James the Apostle are buried.
There are several “Camino’s” from all over Europe. It use to be that you started from your front door and off you went. Whichever route you choose, they all finish all finish in Santiago de Compostela.
The most popular Camino walking trail and the one I chose is the Camino Frances. This part of the Camino de Santiago starts in a small town at the base of the Pyrenees, St Jean Pied de Port, France and finishes in Santiago de Compostela, Spain about 800km later or 500 miles.
You may also continue on your journey passed Santiago to the coast of Muxia and the village of Finisterre. This was once known as the end of the world by Roman soldiers who stood on the shoreline watching the sunset sink below the Atlantic thinking the world was melting.
Along the camino the Pilgrim can choose to stay in a Albergue, Pension, Hotel or camp out if available. Most choose to stay in Albergues.
The path you follow is marked by a yellow arrow or the St. James Shell, the scallop.
This is from The Road to Santiago,
The Scallop Shell:
Having been a fisherman in Galilea, and having taken the road that helped him discover his spirit, the Scallop Shell is the emblem of St. James and its symbolism relates to two layers of the human condition; the physical and the spiritual. St. James was an ordinary pilgrim like the rest of us. He walked a long difficult road with Jesus; he was imprisoned by his raging emotions, and he went through metaphoric fires to free himself and discover the vastness of his spirit. He learned how to live an authentic, peaceful life and he shared his personal lessons with others.
Today, we make the same journey as such people as St. James. On the physical level, we pilgrims come from all walks of life, departing from different points and making different types of pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela. Some of us walk slowly, others challenge ourselves by walking fast and giving ourselves goals. Some of us ride bicycles, some go on horseback. There are those of us who walk the camino in stages, and others who walk a little and bus a little.
On the spiritual levels, we are all undertaking our own unique journeys, governed by the lessons that we need to learn, and the people that we are evolving into. No two pilgrims are alike, and though we walk the same roads on the outside, our inner pathways wind through very different emotional landscapes. The Scallop Shell has many grooved lines that lead from the outer rim to a meeting point at the base. The shell itself represents the many different spiritual/religious/humanist pathways that lead to the same place, to the universal centre of all life-forms, the spirit, the soul.
When pilgrims carry the Scallop Shell it represents our personal journey, the sacred path that we must take within. We are all on the outer rim of the spirit, struggling to find our way back to our centre. The Scallop Shell reminds us why we are walking, especially at the points when the journey feels too hard and we want to give up. It reminds us to focus on our journey only, and that each person has their own story that is unfolding. It reminds us that we are all ultimately one sacred soul, and that each of our roads are leading back to each other.
Pilgrimage – Wikipedia
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith, although sometimes it can be a metaphorical journey into someone’s own beliefs.