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A New Beginning at Finisterre

Discussion in 'Santiago to Finisterre and Muxia' started by BobM, Dec 9, 2007.

  1. BobM

    BobM Veteran Member

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    There is a custom among some pilgrims of burning a small personal item, or throwing it into the sea, on reaching Finisterre. The act may be a form of spiritual completion, or of a hoped-for new beginning rising Phoenix-like from the ashes.

    In my case, I threw a small, inexpensive (but treasured) pocket knife into the sea. The little knife had cut my queso and jamon for lunch over 35 days and it was a wrench to let go of my little friend. But in the ocean it would slowly corrode and form part of the life of the ocean and even the substance of our planet, completing a great cycle begun years ago when its component parts were made from materials taken from distant parts of the earth.

    Sometimes we get too attached to objects and material things. It is good to make a small material sacrifice occasionally to bring home to us the importance of other values in our lives.

    Recently I watched a BBC TV series about five men who spent 40 days in a Benedictine monastery. The series was a form of reality TV, but it had some interest for me in its potential for insights into the Camino de Santiago.

    In one episode, the “novice monks” were advised to write on a piece of paper whatever was troubling them, or something they wanted to let go of; then burn the paper as a ceremonial act of breaking with the past.

    It occurred to me that such an act would also be a good way to end the pilgrimage at Finisterre. Some pilgrims may decide in advance what they will write on their piece of paper. For others, insight will come during the pilgrimage itself.

    I hope this is helpful.

    Bob M
     
  2. Arn

    Arn Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    Bob, I've nearly made up my mind to complete my Camino at Finisterre...time being a crucial factor. Your recognition that we all carry "something" that's either a burden, or a treasure...that symbolically can be left behind is very poignant to me. Thank you for this additional insight!

    Arn
     
  3. Deirdre

    Deirdre Active Member

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    Hi Arn,
    It's is also customary to bring a stone from home ... and leave it at the Cruz de Hierro. I forgot to bring one... I brought 15 students instead... so I was thinking about other things... but while in Madrid I broke my front tooth. The damage was "profound" (the dentist's word) and he did his best to "glue" it long enough for me to get home...but on my first week on the Camino, spaghetti "al dente" cooked by one of my Italian peregrina friends did me in. It broke off completely and fell out in my hand.

    I never smiled for a photo during the 5 weeks and the people I met along the way only know me without my front tooth! I seriously considered coming home... but after many tears I decided that it was not worth abandoning the Camino. I considered it just another test of my fortitude. There was no pain... my vanity was damaged more than anything else! And of course it was the FRONT tooth!

    I carried the tooth with me as far as the Cruz de Hierro and there on a cold, sunny morning left it among the piles of rocks. Well, it was definitely something I'd brought from home! I'm not sure how liberating it was, but it makes for a good story! So the moral is... don't forget that stone!
    AMDG,
     
  4. Deirdre

    Deirdre Active Member

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    I also wanted to mention that we went to Fisterra by bus after arriving at Santiago. It was well worth the trip. I have decided that when I do the Camino again, I shall continue on to either Muxia or Fisterra - maybe both! The sunset alone was worth the trip! But I do think you need to be mentally prepared to continue on.
    While there we did see some fires among the rocks so the tradition is alive and well! Quite honestly, after thirty days of the same clothing, I could happily have burned every stitch of clothing I had - nothing would have made me happier at that moment than a shopping expedition! :lol:
    AMDG,
     
  5. BobM

    BobM Veteran Member

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    I would certainly urge all pilgrims to go on to Finisterre - although it takes a high degree of motivation to walk there after the highs of arrival in Santiago (especially if you have walked from SJPDP).

    I took the bus all the way (very easy from the big bus station in Santiago), but a couple of people got off before Finisterre at a small village whose name I don't recall, so they could walk for a day to Finisterre.

    Personally, I felt a greater sense of completion and wonder for the future at Finisterre than at Santiago. At Santiago you are bombarded with so many sensations and experiences - meetings and partings with fellow pilgrims, celebrations and so on; that there is little opportunity for quiet reflection on the meaning of it all.

    At Finisterre you walk out onto the cliff, with the lighthouse behind you (which in itself has symbolic value), looking out over the vast and trackless ocean (more symbolism). You can reflect in tranquillity and inner calm. I found it very moving.

    Bob M
     
  6. Arn

    Arn Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    Deirdre, As far as burning the clothes. Initially I thought what a waste of good Stuff...then again, while I was hiking the AT, my Daughter Romi (who was attending Virginia Tech at the time) would pick me up and take me to her apt in Blacksburg, for a day or two of R&R. Even after washing my things in a commercial laundromat she said the things still smelled and made me sleep on the porch.

    So, it may be that I'll bring a change of new (bought in Santiago) shirt and shorts and then strip down and burn my Camino kit. The folks on the airplane may even applaud.

    Thanks for your inspiration!

    Arn
     
  7. vinotinto

    vinotinto Active Member

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    Yeah, I forgot my rock too. But I had a US quarter, so I left that. It was a burden I wanted to leave behind anyway, so I didn't feel so bad.

    Good on you for staying the course. I was a bit worried about dental issues, but nothing like that happened to me. But, please spill a little detail on your experience with a Spanish dentist: finding one, communicating with him/her, payment, etc. That would be helpful information... :arrow:
     
  8. vinotinto

    vinotinto Active Member

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    You got that right. I had wanted to continue on, but once I reached Santiago I'd had enough (I started in St. Jean). I figured it was best to savor my accomplishment in Santiago and save Finisterre for another time. After all, I try to believe that I'll return some day. Indeed, it would be nice to walk from Sevilla, and even do the Portuguese route as well. Gives me something to look foward to... :arrow:
     
  9. BobM

    BobM Veteran Member

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    [quote="vinotintoAfter all, I try to believe that I'll return some day. Indeed, it would be nice to walk from Sevilla, and even do the Portuguese route as well. Gives me something to look foward to... :arrow:[/quote]

    It is almost 6 months since I have been home, and I am starting to think about doing the Camino Frances again next year, or maybe one of the other routes ( eg Portugues, Norte). If I lived in Europe instead of Australia and did not face such a big flight bill, I would not hesitate for a moment.

    Bob M
     
  10. Deirdre

    Deirdre Active Member

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    As usual, I find myself off-topic! How is it that I never seem to be able to stick with the thread? Oh well, VinoT, I'll post something about the dentist adventure on "medical issues" where it is probably more appropriate!
    AMDG,
     
  11. PILGRIMSPLAZA

    PILGRIMSPLAZA Active Member

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    It certainly is and you're close, Bob! But I do 'believe' however that something else could be happening with most of us at Fisterra. That 'something' might be 'the' essence (or 'a' quintessential) of the whole pilgrimage concept as it is indicated by Georgiana Goddard King in her 'The Way of Saint James' which is now discussed in the pilgrims books chapter.

    I 'believe' (and this time I'm rather sure) that it makes all the difference if one would read this classic before or after reaching our end of the world as it was known in those days.

    So anyone who plans to see Fisterra I would like to ask kindly: Please read King first and then write a review on what you feel is going on there. I really would like to talk about it over a good lunch!

    Tip: When you go by bus choose a sunny day to see the famous 'blues' of Finisterre. We were lucky and it was unforgettable!
    Geert

    http://www.openlibrary.org/details/wayo ... 01kinguoft Volume 1
    http://www.openlibrary.org/details/wayo ... 02kinguoft Volume 2
    http://www.openlibrary.org/details/wayo ... 03kinguoft Volume 3
     
  12. BobM

    BobM Veteran Member

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    I will certainly follow Geert's advice to read The Way of St James. Sillydoll (I think it was her) pointed me to Journey to Portugal by Jose Saramago. This is not a pilgrim book, but Saramago is a wonderfully insightful traveller. Here is a quote that might resonate with others like me who want to travel the Camino Frances again.

    "The journey is never over. The end of one journey is simply the start of another. You have to see what you missed the first time, see again what you already saw, see in springtime what you saw in summer, in daylight what you saw at night, see the sun shining where you saw the rain falling, see the crops growing, the fruit ripen, the stone which has moved, the shadow which was not there before. You have to go back to the footsteps already taken, to go over them again, or to add fresh ones alongside them."

    May all those who are now on pilgrimage, and who plan to go soon, be blessed with insight, the love of fine companions, and the inestimable gifts of inner peace.

    Bob M
     
  13. PILGRIMSPLAZA

    PILGRIMSPLAZA Active Member

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    Pilgrimage is of all people, faiths, sferes and ages - for hunters, gatherers and smorgasbordians:

    You're so right, Bob! As a professional pilgrim adviser I often told 'my' pilgrims that the real pilgrimage starts when you're home again and have to live with your memories.
     
  14. Anniesantiago

    Anniesantiago Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Well, we did a little fire rite at Fisterra also.
    I carried the prayers of many people on my Camino.
    I left the prayers of my Christian friends at the Cathedral in Santiago.
    I burned the prayers of my pagan friends in Fisterra.
    I also tied my socks to the pole - it was a great way to end the trip!
     
  15. Rebekah Scott

    Rebekah Scott Camino Busybody Donating Member Donating Member

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    Being a child of the Americas, descended from Europeans, I had myself a Good Think about Old World/New World/Land´s End out there on the rocks at Finisterra. It´s a wonderful place indeed.

    I joined in a group campfire where each of us burned a sock or shirt or (in one case) a lurid pair of underpants before we all ran into the dark ocean for a chilly swim. All that made me marvel that so many people burn or abandon things on the beaches or throw things into the ocean there, and there´s no outcry from the environmentalists about it!

    reb
     
  16. elzi

    elzi Active Member

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    I was quite surprised when i got to Faro the other to find lots and lots of stuff left behind tied to the telephone pole thingy near the iron boot(s?) on the rocks. I´m sure most of it wasn´t there last year... is this a new tradition of just dumping your stuff in a big pile??

    On the upside if anyone needs some outdoor gear, poles, clothing, or a new pair of (admittedly mostly knackered looking) boots that would totally be the place to head for....


    (i also did a burning ritual last year - it felt really good!)
     
  17. BobM

    BobM Veteran Member

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    I left all my unwanted stuff at one of the convents in Santiago. It was unused first aid materials and my albergue sandals - items that might be useful to others (except possibly the sandals!) :(

    Chacun á son goût

    Bob M
     
  18. Anniesantiago

    Anniesantiago Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Bob, for some reason I missed that quote you posted the first time I read this thread.
    I'm putting it in my journal - it's great!

    When I finished the Camino last time, I said I'd never do another -- within about 2 weeks I was longing to walk again.

    Funny thing, that...
     
  19. BobM

    BobM Veteran Member

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    That quote from A Journey to Portugal is wonderfully evocative for those of us who love the adventure of a journey, who seek something from our travels that is more than just getting from A to B. I wrote a review of the book for Amazon. If you are interested, you can find it at:

    http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Portugal- ... ewpoints=1

    As for doing another Pilgrimage, the thought is always with me. Maybe this year I will get a week free to do some stages from le Puy.

    Bob M
     
  20. Bunny Hudson

    Bunny Hudson New Member

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    Thanks for this.
    I just read something on the Camino Newsletter, by Geraldine, about the attractions of Finisterre.
    Included was the burning of clothes etc. Last year when I was there I saw a sign that prohibits this.
    But Geraldine's other suggestions give me serious pause - i.e. throwing one's clothes into the ocean or leaving them on the rocks. I couldn't take that seriously, but then I thought maybe some people would not consider how harmful and polluting these things can be. For 2017 rather an unusual blinkered attitude.
     
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  21. SYates

    SYates Camino Fossil AD 1999 Donating Member

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    Good grief! Can we please, please, please lose those harmful 'traditions' ?!? First of all, they have only sprung up the last 20 years or so, second they harm the environment we all life in and, remember, there is only one earth.

    Burning clothes - pollution
    Throwing non-organic things into the ocean - pollution
    Leaving things behind on rocks - pollution

    Buen Camino and leave no trace other than foot prints and take nothing else than memories, SY

    PS If I ever meet that Geraldine in person ...
     
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