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Am I a Pilgrim?

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
I met a man in a refugio on the Camino Frances this year who apparently was very knowledgeable about who was, and especially who wasn't, a 'true pilgrim'. He had started from SJPDP, which was by his standards the official and only real starting point of the Camino for a true pilgrim. Everybody who had started later did not qualify, obviously, and he was not only unshakable in his beliefs, he was also very vocal and condescending to others. He bugged the hell out of me.
He got himself all worked up to the point of thinly veiled abuse when I decided to defuse the situation. I put my credencials in front of him, with stamps all the way from my hometown in Holland up to the refugio where we were. That's a lot of stamps, so that finally shut him up. But the funny thing was that up to that point I hadn't given this issue much thought.
I mused about it the next day and decided fairly quickly that, indeed, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a d---." (Thnx Doogman) Since I am an atheist I don't qualify to be a pilgrim anyway, because walking to something 'holy' in the strict religious definition isn't part of my reality. So in that sense I had to rethink the definition of a pilgrim and came up with this: a pilgrim is someone who is missing something, gets up and starts looking for it.
I like my definition a lot. It is rather vague, leaves a lot of room for everybody, suggests motion and it's really hard to get upset or offended by it. By this point I got bored with the subject and refocused on the landscape I was walking through. Much more entertaining. The kicker of this story came in Santiago though: it seems that my first name translates in Latin as Peregrino, which makes me the proud, albeit rather ironic, owner of a Compostela that clearly identifies me as a honest to God pilgrim. Go figure...
I'll leave you with the following question nonetheless: what exactly is the upside or value of being (called) a pilgrim anyway? I'm not being cute, I am genuinely curious about other people's feelings about this.
 
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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I'll be the contrarian here. Pilgrim, not pilgrim, they're just words, and labels imposed on us by others. This is not a competition to see who is the most spiritual, the most with God, or whatever. What seems lost in this thread, starting with the OP, is that we are all the same, no better and no worse, we all inhabit the same earth, and we are all right - it doesn't matter a whit what ones motivation is for walking the camino (or any one of the many caminos) as long as you try conscientiously not to hurt anyone else along the way. This earth was made for all of us, whatever stripe and color. Frankly, it seems a bit presumptious, if not arrogant, to classify or divide people into groups - pilgrim, not pilgrim - that kind of 'them, us' attitude has resulted in more suffering for humankind, Christian or otherwise, than almost anything else in history.
A welcome sign that existed in Roncesvalles in the 13th Century said pretty much the same thing, albeit with fewer words ... ;)
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Mar 2010, May/Jun 2016, Sep 2011, 2012, Apr 2014, St Olav's Way 2018
I'll be the contrarian here. Pilgrim, not pilgrim, they're just words, and labels imposed on us by others. This is not a competition to see who is the most spiritual, the most with God, or whatever. What seems lost in this thread, starting with the OP, is that we are all the same, no better and no worse, we all inhabit the same earth, and we are all right - it doesn't matter a whit what ones motivation is for walking the camino (or any one of the many caminos) as long as you try conscientiously not to hurt anyone else along the way. This earth was made for all of us, whatever stripe and color. Frankly, it seems a bit presumptious, if not arrogant, to classify or divide people into groups - pilgrim, not pilgrim - that kind of 'them, us' attitude has resulted in more suffering for humankind, Christian or otherwise, than almost anything else in history.
@lunna, I found this difficult to follow. Perhaps you can explain:
  1. you say our contributions to this thread are missing the point, yet at the same time say 'we are all right'. How does that work?
  2. you rail against classifying or dividing people, yet you propose a test for classifying and dividing people (the do no harm test). It appears that you have done in one sentence the very thing you call 'presumptious [sic], if not arrogant' in the next. What don't I understand here?
  3. You claim to be contrarian, and then suggest that 'this is not a competition' (I presume you mean walking the Camino as a pilgrimage). I cannot detect any early post that suggested it was a competition, so what are you being contrarian about?
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Mar 2010, May/Jun 2016, Sep 2011, 2012, Apr 2014, St Olav's Way 2018
So in that sense I had to rethink the definition of a pilgrim and came up with this: a pilgrim is someone who is missing something, get's up and starts looking for it.
@Purky, are you intending to work on this further? I know you said you did not stay focused on this during your walk, but it seems to me that there is a kernel here that goes to what a spiritual pilgrimage might be for those of us who aren't religious.
 
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C clearly

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
what exactly is the upside or value of being (called) a pilgrim anyway?
When I started my first camino, I certainly did not call myself a pilgrim. That felt silly - I had no religious motivation, I like precise language and terminology, and I'm not a "joiner." However, as I walked, I began to identify with the group of people who were also walking to Santiago, and realized that "pilgrim" was a useful term to describe those of us who were doing so, for whatever reason. In fact, I realized that it was silly not to call myself a pilgrim!
 

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lunna

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
frances; portugues, lisboa-muxia; norte + to bayonne; vdlp; chemin du puy to jaca via col de somport
[="dougfitz, post: 463571, member: 10982"]@lunna, I found this difficult to follow. Perhaps you can explain:
  1. I think you know what I meant, but I'll play along, against my better judgment, knowing that you're just baiting me - I think it would be wiser to leave it with my original post, but just this once, as time is precious, I'll humor you just a wee bit, as I'm in the sporting spirit today. That out of the way, it should be fairly obvious that what I meant is that there is no right way or wrong way to walk any camino; whatever ones motivation for doing so - fun, exercise, religious, idealistic, spiritual reasons, or no reason(s) at all - it's all perfectly fine and good provided ... (I'll get to that - your second question - in a second). It is fairly evident - and I don't think the OP or some others who have posted would deny this - that some posters believe that there exists a certain ranking order of merit amongst persons who walk the camino - and that "true pilgrims" are at or near the top of that ranking order. I don't buy it - to me, there is nothing more basic, more human, than walking the camino, or anywhere else, basta - who's to say one person's motives are any better than anyone else's? And if one were to say, but this is a Christian walk, so of course, the only true pilgrim is one who does this to follow in the footsteps of the Apostle, I would challenge that person to tell me that this piece of Earth is only a Christian piece of ground - the Earth belongs to all of us (as we belong to it). In my view, the very question - what is a pilgrim? - let alone what is a 'true' pilgrim? - is fundamentally flawed, as it presumes that this is a more exalted or higher status that other mere mortals may not merit. Who cares why someone walks the camino, and I hope some folks don't feel like second-rate walkers because they don't meet someone's definition of the word 'pilgrim.' .
  1. you rail against classifying or dividing people, yet you propose a test for classifying and dividing people (the do no harm test). It appears that you have done in one sentence the very thing you call 'presumptious [sic], if not arrogant' in the next. What don't I understand here?
Once again, I think you know what I meant counselor, - of course harming others isn't 'all right' - but as long as one doesn't do harm to others, then whatever one does, or thinks, is perfectly fine. There's nothing contradictory or hypocritical, let alone arrogant or presumptuous (no [sic]) about that. I think you know, too, that I didn't mean that anything goes, period - it is not alright to be a thief, it is not alright to murder, it is not alright to cause others pain - and that has nothing to do with creating divisions or classifying persons - it has to do with actions, and not the persons themselves. Whether Christian, Hindu, black, white, purple, you create your own self through your acts, period.

  1. You claim to be contrarian, and then suggest that 'this is not a competition' (I presume you mean walking the Camino as a pilgrimage). I cannot detect any early post that suggested it was a competition, so what are you being contrarian about?
In fact, several folks posting here place value in the label "pilgrim," which I don't. That alone makes me a contrarian with respect to this thread. I get the impression that those who aren't 'real' pilgrims, however someone wants to define that term, simply are hors concours - just not competitive; something like, "maybe someday those persons who are not true pilgrims will get it - let them have their fun, of course, but they don't know what they're missing." That to me, if only tacitly expressed by some, is condescending, to say the least. Once again, I think you're just having fun baiting me, as you know my point of view is a minority one on this thread.

A little digression here ... this thread reminds me, in, a way, of other threads I've seen where certain folks have argued that persons who 'only' walk 100 km don't deserve or merit (whatever those words mean) a compostela, or that tourigrinos or whatever one calls them somehow are less worthy of receiving that piece of paper than - again, "real pilgrims' who've walked 100, 200 or 500 km farther than they may have. If that's not competition, what is?

Let the chips fall where they may, I've spoken my piece...

[/QUOTE]
 
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Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
I'm very much with @C clearly about using the term pilgrim simply as a means of quickly describing oneself while on the road. I struggled with it at first for the same sort of reasons as C clearly did. I had trouble with the religious overtone, I try to be careful with words, I am somewhat of a loner and hate to be labeled and, being quite the respectful and sensitive type, did not want to impose on those who were in fact 'true pilgrims' in the religious sense. The polite thing to do, so to speak.
Only that didn't really work. It just created confusion, if anything. That and the religious people I met on the way didn't actually give a hoot whether or not I believed. So I went with pilgrim because, indeed, it would have been silly not to. But the thing is, it grows on you. More precise: I grew into it.
That makes perfect sense of course, because in my view a pilgrimage is all about shedding or letting go of nonsense (particularly the nonsense coming from the circus in my own head) and reconnecting with things that really resonate. Nature, meeting people for real instead of shaking hands and moving on, listening to your body, really tasting food, having a good cry, all that stuff. The more I walked, the more pilgrim I became. Funny thing happened on the way to Santiago...
Ultimately, in the end, I still couldn't care less if I'm a pilgrim or not, like Kathar1na. But it's still a nice subject to play around with and on a intellectual level it might help to distinguish between what is important to you and what is most certainly not. (I really do like 'Quest' though, but it might be a bit to Pythonesque for practical use.)
As for the question from @Dougfitz, what a spiritual pilgrimage might be for someone who isn't religious, I am still working on that. When I say I am an atheist it means I don't believe in (a) god, but during my walk I felt closer to "the mystery" than I ever felt before. And at the same time I knew that analysing that feeling would effectively destroy it. So I need to get proficient in using different tools for that task. It'll take time.
It is a bit like how I described the Meseta in a letter to my wife: it feels like a magnifying glass that makes everything bigger, clearer and more focused. In a broader view the camino did just that for me when looking at myself. But as I said, still working on it.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
In fact, most folks posting here place value in the label "pilgrim," which I don't. That alone makes me a contrarian with respect to this thread.
Admirable rebuttal :D. However, I'm not sure I agree with this assumption about "most folks posting here." Many of us don't like to be labelled at all, let alone be labelled with that specific term. I really don't care if someone describes me as a pilgrim or not. But there is value in using words with an agreed meaning. And, as said below...
it's still a nice subject to play around with and on a intellectual level it might help to distinguish between what is important to you and what is most certainly not.
I don't feel that I am on a quest, or searching, when I'm on the Camino. I'm not looking for anything except the path. (And that was not intended to be a profound statement!)
 

lunna

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
frances; portugues, lisboa-muxia; norte + to bayonne; vdlp; chemin du puy to jaca via col de somport
CC - All fair enough, especially your parenthetical!

Never generalize :) - let's change that to 'several' instead of 'most' posters, then. Several posters here and elsewhere on this site, seem to take this intellectual exercise and turn it into a competition as to who is the most "sincere" or "genuine" walker/pilgrim/human, or whatever other label :) Very sad, actually ...
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Mar 2010, May/Jun 2016, Sep 2011, 2012, Apr 2014, St Olav's Way 2018
I think you know what I meant, but I'll play along, against my better judgment, knowing that you're just baiting me
@lunna, thank you for responding. Let me assure you, as I said earlier, that I found the thread of your argument difficult to follow. Noting that someone else suggested that your post was the most intelligent comment that they had seen, it baffled me that I wasn't able to follow your line of argument. If you want to make the discussion combative, that is your choice, I merely asked for an explanation for what I saw as the inconsistencies that I found confusing.

I understand your point on my first question, but I do not agree with your position on that matter. I believe that undertaking a pilgrimage is a fundamentally different thing to those activities that comprise my 'normal' life. It does not make me better or worse than someone who hasn't undertaken a pilgrimage, but it does make me different.

of course harming others isn't 'all right'
This doesn't answer my question. I have no difficulty with do no harm as a construct. I would suggest it is only the first of a set of simple guides: (1) do no harm, (2) do things right, (3) do things better, (4) do better things, and (5) do the right thing. However, your response does not address why in one breath you suggested we shouldn't categorize people, and then propose a test by which to do just that. Its a little like the person who complains that people are judgmental, which is doing the very thing they are complaining that others are doing.

In fact, most folks posting here place value in the label "pilgrim," which I don't.
At least this comment makes sense. But it makes me wonder whether this thread was the best place to explore your views on that particular topic. It certainly would be an interesting distraction from the 'true pilgrim' discussions.
 
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Ernesto.IT

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
I will buy you a glass of wine with the greatest of pleasure, you and anyone else who isn't part of the Camino police. Because I'm sure the Camino police are teetotal.
Yes, I was wandering why my priest at the service was drinking tea instead of wine.
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Sanabres (2018) Frances reverse(2018)
Walking the Camino as a pilgrim is a faith exercise.
Am I the only one who finds this thread depressing?
I've quoted rappahannok, because he's nailed a very simple truth.
People who complete a camino as a faith exercise, have a very different experience to those who do not. Not a better experience; different, and fulfilling in a very unique way.
Here we have people arguing about people arguing about what is a pilgrim. Give me a break.

Stop arguing about this stuff. I've done four caminos, for quite different motives. The first was a pilgrimage in the sense that rappahannock has beautifully described, and was, for me, the most significant spiritual experience of my life. I told my community here about my intention. The parish priest celebrated a special mass for me, and gave me the traditional Catholic pilgrim blessing. I knew exactly what I was doing. When I arrived in Santiago, the pilgrim mass was, for me a simple sacrament, not an event.
My other caminos have been different. Not in any sense vacations, but challenges and at the same time celebrations that I am still alive and fit and able to do this. I do not begrudge anyone's motives for undertaking a camino of any length. "Good on 'em" as we'd say in Australia.
 

Ernesto.IT

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
I'll be the contrarian here. Pilgrim, not pilgrim, they're just words, and labels imposed on us by others. This is not a competition to see who is the most spiritual, the most with God, or whatever. What seems lost in this thread, starting with the OP, is that we are all the same, no better and no worse, we all inhabit the same earth, and we are all right - it doesn't matter a whit what ones motivation is for walking the camino (or any one of the many caminos) as long as you try conscientiously not to hurt anyone else along the way. This earth was made for all of us, whatever stripe and color. Frankly, it seems a bit presumptious, if not arrogant, to classify or divide people into groups - pilgrim, not pilgrim - that kind of 'them, us' attitude has resulted in more suffering for humankind, Christian or otherwise, than almost anything else in history.
It is not absolutely important what you called yourself. After my Caminos my walking doesn't stop there, during the year, every year my car clocks 3000 Km I walk minimum 5000+, there is days I do 40/45 Km and during those walk I don't classifying myself as a peregrino although I pass by many churches and some pilgrimage rout but at that time in my mind I am only a backpacker or an excursionist and that doesn't bother me at all.
Another matter is when I start mind and sole walking my pilgrimages and if you read my past treads
you know my thoughts for that matter.
So people, what is all the fuss about ????????
I can't wait to put my rucksack on my shoulders and with all my aches and pain plus all what is trow at me and start for my next pilgrimage!!!!!!!!!!!!
Buen Camino Peregrinos :)
 
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Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
Am I the only one who finds this thread depressing?
I've quoted rappahannok, because he's nailed a very simple truth.
People who complete a camino as a faith exercise, have a very different experience to those who do not. Not a better experience; different, and fulfilling in a very unique way.
Here we have people arguing about people arguing about what is a pilgrim. Give me a break.

Stop arguing about this stuff. I've done four caminos, for quite different motives. The first was a pilgrimage in the sense that rappahannock has beautifully described, and was, for me, the most significant spiritual experience of my life. I told my community here about my intention. The parish priest celebrated a special mass for me, and gave me the traditional Catholic pilgrim blessing. I knew exactly what I was doing. When I arrived in Santiago, the pilgrim mass was, for me a simple sacrament, not an event.
My other caminos have been different. Not in any sense vacations, but challenges and at the same time celebrations that I am still alive and fit and able to do this. I do not begrudge anyone's motives for undertaking a camino of any length. "Good on 'em" as we'd say in Australia.

Good on you for shining a new light on this thread! I like your reasoning but I disagree with one thing. You make a distinction between people who walk a camino as a faith exercise and those who do not and add that each group has a very different experience. I'd like to go one step futher and state that everybody on a camino has a very different experience, regardless of religious inclination.
My point was that I started out as a 'non-pilgrim' but I just sort of grew into being one. That is a curious thing to feel happening as an atheist, so I had to think about that. Arguing, as you call it, helps me get my ideas about this subject in a straight line, so for me it has merit and doesn't depress me.
But in a way I am glad you found it depressing enough to nudge you into commenting. Something about your words clicked and I suddenly realised that, for me, being a pilgrim is more an attitude than a state of being. It is a dynamic quality rather than a static title. And I think that this may apply to both the religious as the non-religious people on the Camino.
So for all the different experiences the Way offers to each and every one of us, it treats us all as pilgrims. You just have to pay attention to it.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Never generalize :) - let's change that to 'several' instead of 'most' posters, then. Several posters here and elsewhere on this site, seem to take this intellectual exercise and turn it into a competition as to who is the most "sincere" or "genuine" walker/pilgrim/human, or whatever other label :) Very sad, actually ...
errrmmmm, I think you're tongue-in-cheek enough to know that "never generalise" is itself a generalisation ... :p

I think the problem is that people have a natural tendency to conceive of things in a binary manner -- not just up vs. down, left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative, etc. (and some of these sorts of dichotomies do in fact correspond to observable oppositions and distinctions in material reality, including those of our identities) ; and so we tend to conceive of such ideas as pilgrim vs. non-pilgrim/tourigrino/cyclist/"bus pilgrim"/etc.

And so we tend to think that "real pilgrim" might somehow be relative to "fake pilgrim" ; and "true pilgrim" to "false".

---

But really, whatever "a pilgrim" or a "real pilgrim" or a "true pilgrim" may be, these are concepts that are absolute in their nature, not relative, in the manner of a name or for example an internet alias -- "JabbaPapa" is just who I am in these interwebs, absolutely ; and not relative to non-Jabbas, non-Hutts, non-space-gangster-slug-creatures, non-males, nor any other relativist concepts that could be derived from that name ; even though the absolute contents of the alias do still define the online identity that I have chosen.

When we have a "real" good day on the Camino, or a "truly" brilliant experience in the pueblo & refugio, the "reality" and the "truth" that are attached to these experiences exist forever in themselves, and in our happy memories, and the goodness of these experiences is simply real, and alive, and full.

---

So whilst "a pilgrim" is simply anyone who is making an effort to make their way by whatever means to pay a visit to the site of a Pilgrimage, for some purpose that is attached to the tradition of such visitations, as a generalisation :rolleyes: , and so as far as Santiago is concerned both those who are making a religious pilgrimage in public transport for Catholic reasons just as well as those who are following one of the ancient Pilgrim Ways there or the newer Ways by means of one of the Traditional or "neo-traditional" means of locomotion, on foot, horse, donkey, wheelchair, bicycle, rowboat, cart, etc., and since the very origins of the Camino in the Middle Ages whether they may be Catholics or Christians or some different religion or none, they are pilgrims.

And IMHO the "real pilgrims" are not opposed to the "fake" -- they are simply those pilgrims who have fully accepted the reality that yes, they are pilgrims. Easier said than done. The film The Way is actually a fairly good illustration of this transformative process, that many in here will be intimately familiar with. Real pilgrims all of you.

As for we "True Pilgrims" ? Well, take the quote marks there in their proper self-deprecative manner, tongue-in-cheek :p , and whilst, continuing on my theme of absolute versus relative adjectives I'd say that a "True Pilgrim" is one of whom it can be said that the truth of his or her personal identity has become intrinsically linked with Pilgrimage ; or, to turn that 'round, his or her personal identity has been definitively transformed by Pilgrimage into that of a pilgrim ; another simpler truth is that we're just a particular, unusual type of pilgrim having understood something about the multiple Pilgrim Ways, not just the Camino, and that we recognise it in each other on the rare occasions when we may stumble upon each other, usually walking in opposite directions ; but apart from that we're just plain simple old ordinary pilgrims same as everyone else. OK, we do also tend to be a bit more camino-crazy or just plain old crazy and more experienced than others.

And I think as far as we "True Pilgrims" are concerned, experience is the core of it -- and NOT just "how many Caminos", but rather the experience of what the Camino is like outside the safe zone ; what it is like to walk alone for weeks off the beaten path including sometimes through villages where you may be the first pilgrim they've seen in 40 years (a humbling and yet extraordinarily beautiful experience) ; what it is to do at least some 200K+ part of the Camino "in reverse" ; what it is like to return home not by train or by plane or by bus but by the Way ; the simple JOY of walking to, and in the morning from, a refugio sleep with your Compostela document in your pack ; the DEEP respect that experience gives for ALL our fellow pilgrims and fellow hospitaleros ; but also, less exceptionally ----what it means to hike your blisters away forever, to be suddenly and unexpectedly drawn into a hitherto mysterious understanding, to find love in strange Camino circumstances, to be enraptured by the beauty of the World, to suddenly belong to a warm and loving Camino family, to suddenly substitute grabbing for giving, to sleep under the stars, to prepare a communal meal, to at last understand the Spirituality of Holy Mass, to help a pilgrim in need, to sing a song of happiness, to be rebuked unjustly, to be refused a bed, to arrive in Santiago.

The "True Pilgrim" is simply the one who has definitively surrendered to these Truths.

But all of us, all pilgrims, each in our variegated ways, no matter how "purist" or "casual" or etc ad nauseam, we're all just getting by as best we can on our Way. That is the only thing that matters, aside our occasional efforts to get to Compostela on our own Camino Paths.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
But all of us, all pilgrims, each in our variegated ways, no matter how "purist" or "casual" or etc ad nauseam, we're all just getting by as best we can on our Way.
That sums it up so well!
 

trecile

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Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aug-Sept(2016) SJPDP-Finisterre, July-Aug(2017) SJPDP-Muxia-Finisterre, July-Aug(2018) El Norte
When I was walking I became annoyed with those who denigrated people who only walked from Sarria, had their packs transported, or took any kind of transportation. They seemed to think that they should not have to share the Camino with these people. It's not for me to say who can be on the Camino and who can't. I have no idea what their motivations are, their physical/emotional limitations may be, their time constraints, etc. And it's none of my business. All that I care is that everyone is respectful of each other, the Spanish people who welcome us to their country, and the land we walk on. I welcomed conversation with pilgrims who had been on the trail for a month as well as those who had just started the day before.

I also pointed out to people that there are many Spaniards in this part of Spain who depend on the Camino for their livelihood, like to baggage transport drivers, bus drivers, etc.

And let's face it. No one walks the Camino for completely altruistic reasons. We all receive something from the Camino, or else we wouldn't do it.
 

lunna

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
frances; portugues, lisboa-muxia; norte + to bayonne; vdlp; chemin du puy to jaca via col de somport
When I was walking I became annoyed with those who denigrated people who only walked from Sarria, had their packs transported, or took any kind of transportation. They seemed to think that they should not have to share the Camino with these people. It's not for me to say who can be on the Camino and who can't. I have no idea what their motivations are, their physical/emotional limitations may be, their time constraints, etc. And it's none of my business. All that I care is that everyone is respectful of each other, the Spanish people who welcome us to their country, and the land we walk on. I welcomed conversation with pilgrims who had been on the trail for a month as well as those who had just started the day before.

I also pointed out to people that there are many Spaniards in this part of Spain who depend on the Camino for their livelihood, like to baggage transport drivers, bus drivers, etc.

And let's face it. No one walks the Camino for completely altruistic reasons. We all receive something from the Camino, or else we wouldn't do it.
Now this is a great post!!!
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Mar 2010, May/Jun 2016, Sep 2011, 2012, Apr 2014, St Olav's Way 2018
When I was walking I became annoyed with those who denigrated people who only walked from Sarria, had their packs transported, or took any kind of transportation. They seemed to think that they should not have to share the Camino with these people. It's not for me to say who can be on the Camino and who can't. I have no idea what their motivations are, their physical/emotional limitations may be, their time constraints, etc. And it's none of my business. All that I care is that everyone is respectful of each other, the Spanish people who welcome us to their country, and the land we walk on. I welcomed conversation with pilgrims who had been on the trail for a month as well as those who had just started the day before.

I also pointed out to people that there are many Spaniards in this part of Spain who depend on the Camino for their livelihood, like to baggage transport drivers, bus drivers, etc.

And let's face it. No one walks the Camino for completely altruistic reasons. We all receive something from the Camino, or else we wouldn't do it.
@trecile, it is great to see that you have adopted a position on this similar to that many of us have been promoting for some time in similar discussions to this. Thank you for putting the matter so succinctly.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
When I was walking I became annoyed with those who denigrated people who only walked from Sarria, had their packs transported, or took any kind of transportation. They seemed to think that they should not have to share the Camino with these people.
Most of that is actually just Camino banter, and people joking about how much "better" we are than "they" are, but in my experience most people making those jokes do it among themselves, never actually at anyone's expense, and never really take the jokes terribly seriously -- but when some people actually start insulting the "tourigrinos" to their faces, very frequently the "real pilgrims" come to their defence.

But humour is always grounded in a certain truth, twisted for humorous effect, and so yes in this instance it can anger some people, so it needs to be used with care.

More seriously, I do always advise people not to take transport though -- except for the obvious cases of illness or injury. Not only is it always better to plan for a shorter Camino within available time than to uses buses to stretch the distance, because doing so "breaks" the experience. But the so-called "boring" bits that some people skip are actually significant for a full understanding of the Camino itself because yes, it is very often an extremely boring undertaking, and learning how to deal with it is part of the Way.

As for pack transport, I've personally advised some people to do exactly that for health reasons, and for some organised groups it's simply common sense -- and although not carrying does also "break" the experience, and sending your pack also hinders changes of plans and can leave people vulnerable to the unexpected instead of prepared for it, for a Summer Francès it's become less socially awkward than it used to be, particularly as the non-carriers tend to go to the private albergues anyway ... it was a lot less acceptable in the 1990s up to about 10 years ago, when some people grossly abused it as an antisocial stratagem for their lunatic morning 5 AM rush to grab all the beds.
 

Barbara

Active Member
Ernesto said

Yes, I was wandering why my priest at the service was drinking tea instead of wine.


Now, when did I ever accuse a priest of being in the Camino police? Though now I come to think of it, I have met one or two who could have been slightly more helpful had they simply beaten me with a medium sized stick
;)
 

Botaivica

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May - July 2016
SJPP - Santiago - Finisterra
May 2017
Caminho do Tejo
June 2017
Fatima - Santiago
:)

When I walked on the Way, I experienced several "types" of pilgrims:
- those who walk from the religious reasons,
- those who walk for fun,
- those who walk as a hobby,
- those who walk for health reasons ......
Also, they walked in several ways:
- with a backpack,
- without backpack.
- over agencies.
- in its own mode,
- halfway taxi, halfway walking,
- with blisters and leg injuries ......

However, all, OK almost all, are looking forward to walking, with a smile on theirs face. And that's good.

So, each chooses his own way of walking, who am I to judge :)
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
@lunna and @Barbara don't be spoilsports :D. It is so much easier to put people in pigeonholes than to actually engage.....

My big lesson from this past year it to talk to people whose opinions I do not share and to really listen to them.
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
Am I the only one who finds this thread depressing?
I've quoted rappahannok, because he's nailed a very simple truth.
People who complete a camino as a faith exercise, have a very different experience to those who do not. Not a better experience; different, and fulfilling in a very unique way.
Here we have people arguing about people arguing about what is a pilgrim. Give me a break.

Stop arguing about this stuff. I've done four caminos, for quite different motives. The first was a pilgrimage in the sense that rappahannock has beautifully described, and was, for me, the most significant spiritual experience of my life. I told my community here about my intention. The parish priest celebrated a special mass for me, and gave me the traditional Catholic pilgrim blessing. I knew exactly what I was doing. When I arrived in Santiago, the pilgrim mass was, for me a simple sacrament, not an event.
My other caminos have been different. Not in any sense vacations, but challenges and at the same time celebrations that I am still alive and fit and able to do this. I do not begrudge anyone's motives for undertaking a camino of any length. "Good on 'em" as we'd say in Australia.
Not so much depressing, but absurd. Useless. Divisive. Silly, maybe?
A lot of the replies I read while SMH and biting my tongue, ha ha.
Me thinks some protest way too much....
 

VNwalking

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
why am I doing this and how
Yes. It's wonderful--and important--to reflect on that. I would say essential, no matter why we walk.

But I'm not as keen on the "Am I, am I not?" sort of questions. They can cause confusion, hesitation, self-doubt, and general distress. And they generally metastasize into questions of "Are they, are they not?" which create all sorts of judgement and separation.

Without needing to ask, we just know. We realize we are a pilgrim. Or not. It's not black and white/either-or--that experience can change moment to moment. The average of all our moments will determine what box we tick when we arrive at the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago. But the box has much less meaning than all those deeply lived moments.

And it goes without saying I wholeheartedly agree! :)Ditto:
I'm pleased that you are engaging in the discussion :)
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
A priest who gave me garage floor space on my 2005 Camino did so somewhat reluctantly (which happens) and with some coldness (that too), which I simply took for ordinary wariness and as his being one of those priests who doesn't really approve of foot pilgrimages.

Anyway, good night's sleep in a warm enough dry place, then he offered me a quick breakfast in the morning -- and I was most surprised given these previous assumptions to discover his home was decorated with practically nothing other than Saint James / Compostela memorabilia.

And he was still being pretty stand-offish, so I thought hmmmm now this is weird.

So anyway we finally actually chat, and so it turns out his Camino was in the 1950s -- so then it clicks, I understand, and I tell him about my 1994 pilgrimage from Paris, about how I spent an entire month alone, sometimes going through villages where they hadn't seen a pilgrim in 40 years ; all the while he's looking at me with the increasing realisation that I'd walked the Camino very much similarly to him, then he finally smiles more warmly, and tells me about the difficulties and joys of his own Camino, no infrastructure, no yellow arrows, no refugios, asking the Way from local farmers, scrounging about for somewhere to sleep, food, and etc etc, and so then we could finally start truly talking pilgrim to pilgrim.

There are categories beyond categories beyond categories, and for this priest the "ruining" of the Camino and its commercialisation with all the mod cons was back in the 1960s, not the 90s, so clearly for him the "real pilgrims" were a handful of true oldies like him, and virtually none of the rest of us can possibly qualify ... and even being on a 2000 KM fully Catholic foot Camino all the way from my Parish to Compostela was insufficient for me to be considered a "real pilgrim" in the eyes of someone who had that experience in the 50s.

---

And yes, it's always a bit difficult to relate with beginners or others with less experience, especially when you know you'll only ever meet a tiny number of people who have been on the Camino in those sorts of truly spartan circumstances, particularly in face of the "where did you start/blisters/bedbugs/pilgrim menu/why are you doing the Camino?" conversation we've all had a thousand times already ; and knowing that people are unlikely to be able to even conceive of how far you've gone along your own Way ; but still the people behind those conversations are as important as anyone, and everyone's needed those conversations in their own past, and their inexperience and the usual mistakes people make, the Way they have ahead of them, and everything in them remains precious not just as a constant reminder of where we've all come from and we've all started out as clueless beginners and that no matter how far we've gone, there we are, but especially of the fact that at the end of the day we're all just simple pilgrims, same as each other, walking together and in no silly "status" contest against each other.

The categories certainly still exist, and sometimes they're even useful - but there's only ONE of them that will ever truly matter : Pilgrim.
 
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VNwalking

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Camino
The way forward, the way between things,
the way already walked before you,
the path disappearing and re-appearing even
as the ground gave way beneath you,
the grief apparent only in the moment
of forgetting, then the river, the mountain,
the lifting song of the Sky Lark inviting
you over the rain filled pass when your legs
had given up, and after,
it would be dusk and the half-lit villages
in evening light; other people's homes
glimpsed through lighted windows
and inside, other people's lives; your own home
you had left crowding your memory
as you looked to see a child playing
or a mother moving from one side of
a room to another, your eyes wet
with the keen cold wind of Navarre.

But your loss brought you here to walk
under one name and one name only,
and to find the guise under which all loss can live;
remember you were given that name every day
along the way, remember you were greeted as such,
and you needed no other name, other people
seemed to know you even before you gave up
being a shadow on the road and came into the light,
even before you sat down with them,
broke bread and drank wine,
wiped the wind-tears from your eyes;
pilgrim they called you again. Pilgrim.
David Whyte
 

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
It's a drastic change.
"Culture shock" in SJPDP is nicely put and pretty much accurate. Personally I felt so overwhelmed with the crowds that I walked straight past Roncesvalles and stayed in a quiet hostel in Espinal that first night in Spain. I just couldn't handle it after the relative solitude in Belgium and France. Fortunately I adjusted quick enough and enjoyed it for what it was. Just another one of the many faces of the Camino.

Regarding Viranani's earlier post: confusion, hesitation and self-doubt for me are indications to start asking myself questions. Just like the "Am I, am I not?" sort of questions. Not the other way around. So the growing into a pilgrim-feeling nudged me into questioning myself, because I felt confused about it.
I'm often told that I tend to overthink stuff, but in my case that is a necessity. I have the kind of brain that can't think straight. I get side-tracked in seconds, 28 irrelevant facts simultaneously pop up that are only vaguely connected with the subject I'm contemplating, and I seem to be able to have multiple views on a subject that completely contradict each other. It's a mess up there and I really have to work at it for some sort of a sane conclusion.
That said, "I just know" is rare for me and usually only happens out of instinct. Because I'm a curious guy, I always try to dissect that by asking myself how that "knowing" got there and what exactly it is. And lastly, to avoid casting judgement and separation on others is just a question of discipline ;).
 
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Davey Boyd

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven Compostelas in Three years and counting......
Last year I walked from Geneva to Santiago then Fisterra. then decided to walk back for a while as I felt I would like to walk longer. I walked back to Leon in fact. However, in Ponferrada I was accused of cheating! I was suddenly not a real pilgrim! I just laughed to myself about it.

If you walk the Way, from wherever, distance does not matter, and you feel you are on a pilgrimage, then you are a pilgrim. That is up to you. Only you.

Right now I am in Rabe De Calzadas, just after Burgos. To me, just before Burgos, as I am once again walking back. (I started this year in on August 19th from Pamplona, to Leon, Camino San Salvador to Oviedo, then Camino Primitivo to Santiago. Then to Fisterra then Muxia then Santiago again).Then decided to walk back once more. Once again some "pilgrims" think I am not a real pilgrim and make fun of me.

They just make me laugh.

Distance does not matter, what is in your heart does. I am no better than someone who walks from Sarria and has their bag carried and stays in Hotels. Good for them, but we are all on the Way, and we are all Pilgrims.

Much love to all

Davey
 

VNwalking

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
I need to reply to this, please bear with me ;).
Of course. Whoever said we all have to agree? :)
But I don't entirely disagree. Inquiry (whether it comes from inside or is prompted by someone else) is useful. But for many it just becomes another 'head trip.' The trick is just to let the questions fall into the heart and not to need an immediate answer, but to live the question and to see what emerges, without words.

Regarding Viranani's earlier post: confusion, hesitation and self-doubt for me are indications to start asking myself questions. Just like the "Am I, am I not?" sort of questions. Not the other way around. So the growing into a pilgrim-feeling nudged me into questioning myself, because I felt confused about it.
I'm often told that I tend to overthink stuff, but in my case that is a necessity. I have the kind of brain that can't think straight
It's a mess up there and I really have to work at it for some sort of a sane conclusion.
Purky, this goes to the heart of what I was trying to say. Clarity arising out of felt--embodied--experience cuts through confusion and has nothing to do with tangled thought. It's just 'A-haaaa!' It doesn't require thinking straight but it does need presence. What I mean by that is the direct experiential connection with what's happening right here and now. Presence is vastly more powerful than thought, and it's very simple.
 

VNwalking

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
:cool:I'm not here to try to change anyone's mind.
I have a strong pragmatic streak that tends to incline to the big picture, knowing people are not all the same.

For me, the nonverbal knowing is a very real refuge and place of understanding--this after decades of an excessively cerebral life. So I value walking because it's a really effective way to drop into the flow, and into felt experience. Others may not fee the same way and that's fine.
(And...I do think, reflect, and inquire. But it's a tool rather than what drives the train.)

A story that I love that touches on this (Mods...your indulgence?):

Dan Rather once asked Mother Teresa what she said during her prayers. She answered, "I listen." So Dan turned the question and asked, "Well then, what does God say?" Mother Teresa smiled with confidence and answered, "He listens." For an instant, Dan didn't know what to say. "And if you don't understand that," Mother Teresa added, "I can't explain it to you."

When I walk the Camino I spend a whole lot of time just listening. Thinking happens too but it's much less important. For me, being a pilgrim is all about learning to listen ever more deeply.

That's why I said what I said before...
Who knows? Walk, and see for yourself
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Last year I walked from Geneva to Santiago then Fisterra. then decided to walk back for a while as I felt I would like to walk longer. I walked back to Leon in fact. However, in Ponferrada I was accused of cheating! I was suddenly not a real pilgrim!
:rolleyes: -- in those situations, when I need to get the credencial stamped, I always show my compostela first ; from what you're saying, sounds like I've been taking wise precautions :p

Then decided to walk back once more. Once again some "pilgrims" think I am not a real pilgrim and make fun of me.

They just make me laugh.
yeah same, but I did like the walking-back guys who made me think back in 1994, especially as I kind-of-sort of ended up doing a quasi-reverse Camino to get back home, albeit hitch-hiking, and I do like the fact that I seem to have helped some others do some thinking on my own partial walk-backs since.

I'm still hopeful to get my Fatima > Santiago > Lourdes Way done, if my knee permits ; planning it as best I can anyway, though I've already postponed twice

Distance does not matter, what is in your heart does. I am no better than someone who walks from Sarria and has their bag carried and stays in Hotels. Good for them, but we are all on the Way, and we are all Pilgrims.
exactly
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
"Culture shock" in SJPDP is nicely put and pretty much accurate. Personally I felt so overwhelmed with the crowds that I walked straight past Roncesvalles and stayed in a quiet hostel in Espinal that first night in Spain. I just couldn't handle it after the relative solitude in Belgium and France. Fortunately I adjusted quick enough and enjoyed it for what it was. Just another one of the many faces of the Camino.
The crowds at SJPP hit me like a sledgehammer back in 2005 after about 7 weeks of near solitude (the refugio was so full I ended up sleeping on the floor) and it took me a week to recover -- I was far better prepared for it though in 2014, live and learn !! :)
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I think the general idea or perhaps majority idea of "doing the Camino" / going on a Santiago pilgrimage has rapidly evolved during its short existence since the 1960s. The people who were the initial driving force for the current revival had, as far as I know, an interest in history but they were also motivated by traditional Catholic ideas about pilgrimage, although more modern than medieval. Then came the political-ecconomic-touristic push to attract more people to the camino areas in Northern Spain, in particular Galicia.
Actually the two trends were simultaneous -- General Franco wanted to touristify the Camino, which was the original impetus of the revival (that's when the original route was asphalted), but some Catholic groups in Spain, France, and the UK particularly, decided to to counter those attempts by organising the first major Holy Year pilgrimage by foot & horse particularly of the modern era in 1965.

The touristification of the foot pilgrimage as such happened later certainly, but the touristification itself was already in place.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
I'm not sure it is so very different to when the burial site of St James was first "discovered". There were pressing political and economic reasons for the authorities to encourage pilgrims then, just as now.
 

Davey Boyd

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven Compostelas in Three years and counting......
:rolleyes: -- in those situations, when I need to get the credencial stamped, I always show my compostela first ; from what you're saying, sounds like I've been taking wise precautions :p



yeah same, but I did like the walking-back guys who made me think back in 1994, especially as I kind-of-sort of ended up doing a quasi-reverse Camino to get back home, albeit hitch-hiking, and I do like the fact that I seem to have helped some others do some thinking on my own partial walk-backs since.

I'm still hopeful to get my Fatima > Santiago > Lourdes Way done, if my knee permits ; planning it as best I can anyway, though I've already
exactly
Just to make it clear, when I was accused of cheating last year it was by pilgrims. The hospitaleras I met understood what I was up to, and I think gave me a certain respect also.
 

Stivandrer

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
I always took the meaning of the latin per+agro literaly to mean the pedestrian mode, walking as you are through the landscape and to mean the way in which you take the project so seriously that you would strive to take every step... if possible.
It is the intention of your quest that matters, to educate yourself in what could be possible if you really tried, and then not to be thinking of success.
In your own eyes and in others.
If you really, really should do the Camino in the time honoured fashion, you would have to be much less burdened with material stuff on the road and indeed walk all the way home again !!!
It is the last thing that bothers me most !
That would be from my front door in excess of 3400 K plus the return distance....
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - SJPDP to SDC (Aug/Sept 2016)
Santiago told me to tell you" Thank You"
for walking with him for a while...
And he left a little gift for you to find..deep inside when your ready.

You walked under the river of stars
Breathed the same air as the generations who have gone before

Your prints are eternally imprinted along the Way.
Your.."I" I!
was Here ...
is written on the rolls.

You were there.

You are still there
A little piece of you stayed behind
And you brought back a piece with you

Ide say a good trade.

You have "been"
They..have not.

Take the Blessing and go forth into the world surely and with firm steps.

You have been on The Way
If you were called..then The Way has been inside you for a ling time.

Go forth and be Blessed Pilgrim on The Way...
For you have touched upon Eternity and awoke the True Self inside.
Santiago told me to tell you" Thank You"
for walking with him for a while...
And he left a little gift for you to find..deep inside when your ready.

You walked under the river of stars
Breathed the same air as the generations who have gone before

Your prints are eternally imprinted along the Way.
Your.."I" I!
was Here ...
is written on the rolls.

You were there.

You are still there
A little piece of you stayed behind
And you brought back a piece with you

Ide say a good trade.

You have "been"
They..have not.

Take the Blessing and go forth into the world surely and with firm steps.

You have been on The Way
If you were called..then The Way has been inside you for a ling time.

Go forth and be Blessed Pilgrim on The Way...
For you have touched upon Eternity and awoke the True Self inside.
William Garza...this is beautiful and deeply meaningful. I am blessed to be a pilgrim as you describe.
 

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