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Fisterra and the mystique of death

2020 Camino Guides

Bradypus

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Too many and too often!
A challenging article in La Voz de Galicia in the light of a number of pilgrim deaths at Fisterra in recent years. Does the very fact of these incidents and the practice of scattering ashes there reflect or contribute to some underlying mystique?

 
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Delphinoula

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Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
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Hm overall how many have died there in comparison to other places?
Film maker hopped on the Camino as well. Crossing lines series 2 episode 10.
Mystique and death ? Money making?
I don’t deny that there are very old places with for a lack of better words with have energy.
 

Bradypus

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Too many and too often!
It is the Costa da Morte. I don't think there is any underlying mystique - but a sad history of drownings at sea due to shipwrecks and dangerous currents.
I am not so sure. The reference to the number of people bringing the ashes of relatives for scattering at Fisterra suggests there is some connection for those . Something to do with completion? And of course in that movie there is a scattering of ashes in the sea at Muxia. Why there and not in Santiago? A lot of mythology over the centuries in many different traditions which associates death with moving into the west and the sunset.
 

Kathar1na

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I read the article and also a few earlier articles about these fatal incidents - a dozen during a period of eleven years, apparently, many of them drownings near a beach or on the sea, some of natural causes, as it happens elsewhere along the Camino Frances with its high frequentation nowadays.

I think the title of the article - La Voz de Galicia seems to publish one such article every year - is misleading: The death of pilgrims feeds the mística of the End of the World of Fisterra, where mística is a Spanish word for "an aura of heightened value or interest or meaning surrounding a person or thing"? It's the other way round: the contemporary myths surrounding Fisterra feed the increase in the number of pilgrims and visitors and their desire to imitate rituals about which they had heard and their lack of information about the dangers of the sea currents leads to fatal accidents.

I heard about the ritual of bathing in the sea at the end of the camino and rebirth etc etc for the very first time in the Express Bouricot taxi that took me from Biarritz airport to Saint Jean, from an English pilgrim who was to embark on her first camino walk. By that time I had already walked a considerable number of kilometres towards Santiago, knew quite a bit about the Santiago pilgrimage and had spoken to a considerable number of pilgrims who had already walked to Santiago before me. But that was news to me.
 

Kanga

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Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I do know that my daughter and I found it absolutely essential to see the sun sink into the sea at Fisterra. Pretty special for those of us who live on the east coast of a continent.
 

Kathar1na

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The reference to the number of people bringing the ashes of relatives for scattering at Fisterra suggests there is some connection for those . Something to do with completion? And of course in that movie there is a scattering of ashes in the sea at Muxia. Why there and not in Santiago? A lot of mythology over the centuries in many different traditions which associates death with moving into the west and the sunset.
It's a delicate topic as there are obviously people on the forum who have chosen to scatter ashes along the Camino Frances or at Fisterra and I don't think one can discuss it openly out of respect for them and their feelings. But, @Bradypus, how much do you know about places that have become popular in recent times for scattering ashes of a loved one or a preferred place for oneself? Google it.
 

Tincatinker

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A challenging article in La Voz de Galicia in the light of a number of pilgrim deaths at Fisterra in recent years. Does the very fact of these incidents and the practice of scattering ashes there reflect or contribute to some underlying mystique?

I think reflect. There is an ages long tradition of pilgrimage to the "end-of-the-world". Galicia, reflecting western Ireland, Brittany, Cornwall and the Western Isles is a place where actual burials and internments of cremated remains appear to far exceed the likely local population. Implying the use of western, sun-set facing places as mortuary destinations. Go there to die or more likely have your remains taken there.

The Cathedral in Santiago is built on a Roman cemetery. What if Campo Stella, a field of stars, was originally Campo Stelae, a field of grave stones?

Whether the scattering of ashes in modern times comes from that damn film or the scene came from a known tradition scarcely matters anymore.
 

Kathar1na

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I think reflect. There is an ages long tradition of pilgrimage to the "end-of-the-world"
What I'm reflecting about right now is why Fisterra / Finis Terrae is translated as End of the World and not as Land's End - is that term too mundane :cool:😅; was intrigued to learn just now that the Latin terra goes apparently back to Proto-Indo-European *ters- (“dry”); wondered what that region was called before the Romans arrived in Hispania and before medieval documents with the Latin name in it were drawn up; and that German speaking medieval pilgrims thought that Fisterra meant Finster Stern / dark star - we know this from diaries of well-known pilgrims and from one of the best known medieval pilgrimage songs.
 

Tincatinker

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What I'm reflecting about right now is why Fisterra / Finis Terrae is translated as End of the World and not as Land's End -
I suspect that right up until the Vikings & then the Portuguese discovered there was another "dry" bit if you kept going west that wasn't China or "the Indies" then the assumption was the end-of-the-world because, with a little bit of effort, you could walk dry-shod from one enormous sea to another. For those, most of us, who made the great migrations that heaving sea must have been quite a sight.
 

Delphinoula

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Some countries have very strict rules about human remains so,as not to contaminate the ground water still trying to figure out what to do about them.
I like the thought of a beach party at my funeral may cheer everybody up.
I think the pilgrimage and then scattering of ashes seems to help with grieving and bring closure.
A ritual bath in the sea may just do the same bringing closure to your walk. Having seen the sudden onset of fog coming in from the sea at Muxia I felt why Neolithical man marked it special and in our days a church is built there ......it is eery.
The feeling how old the Camino realy is makes me feel as being apart of history. There were seekers before me and there will be after me.
Saint-Jacques… La Mecque is a French movie where tree siblings were made to walk the Camino if they wanted inherit.
My Camino friend from Canada who walked from Lisboa the Portuguese in her high 70ties she is of a mind to write to Sheen and complain because her Camino was not at all like the way. More power to her.
I am gone ... is a German movie.
All of them have elements I had on my Camino. The German comedian sitting in the rain trying to smoke and asking himself what he is doing there. I thing I was sitting on the same bench. tears like the Irish writer when you are at the cathedral in Santiago.
little moments well I liked to have seen my belonging walking back to me, but not on the Camino but that happened to me too.
 

Kathar1na

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Why there and not in Santiago?
Where in Santiago could it be? I can imagine several reasons:
  • people are aware that even in Spain one is not allowed to scatter ashes in the "via publica" which I think means public spaces, as ill-defined as that may be, not just public roads; a beach or the open sea, if it's an organised event, is more suitable than in a town;
  • popular public spaces for scattering ashes that are not specifically dedicated to this purpose are beautiful sceneries of mountains, the sea, lakes and rivers, and Fisterra fits that bill more than Santiago does;
  • then there is the view of the Catholic church on this topic and I imagine that those for whom Santiago has particular significance, or has more significance than Fisterra in this respect, will comply with their view.
 

Kathar1na

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A lot of mythology over the centuries in many different traditions which associates death with moving into the west and the sunset.
I'd be interested to hear more about this. I had not been aware of it before I heard about Fisterra. Funeral rituals associated with the sea yes (I'm thinking Vikings here and Hawaii) but not a particular direction.

Right now, off the top of my head and without further googling, all I can think of is: riding off into the sunset but that's more happy ending of a Western than end of life on earth; the sun dies and is reborn the next day but that's not something I think of when I watch a beautiful sunset whether it's on the beach or on a hilltop; a vague idea of what Romans may have thought about where the souls go but there's also the idea of being guided by Hades or a similar psychopomp such as Saint James was in the Middle Ages in particular, so there's more association with sky or underground than sea. Maybe I'm just too anchored in the landlubbers' cultures and their traditions to be perceptive for all this. And as you all no doubt know, right at the beginning after Saint Jean Pied de Port you walk through a landscape full of tumuli and cromlechs on the hilltops - ancient circular spaces defined by stones that held funeral ashes. Same on the South Downs Way, btw, and that's near the sea but facing south.

Having said this, I met a pilgrim on the Camino Frances who was carrying the ashes of her brother to Fisterra. Neither she nor her brother had any particular connection with the Camino or Fisterra or even the sea. I found it odd at first but on further reflection I fully understand such rituals to cope with dying and death. You do what helps you the most and what you hope may help, and in our affluent and mobile society this is something we can do. So I see this more as a modern emerging tradition.
 
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Bradypus

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Too many and too often!
@Kathar1na The association of the realm of the dead with some mythical western location is very ancient and widespread. The ancient Greek concept of Elysium as a land at the far western edge of the world. The ancient Egyptian myth of Ra's sun boat carrying the souls of the dead into an afterlife which is located somewhere in the dark space beyond the sunset. The Celtic mythology of Tir na Og which mixes the ideas of a parallel magical kingdom with a notion of an afterlife which is usually conceived as a land somewhere to the west. The "Pure Land" in some schools of Buddhism. Just a few examples.
 

Kathar1na

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Fascinating as they are, I don't know much about megalithic cultures, let alone about their funeral and burial culture, mainly because there's so little known about them ☺. My gut feeling, however, and it is really not much more than a gut feeling, is that much of what is written today about Fisterra etc. is very selective and mainly serves to flesh out a pre-chosen narrative. I just found this quite recent map of Galicia's megalithic landscapes and it seems to confirm that central elevations and foothills were at least as popular as coasts. I tend to think that Fisterra and the Atlantic coast in general has an inherent attraction for us, similar to high mountain tops and other beautiful sites, independent of past traditions that may or may not be associated with them.

Megalithic Galica.jpg
 

Kathar1na

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I've been thinking about the coasts and seasides I've been to, and some of them are very beautiful, but I think nothing will ever top the emotions I felt and the memories I have of that first time when I saw this vast blue grey green expanse of water and sky and those never ending Atlantic rollers coming in and that was on the north coast of Scotland, facing north ... 😊.
 
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Pelegrin

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I don' t know any current tradition about death and Fisterra in Galicia, but what is true is that the importance of dead people is higher in Galicia.
- Cemeteries surrounding the churches.The only region in Spain.
- Anniversary mass (cabo do ano).
- Santa Compaña.
 

Delphinoula

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it’s not uncommon to find grave yards around churches one would have liked to be hurried as close to the Krypta of a church, which is the empty grave of Christ in hopes of a resurrection like Christ.

Of course if you were an emperor you would be buried right next to it a bishop in the church and a nobility or important people there as well, little people like you and me then outside around the church.
In Antiquity other rituals were kept like necropolises to celebrate with the death at least once a year. So many of our rituals we took from pagan times. And many predate history the routs we take are older than Roman ingenuity . Our oldest informations are mythological ones. So if we are drawn to this camino we do as many generations before us. There must be a reason to this beyond the obvious.
 

RJM

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A few times
Whether the scattering of ashes in modern times comes from that damn film or the scene came from a known tradition scarcely matters anymore.
"that damn film"? Wow, a lot of hostility and anger there, lol.
That comment you made actually reminds me of a scene from that damn film where the character of Jack refers to the Camino as a "damn road", lol. :D
Your name isn't Jack, is it? lol
 

Kathar1na

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Cemeteries surrounding the churches.The only region in Spain.
That's interesting, I didn't know that cemeteries around the churches are unusual in the rest of Spain. And the cemeteries in Galicia struck me as quite special, not right from the beginning but later on when closer to Santiago. On the whole 2200 km that I'd walked I had not noticed something quite like them. I don't know whether there is a name for it, I mean those multi-level tombs all next to each other and forming an outer wall.
 
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Pelegrin

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That's interesting, I didn't know that cemeteries around the churches are unusual in the rest of Spain. And the cemeteries in Galicia struck me as quite special, not right from the beginning but later on when closer to Santiago. On the whole 2200 km that I'd walked I had not noticed something quite like them. I don't know whether there is a name for it, I mean those multi-level tombs all next to each other and forming an outer wall.
There were laws in Spain in late 18th and 19th century to set the cemeteries outside the villages and towns to prevent epidemics but in Galicia remained due to people.opposition with the support of the Church that still owns most cemeteries in Galicia.
The multi- level tombs are called "nichos". In Galicia a family usually owns the whole column (normally composed by four nichos).
 

Delphinoula

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They are quite common in Italy where you life at sea level . Same reason why man made cellars at sea level are rare there. Or like in Cinqueterre your graveyard hang like the cliffhanger towns simple no room there.
many years ago a student ask me if in Germany people are buried standing up, because he tried to figure out how so many could fit in one grave.
But back to Galicia does anybody know if there are Preroman grave sites like this?
 

Kathar1na

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The multi-level tombs are called "nichos". In Galicia a family usually owns the whole column (normally composed by four nichos).
Thank you, that's a useful word to know. It helped me to find the answer to a question we had asked ourselves recently. While I was reading, I came again across some of the articles about the futuristic and controversial Fisterra cemetery that was designed by César Portela and that was built 20 years ago with space for about 170 niches and has not been in use since then.

One such article says that today the people of Fisterra are no longer as reticent about it as in the beginning. My understanding is that there are many diverse reasons, some of them of a practical nature, that lead to this situation but I was intrigued by this comment: Many sailors today no longer follow the superstitions of yesteryear. Therefore, many of them would not mind being buried in a cemetery facing the sea, something that was considered to be a bad fate. I thought how ironic is that, here we are from far away with our acquired book knowledge of what people might have thought and done many thousands of years ago in Fisterra while we know next to nothing about what they think and do today.
 

Stephen

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Camino(s) past & future
Twice walked from St Jean to Estella and once from Sarria to Santiago. Maybe someday I'll find the time to do the entire walk.
I've found the time. Just completed SJPP to Santiago. 25 Aug to 1st Oct, 2016.
And now the Portuguese from Lisbon.
If you had your ashes scattered on the trail going down into Roncesvalles tiny bits of you, well atoms, would be making towards Santiago on the boots of pilgrims for as long as there were pilgrims.
 

Tincatinker

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Fascinating as they are, I don't know much about megalithic cultures, let alone about their funeral and burial culture, mainly because there's so little known about them ☺. My gut feeling, however, and it is really not much more than a gut feeling, is that much of what is written today about Fisterra etc. is very selective and mainly serves to flesh out a pre-chosen narrative. I just found this quite recent map of Galicia's megalithic landscapes and it seems to confirm that central elevations and foothills were at least as popular as coasts. I tend to think that Fisterra and the Atlantic coast in general has an inherent attraction for us, similar to high mountain tops and other beautiful sites, independent of past traditions that may or may not be associated with them.

View attachment 69899
You might find it interesting to extend that mapping to the European continent. If everything piles to the westward edges then there are two possible conclusions available from incredibly scant evidence. Neolithic monumentalism emerged spontaneously in the western extremeties or the western edge was the best point to start signaling.
 

Kathar1na

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"Young people don’t like visiting cemeteries" --- from an El Pais article in English about changing traditions in Spain where cremation is becoming more common although still much less common than in countries like the UK or the USA. Fisterra is not mentioned as a destination but the pilgrimage site of Rocío is mentioned, presumably known to every Spaniard as a Marian sanctuary but not well known outside of Spain, where "pilgrims had developed the practice of scattering ashes in the village [and also in the marshes of El Rocío]. Anyone now wishing to place urns in the municipality’s cemetery must apply for permission or face a fine of up to €15,000". Some municipalities have adopted specific by-laws, apparently.

The article skips from placing urns to scattering ashes and back again and also mentions one popular modern "pilgrimage" site in this context: famous football stadiums.
 
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Pelegrin

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" Fisterra is not mentioned as a destination but the pilgrimage site of Rocío is mentioned, presumably known to every Spaniard as a Marian sanctuary but not well known outside of Spain, where "pilgrims had developed the practice of scattering ashes in the village [and also in the marshes of El Rocío]. Anyone now wishing to place urns in the municipality’s cemetery must apply for permission or face a fine of up to €15,000". Some municipalities have adopted specific by-laws, apparently.
Yes in the pilgrimage to El Rocio there is much more "passion" involved than in Santiago or in San Andrés de Teixido. The main bulk of pilgrims are from western Andalucia (Sevilla, Huelva, Cordoba and Cadiz provinces) but there are quiet a few from the rest of Andalucia and other parts of Spain who like very much Andalucia (and enjoy doing activities like dancing sevillanas, visiting Feria de Abril en Sevilla every year, etc.).
 
Camino(s) past & future
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Of possibly interest is this [lightly edited!] passage from Walter Starkie's splendid 1957 book The Road to Santiago. .... After arriving at Portomarin -- the old Portomarin, pre-drowning! -- the author engaged with 'The Vicar of Portomarin.'

"After I had eaten a mammoth Galician fish pasty or 'empanada' and drunk various glasses of red wine from his vineyard, Don Diego gave me some interesting sidelights on the character of Galicians...."

[The author touched upon his interest in pilgrim deaths and ghosts.]

"[Then] it is a strange pilgrimage you are accomplishing," he said, "for all through northern Spain as you advance towards Galicia and the West you come close to the cult of death...."

"The people here, my friend, have always believed that the dead may leave their tombs at twelve o'clock at night and roam round the graveyards and churches. They leave purgatory to remind the living of the prayers they have promised but have forgotten to say for their dead relations. Sometimes they announce their presence by weird cries heard in the night or by the sounds of clanking chains. In parts of Galicia the people believe that the souls take the form of stones on the road that groan when they are trodden on by the mule or ass of one who is their debtor in prayers, but commonest of all are the ghosts who take on strange shapes...."

"Here in Galicia, ... the people see lights flickering in the woods, and even smell the wax. In villages in this province many women believe that it is a sin to sweep the cottages at night, for that would drive the souls away and prevent them from warming themselves at the fire. In Tui, on the Day of the Dead, the people throw a big log on the kitchen fire to enable the souls to warm themselves. What is strange is that, through the souls in Purgatory are burning in flames, whenever they visit our world they shiver with cold and always make for the fire...."

The 1957 Spain through which Starkie passed is well and truly gone....

Which may (or may not?) be a good thing!
 
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Bradypus

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Too many and too often!
The 1957 Spain through which Starkie passed is well and truly gone.... Which may or may not be a good thing!
Starkie's is a marvellous book. And a useful reminder that 'pilgrimage' need not mean walking everywhere :cool: Walking in 1990 there were still a few reminders of an older way of life in Galicia. I remember meeting groups of women doing their washing together at village lavaderos and on one occasion watching a man ploughing tiny terraced fields with a wooden plough and a team of oxen. At times I wondered if I might meet Laurie Lee round the next bend in the path!
 
Camino(s) past & future
First one 1977 (by train)... Many since then (by foot)... Next one soon!
Starkie's is a marvellous book. ... At times I wondered if I might meet Laurie Lee round the next bend in the path!
Agreed: a marvellous book. Starkie was Irish, you know. And liked Galicia a lot. (A connection there?) ... He died in 1976, just a year before my first visit to SdeC.... What would he think of Spain now, and the modern Camino? Hard to say.
 

Kathar1na

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You might find it interesting to extend that mapping to the European continent. If everything piles to the westward edges then there are two possible conclusions available from incredibly scant evidence. Neolithic monumentalism emerged spontaneously in the western extremeties or the western edge was the best point to start signaling.
I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I don't quite understand what you said there but that's me not you ☺. Apart from this, I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the logic in finding connections between contemporary and ancient practices on or near the Galician coast, especially when you are not a Galician.

My knowledge is quite scant but for example the Egyptians may well have thought that the afterlife is somewhere in the West but they did not practice cremation let alone scattering of ashes. Ancient people may well have preferred a Western coast but they built dolmens or other kinds of burial sites, a constant visual reminder ... all this involved not only a burial culture but also a memorial culture with lasting physical reminders - quite different from scattering ashes from a mountain top, along the way, or into the sea where nothing remains to be seen or remembered. I suppose that our modern traditions are driven by cost factors but more so by our increased mobility in private and professional lives. I still cling to the tradition of looking after the family graves but I live far away and I pay a gardener several hundred euros twice per year for these tasks, in addition to a modest compensation for someone who has volunteered to water flowers during the summer months. I don't want to impose the same obligations on others when I'm gone.

I developed an interest in learning about the meaning of Romanesque sculpture in particular, and every single church portal along the Camino Frances (and earlier) reminds me of the fact how preoccupied medieval people were with their fate in the afterlife. It was a major reason for pilgrimage. These preoccupations have largely waned for today's camino pilgrims, at least that's my impression. I wonder whether that is also a reason for the rise of contemporary rituals.

Not arguing a particular point here, just some more or less random thoughts.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
First one 1977 (by train)... Many since then (by foot)... Next one soon!
"The people here, my friend, have always believed that the dead may leave their tombs at twelve o'clock at night and roam round the graveyards and churches.
Idle thought.... Could this perhaps be why Galician cemeteries are so often found -- (and this is my my impression only, I could be quite wrong!) -- at the edge of Galician towns? I mean, surely no one would want to encounter the dead roaming round town center at midnight, eh? 😉
 
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Kathar1na

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@rappahannock_rev, I think that's a reference to the Santa Compaña that @Pelegrin mentioned earlier. When I first heard about it I thought it was the Wild Hunt, a story I still grew up with, but it's something different. Many pilgrims seem to be blissfully unaware of it, yet with so many pilgrims apparently walking at night they'd better know what to do and how to protect themselves if they have such an encounter ... 🤓.
 

Botaivica

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I do know that my daughter and I found it absolutely essential to see the sun sink into the sea at Fisterra. Pretty special for those of us who live on the east coast of a continent.
me too :cool:

jupi - Copy.jpg
 

Botaivica

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I don' t know any current tradition about death and Fisterra in Galicia, but what is true is that the importance of dead people is higher in Galicia.
- Cemeteries surrounding the churches.The only region in Spain.
- Anniversary mass (cabo do ano).
- Santa Compaña.
only in Galicia the cemeteries are around the church
30.JPG

otherwhere, at the end of the place
 

Delphinoula

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Hi Reverend,
If you from VA I believe you. The only place in the world where I almost saw a confederate soldier walking down the steps. I am pretty sure I heard his steps. Our house had been a hospital in the war after all.
 
Camino(s) past & future
First one 1977 (by train)... Many since then (by foot)... Next one soon!
only in Galicia the cemeteries are around the church
View attachment 70098

otherwhere, at the end of the place
I could be wrong, because we don't really have too many such places in my little corner of the world, but.... What you've pictured is what I've always assumed to be a "funerary chapel," and not really a proper parish church. I've seen many such on my walks but can't recall ever finding one of them open for exploration. My guess is that the Mass is not regularly celebrated in most such places, -- or baptisms, weddings, etc. Just funerals.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
First one 1977 (by train)... Many since then (by foot)... Next one soon!
Hi Reverend,
If you from VA I believe you. The only place in the world where I almost saw a confederate soldier walking down the steps. I am pretty sure I heard his steps. Our house had been a hospital in the war after all.
I am in Central VA, and am slowly building up a circle of VA Camino veterans who meet for wine and tapas occasionally! Interested? PM me. ... I'd enjoy hearing about your house. I've published several articles in historical journals. ... I've never seen a ghost and don't want to see one! Either in VA or in Iberia!
 
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Delphinoula

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I surely would when I am back . Like now we are overseas. When I told my step story at Gonjoe’s our rural sell everything store the old men in-front of the store playing checkers they had a knowing look. and the local information line gossip had told my husband via my mother in law before I was back home. You simply must love them. Thank you I look you up when I am back.
 

Botaivica

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May - July 2016
SJPP - Santiago - Finisterra
May 2017
Caminho do Tejo
June 2017
Fatima - Santiago
I could be wrong, because we don't really have too many such places in my little corner of the world, but.... What you've pictured is what I've always assumed to be a "funerary chapel," and not really a proper parish church. I've seen many such on my walks but can't recall ever finding one of them open for exploration. My guess is that the Mass is not regularly celebrated in most such places, -- or baptisms, weddings, etc. Just funerals.
When I made the pilgrimage through Galicia, twice I celebrated Mass in churches like this one.
First time in the village behind Triacastel, and in front of Sarria. The church was not on the Way so I veered off the road to see it. It was just Mass and I stayed until the end of Mass.
The second time it was on the Way to Finisterra in a small village Santa Marina. I spent the night in the alberge Santa Marina. Mass at the local church was at 7 p.m. and there were plenty of pilgrims from my albergue and also the from Casa Pepa albergue.
They told me that in small places there is Mass once a week.
Also, there are no two churches in such small towns, one for the living and the other for the dead, just one, for both.
 

Jay Es

Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017 the del Norte, home via the Portuguse to Vigo, Planning a Via de la Plata for October 2018.
I think reflect. There is an ages long tradition of pilgrimage to the "end-of-the-world". Galicia, reflecting western Ireland, Brittany, Cornwall and the Western Isles is a place where actual burials and internments of cremated remains appear to far exceed the likely local population. Implying the use of western, sun-set facing places as mortuary destinations. Go there to die or more likely have your remains taken there.

The Cathedral in Santiago is built on a Roman cemetery. What if Campo Stella, a field of stars, was originally Campo Stelae, a field of grave stones?

Whether the scattering of ashes in modern times comes from that damn film or the scene came from a known tradition scarcely matters anymore.
If you take that the winter Solstice sun sets in the SW then in Northern European Neolithic terms the Finistere sun set is, where its all going on.
 

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