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Reasons why we take the Way of Saint James

2020 Camino Guides


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
FRANCES (2018) in planning
May I please ask the newbies and the experienced pilgrims "why do we take the Way of St James?".


Active Member
Newbie here, leaving March 2014. I have a strong feeling I will find something out there...but I don't know what it is. I'm fulfilling my dreams to travel the world, one step at a time.

{Candace, Texas, USA)
-a blog about life, a bucket list, and a future pilgrimage-


Active Member
Why do we go on pilgrimage? Because Santiago/St Jacques/St James is very insistent when he beckons you. The idea to go is planted, becomes intense and won't leave you until you give in to it. You don't always know why you're going but you have a feeling you're going to find out something vitally important.

Some of us are slow learners and are called back again ... and possibly again ... and ...

Or perhaps that's just an excuse to have "a brief escape" :D


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
My terse answer is "le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît pas/ the heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing." Pascal, Les Pensées

For more complex and philosophic reasons read >> http://mermore.blogspot.fr/p/about-me.html


Margaret Meredith


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2009 Portuguese Estellas 2014 Aurelia 2016 St Davids 2017 Via Augusta/V dl P. 2018 Michael Mary Way
I had read about the Camino for years and yearned to do it - but had a disability which meant I could not. I had driven the route and visited many sites along it (Camino Frances)
But after many years I got somewhat better and the wide reading inspired me to travel a (perhaps) older pre-Christian path. So I cycled (and pushed and sweated) several 'Camino' routes from Portugal to Scotland with my long-suffering husband (and in the UK - our dog!)
I am now a compulsive pilgrim! I find St. James in many unexpected places, as well as the other pilgrimage saints. It feels like my steps are always being led along for a reason. I have now started walking/cycling pilgrimage routes in the UK, but would love to get back to Spain (perhaps Via de la Plata) when I get well enough again....
It seems we may start by looking for St. James - and then he starts following us!

fynbos s.a

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2011 Leon to Santiago and 2013 St Jean to Santiago
I did the section between Leon and Santiago 2 years ago. I then got Camino sickness which is progressively getting better as I near Sept 13 when I continue my Camino from St Jean to Santiago. The Camino just keeps calling.


Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2012, Portuguese 2015
Hit a long drive with a slight slice. Kept walking looking for my ball and found myself in Santiago. Had a conversation with St. James. He told me that all we need is love and to give peace a chance. Did not know that St. James was a rocker. Anyway, it was a great trip, keep drawing inspiration even after one year. Have found that there are reasons that no one knows the reason for. Newbies...stop worrying about what to pack, how much to pack, or whether you will meet anyone and whether there are thieves; Just do the trip and let it speak to you. You will be sure to meet wonderful people, hear great stories, eat great food (lots of potatoes and eggs), and you will gain much grace and wisdom as you let yourself be open to St. James speaking to you. Buen Camino, dario


Active Member
All interesting replies. Don't know how I've missed Margaret Meredith's "About" page till now - but I have.

I wrote a fictitious piece, using my photos and itinerary from the Chemin du Puy, about why no reason or a bad reason can be the best of all reasons...whew, I won't go any further with that sentence. Without getting any more confusing, I'll just say that the Camino is for an elite group called humans, with allowances for certain quadrupeds, such a donkeys, horses, dogs.

Here's the piece I wrote:
http://withtwist.wordpress.com/2012/08/ ... int-faith/

Best to all


Deleted member 12253

Why, only you knows why, why walk for 40 days and 1200 km in France / Spain. Only you knows why, health issues, mental, physical, family reasons,marriage breakdown , I love mountains, solitude , peace, talk to fellow pilgrims, I mean really talk for few days and you will hear heart breaking stories, or should I say listen for few days, Buen camino


New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I agree with Julie, I don't know why, I just discovered the way one day & now there is no stopping my getting there


I feel like I have been walking the Camino for years. A difficult life...a difficult walk...but it culminates when I finally get on the road to Santiago de Compostela. I know that there is a message for me...a lesson...and I know once I have heard it my life CANNOT be the same. I have to go...or die trying.


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
June 2014
Personal challenge, boot camp, and... to raise money for a very good cause, but that will come in a separate post soon.


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
See signature line for links to daily posts to blogs from many caminos
I walked simply because my daughter invited me to join her. We rarely get the opportunity to spend large chunks of time with our adult children and my daughter had been living and travelling overseas for three years prior to this, during which time I hadn't seen her at all. For her it was probably something to be ticked off her 'to do' list.

We initially planned just to walk a short section, but as I researched the camino, I became more and more determined to walk from SJPP to Santiago and on to Finisterre. I had never walked for pleasure before my camino training and had to buy all my gear especially for this journey. We walked straight through, without any rest days, and although I felt exhausted at the end of the day for the first two weeks, by week three I became so much stronger that the distances were not an issue. Every day I felt a sense of achievement and purpose. It was a wonderful experience.

I did not have any spiritual awakening that so many pilgrims report experiencing, but every step was worth while. When we reached Finisterre I was asked if I would do it again and instantly replied no. But since returning home I have had a distinct change of heart and am how trying to decide which camino I shall walk next year.

And my reason for walking again next year? - to walk alone - I have not travelled alone before and this will be a big step outside my comfort zone.

And to put the icing on the cake, I raised over 1,000 euros for cancer charities from my wonderful friends and neighbours.

.....Camino Frances with my daughter: http://magwood.wordpress.com

MKalcolm M

Solvitur ambulando - It is solved by walking
Camino(s) past & future
north route spring 2013
It calls. For many of us there be no more explanation than that. It calls, often when a qusetion has arrived in ones life and then, to quote Saint Augustine "Solvitur ambulado" "It is solved by walking"


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Going on pilgrimage to Santiago is a crazy thing to do. You have to be quite mad, insane ... why would anyone choose to walk hundreds of miles over mountain ranges, in sometimes extreme weather, carrying their existence on their back, crammed into small spaces at night, sometimes with barely the minimum of comfort and facilities? .... it is not a 'sane' thing to do, as far the as 'normal' world is concerned.
Other people go on holidays and stay in a hotel by a beach, swim, drink, eat, make love, dance .... others go to snowy places, work their way to the tops of the hills and then skid down them on sticks and spend the rest of the day drinking, eating, making love, and dancing ..... other people are sane and normal, content with their lives - ....
or are they?

I seem to find that just about every new pilgrim has had a crisis of some sort in their life. Their life has no meaning, or they hate their job, or have lost their job, or partner, or dog, or house. Others want to give thanks, for recovering illnesses, but perhaps (apart from the 'professional' walkers) the common denominator is that all are seeking something, some connection, some reason to be ....

What seems to be extremely common is that a person 'accidentally' hears something about the Way and then it just starts to nag at them, won't give them a moment of peace until they surrender and go to Spain ..... why? Well, for me it is simple, in my framework it is God calling .... this is my personal opinion of course, not dogma .. but if millions of people over 1200 years have unaccountably stopped their life to do a completely mad thing, to go on Camino to Santiago, and then, when returned home (if they get home) their lives are somehow different, their perspective is different, changed, well, .... something else is going on isn't it. Something deeper, something important ....

In each of us there are two of us .. .. the outer chattering mind that lives in this world and tries to make sense of it ... the one that can be afraid, the one that can see everything as meaningless, the one that thinks it can be made happy by possessing things, and wealth, and worldly status, the one that can be like a child in a fairground ... and there is the other 'us', the real us that can be hidden, lost, the quiet, knowing, connected one, the one that knows compassion, empathy, laughter, tears, love ... I think that people are drawn/called to the Camino because they are unknowingly attempting to awake the inner us, to make that connection, and that something, something, calls - each and every one of us .. calls until we surrender and take up our rucksack and go.

Sorry to have gone on a bit - but you did ask!


... I think that people are drawn/called to the Camino because they are unknowingly attempting to awake the inner us, to make that connection, and that something, something, calls - each and every one of us .. calls until we surrender and take up our rucksack and go.
That was so perfect...


Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
I might fit into David's "accidentally" category. Hiking in the Picos de Europa years ago I was asked by an elderly farmer if I was en Camino. I didn't know what Camino was. Back in the uk I researched, learned and started to yearn.

I never really questioned why i wanted to undertake the pilgrimage but as my understanding of its history and significance grew so did my desire to walk. I've described myself elsewhere on this forum as an anarchist and an agnostic and again as a pagan. The idea of a journey to the end of the world, one that had been undertaken by European humanity since the dawn of our history and had become one of the great pilgrimages of the medieval world. A walk to the greatest Neolithic cemetery yet found. To cross the meseta and see its earth temples, pass through Atapuerca and see where our most distant human ancestors began to co-operate rather than compete. And in Spain, a country I love to hike for its landscapes, it's culture, it's kindnesses...

You will gather that my reasons for walking the Way of St James were not linked to any commitment to any part of the christian religion or it's churches. But I walked as a pilgrim. I walked in penance for some past sins the burden of which i set down at Cruz Ferrol. I arrived at the tomb of the Apostle in joy and reverence and in the full and certain knowledge that some prayers offered up to S.Domingo had been acknowledged. I eventually hiked on to Fisterra and to the "end of the world" as pilgrims have done since time immemorial.

Sitting here tonight, iPad on lap, glass of wine to hand, asking myself "well, why did you walk the Way of St James" ... Damn fine question. Though the sybarite in me might answer "because it passes through nine wine regions"; and stroppy pagan will assert that it was our way long before it was his. Hard core hiker will offer some trite answer about it being there or because I could.

After much reflection in the year and a bit since I returned I think I walked the Way in search of my humanity and found a little of it along the way. Not from the path, not from the destination but from those I met along the way. Elizabet, who cooked us Sopa de Ajo in Logrono. Carl, who saw me picking litter one morning, took a bag and without a word began picking too. The hospitalera at Pieros who simply put a can of beer in my hand when I finished washing up. Chico, who gave me a lesson in understanding my fellows on the way.

I'll stop here, like David I've perhaps gone on a bit, but hey, that's one heck of a question.


Wherever you go, there you are.
Camino(s) past & future
Fall 2000 - Frances;
Summer 2001 - Norte/Frances/Fisterra;
Spring 2015 - SJPdP>Irun(GR10)>SdC((Norte)>Fisterra/Muxia
I walk because I have always felt compelled to walk.
Can't quite explain it. But my greatest challenge in daily life and in walking life is to live in the moment, enjoy the journey.
Walking is my meditation, and my challenge to "be here now". Walking is grounding for me, and illuminates connections with others and with nature.

The Camino is a unique walk, with its people, landscape, culture, art, architecture, history and pre-history.
It is not a religious/Catholic thing for me at all.
The idea of - the compulsion to - pilgrimage is much older in the human condition than its relatively modern trappings or current affiliations.

And its distance is unique. It isn't like shorter hikes I've done (awesome adventures definitely) where within a few days, you are past the halfway point and it is harder to completely lose yourself or your awareness of "real" life.
No, within a few days on the Camino, you must relax into a rhythm. It's a long way to half way, so the goal fades from my mind and the journey takes over. It becomes my existence.

Tincatinker, I think you are a kindred spirit.


Camino(s) past & future
Past: SJPdP -> Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Future: Santo Domingo de la Calzada -> Santiago
I am leaving tomorrow to start my walk, and I don't know frankly what to expect. I like the idea of disconnecting from my daily grind, but I suspect my rational mind will disagree that potential suffering from walking such a long distances day in and day out is worth disconnecting. So, there must be something else that is pulling me to it. I guess I will start to find out in couple of days.


Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-19
I must admit, the first year (Le Puy - Cahors) was motivated initially by curiosity and personal challenge. By the time the plans were in place, and I actually started walking, my mother had passed. So I was given a "homework assignment" at the beginning of that walk: the work of grieving that loss. Each year since, I seem to have been given a similar "homework assignment", some individual work that can only be accomplished in the inescapable dailiness of silence and solitude that is pilgrimage.


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
FRANCES (2018) in planning
It has been a while - since I asked this question. Thank you.
Many people have shared their reasons so eloquently and they have sustained me, as I prepare for my "giving in" to the rigour and beautiful pain of the way of Saint James. Which for me is an act of obedience in my journey in Christ.

In Pune, (a work in progress)


New Member
Camino(s) past & future
August-Sept. 2014
Why do we go on pilgrimage? Because Santiago/St Jacques/St James is very insistent when he beckons you. The idea to go is planted, becomes intense and won't leave you until you give in to it. You don't always know why you're going but you have a feeling you're going to find out something vitally important.

Some of us are slow learners and are called back again ... and possibly again ... and ...

Or perhaps that's just an excuse to have "a brief escape" :D
I have less than 2 months (Aug. 10th) before I leave my home to walk the camino (first one). I so agree with the above reasons! I am already tearing up when I watch videos posted here! I think I have already begun my camino!

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