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Spirituality and the camino


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Time of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
There are many different definitions of the term ‘spirituality’.
“In the broad sense it concerns itself with the ‘matters of the spirit’: it can also reflect a sense of meaning and purpose, a sense of self and of relationship with 'that which is greater than self'; or a journey or path to enlightenment.”
There are many different ways to have a spiritual experience and what makes for a spiritual experience for one may not do it for another.
Some people may have a spiritual experience whilst doing yoga. For others, it is whilst attending a rock concert! For some it can be summiting a high mountain, for others it is a walk along the beach.
Some people experience their spirituality when they are alone (like the monks and hermits of old); others find it whilst working with the masses (like Mother Theresa).
Muslims have a spiritual experience whilst walking with millions of like-minded pilgrims to Haj. Hindus experience theirs thronging with thousands of other devotees on the banks of the Ganges.
The Vatican is the most visited Christian shrine in the world and the second is Our Lady of Guadalupe where millions of ‘pilgrims’ visit the Basílica of Guadalupe in Mexico City on 12th December. Neither require that you walk to the shrines, or that you be alone. On the contrary, it is precisely being a part of the multitude, the sense of belonging to something greater than self' that creates the spiritual experience.
If being alone or away from large numbers of pilgrims is where you find your spirituality then the camino is probably no longer the place for you. There are many other less populated, even isolated trails where you will have a better chance of having a spiritual expereince.
It is because I feel a part of the camino community, present, past and future that it has become a spiritual journey for me. I don’t need to search for it, or be alone to feel it, or be in an isolated place to find it. Just being on the camino - especially in the company of other pilgrims - makes it a a spiritual experience and I can't wait to get back again!
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
If being alone or away from large numbers of pilgrims is where you find your spirituality then the camino is probably no longer the place for you.

Sil, as ever I share your enthusiasm. But let´s remember that there are many pilgrimage routes to Santiago and many different times of the year in which to walk them. I´ve been walking over the last few days with increasingly small groups of pilgrims - only 5 arrived in Santo Domingo de la Calzada last night. Almost all had decided to walk at this time of the year to avoid the crowds and spend some time alone walking whilst enjoying the occassional company of other other pilgrims in the evening. In January I walked from Sevilla for three weeks and never met another pilgrim and didn´t speak any English at all during that time. On the Camino Ingles later in the year I also never met anyone although there had been a pilgrim the day before! Solitary walking isn´t for everyone and for some people joining the travelling community is what is most important. I think it is up to every individual to find what is best for them - there are no Pilgrimage Policemen to enforce non existant rules :)
Thank you for putting it into perspective. I am still in 'camino frances in September' mode (and am still dreaming camino dreams!)
Perhaps I needed to say that a busy time on a popular pilgrimage route is not for those who need quiet isolation - that would include the camino frances between March and November.
Buen camino for the rest of your walk,
Crowds on the Camino Frances can be a welcoming or frustrating experience, depending on what you expect from the pilgrimage, or indeed mood on any particular day.

I like to walk alone as I find chattering groups of people can be sometimes distracting and annoying, although at times it is comforting to see someone just ahead of or following me. So, to find that 'spiritual isolation' whilst walking I left the albergues later than most pilgrims, generally beteween 7 and 7.30am. That way I often had the trail to myself and fewer crowds in the bars. This was in May 2006 and 2007, and even leaving later than most, I still had no problems finding a bed, but then I'm slow and only do about 20kms per day.
I did a survey on the Camino Frances, September 2006. 99 people left Triacastela on the old route between 7am and 9am. Sunrise was at 7.45am. There was hardly a soul about on the trail the rest of the day.

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