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2019 Camino Guides

Unwelcome traces from pilgrim rituals

Helen1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
London to Santiago (2014)
Narbonne to Oloron (2015)
Camino Portugues (2016)
Sentier Cathar (2017)
#4
Its an interesting article, thank you for sharing. The love padlock thing really irritates me you see these in all kinds of places now. My guess is that trying to educate pilgrims is doomed to failure. I assume the rituals will either be 'policed' out of existence (which doesn't feel very Spanish) or formalized - you can burn your clothes but only between 3 and 4pm, for a fee, and in some form of incinerator that filters the air. Or perhaps a credencial costs 10 Euro with 8 Euro going back into environmental projects to clean up the camino. Does all the junk that gets dumped at Cruz de Ferro end up in a landfill site?
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
#6
Does all the junk that gets dumped at Cruz de Ferro end up in a landfill site?
I think they leave the actual stones, the height of it has grown in the past 25 years or so -- but if they didn't clean it up, it would just be a huge rubbish heap.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#7
Everything is removed from the base of the pole, periodically, over the winter months... I do not know how much they reduce the pile, completely, or just reduce the height. Also, I do not know what they do with the material they remove. But, I do recall reading that the pile is reduced when it gets 'to a certain height.'

Hope this helps.
 

Tuaruin

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sanabres.
Santiago-Muxia-Finisterre-Santiago.
Ingles.
#8
Perhaps the pilgrim’s credencial should contain a reminder to the bearer to leave no trace.
I agree.

In isolation, a small stack of stones or a memento left may seem insignificant in the landscape but, when thousands of pilgrims each do the same, the impact on that landscape rapidly becomes significant.

Take memories, photos and experiences; tread lightly and leave the landscape as it was found, for the next pilgrim to enjoy.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Saint Jean to Santiago - 09/10 2017
#9
The worst thing I saw, virtually along the entire route, was tissue paper. Leave nothing really needs emphasising. Perhaps peregrinos should be issued with poo bags so such detritus can be carried until disposed of correctly. Have seen this working well in US state parks.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#10
This article cited in the first post of this thread isn't about tissue paper or toilet paper. And the Cruz de Ferro isn't mentioned either.

It's interesting that they mention the crosses placed on wire fences. So far, I've managed not to get enraged about them :confused:. The author of the article suggests that many pilgrims leave these crosses not because of any religious reasons but due to imitation or sheer inertia. Not quite sure about the latter as not all but many of these samples of handiwork require a bit more manufacturing action than picking up a stone and putting it down a little bit later. I do think these masses of crosses look like a pretty empty gesture to me.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#12
Kryžių Kalnas (The Hill of Crosses)
That's interesting but I fail to see the connection. The mostly rather crude crosses on the Camino Frances appear at some random place (and not at a significant destination) because there happens to be a wire fence and some pieces of wood lying around in that random place and one can see what other people did with the stuff.

I don't know. Maybe I'm too cynical, maybe there's a cultural dissonance here. I quote from the article [and yes, I've seen them, too]: Those [crosses] manufactured from clothes or even socks are, fortunately, rare. Fortunately indeed.
 
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William Garza

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
#13
Camino(s) past & future
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
#15

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#17
Is it fair to call all the burdens and stones left behind at Cruz de Ferro junk? It's one of the most meaningful parts of the Camino for a lot of people and at least it's in the one spot.
I think that many of us would have no great objection if people only left a stone there as they passed by. But that no longer appears to be enough for many and the place is regularly covered in discarded clothing, paper and trinkets left to rot. A dispiriting sight.
 
Camino(s) past & future
First timer, leaving April 3rd from SJPDP
#18
The Cruz De Ferrro was extremely important to me and I left a stone (from my 100 year old grandmother) But, there was a lot of "junk" being left as well. I'm sorry but all those ribbons, rags, socks and paper items do not have a place at CdF.
By far the most obnoxious is the grafitti. I started in SJPDP and saw very little until Leon. From Sarria to finish, I quit counting at over 100 paint scribbles of " Luv Wins" on distance markers. That person should be "drawn and quartered"!
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#19
…The cross is an instrument of torture. An ill fitting pair of socks can be too. Perhaps the peregrino who fashioned a cross from his socks felt crucified by them....
It's the symbol of Salvation, mainly, I think? It's odd, I don't quite know why socks and undergarments bother me in this context. Cultural dissonances, no doubt. I can laugh about and love the Life of Brian. Even laughed about some jokes about the concept of the Trinity I once saw in Charlie Hebdo. But I don't know ... I must be taking some of those old symbols I see along the way just way too seriously. :confused:
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#21
I think by far the weirdest thing I've seen is this:

Oberaurach.jpg

I only photographed the text. The whole thing is a - presumably custom made - ceramic plaque that is permanently fixed low on the front wall of the chapel next to the Cruz de Ferro actually. It says:

We are a married couple from Oberaurach - which is located in Germany, more precisely in Franconia (in Bavaria) close to the World Heritage town of Bamberg. From there we walked on foot in several stages through Germany, Switzerland and France and we are now on our last stage through Spain on the way to Santiago de Compostela.
"Whichever way you take - there will always be a few kilometers of bad road." (Saying from Spain).

Really WEIRD. I can't imagine that they had permission to put this there, or did they??
 
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yaying

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
somehow someday...
#22
"junk" being left as well.
i never walk the camino, though just because they didn't left a stone and different as yours, doesn't mean they are junk, maybe same as you that is something they want to let it go?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#23
The whole thing is a - presumably custom made - ceramic plaque that is permanently fixed low on the front wall of the chapel next to the Cruz de Ferro actually.
Yes, very strange indeed. And I'm curious - what was the rest of the plaque? And was any of the graffiti a reaction?

And someone carried this all that way?! As well as the adhesive to mount it on the wall?
Because? (No need to answer that, actually....)
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#25
Come on, you didn't understand that I was talking about Christian iconography along the historic ways to the apostle Saint James? It's an interesting topic actually, we wondered about this recently: What do people see along the way, how do they interpret the meaning of what they see, on the portals of Romanesque churches or inside, who are not at all or only vaguely familiar with that background - if they bother to look at it at all? Unfortunately, it's not a topic that is suitable for this forum.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#26
Yes, very strange indeed. And I'm curious - what was the rest of the plaque? And was any of the graffiti a reaction?
I think the rest of the plaque was initially empty. The graffiti is not related; graffiti just goes where there is empty space. Someone scribbled 2013 on it and I had a quick look on Google images. Looks like it wasn't there in 2010 for example. I may have been the first person in all these years who noticed and read the text. :cool:

"Yep" to the rest of your questions. :)
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#27
Come on, you didn't understand that I was talking about Christian iconography along the historic ways to the apostle Saint James? It's an interesting topic actually, we wondered about this recently: What do people see along the way, how do they interpret the meaning of what they see, on the portals of Romanesque churches or inside, who are not at all or only vaguely familiar with that background - if they bother to look at it at all? Unfortunately, it's not a topic that is suitable for this forum.
Katharina I don't think there is a problem talking about or explaining the symbols and iconography - the rule on the forum is to prevent preaching and arguing about beliefs and religion. Davidson and Gitlitz's book The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago; the Complete Cultural Handbook contains much about the beliefs, the symbols and the iconography along the road. I can't think of any of it that would not be acceptable on this forum.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#28
How disappointing. I’ve just removed a post that did violate the rule. Please - just like on the Camino (think of the welcome said at Roncesvalles), we have every stripe on the forum - Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist- as well as Christians of all sorts - and the many, many of no religious faith at all.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#30
Don't worry, @yaying, it happens to the best of us :cool:. You happily post, convinced that you are not preaching and arguing about beliefs and religion but a moderator doesn't share your opinion. Or you happily post, convinced that you are not preaching and arguing about beliefs and religion but a co-poster uses your post to go off the rails. It's the way of the internet. ;)
 
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#31
That's interesting but I fail to see the connection. The mostly rather crude crosses on the Camino Frances appear at some random place (and not at a significant destination) because there happens to be a wire fence and some pieces of wood lying around in that random place and one can see what other people did with the stuff...
Hi there, @Kathar1na

Connections: an attempt at replying...:)

…for a reason unknown to you and I, many years ago somebody felt significantly moved to thread a makeshift cross through the wires of a fence in Spain. Was it a spontaneous act in a random place or something habitual? Who knows?

Others passing by the fence felt moved to do the same. As time apaced the accumulation of improvised crosses resulted in a curiosity, a Camino icon much photographed and published.

…a few centuries earlier, something similar appeared in Lithuania. On a small hill in a country several thousand kilometres north of the ground on which there is now a Spanish fence , crosses sprouted. Nobody knows exactly why or when it started although there are a few local stories and speculations. Soon many more crosses were added, some ‘crude’ and hand-fashioned others more refined…

Several centuries and a regime-or-two later the Soviets banned pilgrimage to Kryžių Kalnas (The Hill of Crosses). The site was condemned and razed three times but the crosses kept reappearing. Today in Lithuania Kryžių Kalnas is acknowledged as a place of national significance and by Unesco as a world heritage site for cross-crafting and its symbolism. It has been blessed by the Pope…

Re the fence: Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have walked beside this fence since the first crosses were threaded. What makes a destination significant? Who decides?

Cheers
Lovingkindness
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#32
…a few centuries earlier, something similar appeared in Lithuania.
And the similarity is what I can't see. I like to read Wikipedia articles in several languages and to follow the links. My understanding is that there were rebellions in 1830/31 and 1863/64 and local people started to put crosses on the hill for murdered family members of whom they didn't know whether they had been buried or where they were buried. There were around 150 crosses on the hill in 1900 und around 400 crosses in 1940. It's a Christian tradition to mark graves (here in absentiae) with a cross. The place later developed into a pilgrimage site and a place of political resistance and now it is both a religious and a touristic site with thousands of crosses put there for a variety of reasons.

As to the makeshift crosses on wire fences along the Camino Frances all we seem to know is …for a reason unknown to you and I, many years ago somebody felt significantly moved to thread a makeshift cross. And others copied it.

Edited to add because I just remembered it: This line of the thread started because of crosses fashioned with socks and undergarments ...
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#33
Moving on ... the article mentions the padlocks but not the newest fad: a pair of trainers/sneakers hanging over power lines. I think I've seem at least 3 pairs so far along the Camino Frances.

You need to look up to see them ;).

That at least requires some skill if not patience and perseverance ...
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#34
Moving on ... the article mentions the padlocks but not the newest fad: a pair of trainers/sneakers hanging over power lines. I think I've seem at least 3 pairs so far along the Camino Frances. You need to look up to see them ;). That at least requires some skill if not patience ...
I walked part of the Via de la Plata and Camino Sanabres in January this year. I crossed the provincial border into Galicia on a day with a lot of mist and snow. Just on the Galician side there were two trees with a dozen or more pairs of shoes or boots hanging from branches. Quite a surreal and slightly disturbing sight in the bare trees with the damp and mist. Until that point I had always assumed my mother was right when she told me that new shoes don't grow on trees ;)
 
#35
And the similarity is what I can't see. . :cool:...
Hi there, again :)

Some similarities
...Here we have two examples of an accumulation of crosses. Both are situated along El Camino de Santiago. One is on a fence in Spain the other on a hill in Lithuania. Today, pilgrims walk by both places and at both sites there is a tradition of placing crosses. Some of these crosses are ‘crude’ and hand fashioned. One site has been officially accepted as a place of national significance and blessed by the Pope, the other hasn’t.

The crosses on the hill were razed three times only to reappear. If the makeshift crosses on the wire fence in Spain were all removed how soon would it be before pilgrim crosses reappeared?

Cheers
 
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Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
#36
Hi Rainer,

I can not believe that people do not learn from these things!

The situation around the lighthouse has imperished the last couple of years.

In June 2007, ending my first camino, I really liked to sit there in the evening and to watch the sunset. In June 2010 it was already much more noisy, people drinking wine from plastic mugs and leaving their trash behind.

Having finished the Via de la Plata I was shocked, to see People who had merely walked the last 100 km to Santiago and then gone to Fisterra by bus, trying to burn their almost new hiking gear. Because of all the plastic it smelled horrible.

In April 2012 they had turned Cabo Finisterre into a market-place with souvenir-Shops and lots of Tourist buses driving the people up there. That was my last visit!

This June, when reaching Fisterra, I refrained from walking to the lighthouse and instead watched the sunset at Praia Mar do Fora (the wild beach). It was a very peaceful atmosphere. I only regret, that I could not convince my italian fellow pilgrims to join me to this place.

BC
Alexandra
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#38
Hi Rainer,

I can not believe that people do not learn from these things!

The situation around the lighthouse has imperished the last couple of years.

In June 2007, ending my first camino, I really liked to sit there in the evening and to watch the sunset. In June 2010 it was already much more noisy, people drinking wine from plastic mugs and leaving their trash behind.

Having finished the Via de la Plata I was shocked, to see People who had merely walked the last 100 km to Santiago and then gone to Fisterra by bus, trying to burn their almost new hiking gear. Because of all the plastic it smelled horrible.

In April 2012 they had turned Cabo Finisterre into a market-place with souvenir-Shops and lots of Tourist buses driving the people up there. That was my last visit!

This June, when reaching Fisterra, I refrained from walking to the lighthouse and instead watched the sunset at Praia Mar do Fora (the wild beach). It was a very peaceful atmosphere. I only regret, that I could not convince my italian fellow pilgrims to join me to this place.

BC
Alexandra
I remember that market at the lighthouse from 2016 but this year early June it was surprisingly quiet. Maybe because of windy and chilly afternoon. No real tourists and maybe 20-30 people on the rocks waiting for sunset. It was nice.
Maybe they didn't start with the market because the main season in Spain didn't start yet?
 
#39
I do think these masses of crosses look like a pretty empty gesture to me.
ps

Hello, @Kathar1na

When I discover masses of crosses along El Camino I do not find them an empty gesture. I am moved by them. I feel the same about stacked stones and pebbles placed in remembrance. All that I posted above was in response to your comment. I didn't think to quote it in my first post.

Cheers
 
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Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2, El Norte incompleto
#40
Moving on ... the article mentions the padlocks but not the newest fad: a pair of trainers/sneakers hanging over power lines. I think I've seem at least 3 pairs so far along the Camino Frances.

You need to look up to see them ;).

That at least requires some skill if not patience and perseverance ...
I've seen sneakers on power lines in US cities for decades.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#42
Rarely mentioned these days is a pilgrim ritual that has died out, it seems. A pretty old booklet, written in Latin, has this to say in an English translation:
The mountain is eight miles up, and eight miles down the other side, and seems to touch the sky. Climb it and you'll feel you could push the sky with your hand. The view from the summit takes in the Sea of Brittany, the Atlantic Ocean, and three territories: Castille, Aragon and France. On the summit is a place called Charlemagne's Cross, because here Charlemagne, setting out with his armies for Spain, made a track with axes, picks and other digging tools. He first raised a cross and then knelt facing Galicia and poured out prayers to God and St James.
And so it's traditional for pilgrims to kneel here facing St. James' homeland and to plant their own crosses. You might find a thousand crosses here, the first station of prayer on the Camino de Santiago.
I didn't see a single cross planted near that place. Never saw a photo that would confirm that it is a contemporary ritual. I think people don't do this anymore ...
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#43
Looks like two threads have been merged and the original news article that deals with a number of aspects, not just Fisterra, is now the second news article in the thread ...
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#44
Rarely mentioned these days is a pilgrim ritual that has died out, it seems. A pretty old booklet, written in Latin, has this to say in an English translation:
The mountain is eight miles up, and eight miles down the other side, and seems to touch the sky. Climb it and you'll feel you could push the sky with your hand. The view from the summit takes in the Sea of Brittany, the Atlantic Ocean, and three territories: Castille, Aragon and France. On the summit is a place called Charlemagne's Cross, because here Charlemagne, setting out with his armies for Spain, made a track with axes, picks and other digging tools. He first raised a cross and then knelt facing Galicia and poured out prayers to God and St James.
And so it's traditional for pilgrims to kneel here facing St. James' homeland and to plant their own crosses. You might find a thousand crosses here, the first station of prayer on the Camino de Santiago.
I didn't see a single cross planted near that place. Never saw a photo that would confirm that it is a contemporary ritual. I think people don't do this anymore ...
It's dangerous to post info like this. You might start new old ritual ;)
 
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