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What's the Difference between a Pilgrimage and a Long Walk?

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Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
I'm very interested to hear the views of others on this question.

I first heard it posed by John Brierley in this talk Or at least a very similar question :) I think he merely asks, what is a Pilgrimage. (No need to watch the video......It's quite long)

In fact he asks..."How does a long distance Trek, become a pilgrimage"? (at 19:45min)


It was a question I pondered a lot whilst walking. And I talk/write about it a lot on my blog. My views also changed the more I walked and changed again in the last 100 kms to Santiago.

I'll share my thoughts later in the thread, as I don't want to start off with my view.

So what do you think?

We all undertake our Camino for a vast array of reasons. We also all walk (or Cycle) our Camino in different ways.

Did you walk a Pilgrimage? Was it just a pleasant long walk? Or was it something else to you?

What's the difference? What makes it a Pilgrimage?

Note: This is not intended to be a "My Camino was more valid than yours thread" :)
 
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Kerstinh47

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 16 May - 29 June, 2014
Interesting. I don't know that I would've undertaken a 800 km long walk without the (potential) pilgrimage part :) I also know now, post-pilgrimage, that if it had been a long-pleasant-walk, I wouldn't have completed it. That is one angle. I had to learn the difference - even though that is what I was seeking- whilst walking. What is (I) found in the quiet, in the perseverance, the love and hate, the loud (annoying, and I include my own) humanity and the loving beautiful humanity, in the beauty and in the struggle is the pilgrimage......right? It's not just a leisurely walk - it's overflowing with what we seek.
 
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Mark Lee

Guest
If you look at definitions of a pilgrimage or a pilgrim, they share the common denominator of involving religion or spirituality, and the destination is usually a place of religious importance, Mecca, Santiago, Lourdes, Rome, Jerusalem, several locations for the Hindu and Buddhist faiths, etc.
I'll play the bad guy here and say in my opinion, if you go on any of those journeys and your reason to do so has nothing to do with religion or spirituality, then you are simply a walker. A tourist. I mean that's not a bad thing. No big deal if religion isn't your thing. Live and let live, right? As long as we all have a good time and get along it's all good. I met people who told me they were walking the Camino for non-religious or spiritual reasons. Trying to find themselves, Raising money for a cause. Looking for a spouse/partner. Meet other people and see the sights. Physical challenge. Writing a blog with followers ($$$$). Etc.
 

Kerstinh47

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 16 May - 29 June, 2014
If you look at definitions of a pilgrimage or a pilgrim, they share the common denominator of involving religion or spirituality, and the destination is usually a place of religious importance, Mecca, Santiago, Lourdes, Rome, Jerusalem, several locations for the Hindu and Buddhist faiths, etc.
I'll play the bad guy here and say in my opinion, if you go on any of those journeys and your reason to do so has nothing to do with religion or spirituality, then you are simply a walker. A tourist. I mean that's not a bad thing. No big deal if religion isn't your thing. Live and let live, right? As long as we all have a good time and get along it's all good. I met people who told me they were walking the Camino for non-religious or spiritual reasons. Trying to find themselves, Raising money for a cause. Looking for a spouse/partner. Meet other people and see the sights. Physical challenge. Writing a blog with followers ($$$$). Etc.
good point, Mark - and I didn't say what my reasons pre-camino were - I don't even know if I implied it - but for me it was a hard-to-describe in words walk with Spirit.
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
"Who is a real pilgrim?" is a question that tends to cause heated arguments on the Forum- but I will say my bit nevertheless! I would have to say that as a lapsed Catholic I tended to think of myself most of the time as someone on a long walk. There were times when the 'pilgrim' bit broke through despite myself though- eg when I descended into Conques after 13 or so days on the Le Puy walk. Having been blessed by the bishop before leaving Le Puy, having walked through torrential rain one day then fog the next on the Aubrac Plateau, having taken a rest day in Estaing to recover from blisters got from saturated feet, and crying buckets of tears there as I thought I would 'never make it'... somewhere on that stretch I had changed. And when I arrived in Conques to see many well dressed visitors, shopping in expensive shops, I knew that the walk from Le Puy had changed me somehow inside. I was vaguely something like a pilgrim.
But still most of the time I felt like a long distance walker, and felt like a fraud, and a tourist, just 'observing' any time I ended up within cooey of liturgical observances.

I have a good French friend though who I met on the Camino in Spain. When I returned to France to walk on the route from Cluny, he walked with me the first two days, which was a wonderful blessing. When I told him I didn't think of myself as a pilgrim, he told me very firmly that he thought that was nonsense- of course I was a pilgrim! And in due deference to my friend, I semi-agreed. Later on in the same trip though, when I walked for three weeks in Spain, I decided I "really was" a pilgrim- sort of. Maybe because of the way the movie "The Way" had popularised the Camino, it seemed there were many more on the route who were there for a 'holiday', and who perhaps had missed the chance to think more deeply about life while they walked. In comparison I felt like a 'pilgrim'. I could be quite wrong about this of course- maybe my whole Spanish walk was affected by the 16 days I had walked on the Cluny route, which was really a very solitary experience. I can still recall with affection the handful of fellow pilgrims/walkers I met on that Cluny route.

Just after Easter this year I had another longish walk, of a different kind. I walked near Assisi for ten days, on a walk that followed some of the routes that have been developed as routes of St Francis. This time though I had my bag carried, and all my accommodation booked. I was an overseas tourist, and nowhere did I get a credential stamped. I was actually quietly pleased that I didn't need to carry the label 'pilgrim', yet I did wonder if somewhere I might meet St Francis along the way. Certainly, I found out more about his life as I walked, but I didn't really 'meet' him. Then on the last day of my walk, coming into Gubbio, I 'met' St Francis, as I passed a small building that was a leper hospital from the twelfth century. There I came to understand what St Francis was about- caring for the poor and sick.

So there you have it. My Camino was a very meaningful experience, and I know it still is seeping through my being. But pilgrim or long distance walker? I am still not totally sure...
Margaret
 

MartinZ

Member
Camino(s) past & future
camino frances 2012 ... 2017
" If your boss says something to you that really pisses you of it's better to wait 10seconds before you reply.
Give yourself time to put it in perspective before you do something rash. "

I guess everybody knows that expression in one form or another?

If the camino is like those 10 seconds,
not 10 seconds but a whole month,
to stop and think things through,
and put not just some event but life as a whole in perspective,

that's when i call it a pilgrimage and not just a long walk, no matter what reason drove you on the road to begin with.
 
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Coleen Clark

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked August 2015, planning on walking August 2017
If you look at definitions of a pilgrimage or a pilgrim, they share the common denominator of involving religion or spirituality, and the destination is usually a place of religious importance, Mecca, Santiago, Lourdes, Rome, Jerusalem, several locations for the Hindu and Buddhist faiths, etc.
I'll play the bad guy here and say in my opinion, if you go on any of those journeys and your reason to do so has nothing to do with religion or spirituality, then you are simply a walker. A tourist. I mean that's not a bad thing. No big deal if religion isn't your thing. Live and let live, right? As long as we all have a good time and get along it's all good. I met people who told me they were walking the Camino for non-religious or spiritual reasons. Trying to find themselves, Raising money for a cause. Looking for a spouse/partner. Meet other people and see the sights. Physical challenge. Writing a blog with followers ($$$$). Etc.
Wait. Wait. "Looking for a spouse/partner"? Wow. I've seen the ads for those Minute Meetups, where you sit in front of each other, give your best shot, then move along to the next. You can be at your peak for a minute but a whole Camino? Come on. By the time you get to the Cathedral you will know so much about the potential mate that you'll be glad you're flying off to different countries.
My Camino has already started, as soon as I said I wanted to go on Camino. I think about it constantly, I train and carry the backpack, I use the folding toothbrush and micro towel and drink red wine. Perhaps some may start out as tourists or raising money or whatever, but you can't leave a pilgrimage unchanged. God is trying to tell you something, and he has a way of getting his point across you cannot avoid.
 
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Mark Lee

Guest
Wait. Wait. "Looking for a spouse/partner"? Wow. I've seen the ads for those Minute Meetups, where you sit in front of each other, give your best shot, then move along to the next. You can be at your peak for a minute but a whole Camino? Come on. By the time you get to the Cathedral you will know so much about the potential mate that you'll be glad you're flying off to different countries.
My Camino has already started, as soon as I said I wanted to go on Camino. I think about it constantly, I train and carry the backpack, I use the folding toothbrush and micro towel and drink red wine. Perhaps some may start out as tourists or raising money or whatever, but you can't leave a pilgrimage unchanged. God is trying to tell you something, and he has a way of getting his point across you cannot avoid.
Yeah, ain't making that up. Was told that by a young, European woman. She said several of her friends had walked it for the same reason. Who knows, maybe they figure they meet nicer guys on a pilgrimage? On my first Camino, at the peak of the season, it looked like the dating game with the younger pilgrim set. Ain't knocking it. If I was in my twenties again, I'd definitely walk it just to meet the young ladies.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
When one compares the "treks" along the various Caminos to something like making the pilgrimage to Mecca, there is a big difference. Going to Mecca is a lifelong goal of most Muslims from all over the world. They save money their entire life to make the journey. Personally, I have not witnessed that sort of religious devotion/fervor going to Santiago.
That doesn't make the Camino any less important, just different.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
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As an aside, I wonder how one can compare a long walk with a pilgrimage if one has never hiked a long walk. ;)

I think what makes the Camino so unique is the extensive infrastructure for the modern traveller. You are never in the wild or in danger or away from people. You have tap water, plenty of food, a bed and a roof over your head, public transport and taxis are close by, ATMs and wi-fi or telephone networks in reach, and it's not really as "far away" as a developping country. It allows many people to experience something that they you would not and could not experience otherwise.
Interesting points. I'll share my 'take' on it below.

I've done quite a few long walks, so was able to compare the two.
And without doubt, the Camino is unique with the level of support.

I remember on Day 2 walking down toward Roncesvalles. In awe at the experience. Totally alone. No one else in sight. And remarking on a video that this was really like Seclusion/Isolation for Beginners. As I knew that dozens of people would be coming down the trail over the next few hours, just in case I broke a leg or something!. But right now..........I was totally alone.
 
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Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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(May 2015)
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OK. As I mentioned I pondered this often whilst walking. And my views changed a bit.

And of course these are just my personal views. My Camino was no better, no more valid than any one else's! This was just how I saw mine being a Pilgrimage rather than a Walk.

But for me it 'felt' like a Pilgrimage from the start. I set out with the intention of walking a Pilgrimage, and I think that's just what I got. Sorry, I just realised this is going to go on a bit....

Sure I walked to 'take a break'. I have run a business for 20 years without ever really having a proper break. And the same with my 'job' for the 20 years before that.

It was 'time' to find myself, more meaning, greater purpose..... but also to seek a stronger spirituality or faith. It was lurking but not strong. Now it is very strong...... That's another very long story......

So I tried to think of what made this a Pilgrimage for me, rather than just a long walk. And I came up with these:

  1. There is a strong purpose or gaol, that is centred around religion or spirituality.
  2. There is probably a precise destination with a religious or spiritual significance. Having said that, Santiago the City was never really my goal. The journey was my goal. I called my Blog 'In Search of Santiago' for that very reason. I found 'him' long before I got to the actual place.
  3. It needs to take time. It's not about distance, but time. Time to be away from our normal World. At 3 weeks into my Camino, it was all 'happening' for me. Less time would not have worked.
  4. There needs to be a degree of suffering. I think this is important as it 'tests' our resolve and our commitment to the task, day by day. It might be physical, emotional or spiritual 'suffering'.
  5. I think we need to make sacrifices. Again to test our resolve and keep us focussed on the true purpose of our journey. OK, it could be the sacrifice of time or money. But to a degree that is easy for most people. You could walk for 2 weeks and only spend 25e a day. No, I think a deeper sacrifice. Like leaving loved ones behind. Leaving commitments and responsibilities behind. Then we don't 'waste' our journey because we have 'paid dearly' for it in some very personal way.
  6. I needed to travel slowly. To appreciate my surroundings and nature. To pause, to reflect, to listen. It was almost as if I needed to 'feel' and 'sense' my surroundings as I journeyed. I could not have done this any other way except walking slowly. Sorry Cyclists.
  7. I needed to be open in all aspects for whatever and whomever I met. In fact I visited a Church at least once a day, and if I couldn't find one open, I found a quiet place by the trail. I would not class myself as that 'religious' in the traditional sense. But each day I gave thanks for being able to spend another day on my journey (as I could barely walk the week before I started, due to training injuries) and I promised to walk with an open mind and an open heart so as to take on board any lessons I needed. And there were plenty! Every day......
  8. For me there also needed to be an element of history. I could have walked from Sydney to Melbourne. But the Camino was all about Pilgrimage. From the countless Churches and Crosses along the way, to the sense that we are walking the path trodden by millions for over a thousand years. Other Pilgrims, on a similar journey, seeking similar things.

Just my take on things. :oops:

I felt very fortunate to walk the Camino I did. And I learnt so many lessons along the way. One of those of course being "Everyone walks their own Camino".

I was just curious what others thought might make the journey more of a Pilgrimage'. Only because I spent so many hours thinking about it, and never really came up with the answer :(
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
"Everyone walks their own Camino." True.
I watched the Brierley video as long as I could. He had some good points but he is also selling something, n'est pas?
A pilgrimage is different experience, it is a personal and individual journey to a specific place for a religious reason.
I find the Camino to be much less a personal journey and much more a communal journey for sharing thoughts, friendships, pains, dinners and wine with others.
Some choose to be insular but most walk for the communal aspects of the trek, even when they walk alone and study their own personal thoughts all day long.
If that makes any sense?
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
I also noticed that you did not mention the "communal experience" on the road, the exchange with others from all over the world, which is often mentioned by Camino pilgrims - one aspect that definitely distinguishes the Camino from a long trek
This might distinguish the camino experience on the CF, but I would side with Robo inasmuch as he has not included it in his personal list of things that distinguishes a pilgrimage from a long walk. It seems to me intrinsically obvious that one could undertake one's pilgrimage as a hermit. Perhaps not on the CF at the height of summer, but other routes, other destinations and other seasons could be chosen to make this possible.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
I just looked up "pilgrimage" in Wikipedia in a few languages and I think the meaning of pilgrimage has changed with the current revival.
Definition 1: A journey to a religious site to fulfill a religious duty or a promise. The destination is central to the pilgrimage.
Definition 2 (from the English language article): A pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance.

The definitions are not perfect but then Wikipedia is not an academic or scholarly source.
I don't suppose there is a perfect definition. The Oxford English Dictionary (which claims to be "definitive") also covers both the spiritual traveller and the tourist/hiker: 1. "a journey (usually of a long distance) made to a sacred place" and 2. "to travel, to wander; to stay or dwell in a foreign land."

Possibly the earliest reference in English to pilgimage to Santiago comes in about 1300 (Legends of the Saints, Bodleian Libray mss), "A gret pilegrimage it is i-holde ouer-al..To sechen that ilke holie stude þare seint Iemes bones", while early references to pilgrimages as (predominantly secular) journeys come not long after, in Chaucer's Usk's Test, from 1385, "As they me betiden whan I pilgrymaged out of my kyth in wynter."

Most of us are a bit of both, sometimes different bits on the same day. I don't think that's a new phenomenon, either. If you look at the prologue to the Canterbury Tales, the pilgrims there have very mixed motives for their journey, and many of them have characteristics shared with modern people we have all met on the Way. The wife of Bath (who, of course, had also been "in Galice at Seint Jame") might well be looking for "housbonde" #6, the miller perhaps enjoys a bit too much vino tinto, the knight might be a bit pedantic, the reeve would possibly snore, the squire might be a bicigrino ("Wel koude he sitte on hors and faire ryde.") and fail to help with the washing up, and so on.

Chaucer, writing over 600 yeas ago, describes something much closer to BiarritzDon's "communal journey" than anything spiritual.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
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(May 2015)
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"Everyone walks their own Camino." True.
I watched the Brierley video as long as I could. He had some good points but he is also selling something, n'est pas?
A pilgrimage is different experience, it is a personal and individual journey to a specific place for a religious reason.
I find the Camino to be much less a personal journey and much more a communal journey for sharing thoughts, friendships, pains, dinners and wine with others.
Some choose to be insular but most walk for the communal aspects of the trek, even when they walk alone and study their own personal thoughts all day long.
If that makes any sense?
We all walk our own Caminos :)

I intentionally made mine less communal. One of the reasons I avoided Albergues. But of course I had some great interactions with other Pilgrims. Became part of a couple of Camino 'families', walked with other Pilgrims, had some amazing conversations, helped each other, dined together, laughed together, reflected together.... You can't really be totally alone on the Camino :)

I suppose the communal element wasn't a necessary part of a Pilgrimage for me.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Sept (2014)
Interesting discussion. In 2012 I went on a Pilgrimage through Scotland, went to Iona and across to Lindisfarne (Holy Island.) A definition that was used on this pilgrimage, and has been so helpful for me as I prepared for the Camino, was that "A tourist passes through the land, but a pilgrim allows the land to pass through them." As we walked through Spain we were very conscious of not just hurriedly passing through the countrysides or villages, but of being aware of the land and the people around us and allowing them to "pass" through and change us. What a privilege the Camino has been for us.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
I concur that this is an interesting discussion.

I found out about the Camino while having a discussion about hiking the Appalachian Trail. My concern was being away so long, about 5 months was my estimate to walk the entire trail. So after hearing about the Camino, I looked it up and decided to walk. I was somewhat driven by the fact I was Catholic and the route ended at the tomb of St. James. So I bought a ticket to London and headed off to the Camino.

The walk in my opinion is introspective and something everyone should be fortunate enough to do in their lifetime at least once. My first day March 23rd, I walked to Roncesvalles. It took me 8 hours and 40 minutes. I was completely exhausted and found joy in the fact I had made it. As the days passed, I discovered that I could think about my life in ways I could not in a normal environment. The Camino provides me with an environment, free of distractions, for self examination. The communal aspect in places like Granon I found refreshing. Sharing meals and conversations with perfect strangers. Some of whom became close friends. The first week I went to bed each night exhausted but those Albergue beds had a healing power that restored my energy for the next days journey. I think the Camino breaks you down and then opens you up to receive a personal message. When I analogize this to my friends, I refer to the movie "Groundhog day". You keep waking up each day and repeating things until you learn what you were meant to learn. While many come with a hope or desire to find something in particular, I would recommend you reflect on what Mick Jagger the great Philosopher has sung "You don't always get what you want but you find sometimes you get what you need".

I also recall my first arrival in Santiago. It was very anticlimactic and disappointing. Not sure what I expected but all the commercialization disappointed me. That, fortunately, was all resolved the next day at the Pilgrim mass as I reflected on the last month with hundreds of other Pilgrims. I spent the next two days sharing meals with my Pilgrim family and pondering what I had learned about myself along the way.

Was this a walk or a Pilgrimage? I do not think there is a definitive answer to this question nor do I think it matters. I just know it keeps calling me.

Ultreya,
Joe
 
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M

Mark Lee

Guest
There is a Facebook page I look at from time to time that is for Americans pilgrims on the Camino. Recently there was a thread on there debating whether or not the issuance of a compostela in Santiago should be eliminated. I really don't remember what the arguments against the compostela were, but they didn't hold much water, and it almost seemed like they wanted to remove the religious aspect out of it, which I don't get as one does not have to get a compostela. One doesn't even have to walk into the plaza in front of the cathedral. Santiago is a big enough town you could avoid all that altogether. You don't want one don't get one. Go get a celebratory coffee or a beer and just shut-up, but don't rain on the parade of those that want one.
It seemed (my opinion) to be a typical American debate. Bit of a narrow view. It's like their logic is they disagree with the Christian religion aspect of the Camino, yet they still want to walk it, but it should be changed so that they don't have to disagree with it.
Hey, the Camino's roots are solely Christian. It's called the Way of James, as in Saint James. Just the way it is. No matter how you slice it, you're walking the walk of Christian pilgrims whether that was your intent or not.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route.
Hey, the Camino's roots are solely Christian. It's called the Way of James, as in Saint James. Just the way it is. No matter how you slice it, you're walking the walk of Christian pilgrims whether that was your intent or not.
Yes. And in answer to the question, for me, the word "pilgrimage" suggests a spiritual or religious purpose of any brand.
 

Mycamino Maya

Member
Camino(s) past & future
April 1,2015
I'm very interested to hear the views of others on this question.

I first heard it posed by John Brierley in this talk Or at least a very similar question :) I think he merely asks, what is a Pilgrimage.


It was a question I pondered a lot whilst walking. And I talk/write about it a lot on my blog. My views also changed the more I walked and changed again in the last 100 kms to Santiago.

I'll share my thoughts later in the thread, as I don't want to start off with my view.

So what do you think?

We all undertake our Camino for a vast array of reasons. We also all walk (or Cycle) our Camino in different ways.

Did you walk a Pilgrimage? Was it just a pleasant long walk? Or was it something else to you?

What's the difference? What makes it a Pilgrimage?

Note: This is not intended to be a "My Camino was more valid than yours thread" :)
I never really thought of it as a pilgrimage. To me it was always my journey or being on a trek. It was an adventure for me leaving my lifestyle and comforts of home behind. I enjoyed the walking the most never knowing what the trails ahead will feel like or what the scenery will be. I enjoyed the other pilgrims and when I left home I was always looking forward to having a communal meal but never was able to be part of that. But that is the Camino. You never know what experiences you will challenge or not challenge.
 

waveprof

Enthusiast
Camino(s) past & future
May-June 2013, Camino Frances
My dissertation advisor had a made up word that was his highest compliment (and remains mine): when something was "provocating". This is a very provocating thread that leads to good discussion and ideas, even if I (personally) think the distinction is arbitrary. I really like that thread.

That said, I think the difference is relative and hard to answer and defeating to think about. And Brierly is about the last source I'd turn to for thoughts on that question (just my .02)

People walk the Camino for a zillion reasons, and it is really difficult to define or judge what makes someone a "true" pilgrim or on a "true" Camino. And most definitions of purity are counterproductive.

I will say, for me, a true Camino (which is not the same thing as pilgrimage, necessarily) means going at a slow enough pace that you lose yourself in the land and the culture. Also, separate from this entire discussion, yet tied to it, is that I find it very troubling when anyone travels anywhere without fully divesting themselves in the culture (in this case both Camino culture as well as Spanish culture as well as Basque and Galician culture). But that is another debate altogether.
 
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waveprof

Enthusiast
Camino(s) past & future
May-June 2013, Camino Frances
If you look at definitions of a pilgrimage or a pilgrim, they share the common denominator of involving religion or spirituality, and the destination is usually a place of religious importance, Mecca, Santiago, Lourdes, Rome, Jerusalem, several locations for the Hindu and Buddhist faiths, etc.
I'll play the bad guy here and say in my opinion, if you go on any of those journeys and your reason to do so has nothing to do with religion or spirituality, then you are simply a walker. A tourist. I mean that's not a bad thing. No big deal if religion isn't your thing. Live and let live, right? As long as we all have a good time and get along it's all good. I met people who told me they were walking the Camino for non-religious or spiritual reasons. Trying to find themselves, Raising money for a cause. Looking for a spouse/partner. Meet other people and see the sights. Physical challenge. Writing a blog with followers ($$$$). Etc.
I don't disagree with this, but I'd also say there can be a wide divide between religious reasons and spiritual reasons. I met some devout athiests and agnostics who had a very spiritual experience on Camino.
 

jmcarp

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
"Pilgrim" and "pilgrimage" are just words. Language is a fluid thing, and as such, the meanings of words get watered down in everyday usage and even morph over time into totally new meanings which often differ from person to person depending on, in this case, their religious beliefs and heritage. You could just as easily say "seeker" and "quest" if you are a non-religious person. For me, it's not only the question of the physical journey, but also the journey in one's mind and ultimately the journey in one's heart that determines the difference between a long walk or trek and a pilgrimage. When we can answer that question with honesty and humility, then we know whether we are trekkers, seekers, or pilgrims.
 

amorfati1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014_Caminho Portuguese (Lisboa to Santiago_4 weeks in May)
When one compares the "treks" along the various Caminos to something like making the pilgrimage to Mecca, there is a big difference. Going to Mecca is a lifelong goal of most Muslims from all over the world. They save money their entire life to make the journey. Personally, I have not witnessed that sort of religious devotion/fervor going to Santiago.
That doesn't make the Camino any less important, just different.
not to mention the difference that as a non-muslim one is not even allowed the pilgrimage to mecca - while pilgrimages to kailash, santiago, etc can be undertaken by anyone who feels called to do so.
 

LakeMcD

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015
Portuguese 2016
GR10/Norte/Primitivo 2017
Chemin LePuy: 2018
Haven't read any post yet other than OP's, but wanted to get my developing thoughts down.

Yes, been bouncing around my mind as a walk as well. Initial thought was that the mentality of both is needed. One to mentally deal with the physicality of the endeavor and the other for whatever personal reasons you prescribed to your journey.

But now I'm pondering a different line of thought, in that, personal reasons (spiritual, religious, etc...), can be as sustaining/motivating as the game face or state of mine. Just speaking for myself.
 

Ekelund

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Camino Frances 2005
The Portugese Camino 2014
The Camino Ingles Easter 2015
The Camino Ingles April 2016
The Camino del Norte/The Primitivo 2016
What a very interesting topic, I'm learning so much. Thank you to Robo for starting it and to all of you, who contributes to the post!
It is a question, that has been on my mind since my first Camino and I'm still wondering if I'm a long distance walker or a pilgrim.
The best to you
 

amorfati1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014_Caminho Portuguese (Lisboa to Santiago_4 weeks in May)
I'm very interested to hear the views of others on this question.

I first heard it posed by John Brierley in this talk Or at least a very similar question :) I think he merely asks, what is a Pilgrimage.


It was a question I pondered a lot whilst walking. And I talk/write about it a lot on my blog. My views also changed the more I walked and changed again in the last 100 kms to Santiago.

I'll share my thoughts later in the thread, as I don't want to start off with my view.

So what do you think?

We all undertake our Camino for a vast array of reasons. We also all walk (or Cycle) our Camino in different ways.

Did you walk a Pilgrimage? Was it just a pleasant long walk? Or was it something else to you?

What's the difference? What makes it a Pilgrimage?

Note: This is not intended to be a "My Camino was more valid than yours thread" :)
Thank you for sharing this new-to-me video. will complete viewing hopefully soon.
Pilgrim/Pilgrimage can be one of those 'rubber words' - they stretch depending on who is using the word. similar to a word as marriage, i suppose. Some get married to express&share love; some want a provider or mother of their kids; others like to secure a 'steady' partner between the sheets; others truly aim for the sense of 'security', others might abhor the sense of going alone through and want company, etc etc etc. who is to say which one of the motivations/reason is the more valid one? it used to be that marriage contracts were between families / tribes /clans and had precious little to do w/ the individual.

with pilgrimage/long walk scenario it's somewhat similar. asking five different people one might get 10 different answers :)

to me, it has much to do with the intention behind it. otherwise it might be a long walk. the action appears the same, the same gear, overnight stops, same sort of fatigue, blisters or whatnot.

and now please indulge me for another metaphor. imagine this scene:
a knife - the hands of a person plunging that blade into the belly of another person who is lying down, cutting open skin, lots of blood emerging ...

now - this is just a neutral scene, so to speak. but place 'intention' into it and it becomes a quite different story.
the intent to heal/save .... and the intent to murder.
it involves the same scene and ingredients of blood, belly and knife and even involves the same action/motion. yet the intent behind it makes this very same action a world apart.

a pilgrimage to me is an endeavour to connect with something infinite, something 'bigger' than you or the "you" you knew. and when i say 'connecting with something bigger than you' i don't mean the 6'4" chap walking ahead of you.
even religion reasons, so to speak, are reason to tie back together, to bind back together (religare - tying together)
and that's what many are called to seek - at least in my observation. to reconnect with something... even if this something can't be verbalized ...
( and as far as long hikes go, there are others, more comfortable ones. probably also more scenic ones. who knows ?!....)

in short - the difference of a pilgrimage or a long walk lies in the intention behind that undertaking.
it's very personal and yet reaches beyond the personal. sometimes not even verbalized to oneself either of why one is drawn to it.
it could be like the difference between a vocation or just a job/career.
the outer action again might appear just the same - but ones inner stance towards it will make all the difference. you will notice this for e.g. when dealing with someone in a medical profession to whom it is a vocation, a calling ... vs one to whom it's just a job, a career.
lightyears apart in experience! you might not be able to 'see' the difference, but you'll 'feel' it.

very best wishes - buen camino ... throughout life! in my view ... we are all pilgrims on the pilgrimage of life!
 

nalod

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2011, Finnesterre 2011,Le Puy to SJPDP 2011& 2012,Via de la Plata,Sambrasa 2012, Mozarabe 2013, Portugees 2013.PartNorde 2011, VDPL 2014,St-Guilhem 2014.Espalion-Roncesvalles 2014.Levante2015
A state of mind.
 

vgen5122

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (August 19-sept 30,2013) (8/2017)
There is a Facebook page I look at from time to time that is for Americans pilgrims on the Camino. Recently there was a thread on there debating whether or not the issuance of a compostela in Santiago should be eliminated. I really don't remember what the arguments against the compostela were, but they didn't hold much water, and it almost seemed like they wanted to remove the religious aspect out of it, which I don't get as one does not have to get a compostela. One doesn't even have to walk into the plaza in front of the cathedral. Santiago is a big enough town you could avoid all that altogether. You don't want one don't get one. Go get a celebratory coffee or a beer and just shut-up, but don't rain on the parade of those that want one.
It seemed (my opinion) to be a typical American debate. Bit of a narrow view. It's like their logic is they disagree with the Christian religion aspect of the Camino, yet they still want to walk it, but it should be changed so that they don't have to disagree with it.
Hey, the Camino's roots are solely Christian. It's called the Way of James, as in Saint James. Just the way it is. No matter how you slice it, you're walking the walk of Christian pilgrims whether that was your intent or not.
As an American I agree with Mark Lee. If you don't want a Compostela because of the religious tones- don't pick up your Compostela. Religious history is all entwined with Saint James and on the Camino de Santiago. The Caminos in Spain all lead to the Catheral in Santiago not a government building. If that is considered judgemental it is not ment to be. Some pilgrims take this journey for the spirituality, physical excerise, hiking, biking, horseback riding, site seeing, history, adventure, and some people take this journey for religious reasons along with everything else as mentioned. Most pilgrims (not all) feel a calling to take this journey and we go. Beun Camino.
 

vgen5122

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (August 19-sept 30,2013) (8/2017)
I concur that this is an interesting discussion.

I found out about the Camino while having a discussion about hiking the Appalachian Trail. My concern was being away so long, about 5 months was my estimate to walk the entire trail. So after hearing about the Camino, I looked it up and decided to walk. I was somewhat driven by the fact I was Catholic and the route ended at the tomb of St. James. So I bought a ticket to London and headed off to the Camino.

The walk in my opinion is introspective and something everyone should be fortunate enough to do in their lifetime at least once. My first day March 23rd, I walked to Roncesvalles. It took me 8 hours and 40 minutes. I was completely exhausted and found joy in the fact I had made it. As the days passed, I discovered that I could think about my life in ways I could not in a normal environment. The Camino provides me with an environment, free of distractions, for self examination. The communal aspect in places like Granon I found refreshing. Sharing meals and conversations with perfect strangers. Some of whom became close friends. The first week I went to bed each night exhausted but those Albergue beds had a healing power that restored my energy for the next days journey. I think the Camino breaks you down and then opens you up to receive a personal message. When I analogize this to my friends, I refer to the movie "Groundhog day". You keep waking up each day and repeating things until you learn what you were meant to learn. While many come with a hope or desire to find something in particular, I would recommend you reflect on what Mick Jagger the great Philosopher has sung "You don't always get what you want but you find sometimes you get what you need".

I also recall my first arrival in Santiago. It was very anticlimactic and disappointing. Not sure what I expected but all the commercialization disappointed me. That, fortunately, was all resolved the next day at the Pilgrim mass as I reflected on the last month with hundreds of other Pilgrims. I spent the next two days sharing meals with my Pilgrim family and about what I had learned about myself along the way.

Was this a walk or a Pilgrimage? I do not think there is a definitive answer to this question nor do I think it matters. I just know it keeps calling me.

Ultreya,
Joe
I completely agree. Walking into Santiago I felt that my goal to complete the Camino de Santiago. Then suddenly it was completed. There was a sense of loss.There would be no routes to plan , no more roads to walk and no albergues to call. There would be no new people to meet, and No other beds to sleep in but my own because I was going home. As I sat in the Catheral in Santiago something came over me and I knew that I had to come back-one day God willing. Buen Camino.
 
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Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
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(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
What some great thoughts you are sharing. Many thanks. Intent stood out for me as another important element.

Oh....and apologies for adding the Brierley video. It turned out to be a distraction. I merely added it for the early section where he poses the question :oops:
 

Jacobus

Pilgrim since 2008
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2008 09 14
Del Norte 2011. Portuguese 2015, 2017Ingles 2015 Fisterre 2015.
I'm very interested to hear the views of others on this question.

I first heard it posed by John Brierley in this talk Or at least a very similar question :) I think he merely asks, what is a Pilgrimage.


It was a question I pondered a lot whilst walking. And I talk/write about it a lot on my blog. My views also changed the more I walked and changed again in the last 100 kms to Santiago.

I'll share my thoughts later in the thread, as I don't want to start off with my view.

So what do you think?

We all undertake our Camino for a vast array of reasons. We also all walk (or Cycle) our Camino in different ways.

Did you walk a Pilgrimage? Was it just a pleasant long walk? Or was it something else to you?

What's the difference? What makes it a Pilgrimage?

Note: This is not intended to be a "My Camino was more valid than yours thread" :)
In my world I include three things in a "pilgrimage".

1. There is the "physical"aspect of travelling. I include planning and packing. Travel to the starting point. Travel to the end point and the return home.

2. There is the "cerebral" aspect. What goes on in your mind while 1. Is being accomplished. For me this always goes on long after all of 1 is completed.

3. There is the "relational" aspect. How does the inter action with the environment and other people affect both # 1 and # 2.

Those three things make my Caminos a pilgrimage. A long walk is simply a small part of #1.

...at least that is what it means to me.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
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(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
Not sure if it gets quicker with experience...... Maybe.

For me it took about 10 days to get into the 'zone'. From then to the 3 week point was where all the 'magic' happened. But hey, we'll all different.

I can only imagine that in my case it was down to:

It was my first Camino. So everything was new and exciting, which in itself was a distraction for the first few days.
Physically I had a few challenges, so it took me a week to get into my 'Rhythm'.
Emotionally, being away from home, responsibilities etc, took a while to come to terms with and feel comfortable with.
And I think all of this meant, it took me a while to learn how to 'listen' to what was going on around me. Conversations with other Pilgrims, Nature, being comfortable with the immense sense of history and tradition, engaging with my Inner journey, getting closer to my faith ......

It all took time to settle and 'feel' right. But when it did. Wow.... As well as my daily moments to give thanks, there were occasions when I was really down, and literally 'asked for guidance'. Should I go home? Should I stay? What happened as a result was amazing...... on more than one occasion...... That type of 'connection' both 'inner and outer' I don't think I could have reached with a 2 week Pilgrimage.

I actually felt quite sorry for Pilgrims that I met along the way who were only walking for a week or two. They were having a great time, but in my mind at least, they weren't going to be there long enough to have a really profound experience.
 
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Coleen Clark

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked August 2015, planning on walking August 2017
In my world I include three things in a "pilgrimage".

1. There is the "physical"aspect of travelling. I include planning and packing. Travel to the starting point. Travel to the end point and the return home.

2. There is the "cerebral" aspect. What goes on in your mind while 1. Is being accomplished. For me this always goes on long after all of 1 is completed.

3. There is the "relational" aspect. How does the inter action with the environment and other people affect both # 1 and # 2.

Those three things make my Caminos a pilgrimage. A long walk is simply a small part of #1.

...at least that is what it means to me.
Of the three I am more worried about the physical aspect, but my body will tell me when it needs to stop.
The Cerebral began for me when I decided to embark on this adventure. I keep going in and out of surety, polar opposites almost, I'm excited and looking forward and then I'm scared and want to call the whole thing off. When I am finally walking I look forward to the conflicting emotions and thoughts I will experience.
As for the Relational aspect, don't get me started! I drove all last week to visit family members and put out small fires. Everyone has gone bonkers and is acting out since my little sister passed. I drove, I listened, I bought lunches and walked and held hands and cheerleaded until I was hoarse. Everyone took a little piece of flesh while they could before I left. I called it my "Poor Baby Tour", because they all had such pitiful stories explaining why they were such a mess. Now they know they are on their own, this time is mine, get your stuff together because I can't bail anyone out. Elvis has left the building.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
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(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
I noticed that something similar is said in the video, i.e. it takes about two weeks, in his experience, to empty the mind of "chatter" or "clutter" and, later, that he had the best experience when he walked for about 40 days.

I am sort of curious about this but not curious enough to try it out. At one time, I wanted to do the last part in one go (i.e. 1 month) because it is the thing to do but now I have already outgrown this stage ;) and I have no wish to do more than two weeks in one go (on the Frances). I wonder whether the ability to switch off comes with experience; it is probably also a question of individual characteristics and of one's current life situation. I find that it does not take me long these days to switch off, a day or two. What am I missing?
Perhaps the 'switching off' is just the first part of our transition from our normal World to that of the Camino. It might even be the easiest part. I suspect there is a second harder stage then; let's call it 'switching in' to your journey.... For me, I had to almost will this to happen. Hence my daily sessions to reflect and to open up or 'tune in' to whatever came along.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
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VdlP (2020)
Of the three I am more worried about the physical aspect, but my body will tell me when it needs to stop.
The Cerebral began for me when I decided to embark on this adventure. I keep going in and out of surety, polar opposites almost, I'm excited and looking forward and then I'm scared and want to call the whole thing off. When I am finally walking I look forward to the conflicting emotions and thoughts I will experience.
As for the Relational aspect, don't get me started! I drove all last week to visit family members and put out small fires. Everyone has gone bonkers and is acting out since my little sister passed. I drove, I listened, I bought lunches and walked and held hands and cheerleaded until I was hoarse. Everyone took a little piece of flesh while they could before I left. I called it my "Poor Baby Tour", because they all had such pitiful stories explaining why they were such a mess. Now they know they are on their own, this time is mine, get your stuff together because I can't bail anyone out. Elvis has left the building.
You so need this Camino Colleen. I can't wait to hear what an amazing experience it was :)
 

marbuck

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Condom to Pamplona April 2016.
Le Puy to Condom France - April-May 2015.
Roncesvalles to Santiago April - May 2014
Finisterre to Muxia May 2014
The answer is easy. A pilgrimage is something you do on the Camino Frances. A long walk is something you do on the le Puy route.

On the Frances we were treated as pilgrims, on the le Puy we were treated as long distance walkers and that is how we felt.
 

Urban Trekker

Happy Trails
Camino(s) past & future
English Camino (2013)
Portuguese Camino (2014)
French Camino (2016)
Way of Saint Francis April 2017
This thread has made me stop and think, what is a pilgrimage. So I looked up the word pilgrimage. According to Wikipedia "A pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a persons beliefs and faith, although sometimes it can be a metaphorical journey into someone's own beliefs." So a pilgrimage can be a physical act, a act of faith, or it can be a state of mind.

So why do I walk the Camino. On my last Camino I stopped at a very small church northern Portugal just to look around when a group of pilgrims from the low country stopped for a mass and blessing, something arranged in advance, as I stepped out a lady asked me if I was Catholic and I informed her that "no I was agnostic". She smiled at me and said "that's OK, there is still time".

I walk the Camino because the movie "The Way" inspired me, because my wife told me I was to old, because its hard but enjoyable, because you get to meet people from all over the world, because once you get to Europe its cheap, because the best way to see the world is at 20 kilometers a day, because every day is its own reward, because seeing the Santiago church spires from a distance leaves you with a tremendous sense of accomplishment, and because "its OK, there is still time".
Buen Camino

Happy Trails
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
As for the Relational aspect, don't get me started!
Why is it that family needs you more than ever when you are about to embark on a lengthy solitary pilgrimage? As soon as I decided on my camino, a niece and two nephews, none in or near my home town, decided to get married this summer. As a poor senior, this totally destroyed my budget. Then a brother returned from the Philippines after a business failure, needing much emotional support and considerable financial help to get his affairs in order. Another is returning from the missions and invited me to his cottage, which it turns out will cost me a lot of money. I do not regret attending these weddings and helping my brothers. That is what families do. But the timing is lousy and the financial expectations difficult. I have had to acknowledge that this is all part of my camino. I am going to walk in faith that my needs will be met, both on the camino and when I return home. I suspect that some type of pressure: family, business, financial, health, is common to those who go on pilgrimage. The question is asked: "Do you really mean it?" My honest response is, "Well, I'm still going."
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
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VdlP (2020)
Why is it that family needs you more than ever when you are about to embark on a lengthy solitary pilgrimage? As soon as I decided on my camino, a niece and two nephews, none in or near my home town, decided to get married this summer. As a poor senior, this totally destroyed my budget. Then a brother returned from the Philippines after a business failure, needing much emotional support and considerable financial help to get his affairs in order. Another is returning from the missions and invited me to his cottage, which it turns out will cost me a lot of money. I do not regret attending these weddings and helping my brothers. That is what families do. But the timing is lousy and the financial expectations difficult. I have had to acknowledge that this is all part of my camino. I am going to walk in faith that my needs will be met, both on the camino and when I return home. I suspect that some type of pressure: family, business, financial, health, is common to those who go on pilgrimage. The question is asked: "Do you really mean it?" My honest response is, "Well, I'm still going."
Your Camino has started :)

On week 2 of my Camino, my Father in Law decided to undergo open heart surgery.............. Well his Doctor decided. That took place in week 4.

That was some real soul searching for a few days. I even asked 'The man upstairs' what to do. And he answered me right away. Then my wife called me 2 minutes later! To say go on, do it for us. :)
 

William Garza

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
There is a Facebook page I look at from time to time that is for Americans pilgrims on the Camino. Recently there was a thread on there debating whether or not the issuance of a compostela in Santiago should be eliminated. I really don't remember what the arguments against the compostela were, but they didn't hold much water, and it almost seemed like they wanted to remove the religious aspect out of it, which I don't get as one does not have to get a compostela. One doesn't even have to walk into the plaza in front of the cathedral. Santiago is a big enough town you could avoid all that altogether. You don't want one don't get one. Go get a celebratory coffee or a beer and just shut-up, but don't rain on the parade of those that want one.
It seemed (my opinion) to be a typical American debate. Bit of a narrow view. It's like their logic is they disagree with the Christian religion aspect of the Camino, yet they still want to walk it, but it should be changed so that they don't have to disagree with it.
Hey, the Camino's roots are solely Christian. It's called the Way of James, as in Saint James. Just the way it is. No matter how you slice it, you're walking the walk of Christian pilgrims whether that was your intent or not.
There is a current wave of secularism sweeping the country in the guise of egalitarianism..a thinly veiled guise for political agenda..which i will vehemently avoid in this forum.
I wont apologise for some Americans points of view.jusst know,we are not all the same.
 

Coleen Clark

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked August 2015, planning on walking August 2017
And so, taking all the above into perspective, a long walk is hiking, and a pilgrimage is getting away to find yourself, your spirit, your inner core even though (and maybe because) others need you too much. Perhaps others will find their inner strength when they realize we are not there to support them. Perhaps we, as caretakers, will learn to let go of the rush we get when we are called to heal and save.
 

William Garza

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
There has been a long standing tradition here in South Texas
The Promesa
The Promise.

If someone fell suddenly ill,or was in so much Spiritual distress,
or in an act of Faith,someone on crutches,wheelchair or cane in an act of absolute Faith would journey to pray at the shrine.
Usually,one of the family members would pray to the God,The Virgin Mary,or a familial Saint
And promise,to go to the Shrine,now the Basilica in San Juan,Texas
When the crisis passed...
Immediately....
Within the 24 hours,moneys were gathered by family members and by hook or by crook,they went down to give thanks and give witness to the problem,whether solved or not.
I have seen people walking along side the long hot highway with signs saying the purpose of the journey.

It was considered to be a special priviledge to pick up a pilgrim and help him finish his journey.

I say pilgrim with the perspicacity of time,and this forum.
We had made our shares over the years.

Mine when I get to go,
Time will decide
 
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MTtoCamino

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis SJPdP to Finnestere April(2014)
This is the first time I looked at this topic as I knew long before I left it was a pilgramage. But the topic & discussion definitely proves each person will find answers for themselves.
I found my faith again, but I also discovered wisdom. It simply does not matter what others want us to feel, or believe as we are separate souls on our individual journeys. Yet we are tied as souls to this journey.
Bless you all, as you have good hearts.
Keith
 

ricitosdeplata

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
09/2015: Via de la Plata
Brierly mentions a medieval document he saw in Roncesvalles that invites not only Christians, but Jews and a long list of religions and vagabonds to come on the pilgrimage. I'd be interested to find out more about the source of this document. Were Christians more tolerant at least for a time in Spain than they were later or than some are today?
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Brierly mentions a medieval document he saw in Roncesvalles that invites not only Christians, but Jews and a long list of religions and vagabonds to come on the pilgrimage. I'd be interested to find out more about the source of this document. Were Christians more tolerant at least for a time in Spain than they were later or than some are today?
To begin your research and quest for this manuscript look at the recently redesigned website of Roncesvalles monastery, its thousand year history and vast patrimony.
 

MTtoCamino

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis SJPdP to Finnestere April(2014)
Brierly mentions a medieval document he saw in Roncesvalles that invites not only Christians, but Jews and a long list of religions and vagabonds to come on the pilgrimage. I'd be interested to find out more about the source of this document. Were Christians more tolerant at least for a time in Spain than they were later or than some are today?
Great question, but the answer lies in each of us to accept one another. We in our own way depend on our organized faith to help give us answers, but history proves that leaders of organized faith can take their flock in bad directions. By simply finding our own faith we can make better decisions, rather than just following. The more we seem to expose our hearts to other cultures the more tolerance we can develope. Yet in the same manner when war & evil take control the opposite effect happens. I truly believe if you have a soft heart better decisions are made.

It begins with each of us, this is a very nice way to find it.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
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(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
I can understand that feeling. You may feel that you experience something that they will not experience but should as they would benefit from it and love it.

It's just that I have walked 84 days in total and 1500 km so far (although not continuously), sometimes totally on my own, sometimes with one other person, sometimes with a set group of people, in addition to a lot more mindful walking in previous years, and I feel that I have walked off quite a few things; I have also realised now, with hindsight, that at least my physical and logistical challenge, and yes, even my quest, consisted in reaching the Pyrenees (just reaching them, not even crossing them, I knew that crossing the Bentarte/Lepoeder passes would be nice in good weather but similar to other crossings I have done) so I am also a bit at a sort of spiritual crossroads now. ;)

We pilgrim walkers are starting to become an object of anthropology studies. Going on the Camino and hiking the Appalachian trail are sometimes not only described as spiritual quests but also as rites of passage. Any thoughts on that?
Hmm. Tough one. I'll need to think about that.

I had an interesting discussion with Nils from Denmark on my Camino. Captured on video of course :oops:

We talked about walking a Camino as a young person v as an older person. We thought you get different things from it depending on age.

It's about halfway down this page. http://robscamino.com/7th-of-may-the-camino-of-life/ 4th video down.
 

Felice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
Last evening, when I had just finished reading this thread, my husband asked me what I was thinking about. I replied, whether the camino was a pilgrimage or a long walk. He did not hesitate in replying 'why does it have to be either/or? Can't it be both?'

I smiled. It was so typical of my husband. Incisive, quick and always to the point. His reason for walking the camino last year, on retirement, was to give thinks for a wonderful working life, which had given him and the family so much, in so many ways. And also because he loves walking, and the camino was such a good first long walk.

He walked the Pennine Way this month, in 13 days. That was something he had wanted to do since he was a teenager. He really enjoyed it, but felt it lacked the purpose that the camino has. I asked him if he would do it again - answer was no. In contrast, he hopes to walk the camino again next year - again to give thanks - when he has completed a project that has been a long time in planning.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
Last evening, when I had just finished reading this thread, my husband asked me what I was thinking about. I replied, whether the camino was a pilgrimage or a long walk. He did not hesitate in replying 'why does it have to be either/or? Can't it be both?'
Thank you so very much for sharing that. I had been trying to put my finger on what was making me uncomfortable about this thread, and it is indeed the false dichotomy established at the outset.
 

TerryB

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/Primitivo (April/May) 2009: Norte/Primitivo (parts) (April/May) 2010: Inglés (May) 2011: Primitivo (April/May) 2012: Norte / Camino de La Reina (April/May) 2013: Camino del Mar / Inglés (May/June) 2015
This might distinguish the camino experience on the CF, but I would side with Robo inasmuch as he has not included it in his personal list of things that distinguishes a pilgrimage from a long walk. It seems to me intrinsically obvious that one could undertake one's pilgrimage as a hermit. Perhaps not on the CF at the height of summer, but other routes, other destinations and other seasons could be chosen to make this possible.
On my first Camino I did not set out to walk "as a hermit" but I deliberately chose the Norte / Primitivo as a Camino less travelled. (This was back in 2009 - 6 years has made a lot of difference in numbers!). I was walking as a "pilgrim" from the start (complete with a sweatshirt stating "From Exeter Cathedral to Santiago de Compostela. I did not plan to use any transport except the ferry across to Spain! I was walking solo most of the time in April / May, with few other pilgrims in the albergues, let alone on the trail.
It was my interaction with people I met that made that first Camino so special. It emphasised for me, the need for openness to others and a need for a willingness to accept help. At that point, having just retired from being in a giving / helping role for 20+ years it was so right for me to learn how to be on the receiving end. - A steep learning curve for a hard headed Yorkshireman :rolleyes:.
I was able to help some other pilgrims who had little or no Spanish but I certainly received more that I gave.
Maybe the best description of that first Camino for me for me is "a paradigm of life".
All my Caminos have been "Pilgrimages to a Holy Place" and they have all been different. :):)

Blessings on your Camino whatever the reason for doing it!
Tio Tel
 

Griffin57

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
October 2013 StJPdP to Burgos
September 2014 Burgos to SdC
Setember 2015 StJPdP to Burgos
Last evening, when I had just finished reading this thread, my husband asked me what I was thinking about. I replied, whether the camino was a pilgrimage or a long walk. He did not hesitate in replying 'why does it have to be either/or? Can't it be both?'

I smiled. It was so typical of my husband. Incisive, quick and always to the point. His reason for walking the camino last year, on retirement, was to give thinks for a wonderful working life, which had given him and the family so much, in so many ways. And also because he loves walking, and the camino was such a good first long walk.

He walked the Pennine Way this month, in 13 days. That was something he had wanted to do since he was a teenager. He really enjoyed it, but felt it lacked the purpose that the camino has. I asked him if he would do it again - answer was no. In contrast, he hopes to walk the camino again next year - again to give thanks - when he has completed a project that has been a long time in planning.
I'd like to thank you too Felice, I was thinking along the same lines. Why do I go to the trouble of getting myself to Spain? I live only an hour away from the Lake District, The Pennine Way is definitely on my bucket list, also the Coast-to-Coast and the West Highland Way. But the trouble is they don't 'Call' me like the camino does.

There's a post further up the thread that says 2 weeks isn't enough, but for me that's not true. Any time spent on the camino is a pilgrimage. I will 'only' get to Burgos this year but there is a Cathedral there and I will give thanks for my life and my journey. That's my purpose. It makes it so much different than a long walk.
Buen camino
Sarah
 

LauraK

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Leon-Santiago (2004) Roncesvalles-Leon (2006) Camino Frances (2012) Kumano Kodo-Japan (2014) Camino Sanabres/Salamanca-Santiago (March 2015) Camino Del Salvador and Camino Primativo (Oct 2015)
And so, taking all the above into perspective, a long walk is hiking, and a pilgrimage is getting away to find yourself, your spirit, your inner core even though (and maybe because) others need you too much. Perhaps others will find their inner strength when they realize we are not there to support them. Perhaps we, as caretakers, will learn to let go of the rush we get when we are called to heal and save.
Sounds like you really have started your camino Coleen...your last line describing yourself as a caretaker (with associated reinforcement) combined with your tag line of "Nanas got your back" is revealing what your pilgrimage may be about...getting back to "you". For me, that was the most amazing part of my camino...seeing who was there under all the roles, labels and emotional hooks of loved ones. More importantly, to see this "real" person/soul reflected in all the people I met...and finding that I really liked her. Shedding the resentment and anger to finally see all those people back home as just people trying to do their best...and forgiving. I learned to "let go". Just yesterday as my husband irritated the hell out of me because he had to be "right" about something, I heard myself saying "let it go" and saw him for the wonderful person he is and understood this was his inner script working! Not mine. That peace and guidance from my camino has been a gift.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
Thank you so very much for sharing that. I had been trying to put my finger on what was making me uncomfortable about this thread, and it is indeed the false dichotomy established at the outset.
Sorry............not intentional :oops:
 

LauraK

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Leon-Santiago (2004) Roncesvalles-Leon (2006) Camino Frances (2012) Kumano Kodo-Japan (2014) Camino Sanabres/Salamanca-Santiago (March 2015) Camino Del Salvador and Camino Primativo (Oct 2015)
Thank you so very much for sharing that. I had been trying to put my finger on what was making me uncomfortable about this thread, and it is indeed the false dichotomy established at the outset.
Dougfitz: I understand it is your opinion that the OP started a thread that provided a "false dichotomy", but I think he provided a thought-provoking question that truly gets to the heart of the camino for many of us. We all could walk elsewhere, but we come to the camino (sometimes over and over again) which is described as a pilgrimage trail. What does that mean? I think that is part of the question. I for one, am enjoying the discussion and find it quite enlightening. In purely "objective" black & white wording, you are correct that it is both a long walk and a pilgrimage, but I do not think that is the intent of the OP...not a definition, but a philosophical discussion...that helps integrate the camino he just returned from.
 

Coleen Clark

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked August 2015, planning on walking August 2017
Sounds like you really have started your camino Coleen...your last line describing yourself as a caretaker (with associated reinforcement) combined with your tag line of "Nanas got your back" is revealing what your pilgrimage may be about...getting back to "you". For me, that was the most amazing part of my camino...seeing who was there under all the roles, labels and emotional hooks of loved ones. More importantly, to see this "real" person/soul reflected in all the people I met...and finding that I really liked her. Shedding the resentment and anger to finally see all those people back home as just people trying to do their best...and forgiving. I learned to "let go". Just yesterday as my husband irritated the hell out of me because he had to be "right" about something, I heard myself saying "let it go" and saw him for the wonderful person he is and understood this was his inner script working! Not mine. That peace and guidance from my camino has been a gift.
Why is it so easy to lavish support on others and so difficult to ask for help? Oh I hope I like the person I will find as I walk, because I will have to ask for assistance and I know it will be hard. Some things I just cannot do alone, and even if a Pilgrimage is an inner journey, my outer self will need support.
 

ricitosdeplata

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
09/2015: Via de la Plata
Cultural info/ The monastery of Roncesvalles
The monastery of Roncesvalles
Founded in the 11th century, the monastery at Roncesvalles has always been of major importance to the Camino. It was once one of the wealthiest on the entire route and was famous for the treatment which pilgrims received here. A 12th century poem sings the praises of the monastery´s legendary hospitality:

The door lies open to all, to sick and strong,
Not only to Catholics but to pagans too
Jews, heretics,
idlers, vagabonds,
In short, to good and bad, sacred and profane.


The poem is attributed to a monk in a monastery in the Pyrenees. I wasn't able to find his name.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
you are correct that it is both a long walk and a pilgrimage,
There is one of the first issues with the false dichotomy that was established. Two of my pilgrimages have been, relatively, short walks. I suggest that many others have the same experience, that is that they can achieve their spiritual journey in a shorter time, if that is what is necessary. It might be a different journey to someone who, as Brierley suggests in his video in the OP, takes two weeks to clear the clutter of work from their mind. I don't know.

The second issue about the OP is that it suggests Brierley asks this question himself in the video. If he did, I cannot find it. Rather, he quite clearly states that pilgrimage is a spiritual journey, and argues that the Spanish camino routes offer a unique place to undertake such a journey. It might well be a justifiable claim, but clearly Santiago is but one of many pilgrimage destinations available to those who do seek to spend time reflecting on their lives, and use a walk as the way of achieving that. I must admit that I found the opportunities for quiet reflection offered by St Olav's Way and the CI much more powerful than walking the CF.

In some sense, while the pilgrimage is undertaken as a physical journey, it is not that journey at all, but the opportunities that journey provides and how we each individually use them for the spiritual journey we are on.
 
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Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
the opportunities for quiet reflection offered by St Olav's Way and the CI much more powerful than walking the CF.
I am expecting something different from my camino than what I get from my long walks, mostly because of the communal living, but my walks in the mountains are certainly spiritual. Unlike @dougfitz, I do not value "quiet reflection" during my time in the mountains, but rather the total emptying of my mind of everything but the necessities of the backpacking life: where am I, where am I going, what do I need to do to take care of myself? Below all that is simply quiet, an inner quiet that I cannot access in the city. Perhaps that is what you mean by "quiet reflection." It is wonderful to be simply empty of thought. A friend asked me recently why I am going to the mountains in September before leaving for the camino. I said, "Because I need this too." I do not know what the camino will be. I go because I am called. I don't really like intensely communal life, but that is clearly what I am called to. Perhaps any calling to whatever sort of pilgrimage is a mystery. To me it means that I shall be enabled on the Way to fill in some of the gaps in my own personality, so it is no wonder that I don't know what to expect.
 
D

David L. Lewis

Guest
There
There is a Facebook page I look at from time to time that is for Americans pilgrims on the Camino. Recently there was a thread on there debating whether or not the issuance of a compostela in Santiago should be eliminated. I really don't remember what the arguments against the compostela were, but they didn't hold much water, and it almost seemed like they wanted to remove the religious aspect out of it, which I don't get as one does not have to get a compostela. One doesn't even have to walk into the plaza in front of the cathedral. Santiago is a big enough town you could avoid all that altogether. You don't want one don't get one. Go get a celebratory coffee or a beer and just shut-up, but don't rain on the parade of those that want one.
It seemed (my opinion) to be a typical American debate. Bit of a narrow view. It's like their logic is they disagree with the Christian religion aspect of the Camino, yet they still want to walk it, but it should be changed so that they don't have to disagree with it.
Hey, the Camino's roots are solely Christian. It's called the Way of James, as in Saint James. Just the way it is. No matter how you slice it, you're walking the walk of Christian pilgrims whether that was your intent or not.
there is a thread on the APOC, that began with a lady saying, I don,t care for Jesus, and later another saying that the Camino de Santiago, started as a pagan pilgrimage , they may as well walk around the local mall, I just could,t u stand the thinking , or their ideas of history, it sadden me to read what all was said there
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
There

there is a thread on the APOC, that began with a lady saying, I don,t care for Jesus, and later another saying that the Camino de Santiago, started as a pagan pilgrimage , they may as well walk around the local mall, I just could,t u stand the thinking , or their ideas of history, it sadden me to read what all was said there
Yeah, it just comes across to me as odd. It's like they are in denial that all roads lead to a Catholic cathedral.
 
S

simply B

Guest
@Robo -

Great thread-start! The contributors have been really great with their own insights and have provided lots of food for thought.

Pilgrimage or long walk?

The one thing I take from all the contributions on this question, and having read many many blogs, is that whatever you think it is when you start that isn't what you think it is by the time you finish.
I would have to agree enthusiastically.


...As for the Relational aspect, don't get me started!...
You may be surprised, as I was, to find upon your return that many people will not be supportive of changes you have made to the way you now think about things. And that's perfectly okay - even if it is family that has some of the worst reactions! (And, no, I don't talk about Camino to them at all. I'll answer the offhand question now and then but that's about it.)

B
 

waveprof

Enthusiast
Camino(s) past & future
May-June 2013, Camino Frances
Thank you so very much for sharing that. I had been trying to put my finger on what was making me uncomfortable about this thread, and it is indeed the false dichotomy established at the outset.
This
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
There is one of the first issues with the false dichotomy that was established. Two of my pilgrimages have been, relatively, short walks. I suggest that many others have the same experience, that is that they can achieve their spiritual journey in a shorter time, if that is what is necessary. It might be a different journey to someone who, as Brierley suggests in his video in the OP, takes two weeks to clear the clutter of work from their mind. I don't know.

The second issue about the OP is that it suggests Brierley asks this question himself in the video. If he did, I cannot find it. Rather, he quite clearly states that pilgrimage is a spiritual journey, and argues that the Spanish camino routes offer a unique place to undertake such a journey. It might well be a justifiable claim, but clearly Santiago is but one of many pilgrimage destinations available to those who do seek to spend time reflecting on their lives, and use a walk as the way of achieving that. I must admit that I found the opportunities for quiet reflection offered by St Olav's Way and the CI much more powerful than walking the CF.

In some sense, while the pilgrimage is undertaken as a physical journey, it is not that journey at all, but the opportunities that journey provides and how we each individually use them for the spiritual journey we are on.
I actually said in the first post....

I first heard it posed by John Brierley in this talk Or at least a very similar question :) I think he merely asks, what is a Pilgrimage. (No need to watch the video......It's quite long)

I re checked the video Doug.

In fact he asks..."How does a long distance Trek, become a pilgrimage"? (at 19:45min) Not exactly the question I asked I know....

Don't shoot me, I thought it was an interesting question to ask, regardless of precisely how Brierley posed it :oops:
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
Last evening, when I had just finished reading this thread, my husband asked me what I was thinking about. I replied, whether the camino was a pilgrimage or a long walk. He did not hesitate in replying 'why does it have to be either/or? Can't it be both?'

I smiled. It was so typical of my husband. Incisive, quick and always to the point. His reason for walking the camino last year, on retirement, was to give thinks for a wonderful working life, which had given him and the family so much, in so many ways. And also because he loves walking, and the camino was such a good first long walk.

He walked the Pennine Way this month, in 13 days. That was something he had wanted to do since he was a teenager. He really enjoyed it, but felt it lacked the purpose that the camino has. I asked him if he would do it again - answer was no. In contrast, he hopes to walk the camino again next year - again to give thanks - when he has completed a project that has been a long time in planning.
Certainly for me purpose was very important....
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
Don't shoot me, I thought it was an interesting question to ask, regardless of precisely how Brierley posed it :oops:
Thank you for finding the point he asked the question that he did. I would observe that he did not attempt to create some distinction between the two, but to ask his audience to understand what transformed a long walk into a pilgrimage. Telling, at that point, was that he immediately asked his audience to observe a minute of silence in quiet reflection. The period was far longer than the minute, which might have been another metaphor, an Irish minute, or perhaps poor timekeeping. But the point remains, he was not seeking to create a distinction, but to explain a transformation.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
Thank you for finding the point he asked the question that he did. I would observe that he did not attempt to create some distinction between the two, but to ask his audience to understand what transformed a long walk into a pilgrimage. Telling, at that point, was that he immediately asked his audience to observe a minute of silence in quiet reflection. The period was far longer than the minute, which might have been another metaphor, an Irish minute, or perhaps poor timekeeping. But the point remains, he was not seeking to create a distinction, but to explain a transformation.
A fair point. But it doesn't stop us discussing the distinction too ;)
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
I have a stupid question: I am not a native speaker of English; I can of course look up the word "spiritual" in a dictionary but I am still not sure what it means or how most people on the Camino would understand it, and I have been wondering about it for quite a bit. A notice on my credencial says that it is exclusively destined for persons who intend to undertake their pilgrimage with a spiritual approach. Does this refer to (religious) beliefs in the broadest sense or more generally to what we describe as mind/soul/spirit?
Well, I'm sure this will raise many interesting opinions :)

For me at least, I would describe it this way.

I have never been that 'religious'. And have not really followed any of the mainstream religions.
But I have always believed that there is a 'higher power' of some sort that can help us in our lives.
I've always been attracted to churches, temples, cathedrals of whatever religion. I find them places of great calm and peace that seem 'right' for reflection and talking to that 'higher power'.
So this probably translates to a 'belief' in a God, that is not constrained or formed by formalised religion.

I'm sure others will be able to give a more formal / text book explanation.... :rolleyes:
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
I have, however, while trying to learn a bit more about the "thru hikes" stumbled across a definition for pilgrimage that I myself find satisfying. I will perhaps post it. .
It would be interesting to see that definition too....
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
True, but it would seem relatively uncomplicated. A long walk might be a pilgrimage, while a pilgrimage doesn't have to be a long walk.
All True. And we all do our own thing. But for me it needed to be long ;)
 

Pelgrimpaul

Member
In contemporary society pilgrimage is growing to be a widely used word.
It already was a word for walking or non-walking (like Lourdes) events.
Now you can encounter a wine-pilgrimage, food pilgrimage, pilgrimage to cemeteries (like Pere Lachaise, Jim Morrison), pilgrimage to sites like Stonehenge, Glastonbury, even Burning Man, etc. What about pilgrimage to your youth!
Think there is a continuum growing from religious to tourism/leisure. A lot has to do with intention.
'Pilgrims' also sometimes perform tourists behaviour, as tourists sometimes perform pilgrimage behaviour.
I noticed similarities with the backbacking tradition, both in intention, transformational potential, social interferences, stages like leaving home/being away (the liminal phase)/returning, etc.
Nice topic.

(edit: and what about the growing virtual pilgrimage idea: already in use in medieval times based on paintings/guide books, but today even more interesting using digital possibilities)
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
'Pilgrims' also sometimes perform tourists behavior, as tourists sometimes perform pilgrimage behaviour.
I know there are many on this forum who want to distinguish themselves from tourists, perhaps because the term tourist carries certain pejorative overtones. Unfortunately, there is little support for this position, starting at the very top with the UN's World Tourism Organisation. It has a wonderful set of definitions here that will probably dismay you if you think that as a pilgrim, you aren't a tourist. From its perspective, we are all tourists.o_O
 

Coleen Clark

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked August 2015, planning on walking August 2017
I know there are many on this forum who want to distinguish themselves from tourists, perhaps because the term tourist carries certain pejorative overtones. Unfortunately, there is little support for this position, starting at the very top with the UN's World Tourism Organisation. It has a wonderful set of definitions here that will probably dismay you if you think that as a pilgrim, you aren't a tourist. From its perspective, we are all tourists.o_O
OH Heck yeah dougfitz! I am a tourist too! I am in awe of all my different surroundings when I travel, I take lots of photos when I remember to stop gawking, and try all the food that I can. I even buy souvenirs! It's part of what I will do on my Camino too, along with everything spiritual and physical.
 

GAUVINS

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Amiens-Santiago de Compostela
I don't suppose there is a perfect definition.
My dissertation advisor had a made up word that was his highest compliment (and remains mine): when something was "provocating".
what was making me uncomfortable about this thread, and it is indeed the false dichotomy established at the outset
I'll start will what will probably look like useless drivel to some and conclude with personal considerations.

---

It is probably fair to say that the idea of positive and universal truth didn't survive the scientific discoveries the 20th century, in particular, perhaps, Einstein's idea that time is relative.

Many conclude that if even time has no objective reality, then one can believe anything. But things are more complicated than that. Shared meanings do matter. I like the example of traffic lights where, even though we know that there is no objective reason, green means that you have the right of way and red means that you don't. Try saying to a police officer that you like to run on red and stop on green and you'll discover the limits of relativism...

Things are slightly more complicated wrt a pilgrimage because this is a very personal concept and one has indeed considerable freedom, just like you may or may not like strawberries.

However - the Cathedral formally sanctions "an event" and will issue a certificate to those who register, not unlike the Boston marathon issues medals to those who conformed to the set of rules that their certifying body has enacted.

However - the "public" including albergues, judges travellers and most likely behaves accordingly to what it sees as appropriate pilgrim behaviour. And suggestions that judging others is inappropriate always surprise me as judging is synonymous to thinking, and I'd rather be judged than ignored and I'd rather think than live like a zombie.

I would think that this thread is concerned with the private meaning of a pilgrimage.

---

I think that the walker knows from the start which is which (long walk vs a journey of personal discovery)

I also think that one doesn't know what that discovery will be (if we knew from the outset what is to be found, why bother with the time and expense of a long journey?)

I am less positive but would be inclined to say that solitude plays a role. It may be pure selfishness, but it does change the experience.

I am always ambivalent wrt the idea of being described as a pilgrim. But yesterday we came across someone who thought we were and offered us something in exchange for a thought, for a person close to him who'll undergo a triple bypass Wednesday. I don't know if it will make a difference. But he felt better at the idea that we would, and in the end those illusions matter more than hard facts.
 
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GAUVINS

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Amiens-Santiago de Compostela
I think very very many set off on a long walk and find themselves on a pilgrimage. Intent has very little to do with it
To be sure that I understand - you mean that someone will start walking a Camino thinking it is a long walk and end up realizing along the way that there is an element of self discovery that wasn't anticipated and will therefore eventually conclude that it was, after all, a pilgrimage?

You mean that in such a case that person should be considered a pilgrim from the start?

---

I would say that without intent it is difficult to talk about a pilgrimage - - I would argue that in the situation that you describe, that person started as a walker and became a pilgrim. Accidental pilgrim is different from mindless pilgrim, the latter being unlikely to lead to anything of significance. No?
 

waveprof

Enthusiast
Camino(s) past & future
May-June 2013, Camino Frances
To be sure that I understand - you mean that someone will start walking a Camino thinking it is a long walk and end up realizing along the way that there is an element of self discovery that wasn't anticipated and will therefore eventually conclude that it was, after all, a pilgrimage?

You mean that in such a case that person should be considered a pilgrim from the start?

---

I would say that without intent it is difficult to talk about a pilgrimage - - I would argue that in the situation that you describe, that person started as a walker and became a pilgrim. Accidental pilgrim is different from mindless pilgrim, the latter being unlikely to lead to anything of significance. No?
I think it is true that one cant be mindless and be a pilgrim....but I think one can very much remain mindless about the fact one is on pilgrimage. Often, the people who spend the most time focusing on the fact they are being a "pilgrim" do the least seeking, the least questioning, because they are sure of their fixed status. that is the opposite of a pilgrim for me. The pilgrim is always changing, always evolving, always questioning. his pilgrimage has no end.
 
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s. brown

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2015
I think very very many set off on a long walk and find themselves on a pilgrimage. Intent has very little to do with it.
My introduction to the Camino de Santiago was a series of fantastic articles written in the early 1990s by Herb McGrew, a psychiatrist from California, for Gourmet Magazine. He and three others set out to hike from Le Puy. They were hikers who wanted beautiful scenery and to walk from good meal to good meal and to drink good wine. They did a lot of research, and while they understood it was a religious pilgrimage route, they were not so interested in the religious or spiritual aspect. They walked for three weeks. They liked it and returned the following year to continue where they left off. They did this for four years, ending in Santiago. By the time they reached Santiago they "got it" and realized it was a pilgrimage and they were, indeed, pilgrims.
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-19
What's the difference? What makes it a Pilgrimage?
I'll respond to your question with a question: What's the difference between seeking, observing, and sightseeing?
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
I'll respond to your question with a question: What's the difference between seeking, observing, and sightseeing?
Not sure where this is going, but here goes............ In the context of the Camino?

Seeking. Searching for meaning, purpose, trying to find something that perhaps enriches life, trying to 'gain' something that we think is out there......
Observing. Following a ritual or tradition, maybe trying to undertake the Camino in what we deem to be an appropriate manner. Or in another context, being an observer of what is going on around us.
Sight Seeing. Could be construed as being a bit of a tourist, seeing the sights. But could also be 'deeper' in the sense of Camino 'sight seeing'. Visiting sights of great meaning and significance.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
At the albergue in Lugo earlier this month there was a pilgrim dealing with neumonia. She was telling her friends that until she got ill she was disappointed in her walk of the Primitivo, did not get what this was all about, what this pilgrim talk as about. But now that every day was a struggle, every step was a struggle, she said she now felt like a pilgrim.
 

ricitosdeplata

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
09/2015: Via de la Plata
Interesting to hear Brierly's take on what turns a long trek into a Pilgrimage. It rang true for me in regard to asking who I am. I would add that at my age I think my pilgrimage will be a time to reflect on the difference between what I expected my life to be and what it actually was and to think about how I will live my life in the time I have left.

Oh and there are the bigger questions about God. I guess you could call me a fallen away Catholic. That the camino has so much religious history makes me hopeful that I will come to some understanding. My father was such a religious man that it makes me very sad that there might not be an afterlife. Or is there?
 

Mike Savage

So many friends to meet . . . so little time
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés,Inglés
Muxia/Finisterre
Português Coastal
Português Central
Sanabrés
OK. As I mentioned I pondered this often whilst walking. And my views changed a bit.

And of course these are just my personal views. My Camino was no better, no more valid than any one else's! This was just how I saw mine being a Pilgrimage rather than a Walk.

But for me it 'felt' like a Pilgrimage from the start. I set out with the intention of walking a Pilgrimage, and I think that's just what I got. Sorry, I just realised this is going to go on a bit....

Sure I walked to 'take a break'. I have run a business for 20 years without ever really having a proper break. And the same with my 'job' for the 20 years before that.

It was 'time' to find myself, more meaning, greater purpose..... but also to seek a stronger spirituality or faith. It was lurking but not strong. Now it is very strong...... That's another very long story......

So I tried to think of what made this a Pilgrimage for me, rather than just a long walk. And I came up with these:

  1. There is a strong purpose or gaol, that is centred around religion or spirituality.
  2. There is probably a precise destination with a religious or spiritual significance. Having said that, Santiago the City was never really my goal. The journey was my goal. I called my Blog 'In Search of Santiago' for that very reason. I found 'him' long before I got to the actual place.
  3. It needs to take time. It's not about distance, but time. Time to be away from our normal World. At 3 weeks into my Camino, it was all 'happening' for me. Less time would not have worked.
  4. There needs to be a degree of suffering. I think this is important as it 'tests' our resolve and our commitment to the task, day by day. It might be physical, emotional or spiritual 'suffering'.
  5. I think we need to make sacrifices. Again to test our resolve and keep us focussed on the true purpose of our journey. OK, it could be the sacrifice of time or money. But to a degree that is easy for most people. You could walk for 2 weeks and only spend 25e a day. No, I think a deeper sacrifice. Like leaving loved ones behind. Leaving commitments and responsibilities behind. Then we don't 'waste' our journey because we have 'paid dearly' for it in some very personal way.
  6. I needed to travel slowly. To appreciate my surroundings and nature. To pause, to reflect, to listen. It was almost as if I needed to 'feel' and 'sense' my surroundings as I journeyed. I could not have done this any other way except walking slowly. Sorry Cyclists.
  7. I needed to be open in all aspects for whatever and whomever I met. In fact I visited a Church at least once a day, and if I couldn't find one open, I found a quiet place by the trail. I would not class myself as that 'religious' in the traditional sense. But each day I gave thanks for being able to spend another day on my journey (as I could barely walk the week before I started, due to training injuries) and I promised to walk with an open mind and an open heart so as to take on board any lessons I needed. And there were plenty! Every day......
  8. For me there also needed to be an element of history. I could have walked from Sydney to Melbourne. But the Camino was all about Pilgrimage. From the countless Churches and Crosses along the way, to the sense that we are walking the path trodden by millions for over a thousand years. Other Pilgrims, on a similar journey, seeking similar things.

Just my take on things. :oops:

I felt very fortunate to walk the Camino I did. And I learnt so many lessons along the way. One of those of course being "Everyone walks their own Camino".

I was just curious what others thought might make the journey more of a Pilgrimage'. Only because I spent so many hours thinking about it, and never really came up with the answer :(
Well said Robo. This hit home for me.
 

GAUVINS

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Amiens-Santiago de Compostela
If we discuss the topic under the premise that it is a pilgrimage if an individual person regards it is such then we don't have to discuss it all. ;)
I beg to disagree. Your opinions may very well shape my understanding of what is a pilgrimage, and yet this understanding is mine.

In the fairly recent thread on the 100 vs 300k requirements, I (foolishly) wrote that I was rooting for 10k such that those who are fixated on the Compostela would not clog the Camino further than the minimum distance. Then someone wrote that the more the better. And it has indeed changed my understanding. I forget the name of this Indian sacred city that is visited by 100 millions pilgrims every year. (incredible isn't it?).

My initial interpretation was more solitary than it is now.

But the point is that private meanings are certainly open to discussion.

Think about music. My appreciation of Monteverdi (early music) and of Anthony and the Johnsons (contemporary) is the direct result of interactions with specific persons. In fact most if not everything we believe in is the end result of interactions.
 

kelleymac

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017, April 2019.
I'm very interested to hear the views of others on this question.

I first heard it posed by John Brierley in this talk Or at least a very similar question :) I think he merely asks, what is a Pilgrimage. (No need to watch the video......It's quite long)

In fact he asks..."How does a long distance Trek, become a pilgrimage"? (at 19:45min)


It was a question I pondered a lot whilst walking. And I talk/write about it a lot on my blog. My views also changed the more I walked and changed again in the last 100 kms to Santiago.

I'll share my thoughts later in the thread, as I don't want to start off with my view.

So what do you think?

We all undertake our Camino for a vast array of reasons. We also all walk (or Cycle) our Camino in different ways.

Did you walk a Pilgrimage? Was it just a pleasant long walk? Or was it something else to you?

What's the difference? What makes it a Pilgrimage?

Note: This is not intended to be a "My Camino was more valid than yours thread" :)

The first time I mentioned the Camino to my husband, he was nonplussed. I love to meet people, and one of my favorite and life changing travels was walking in southern Africa. I looked at the Camino as a great affordable way to see spain, travel with my children, and meet lots of people. :) My husband, a non-catholic, non-believer-in-anything, asked "Is is at Catholic thing?" "No!" I told him, "It's just a great way to travel". He didn't think so, as he likes to play the aristocrat when he travels. ---But then, I started thinking. I did want to be able to go to mass if I wanted to to, without my fellow travelers thinking it odd, or me having to defend my decision. I put out a Facebook request "Who wants to walk the Camino with me?", and found I was relieved that my New Age/ Anthroposophical friends didn't want to join me. With time, and reflection I realized I wanted the Camino to become an exploration and extension of my faith. I wanted the freedom to stop at a wayside cross and pray quietly or appreciate art created by people who shared my faith without the condescension of enlightened rationalists. And so my Walk became a pilgrimage. I downloaded the Gospel of John in greek onto my kindle, and read a few verses per day (my Greek is very rusty). At some point on the way, I saw graffiti that scrawled "Yo soy el Camino." --- My walking companion was my 14 year old son, who was/is accepting of the faith part of me. -- I am wondering now back at home, how often do I hide that part of me..
 
D

David L. Lewis

Guest
The first time I mentioned the Camino to my husband, he was nonplussed. I love to meet people, and one of my favorite and life changing travels was walking in southern Africa. I looked at the Camino as a great affordable way to see spain, travel with my children, and meet lots of people. :) My husband, a non-catholic, non-believer-in-anything, asked "Is is at Catholic thing?" "No!" I told him, "It's just a great way to travel". He didn't think so, as he likes to play the aristocrat when he travels. ---But then, I started thinking. I did want to be able to go to mass if I wanted to to, without my fellow travelers thinking it odd, or me having to defend my decision. I put out a Facebook request "Who wants to walk the Camino with me?", and found I was relieved that my New Age/ Anthroposophical friends didn't want to join me. With time, and reflection I realized I wanted the Camino to become an exploration and extension of my faith. I wanted the freedom to stop at a wayside cross and pray quietly or appreciate art created by people who shared my faith without the condescension of enlightened rationalists. And so my Walk became a pilgrimage. I downloaded the Gospel of John in greek onto my kindle, and read a few verses per day (my Greek is very rusty). At some point on the way, I saw graffiti that scrawled "Yo soy el Camino." --- My walking companion was my 14 year old son, who was/is accepting of the faith part of me. -- I am wondering now back at home, how often do I hide that part of me..
Never hide your faith, why hide it , why accommodate those who don't accept your faith but expect you to accommodate them in their non-belief
 

Stephen Nicholls

Steve Nicholls, Suffolk, U.K.
Camino(s) past & future
Too many caminos to list in the permitted 100 characters!!
I think we are getting too complex on this subject. A pilgrimage has a destination with some religious significance. A long walk is .... a long walk. I'm just back from the Ruta del Ebro. It's a medieval camino used by pilgrims who landed on the Mediterranean coast and walked along the Ebro.
For me this was not a pilgrimage in the normal sense of the word ... it was a beautiful, if lonely, long walk along a pilgrimage route.
 

DLJ

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(4/2012) St.Jean to Santiago; (9/2013) Geneva to Le Puy-en-Velay and beyond
I'm very interested to hear the views of others on this question.

I first heard it posed by John Brierley in this talk Or at least a very similar question :) I think he merely asks, what is a Pilgrimage. (No need to watch the video......It's quite long)

In fact he asks..."How does a long distance Trek, become a pilgrimage"? (at 19:45min)


It was a question I pondered a lot whilst walking. And I talk/write about it a lot on my blog. My views also changed the more I walked and changed again in the last 100 kms to Santiago.

I'll share my thoughts later in the thread, as I don't want to start off with my view.

So what do you think?

We all undertake our Camino for a vast array of reasons. We also all walk (or Cycle) our Camino in different ways.

Did you walk a Pilgrimage? Was it just a pleasant long walk? Or was it something else to you?

What's the difference? What makes it a Pilgrimage?

Note: This is not intended to be a "My Camino was more valid than yours thread" :)
No matter if you are religious, spiritual, or neither, all of life is a Pilgrimage. Regardless of beliefs or lack of, we all question who we are and why. What's the point of this journey, this life? What is Truth? Plato, Socrates were trying to answer life's questions some 400 years before Christ, many others since, and we today are still faced with the same questions. The Caminos give us the time and the interchange of experiences to ponder the questions and try to fill in the blanks as to our personal existence. The same with our day to day non-Camino living; everyday is a new learning experience.

If you just did the Camino for bragging rights, that is okay, you had a good walk. Sadly, you missed a real opportunity to connect with your inner person - the real you. But then, that could be scary.

To quote Bob Bitchin, Sailor/Author (sorry, but that is his name), "The difference between an ordeal and an adventure, is Attitude." So, might the difference be between Pilgrimage and a long walk - Attitude.
 

kelleymac

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017, April 2019.
I'm very interested to hear the views of others on this question.

I first heard it posed by John Brierley in this talk Or at least a very similar question :) I think he merely asks, what is a Pilgrimage. (No need to watch the video......It's quite long)

In fact he asks..."How does a long distance Trek, become a pilgrimage"? (at 19:45min)


It was a question I pondered a lot whilst walking. And I talk/write about it a lot on my blog. My views also changed the more I walked and changed again in the last 100 kms to Santiago.

I'll share my thoughts later in the thread, as I don't want to start off with my view.

So what do you think?

We all undertake our Camino for a vast array of reasons. We also all walk (or Cycle) our Camino in different ways.

Did you walk a Pilgrimage? Was it just a pleasant long walk? Or was it something else to you?

What's the difference? What makes it a Pilgrimage?

Note: This is not intended to be a "My Camino was more valid than yours thread" :)
A related question:

Is the Peace Walk a Pilgrimage? Or a Long Walk?
 

Grosty

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Del Norte 2016
OK. As I mentioned I pondered this often whilst walking. And my views changed a bit.

And of course these are just my personal views. My Camino was no better, no more valid than any one else's! This was just how I saw mine being a Pilgrimage rather than a Walk.

But for me it 'felt' like a Pilgrimage from the start. I set out with the intention of walking a Pilgrimage, and I think that's just what I got. Sorry, I just realised this is going to go on a bit....

Sure I walked to 'take a break'. I have run a business for 20 years without ever really having a proper break. And the same with my 'job' for the 20 years before that.

It was 'time' to find myself, more meaning, greater purpose..... but also to seek a stronger spirituality or faith. It was lurking but not strong. Now it is very strong...... That's another very long story......

So I tried to think of what made this a Pilgrimage for me, rather than just a long walk. And I came up with these:

  1. There is a strong purpose or gaol, that is centred around religion or spirituality.
  2. There is probably a precise destination with a religious or spiritual significance. Having said that, Santiago the City was never really my goal. The journey was my goal. I called my Blog 'In Search of Santiago' for that very reason. I found 'him' long before I got to the actual place.
  3. It needs to take time. It's not about distance, but time. Time to be away from our normal World. At 3 weeks into my Camino, it was all 'happening' for me. Less time would not have worked.
  4. There needs to be a degree of suffering. I think this is important as it 'tests' our resolve and our commitment to the task, day by day. It might be physical, emotional or spiritual 'suffering'.
  5. I think we need to make sacrifices. Again to test our resolve and keep us focussed on the true purpose of our journey. OK, it could be the sacrifice of time or money. But to a degree that is easy for most people. You could walk for 2 weeks and only spend 25e a day. No, I think a deeper sacrifice. Like leaving loved ones behind. Leaving commitments and responsibilities behind. Then we don't 'waste' our journey because we have 'paid dearly' for it in some very personal way.
  6. I needed to travel slowly. To appreciate my surroundings and nature. To pause, to reflect, to listen. It was almost as if I needed to 'feel' and 'sense' my surroundings as I journeyed. I could not have done this any other way except walking slowly. Sorry Cyclists.
  7. I needed to be open in all aspects for whatever and whomever I met. In fact I visited a Church at least once a day, and if I couldn't find one open, I found a quiet place by the trail. I would not class myself as that 'religious' in the traditional sense. But each day I gave thanks for being able to spend another day on my journey (as I could barely walk the week before I started, due to training injuries) and I promised to walk with an open mind and an open heart so as to take on board any lessons I needed. And there were plenty! Every day......
  8. For me there also needed to be an element of history. I could have walked from Sydney to Melbourne. But the Camino was all about Pilgrimage. From the countless Churches and Crosses along the way, to the sense that we are walking the path trodden by millions for over a thousand years. Other Pilgrims, on a similar journey, seeking similar things.

Just my take on things. :oops:

I felt very fortunate to walk the Camino I did. And I learnt so many lessons along the way. One of those of course being "Everyone walks their own Camino".

I was just curious what others thought might make the journey more of a Pilgrimage'. Only because I spent so many hours thinking about it, and never really came up with the answer :(
Hi all
A very interesting topic. I was surprised how many people seemed to see the "comunitas" aspect important, as I would have thought that the loneliness on the walk was a key element of the whole project for the pilgrim - allowing, or rather obliging him or her time to reflect and meditate. The destination was a focus, and I wonder if it was in fact the place and time when all that reflection and meditation culminated in the religious experience for the pilgrim - allowing him or her to say "God - I have made my personal sacrifice and it has made me spiritually clean and worthy." Conversely, of course, a pilgrim who did not manage to reach the destination would have been judged unworthy.
In that sense, to me, any long walk, if done with grit and determination, should provide the same personal and perhaps spiritual value - and being able to say "I made it" provides the same self-satisfaction that a pilgrim would have had when kneeling before the alter at the end, saying "There, I've proved myself".
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
Perhaps the communal aspect of it, at least on the CF, and perhaps before All the hooplah of movie etc., is what got long distance walkers see it as a pilgrimage after the fact? Or should I say as the potential for them of it being a pilgrimage ?
 

Caminobluzman

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances-2012
for me it's quite simple, a pilgrimage refers to a religious or spiritual journey or some kind (does not have to be a long walk)...I did not set out on a pilgrimage..I set out on a long distance hike...however, there is no way one can walk 800 km without having a spiritual experience!!
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
A related question:

Is the Peace Walk a Pilgrimage? Or a Long Walk?
I don't know enough about the peace walk. Maybe it could be either, the difference being the intent of the walker?
 

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