The nature of the beast…

León came and went and so too did my friend Kevin who finally decided not to finish the Camino. He has left for Barcelona, Rome and eventually the ‘Silk Road’ to the Far East.

Oh happy Pilgrim! The show must go on... A wayside meal of cheese and bread.

Oh happy Pilgrim! The show must go on… A wayside meal of cheese and bread.

Tonight I am writing from the village of Santa Catalina de Somoza about ten kilometres west of Astorga, and truly feel that a new stage of this strange journey has begun. Firstly, I have met a new walking companion from Australia, Ramon, who has just begun his Camino in León.

Astorga with Christian from Slovakia and Ramon, my new walking partner (right).

Astorga with Christian from Slovakia and Ramon, my new walking partner (right).

Ramon has become an interesting companion, sharing many of his hopes and fears as the miles pass away under foot. Unlike the crazy zen-like humour of Kevin, he is more focusssed and adds a new dimension of quality to our previously, slightly absurd lack of routine!

As usual folk come and go and every evening produces a range of interesting albergues. One night we stopped at the strange Jesús donativo in Villar de Mazarife, covered with many articles of spiritual graffiti, reflecting many dimensions, languages and nationalities. The evening culminated in a communal sing-song in which I was shanghaied into playing the guitar.

All in an evening's work! Poppy gets on down in the Jesús Donativo!

All in an evening’s work! Poppy gets on down in the Jesús Donativo!

The evening was most memorable and the sun accompanied us throughout the next day until we stumbled across the amazing Donativo run by two angels, David and André just before Astorga. This was the most profound moment of the whole Camino for me culminating in staying the night and being the guests of these two beautiful human beings. I’ve never met a saint before, but here I believe to have met two.

David... The saint who has devoted himself to serving pilgrims free of charge on the Camino.

David… The saint who has devoted himself to serving pilgrims free of charge on the Camino.

So many pilgrims passed by and received free meals as we relaxed, and so many missed the opportunity to experience a truly profound Camino moment. I tried in vain to explain to a man whose main concern was that the plates may be dirty- that he was in the presence of a true saint. I may as well have been laughing at the moon. The whole impulse of those passing by was, time and performance… Rush… rush… Rush.

Alba, Poppy and Christian at David's 'La Casa de Los Dioses', as the sun sets on a mystical evening.

Alba, Poppy and Christian at David’s ‘La Casa de Los Dioses’, as the sun sets on a mystical evening.

Somehow I feel that if I returned to this place it would not exist. Was this a portal into another dimension? What is the date? What time is it? Where the hell am I? Do I even care?

And so I come to the final point of this whole experience… What came first… The Camino or the religion? Is it pre-Christian, or Catholic?

I feel that the earth is talking to me and that the churches have somehow usurped the old ways. Nothing new, I know… But it really seems to be so. All along the way, there are paganesque symbols, a curious fusion of Catholic and pre-Christian if you will.

I mean come on... Give me a break... Christian? You've got to be joking!

I mean come on… Give me a break… Christian? You’ve got to be joking!

I know that there would be many protests if anyone actually took any notice of my article, outside of you my dear friends, but my conclusions are thus… Folk religion is alive and well, and functioning in the north of Spain! The Pope would have a fit if he knew! ( at least the gay-bashing German version would).

What is the nature of the beast? Pagan or Christian? Or even something else?

You decide!


About Viking Queen

I am a sailor and I live on my boat 'Free'. I have no home but originate from Tyneside. I have no allegiance, just a desire to do no harm and live with courage and an open heart.
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18 Responses to The nature of the beast…

  1. Michael Murphy says:

    Thanks again Poppy.

    The basis of Roman Catholicism (at least in medieval times) may have been a Cycle/Wheel of life : the energy flows between the visible and the invisible worlds ; humans are meant to be pipes or conduits for the energy, and those who dam the flow (selfish hoarders and “misers” of different sorts) need to be “recanalised”/unplugged… Wrote on this years back with respect to the mediaeval play “Everyman”.

    Keep going… to the Finisterre!

    Yours, Mike

    • Viking Queen says:

      Yes… I can relate to that, but that wisdom seems to be non- existent in these neo liberal times.”Ultreia!”, as they say in these parts, onwards towards the end of the world!

  2. Simona says:

    A portal it might have been indeed. The doors of perception. Boundaries get blurred and all becomes irrelevant.

    S. x

    • Viking Queen says:

      It wouldn’t have surprised me to find the great man himself!!! Jim would have felt very much at home there!

      • Simona says:

        I think he most likely would have had. “Opens all doors. You can walk through anyone that suits you.”

        And of course “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite,” (William Blake).

      • Viking Queen says:

        Very profound and most likely true (whatever that means!)

  3. I have recently stared metaphorically into an abyss that is religious zeal/bigotry. The nice thing about folk religions are that they are, by and large, a private matter. Not so much public expressions meant to intimidate or coerce, buy indulgences, pose about their devotion….etc Thanks for another great post Poppy, I noted the finger shuffling whilst you were playing the guitar! Nice that you have an Aussie walking with you.

    • Viking Queen says:

      You are very perceptive Amanda! I tried to ignore it, but the response was generally good. You and I agree on mostly everything regarding the nature of ‘religion’ and its more positive form ‘spirituality’. I’m becoming more comfortable with my pre Christian roots as the Camino continues. It’s like waking up after a long dream! Thanks once again for your intelligent and relevant feedback.

  4. christian says:

    as you sit under the tree of life, very peaceful it looks -like your are awaiting for an apple to drop and to give you more of wisdom/direction/more self discovery. enjoy meeting new people but why rush enjoy the moment just let them over take its alway the snail/tortoise that wins in the end.

  5. As before but I’ve lost the send button!

  6. Alixe says:

    I stop at la casa del los dioses waiting for a lover to walk the camino backward. I wanted to stay so bad but somehow david new that it was for the wrong reason… Don’t know. I kind of regret it…. Much love poppy, now in santiago, walk tomorow to fisterra. Take care, it was awesome to meet you, old soul . Xoxo alixe

    • Viking Queen says:

      Bless you my campoñera. You met a true saint and once that happens life will never be the same again. David’s place is a portal to a world that is too brave for now, but it will come… Have faith. It was an honour to meet you! Px

  7. Judith Brenchley says:

    Dear Poppy,   I can hardly wait for your next instalment.  Your photos and your “blogs”  are excellent.  I feel I have been walking the camino with you.  I find it difficult to believe that you have walked all that way, yet I remember that when Peter and I walked in the Pyrenees (the east end), some days I could hardly reach our next stop yet after a night’s rest I felt quite renewed.  I think we were in our thirties!   It’s hard to know whether the Camino is pagan or Christian.  I think it’s probably a Christian pilgrimage, a tradition begun during the middle ages, that follows an ancient pathway.   I really envy you walking it.    I’ve just read your last post, about your vow of silence.  I can understand that – I’ve thought a lot about your pilgrimage and have imagined me doing it but I don’t think I would enjoy doing it in the company of so many others and how sad that one feels he has to take your milk.  I went back to France once after Peter had died and I walked on my own over the mountain to the next village.  It was beautiful.   Ponferada was often mentioned when I was in Galicia. I stayed for two months as an English teacher in a family, in Bayona.  A real fishing village – quite beautiful but I’m sure it’s very much changed now in these modern times.  It is south of Vigo.   Enjoy the rest of your pelerinage, you’re nearly there now .  Santiago is a wonderful place.  I look forward to your next post.   With love Judith    My computer really is playing me up.  And now I can’t find the SEND button.        

    • Viking Queen says:

      Bull’s eye Judith, you found it! Ponferrada was strange. The rel Spain, with loads of graffiti and unemployment, but the people were lovely. Reminded me of Newcastle a bit.

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