The stars scattered about our night sky have long inspired and befuddled us, creating a breathtaking canvas as we search for illumination about the mystery shrouding mankind’s relation to the infinite. For many centuries, traveling along the Camino de Santiago has been an enchanting opportunity to mix with objects greater than ourselves, to let the mind wander about the same grander truths that have been pondered through the ages. There are many reasons to consider making the pilgrimage along the famous pathway across Spain, but a chance to see the uninhibited boldness of the Milky Way stars remains one the best ways to be awestruck by the cosmos. Everyone who makes the journey ends up with an unforgettable and wholly unique experience, stirring inner questions that can stay with a modern-day pilgrim long after reaching Santiago de Compostela.
“To see the stars dance, to dance with them ourselves…”
Going back to the far corners of human history, common folk and famed philosophers alike have looked to the stars to stir the mind. For the first pilgrims on the Camino, dating to the early Middle Ages, the boldness of the stars acted like shepherds, accompanying them along a spiritual journey that would have been dramatically different from their every-day lives. Far away from the working fields, the Camino offered an opportunity for self-reflection that would have been truly rare in the lives of a commoner. The stars sprawled across the night sky could be a partner, an audience, or possibly even a chance to interact with the very mechanisms of creation.
No matter how different our lives are from the first to travel the Camino, the fundamental aspects of the journey remain fully intact. In his book To the Field of Stars, Kevin Codd reminds us that spiritual pathways like Camino can have an even greater impact today because it provides an escape from the man-made creations that dominate our lifestyles. Now, unlike with the earliest walkers of the Camino, the stars themselves are often faded or hidden by the city lights of our modern world, often leaving us without the deep connection more readily available in earlier eras. In disconnecting from the hyperkinetic world of skyscrapers and omnipotent technology, the Camino lets us enter a cosmic dance that we can so easily forget about entirely. The journey ultimately draws our innermost aspirations to the surface and lets us contemplate an eternal dance that remains as spectacular as ever.
Field of Stars.
The final destination for the Camino is typically Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain, which has the essence of stars embedded in its very name. Borrowed from Latin, Compostela actually means “a field of stars,” a clear reference to the importance of mingling with the pinpricks of light dotting the ancient sky. With stars being such a central theme of the famous pilgrimage, it’s no surprise that it’s often called the Milky Way Camino for its unimpeded views of our galaxy. Even though the earliest pilgrims probably attributed different meanings to the stars and galaxies, the familiar patterns created a communion with their field of stars that pointed the way towards their final destination.
But the beauty of the journey is that the destination is different for every single pilgrim. As Codd points out, stars are ubiquitous in our culture, ranging from creation stories and educational motivators to cartoon characters that see visions of stars after a good bonk on the head. Following a full day of walking along the Camino, resting one’s feet under the canvas of stars will bring a sensational range of different interpretations of the backdrop. Our psyches, our experiences, the way that we live our everyday lives will all contribute, drawing a deep connection to not only the world above but to the countless pilgrims who came before us.
Whether you fashion yourself a deep philosopher or are simply someone who needs an escape of the mind and soul, the Milky Way Camino has the potential to point you towards deeper truths that have been sitting right beneath the surface. Even though you may never understand exactly what the dance of the stars is all about, contemplating the impossible beauty of it all has the potential to unravel even the most formidable of cynics. For those prone to adventures and enlightenment, the field of stars can lead you anywhere at all.
To get started on your own spiritual journey along the Camino de Santiago, contact us for all the details and planning tips you need.