Thursday, April 29, 2010

Camino de Santiago

The Way of St James/Camino de Santiago

Departure for the Camino de Santiago: We leave on the 1st of May, and are back in Granollers on the 26th of May 2010

Our Route

For a larger version of this map, click this link  We're starting from Lagrono. Its the most famous of all of the routes, otherwise called 'The French Way'.

Now, we'll be walking a 'stage' a day. Starting on Sunday. So in theory, if you are eager to imagine yourself along for the ride, you could follow us along the way with lots of photos from other people - For example - this is Logrono to Najera, Stage 8. We'll be walking that on May the second. We have a few days up our sleeve just in case we get VERY tired and need to rest a bit, but in theory, its a stage a day. :)

Back packs: We have two back packs, and they will be filled with the bare essentials. We are travelling with only one change of cloths. I won’t even take any make-up! Imagine. I did think about taking two pairs of shoes, so I could swap them during the day and hopefully avoid some of the foot problems others have expressed, but I changed my mind and decided to put up with what ever discomfort was coming my way.

Basic Information: One of the best links explaining about the Way of St James is from the Santiago de Compostela Website It holds most of what you’ll need to know about the trip.

What about Jett?: We were going to take the trip in July when Jett (my ten year old) would be in Norway with father, however, we discovered that this year was an important year for The Walk. St James day (July 25th) falls on a Sunday, and its considered a Holy Year.  The next Holy Year won’t be for another 11 years.

Considering authorities expect about 200 000 visitors this year, we decided to leave during May. We’ve been very fortunate in having Jett’s Norwegian Grandparents come to stay with him for half the time, and his Spanish grandparents to take care of him the second half of the time. Its an exciting time for all of us.  

Personal Reasons for the Pilgrimage: On a basic level, I’ve wanted to walk and walk and walk and not turn back, for a long time. I guess it started when I was a child and packed up a small back and thought the enormous thought of ‘if I just took my bag, and kept walking, what would happen?’

In some ways, its an escape from the day to day demands.

In some ways, it fulfils a deep yearning to be in constant connection with the earth under my feet. To watch the landscape slowly undulate before my eyes.

Somebody said that we were crazy spending our holidays of the year ‘doing something’ rather than just having a ‘nice time’.  Well. I guess ‘nice’ is relative.

I first hear of the Way of St James about two years ago. It was a program on the TV. It looked really interesting, and I turned to Albert and said ‘we should do that one day’.   I didn’t expect the ‘one day’ to be so soon, but, for some reason or other, we have put EgyptMoroccoCanada and Mexico on hold and have decided to traverse the Way.

In the past two weeks, I’ve been inundated with images of stars, crosses and solar circles. I see them in my dreams, I see them walking down the street, and today, I read for the first time, that the name of the place we are going to ‘Santiago de Compostela’ actually means:

"Folk etymology for the name "Compostela" is that it comes from the Latin "Campus Stellae" (i.e., Field of Stars), but it is unlikely such a phonetic evolution takes account of normal evolution from Latin to Galician-Portuguese. A more probable etymology relates the word with Latin "compositum", and local Vulgar Latin "Composita Tella", meaning "burial ground" as a euphemism. Many other places through Galicia share this toponym (with identical sense) and there even exists a "Compostilla" in the León province."  Wiki quote, but verified on several other prominent websites 

However, by all accounts, the pre Christian route to the Atlantic was dubbed ‘the Milky Way’, and follows a path to the ‘end of the world’.  Finisterrae (literally the end of the world or Land's End in Latin)

At the end of the world, or when meeting the ‘dying city of Atlantis’ (Atlantic Ocean), one sees a great ocean of lost souls. In a way, the stars leading to the end of the world and a great burial mound is all kind of linked up anyway.

I’m connected to Ishtar, Inanna and Asherah – Goddess of old who seem to be calling people from all across the world, and their symbols have been found along the pilgrims path. Stars within circles and scallop shells. 

What ever the case, what ever symbols or stories resonate for you, I’m sure we’re going to have a wonder filled trip, blisters and all.

Photo: Albert Vila

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Symbolism of St Jordi

Before we begin, we need to understand that there are quite a number of stories surrounding St George, Sant Jordi and what ever other name he is known by. I am living in Catalonia, so, from here on in, he will be known as Sant Jordi.

Most of us know that Sant Jordi drew a sword and killed a dragon, thus saving a fair maiden, or princess. In some of the stories, a rose arises from the blood dripping from the knife. Ohhh, the symbolism in this moment is too good to be true.

The dragon, or the snake,  is a rich symbol of darkness, caves, the occult knowledge and the feminine. It is a prevalent symbol in many cultures denoting good luck, good fortune, protection and the mysterious ‘other’.

Sant Jordi is portrayed as a white male upon a white steed. He represents the male principle,  authority and the power of the father. He is ‘right’, he is law and he holds the sword of righteousness.

I must admit, I’ve always disliked St Jordi killing the dragon, but after reading the Catalan version, where a red rose arises from the blood of the dragon, things have taken on a different turn of events for me.

The sword is the sword of God. The Biblical sword of Our Father in Heaven. The dragon is the symbol of the Great Mother, and indeed, the Church condemned and slaughtered much of the female power in the last 2 000 years – however, taking it a step further – if we see that the sword (the male) enters into the dragon (the female) and from this coupling, there is juice split upon the ground, and a rose is formed - !! well, the rose is Love. More, the rose is a symbol of perfection. It is the Western equivalent of the Eastern Lotus and represents more than I can write in this evening. Let’s just say, it represents enlightenment and spiritual perfection.

A friend of mine joined a group today that called the Bible ‘science fiction’. Well, let’s say we read the Bible, we read all sacred texts, through the eyes of archetypes, through the eyes of symbolism and not so literally, and we come closer to the mystical truths held in these wonderful and sacred books from all traditions.

Here, in Catalonia, they celebrate the story of a knight protecting a princess, but for me, its much more. Here, they celebrate the divine marriage of Shiva and his consort Shakti, they celebrate Asherah and El and the Tao with its integration of yin and yang.


And! It seems with further information there is more to be added about Catalonia and the rose. (Thanks for the tip B.) Sant Jordi is on the 23rd of April. The Virgin of Montserrat's day is the 27th of April. A famous hymn to the black virgin calls her 'April rose, dusky lady of the mountain chain'.

The Black Virgin and Sant Jordi are the two great patrons of Catalonia, and their close proximity of date and imagery have linked the two days inextricably in the Catalan people's minds. The red rose itself, along with Sant Jordi on his white horse wielding a sword, and the Black Virgin holding baby Jesus are three of the most prevalent images of Catalonia.

The male, the female and the rose - they symbol of perfection. Remember, the unity of female and male, although taken literally by many sex cults, is actually the unity of the known and unknown within each human being. The embracing of opposites within the self that leads to the flood of Spirit called Enlightenment.

For more information about the divine feminine in Western Religion, there is a beautiful book about the Divine Feminine in Hebrew Scripture and Biblical Literature written by Rabbi Rami Shapiro.

The 23rd of April is also World Book Day, in honour of the Catalan tradition. Thank you for this one guys. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Training for The Way

We walked 3 hours today, with Jett along playing Roman soldiers.  However, as you can see by the picture, Albert is the one with the sword.

Today we walked along the river. In 2002, Granollers made the river a 'green space' and the wall you can see on the left of the picture, is part of the man made embankment of the Congost. It runs straight through Granollers. Its a lovely spot, and one can hear a host of birds squawking on the walk.

We had a little break at a bird viewing area on the border of Granollers and (the other town!)  and ate some nuts.. on the way home, Jett suddenly developed a huge rash across his throat and I feared he'd had an allergic reaction to the nuts. I was worried for his wind pipe, but finally, we all survived. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Baskets of Birds

Today, its the market. Here, they are selling boxes and baskets of chickens, ducks and rabbits.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Best Book to Learn Catalan, for New Beginners.

Passos has been the best book I've found for a new beginner of the Catalan language. Especially if you don't speak Spanish. Then, the only trick is to study.

Photo: Tiffany Jones

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday Vegetables!

Big leeks, cauliflower, carrots, onions, green leafy stuff, rosemary. Love wednesdays

Monday, April 5, 2010

Faces of My Life Here

Yesterday I finally downloaded my mobile photos to my computer. These were taken in the last year, since we've been here. They are just pictures of me...

This is Jett and I waiting for the Bus to Vilanova, where we take a children's yoga class. Jett is my assistant. Yes, Jett really is that white. And yes, that girl in the back ground is a bit scary. 

Jett loves to draw. And this is one of his first portraits of me. Done about 6 months ago. 

One of my most favourite places in the whole apartment is right here. On the sofa. Some days I don't move much from here. 

This is me on the way to Vilanova on the bus. Its only about 25 minutes away. I go on Thursdays. 

I bought some new socks at the market. There is a local (huge) market here every Thursday. I bought two pairs. I really liked the orange ones. 

On this day, I got off at the wrong station!  Well, I hardly ever travel by my self, and on this day, I went to Amma's darshan. Albert had to work. I went there by my self, and I wasn't sure what station I had to get off at - and this sign said something really dismal like 'oh, you want THIS station? Well, get off at the NEXT stop.' Only I couldn't read it very well from inside the train, and all I really saw was the station name... and I made a mistake.

Me pretending to sleep. 

I was very happy this day, because its the first day I took my new trolley for a walk to the super market. I can do that every day now, but then, it was the first time!! Its me and my trolley. 

Photos: Tiffany Jones

My Mid Morning Break

Across the road, I sometimes stop by for a chocolate stick. And coffee with milk. 

This little lovely is a chocolate xuxu - and is really wonderful!!! I have to have two coffees with this one. 

One of my favourite cakes is this ensaimada, with custard. I love the burnt sugar taste. And its SO soft!

We were told, 40 days ago, that we had to eat a lot one day - for Fat Thursday or Fat Tuesday?, so we said ok... and we ate as much as we could. I love Catalonia. 

Who says I don't study Catalan? I do it the best way possible, by living the traditions of the second breakfast: pastry and coffee. Of course. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Our monkey!

Happy easter! Everyone here buys these cakes with eggs on top. They are called mona. Love to everyone!