Fascination Pilgrimage: Trend and Tradition
To walk one of the Caminos is fashion! There are various reasons making people walk these hundreds of kilometers. The motivations have changed during the ages and thus we will present you motivations of historical pilgrims and further we are going to find answers why there are so many modern pilgrims who put on their walking shoes. We also show how a historical pilgrimage was to be arranged and who you meet potentially today on the Camino.
Backround and motivation for a Pilgrim of the Middle Ages
Before a pilgrim in the middle ages could start with the pilgrimage itself, he had to clear his issues at home first, like making peace with family, friends and neighbours, paying old bills, making some donations to church and community. Intending to start such a big journey like the Camino it was necessary to save and collect money. Finally to get the full status of a pilgrim one had to ask the priest to issue a pilgrim pass. The last things before the walk started were saying a little prayer and writing his last will.
Such a meticulous preparation makes it clear that walking to Santiago de Compostela was not a holiday. On the contrary it was a definite decision without the security of a return, because of illness, thieves, starvation, dangerous animals, storms… Obvisously there are plenty of reasons why one would not return. But a strong believe in the powers of Saint James and the absolution through reaching the relic in Santiago de Compostela, was the driving force beyond the decision to walk to the grave of Saint James. Believe was a genuine and intrinsic motivation.
A extrinsic motivation was pilgrimage as a punishment. Monks for example were forced to walk to Santiago de Compostela, because of missbehaviours and failures in their lifes in a monastery. It is said that criminals could sometimes choose between going to prison or to be sentenced to walking to Santiago de Compostela.
Taking a look at the numbers of pilgrims who start this adventure every year, the question arises why the Camino is so popular. Why do ten thousands of people from all over the world leave their families, homes and all day routines and abdicate every luxury for several weeks to take all these stresses and strains by walking to the grave of Saint James?
Is this really still the believe in the powers of Saint James? After walking many Caminos I can say that there are more strong believers than I had expected before. But what makes the Camino special is the variety of people, their backrounds and motivations. Some walk it because of religious reason, like I have mentioned before. Others try to have a spiritual journey or a self-discovery.
But there are also people who walk without any spiritual motivation, just because of enjoyment, love to nature, walking, camping.
I have met people who walk for somebody else, who is disabled or dead. I also met people who where secretly hoping to find their match on the Camino.
What unites them is their common will for something different. A look at our modern society makes me think of bigoted security, cosmetics, sterility, food from the supermarked, office, routine, grey buildings, a fast pace, boredom… All this shows how far we distanced ourselves from an original human lifestyle and nature itself.
This is why people seek for the extraordinary experience. And it is smart to look for it in an extraordinary setting. Being in nature all day, feeling the sun, the wind, the soil, not being disturbed by media, meeting extraordinary people, taking new challenges, living only with a backpack and the necessary things – all this makes a whole new setting for the individual. And in this setting it is probable that people find what they were seeking.