Thursday, August 1, 2013

El Camino de Santiago (A Neptune Experience)

Over the years I have read books and articles about El Camino (the pilgrimage route to Santiago, Spain).  While reading The Way of the Stars (Journeys On the Camino De Santiago) by Robert C. Sibley, who walked the route in his fifties, I kept running into Neptune/Pisces themes such as redemption, compassion, forgiveness, transcendence, feet, and religion.  Most of us have heard of this route by now since many famous people such as Paulo Coelho, Shirley MacLaine and Saint Francis of Assisi walked El Camino.

I read in an astrology book not too long ago that Santiago and Galicia are ruled by Pisces and most of the route runs through Galicia and ends in Santiago.  But really a pilgrim can begin the route anywhere in Europe as long as they finish in Santiago. Most people walk the 800 kilometers starting in Southern France near the Pyrenees, walk through Basque country and through Galicia, but there is also a Portugal route.

The reason why I'm mentioning this route and book on an astrology website is because I was struck by Neptune and Pisces working their way through the author's experience. And don't forget the polarity of Pisces is Virgo so there is a sense of servitude, skepticism, discernment, self-inflicted punishment and perfectionism bouncing back between the Pisces compassion, redemption, transcendence, wanting to merge with others, collective experience, losing oneself, spaciness, and intense dreams.  There's a saying that the author mentions in the book that one doesn't walk El Camino, but the road walks the person and leaves enormous impressions.

Life is simplified on the road, a sort traveling monastic living where the person takes care of only his or her basic needs, walking, finding shelter, food, and a shower.  There's the foot problems, mainly blisters, but sometimes broken and sprained ankles.  One can easily get lost of feel lost and are guided by yellow arrows that mark the way, but don't always appear in some spots.  There's mountain climbing involved which falls more under Capricorn as does pushing oneself to the limits.  Pilgrims have mentioned intense dreams and memories that surface especially around songs (Pisces) they heard as children or teenagers.  They sometimes sing these songs on route to ease the boredom or give them strength to keep walking when they have another 10 kilometers to go before the next town and refugio (a type of hostel for pilgrims).

I also noticed that pilgrims tend to drink alcohol (more than they normally would in their mundane lives) which is also ruled by Pisces and Neptune, and takes the edge off of worn out and shivering bodies.  Galicia is also known as the wettest or rainiest region of Spain, and it borders the Atlantic Ocean in sections, its music is important to its culture and has a Neptune quality as well, haunting and mystical.

So I guess what I'm getting at here is that to those who have walked El Camino (millions since the Middle Ages), know the Neptune experience intimately.  They might even have strong Virgo and Pisces elements in their natal charts which draw them to El Camino.  The road calls to prospective pilgrims.  I would imagine that the Rising Sign, Moon or Sun is either in Virgo or Pisces or has aspects to Mercury and Neptune, but especially Neptune.  Sagittarius natives will also find the road appealing because they can set out fancy free, meet foreigners along the route, and pontificate about religion.  They would also enjoy gatherings of pilgrims over a meal and a drink.

On the darker side, since Neptune is involved, a pilgrim can develop an addiction to the road and the walking.  When the experience ends, as in Sibley's book, there's a longing to return to the road or at least a clear and powerful ritual to close the experience.  When Neptune has power over us, we truly want to escape the mundane world because Neptune and Pisces are not comfortable in routine and structure nor does Neptune care about getting head and ambition.  But if we tap into Neptune too much, we lose our footing in the world and this could border on madness. Remember Neptune/Pisces also represents prisons and mental institutions, not to mention hospitals.

The Virgo side of the polarity can also get lost in the experience wanting to serve humanity in some way and is bent on sainthood, as well as, becoming holy and perfect, though Virgo can never live up to its ideal of perfection, which is why Virgos are so critical with themselves and others.  Neptune/Pisces represents the invisible realm such as ghosts and devas of nature.  The author Sibley mentions some supernatural experiences with animals, trees, water, and plants, not to mention rocks.  Neptune opens up new worlds or realms to us, but only if we are in a quiet and still place, as we would be walking 30 miles a day.  When we slow down we feel Neptune most strongly.

Whether you are a Neptune-Type or not, I recommend The Way of the Stars as well as, Paulo Coelho's The Pilgrimage. And if the road calls to you, take it.  From what I've read and heard from my sister who has walked the road four times, the experience is invaluable.  Some people even use it in place of psychological therapy. It could be the most powerful experience you'll have in a lifetime.

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