It looks like the world is slowly finding a way back to normalcy after more than a year with covid-19. The Spanish borders have opened to Americans. Masks are no longer needed outdoors in Spain and over 50% of the adult population of Spain have a least one vaccination shot. Albergues/hostels are allowed 50% occupancy.
At this time, plans are to depart for Paris on September 14 to begin this adventure delayed for over a year.
May and September are described as the best months to travel the Camino because of the favorable weather conditions.
This good news got me thinking about the Camino a little more and the path I would be taking. There are several Camino routes, depending on where you start. I will officially be starting in St Jean Pied de Port, France, on the border to Spain.
Along the different Camino routes, pilgrims are guided by markings with yellow arrows or a scallop shell symbol. These markers steer the Peregrino (pilgrim) towards the Cathedral de Santiago Compostela.
What is the significance of the scallop shell as a representation or symbol of the Camino?
It is thought that Saint James when traveling through Spain, used the scallop shell to beg for food or use for drinking. The shells are plentiful along the coast of Galicia and the right size for a single serving.
Many pilgrims wear the shell around their necks or on their backpacks to identify themselves as pilgrims.
The Scallop Shell in Christianity is a symbol for baptism and the baptismal font is often shaped like a scallop.
Pre-Christianity, the scallop shell is believed to be a pagan symbol for fertility. Couples walked the path asking God to bless them with children.
Metaphorically, the lines of a scallop shell represent all the paths leading to the tomb of Saint James at Santiago de Compostela.
There are other legends or myths about the scallop shell, such as the bride riding a horse scared by the ship containing the remains of Saint James. The horse with the bride bolts into the sea at Galicia and come out covered with scallop shells.
I hope to get into myths in more detail when I publish my journal following the Camino.
Special thanks to Gene Russell at GRussell Creations for the rendering of the Camino Marker. See samples of his work at https://www.grussellcreations.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/grussellcreations.