by Louise Sommer, MA Ed. Psych.
The Camino has been hiding secrets, for centuries, that reach deep into the mysteries of ancient Europe.
The Hidden Camino is not only a deep and personal spiritual account, it is also a pilgrims' guide, a love story and a celebration of Life. It is about discoveries that reach deep into the mysteries of ancient Europe, the Celtic legend of Tir-na-nóg, the church's painful deceit and most of all, WHY it was so important for the church to suppress women and the truth about Mary Magdalene..
Mary Magdalene & Her church
In January 2010, a long series of deeply touching and also provocative dreams began. The first dream was about Mary Magdalene and Her church. In later dreams, Magdalene was joined by many other goddessess from around the world, several whom I never had heard of. The dreams were so intense, that I couldn’t shake them off. They made me ask questions I had never previously thought of, they pushed me to open my eyes and actually see, and thus began an adventure beyond my wildest dreams.
One of the things I discovered when the dreams began, that really shocked me, was: "… Pope John Paul II had written a letter in 1969 titled Muleris Dignitatem, meaning On the dignity and vocation of women. In this letter, the Pope had officially declared that Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute, but Apostola Apostolorum, that is, the Apostle to the Apostles. He also separated Mary of Bethany from Mary Magdalene, two of the Marys of the New Testament whose identities, have often been confused. Moreover, I also discovered, that it was Pope Gregory the Great who, in 591AD, had declared Mary Magdalene a prostitute, which meant that Mary Magdalene had never been a prostitute to begin with!” (The Hidden Camino: 6)
How could something so utterly important be so ignored!? This was just the begining. One thing led to another, and by the time I left for my pilgrimage, I felt very certain, that the Camino was indeed, The Way of the Goddess. I had no idea what it actually meant, but was certain I was about to find out. So began my pilgrimage on the day of Summer Solstice, 2011.
The Way of the Goddess
I have this thing, a love for art, that always makes me visit every church I pass no matter where I travel. So I obviously did the same along the Camino, starting in St. Jean-Pied-du-Port.
Guided by my dreams, experiences and all the art and symbols I saw along the way, my eyes were opened even wider and I found myself confronted with a reality that was hard to grasp. Here are some of the issues I discovered;
Museums and churches along the Camino were filled with pictures and illustrations of women! Not just any women, but women depicted together with huge towers; eggs; large silver crescent moons; serpents; portrayed as teachers and leaders; scholars and academics. And there weren’t only five or ten of them. They were present within every single church and museum I visited. The Camino was indeed for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. However, except for The Virgin Mary and sometimes Mary Magdalene, all females were unnamed and unmentioned – whereas all the male figures were easily identified. I started to wonder, who are these women? What are they doing here? And why are Magdalene and The Virgin depicted so differently here? Step by step, and a little bit more every day, doors into a hidden world of the Camino, opened themselves; pushing me to see, hear and question! And every so slowly, a puzzle started to take shape and I realised the Camino was hiding powerful secrets; secrets that was about our innate spirituality, the spiritual importance of women and why the goddessess of these ancient cultures had to be erased from our memories and history.
”Too much precious history had indeed been covered by the dust from our boots, only to be forgotten with time…” (The Hidden Camino)
’The Black Hole’ in our history
The hidden secrets of the Camino, or should I say; the hidden secrets of the women along the Camino, taught me so much! They turned everything upside down in how I saw and understood the world I had been born into. Most of all, they taught me what we in the western world, have been taught to forget – and never to ask questions about. I call this, the Black Hole of our history. Coincidentially, this Black Hole is full of women in all their shapes and colours and slowly, I started to understand the psychology behind the fear of women, and our precious spirituality that had been manipulated and taken away from us.
History has not looked kindly upon women. Many of those with the power to write down history, and later on, interpret history, hated and looked down upon women. Today, most of us have no clue just how many independent, powerful and intelligent women have existed throughout European history. But wherever one looks around the world, this story seems to repeat itself. In Egypt, one of the most important Pharaohs was a woman (Hatshepsut); in the Bolivian revolution, one of the most important figures was an Ecuadorian woman, Manuela Saenz. The Sun God wasn’t always a male, and the Moon God wasn’t always a female. Women Vikings fought and plundered alongside the men; they had equality and rights rarely seen at anytime throughout Christianity. I was never taught about any of this in history class. Were you? Instead, goddessess were ridiculed as superstitious nonsense that only women would believe and today, many have been reduced to ’romance and motherhood’. But there was a time when the goddessess were so much more! When women were so much more. The way women in history have been treated, the way Mary Magdalene was removed from her power and suppressed, are all mirrors of what has been done towards women.
Our innate spirituality
I have no doubt that many people and organisations throughout history have worked hard to preserve this ancient knowledge. It is thanks to them that the traces are still there, silently waiting to be rediscovered and explored once again.
So it is that through the insights I experienced along the Camino, I started to understand why it had been so important not only to suppress women and the matriarchal cultures, but also to create a division between women and men. Today we say: women and femininity are this colour and shape, and men and masculinity are this colour and shape. Definitions that are very stereotypical, as well as extremely narrow. We have amputated each other and in this separation, lost the connection to our innate spirituality and inner wholeness. We are not looked upon as whole human beings, but merely small limited shapes we are forced to fit into. Women who like to dress like ’a man’ are being called transgender or butch. Men who wear certain colours are gay, all which is complete nonsense! Another example is how we judge how we define a ’real’ man. Our innate spirituality and identity has been genderised on the premis of suppressing women, which also has caused us to lose the vastness and freedom of our being. It has all become external, instead of internal; our identity has been projected into shapes and norms, instead of an inner foundation of strength. A strong foundation with roots going deep into the earth, and strong branches reaching up into the sky. Learning from all these women and goddessess along the pilgrimage, I started to realise the price we have paid, and are still paying, for the loss of this innate spirituality.
The journey, that started with my dreams, finally reached its end as I began walking the Camino. All the reading, all the searching and all the questioning finally led me to a sense of fulfillment. I know, today, that my dreams were telling me about the origins of the Camino and the Celtic legend of Tir-na-Nóg. The ’pilgrimage’ was a sacred road for the Celts. It was the path to one of their most sacred initiations. The legend of Tir-na-Nóg says one can only reach the Island of Eternal Youth (that is Tir-na-Nóg) in two ways; one must either receive an invitation, or one must have walked the long hard road looking deep inside oneself. And when reaching Finisterra, you would receive your initiation in the name of the Hag, Corella. Her burial tomb is still there, so you can visit her anytime.
The thing is, I don’t think I’m the only one having these dreams. I think many women (and men) are having them, but it’s hard to know where to go, when we have learnt not to listen, not to hear and not to feel. That’s why I wrote this book.
You can find her website at www.louisesommer.com and more information at Pinterest and Facebook.There is also a former blog post by Louise here.