'These travelers were called pilgrims, and their symbol was the scallop shell.' -- Paulo Coelho
'The road of the Tradition is not for the chosen few. It is everyone's road.' -- J
'Let not your sword remain long in its scabbard, lest it rust. And when you draw your sword, it must never be replaced without having performed an act of goodness, opened a new path or tasted the blood of an enemy.' -- J
'I looked up at the sky; the Milky Way spread across it, reflecting the immensity of the Road we would have to travel.' -- Paulo Coelho
The Pilgrimage is a biographical account of a pilgrimage Paulo Coelho made along the Road to Santiago, a medieval pilgrimage route.
Paulo Coelho was high up in the mountain range of the Serra do Mar, close by the Agulhas Negras. He was there for a ritual with his master J and a few close associates. He had buried his old trusty sword and was about to receive a new sword from his master J. As he reached down to pick it up, J stamped on his fingers. He was found to be not worthy of the new sword.
J set him a task to earn his new sword, but as with the task recounted in The Valkyries, J is never specific, he gives hints, no more, of the task to be undertaken.
Paulo was told via his wife, to look at a map of Spain for a medieval route known as the Strange Route to Santiago.
What Paulo Coelho was requested to follow, was the medieval route trod by millions of pilgrims, the Road to Santiago, with the final destination being Santiago de Compostela.
The Road to Santiago was of such importance that militant religious orders were established to protect the route, especially from Muslim invaders. These militant orders could be compared with The Knights Templar who guarded the pilgrim route to Jerusalem. As with the Knights Templar, these orders were seen as too powerful, and were destroyed. With their destruction, the Road to Santiago was almost lost.
That the route was not lost with the destruction of the orders guarding the route and today's pilgrims follow the same route as medieval pilgrims is thanks to the French priest Aymeric Picaud who walked the route in 1123. He recorded his travels and experiences in five books Codex Calixtinus, presented as the work of Pope Calixtus II, a devotee of San Tiago. In Book V of the codex, Picaud identified all the natural features, mountains, streams, fountains, hospitals, shelters and cities to be found along the route. Many of the places pilgrims stayed are still available for today's pilgrims
The route was also recorded in the paintings of Bruuel, The Milky Way, and Juan Manoel Serrat, Wanderer.
El Camino de Santiago is now a European Cultural Route and a World Heritage site. Various documentaries, the account by Paulo Coelho, have all conspired to make it a trendy route to travel. But at the time Paulo Coelho was instructed to travel the route, it was rarely travelled and was all but lost.
The Road to Santiago, the ancient medieval pilgrims' route, this was the road Paulo Coelho had to follow to earn his sword.
The sword is important to all Warriors of the Light. It should not remain in its scabbard for too long, lest it rust. But once drawn, it must be used, be it to perform good, to open a new path, or to taste the blood of an enemy. With his old sword, Paulo had been able to perform many magical functions. It was now consigned to the earth. Without his new sword, he had to set forth in the world powerless and defenceless. [see Manual of the Warrior of Light]
We all want to achieve things, but fear holds us back, we do not want to lose what we already have, but if we are to achieve our destiny, we must learn to take risks. [see The Alchemist]
On his first steps along the Road to Santiago, Paulo picks up his guide Petrus, but not first without encountering the Devil.
The guide Petrus, not his real name and we do not learn his true identity, is a member of the fraternity known as The Tradition, also acts as a spiritual guide and mentor.
During their journey together Petrus teaches Paulo meditative exercises and introduces him to elements of Western mystical thought and philosophy.
At the end of their journey together, Petrus tells Paulo that at the end of his journey as a pilgrim, he painted 'a beautiful, immense picture' that depicted all that had happened to him. He advises Paulo to do the same, and if he cannot paint, 'write something, or create a ballet'.
Manual of the Warrior of Light by Paulo Coelho [see BCID 5745341]
The Valkyries by Paulo Coelho [see BCID 5763358]
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho [see BCID 5633652]
The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho [see BCID 5763368]
The Zahir by Paulo Coelho [see BCID 5705217]
The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho [see BCID 5528715]
My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk [see BCID 5745751]
How to Know God by Deepak Chopra