“Solvitur ambulando: It is solved by walking.” St Augustine
We live in a mostly sedentary world, with our days seated at a computer working, and our evenings in front of streaming entertainment. This life shows in our physical and mental health, but since much of our modern malaise can be solved by regular walking in nature, how much more could walking hundreds of kilometers solve?
The Camino de Santiago, or The Way of St James, is a Catholic pilgrimage with a number of routes across Spain from southern France, southern Spain, and Portugal. The most famous is the Camino Francés, the French way, and in today’s episode, Ashlee Cowles talks about her background growing up in a military family and how that has shaped her transitory moves, why the Camino is like the Hero’s Journey and how that shaped the way she wrote her novel, as well as why embracing the pilgrim’s spirit and letting go of detailed planning was one of the most challenging aspects of walking several hundred kilometers. We also talked about the idea of pilgrimage when you are not religious — I consider myself spiritual but I don’t subscribe to any particular religion. The Camino is a Catholic pilgrimage but you certainly don’t need to be Catholic to do it. Any long walk is going to break you down in so many ways and everyone seems to be transformed by the Way.
Ashlee Cowles is the award-winning author of YA novels Beneath Wandering Stars and Below Northern Lights as well as Wisdom for The Way: A Camino de Santiago Guidebook for the Pilgrim’s Soul.
- Growing up on military bases and moving a lot
- On the Camino de Santiago and it’s history
- How Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey is built into the geography of the Camino
- On the different routes within the Camino experience
- Beautiful historical sites just off the beaten path
- Tips for dealing with the physical and mental challenges
- The difference between a long walk and a pilgrimage
- Recommended books about the Camino and pilgrimage
You can find Ashlee Cowles at AshleeCowles.com.