The areas in which we feel most stuck and most incompetent may be our richest gold mine of developing material” Free Play

This year, I had wanted to walk the Camino de Santiago across Northern Spain. I have known about “il camino” for over 20 years and it has always piqued my interest. It is something I had promised friends in France that we would do before we were 40. It is seen as a rite of passage for many pilgrims: A mark of their faith, their endurance. Many have spoken of their experiences with their inner gifts opening whilst ‘on’ the Camino, including Shirley Maclaine. There was a film released this year, The Way, which highlighted how special the Camino route is for personal and spiritual growth. I still managed to love the film, despite some of its cliches, especially the sweeping scenery (all minus the pain of real blisters)! The pilgrims follow the scallop shell of “St Jacques” along the route.

I decided not to pursue this path this year. Trusting that as one door opens… may need to stand in the hallway a while till another one opens…..but open it does…and so it has.

I found a scallop shell last week whilst walking along the bay. I saw it as a sign that I have been travelling in the right direction. Making my way slowly and surely. Making my very own Camino during my immersion in Tassie. Following my heart, following the wind and the birds. Indeed the birds had squawked madly as I had been walking the other way, and watching their flight, I had decided to follow them.

Scallop Shell on “My Camino”
Scallop shell on the Camino

A synchroncity of sorts. And a beautiful reminder that we can find meaning in our lives through symbols. It is like when we buy a new car and suddenly all we see are new cars. I often see life play out around me in symbols. I seem to get lots of signs and hints when I am travelling about my internal world. A sign will remind me of a story, a song, a memory and with that I find myself dropping into the labyrhinth of my mind where I can recall, dissect, reflect upon its meaning. It seems to bring about a new clarity, focus, meaning, and I find that the depths of meaning are multi-layered.

I see signs in real life too: Speaking recently with a friend of her dismissal of her deeper feminine aspects, we were treated to a woman jumping out of a moving car at the train station. Really. A moving car. We laughed solidly for the next five minutes at the synchronicity and the strength of the symbolism. If there is ever an image now of how we “throw out our feminine aspects” that is it. And yes, it was a male driver (with respect to the masculine in us, and her masculine at the time). We both laughed at the clarity of how the external meets the internal. For me, this is my reality. There are signs in my outer world which augment, and clarify my internal world, sometimes as if to prepare me for what is ahead.

Jung believed there were many indications of how we are connected: with our fellow humans and with nature in general, through the ‘collective unconscious’ or “Atman”. As we venture deeper into the ‘Atman’ we may find that we are more and more connected to our internal environment. The Germans have a great way of expressing those who are more emotionally connected to the Atman by stating “Some of us live closer to the water than others” (I can’t find the German translation, and yes, if you know it, please comment!)

The artistic journey is one of reconnecting to oneself.  Of making sense of these synchronicities. A way of delving deeply into the internal psyche. An internal journey. One that isn’t concerned whether we are sitting on the couch at home or in some ritzy hotel. Although, sometimes it is wonderful to change our external environment to facilitate this inner journey. It is as though it seems to dislodge any internal matter that may be too fixed and stubborn in the quotidien life by being gently jostled from our external environment. 

And by dislodging it, we may find our best song, our most beautiful poem, our richest heart.