02 Jan ROAD OUT OF TIME: Way of the dragon
The Dragon is a palpable presence on the road to Santiago de Compostela. I am not referring to the gorgons and gargoyles that adorn churches and cathedrals, those strange reptilian creatures with bulbous eyes, flapping tongues and pointy teeth. Rather, I speak of the gargantuan Dragon whose gaze alone freezes your blood and melts your bones.
The Anglo-Saxon word ‘dragon’ derives from Latin draconem, ie ‘huge serpent, dragon’, and Greek, drak, meaning ‘to see clearly’. People of Old Europe believed dragons lived in a parallel world and the pathways upon which they walked were energetically charged dragon lines.
The ancient Celts viewed dragons as guardian spirits that protected the earth and all living things. Dragons were esteemed gatekeepers of the Great Below, the Underworld; and the Great Above, where the stars shone brightly. These unnerving fire-breathing creatures were a source of wisdom, with the gift of clear vision and prophecy. Dragons were revered and reigned supreme. They were not a force to be reckoned with!
Places where dragons lay down to rest were powerful vortex centres. These sacred areas, where telluric currents converged, carried a potent forcefield of electromagnetic energy. Ceremonial stone circles and ritual structures were created to harness these earthly and astral forces. With the passing of time and major cultural shifts, cathedrals were built over temple sites. On the Camino, one can still find remnants of stone wells, dolmens and goddess altars inside Christian places of worship. Le Puy en Velay, Burgos, Leon, Astorga and Santiago de Compostela are a few examples.
Cathedrals, built upon the resting places of dragons, were carefully designed and constructed over many centuries. The architecture itself reflects a dedication and devotion to God, a supreme intelligence: vibrant stain glass windows of geometric splendour, intricately carved sculptures, marble statues and gilded oil paintings of astonishing grandeur.
Like dragons, cathedrals inspire awe and wonder. Look a little closer and you will see the tiled roof transform into shiny reptilian skin, glinting in the twilight. Bell towers and gothic spires morph into commanding limbs of myth and menace. The ding-dong chime becomes the tolling heartbeat of the mighty dragon that watches and protects. On the Camino, you will always be seen.
Road Out Of Time is a regular Walk & Write blog about the spiritual, mystical and religious significance and traditions of The Camino de Santiago de Compostela.
Sarah Blogg is a Camino scholar and pilgrim of life, who is drawn to share her research into and insights about the enigmatical pilgrim path across Spain.
While for many pilgrims The Camino is The Way of St James, for Sarah the ancient road is The Way of the Goddess.