The way of the Star
Ancestral origins of the 'Camino de Santiago de Compostela'
Carlo Barbera

The Pilgrimages of the Soul
In the Christian tradition, the pilgrimage to the Holy Places is still today one of the most practised mystical experiences. Europe is criss-crossed by pilgrimage routes traced by devotees in the last thousand years linking cities and countries to places where Christendom was conceived, where the missions of the first Apostles founded the basis of the institutionalised religion more widespread and powerful in the world, and where its saints in the following centuries performed their deeds and their miracles. The Holy Land of Palestine was obviously the older and more popular destination since the 3rd century AD, although it was extremely dangerous because of the great distances to travel in order to reach the sacred grotto of Bethlehem and because of the presence of dangerous Moorish and Arab, later Moslem, populations living in those territories. The Christian Church through its Crusading Knights, fought violently with these populations and confused the conversion of pagans with the exercise of temporal power that it imposed politically and militarily for centuries, initiating profound conflicts that we find are at the root of today’s hatred and violence.

On the other hand Peter’s tomb in Rome was the other focal point of the mystical religious pilgrimages performed by European Christians. Rome was where, in addition to sincere devotees in search of indulgences and mystical inspiration, there went courtiers, nobles and merchants to set up political and economic enterprises linked to those of the Papal State.

The diffusion of Christianity in Europe began with the journeys of the first apostles to make converts. The apostles were generally faced with enormous hostility among the local populations and even with death because of it. These populations possessed their own ancestral culture, religious beliefs and spirituality linked to the ancient cults of the Mother Goddess and to the solar myths. They had precise cosmological and animistic ideas that regulated their lives as well as ritual and spiritually powerful places, magic pilgrimage routes to the sacred dwellings of the gods of nature and temples devoted to the supreme gods of the upper paradises not accessible to mortal people.

When reaching Europe the apostles of Christ travelled along ancient routes marked by primordial cults. They were certainly filled with their extraordinary faith that blinded them however to the enormous cultural and spiritual heritage of the people that they had come to convert..
The economic, political and military interests that accompanied during the following centuries the spreading of Christianity together with the power of Rome and its legions, imposed on the local populations a new religion, the legacy of an invading power that conquered through bloodshed.

The Christian religion imposed itself by spreading in the whole of Europe a new culture and a new faith built on the ruins of those that had preceded it and using all the elements of the former ancient religion, transforming them and adapting them to the new cultural and doctrinal parameters of Christianity and Roman politics. In this way new words were overimposed on the old ones, new buildings were built on the ancient sacred stones that marked the progression of the stars and shrines to the new god in the places sacred to the power of the Goddess. In this way also the ancient routes of the cult and of the mystical and initiatic pilgrimages were transformed and they became pilgrimage routes to the sacred places of the new religion. The whole cultural and spiritual legacy, all the sacredness, the truth and the power of the ancient places was expropriated by the invading cult. They were hidden and used by the installation of the empire. What was impossible to transform through this cultural, political and military aggression was extirpated in the early middle ages with the genocide of thousands of women and men accused of witchcraft and association with the devil. Thus were ferociously destroyed the last hotbeds of irredentism to the 'new' world.

Santiago de Compostela and the Pilgrimage of Saint James
The Camino de Santiago de Compostella is, since the middle ages, one of the most famous mystical-religious pilgrimages in Europe. It is performed to worship the tomb where,according to a tradition, were found the mortal remains of the apostle James, the Major. It appears to have originated from the purest Christian tradition and from supernatural circumstances closely linked to the sanctity of the apostle.
Although one refers to the Camino de Santiago as if to one specific and precise pilgrimage route, there are several routes that start from France, Spain and Portugal linking cities and countries leading the pilgrims towards Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Each of these has its own history rich in events, deeds performed by knights and demonstrations of faith, noble castles and Templar keeps. In any case the better known and more frequented Camino de Santiago, begins in south western France on the slopes of the Pyrenees overlooking the Gulf of Biscay, in the small town of S.Jean pied de port. It crosses all the northern provinces of Spain until it reaches Santiago, for a total of 400 km, to cover preferably on foot according to tradition carrying only a staff, a gourd, as a container for water and a knapsack..
Last century, precisely in 1985, Santiago de Compostela was declared by UNESCO one of the "World Heritage " sites and the Road of Saint James got the title of First European Cultural Route. This has meant a clear renewal of interest for the pilgrimage to Santiago that continues to open its door in Navarra to all pilgrims from all over the world who for whatever reason, religious, mythical, cultural or simply touristic, decide to follow the ancient route of the star.

The history began officially at the beginning of the 9th century AD when a man named Pelayo, went to the bishop of Iria, in Galicia, to report a fantastic and miraculous event. " In 835, Teodomiro, bishop of Iria, was informed by a mountaineer that on a wooded hill some distance away on the west of mount Pedroso, a tenuous slightly blue light was to be seen at night and that, when the sky was cloudless, one could see a star wonderfully shining above that same place. Together with all his clergy, Teodomiro went on the hill; they excavated in the place that the man had indicated and they found, inside a marble sarcophagus, a body perfectly preserved that certified clues revealed was that of the apostle Saint James."
Soon after the discovery of the tomb the Episcopal seat was transferred from Iria to Compostela, 'the field of the star'. The discovery of the tomb was the basis for the founding of the city of Santiago de Compostela.
The present cathedral that substitutes the original church destroyed by the Arabs in 977, was built in 1082.
Despite the fact that the origin of the Camino de Santiago is thus clear and perfunctorily documented in the Christian tradition, our research can investigate deeper to look for elements that may reveal the existence of the Camino before these recorded events. One question to be asked for example is what was the origin and the meaning of the manifestation of the mysterious light that attracted the attention of the bishop of Iria, and why, if the mortal remains found in the sepulchre are really those of the apostle James, was he buried exactly in that place? Why was the apostle sent to convert precisely the people of Galicia and why, after his death in Palestine where he had returned after he had been obliged to leave Spain because of the hostility of the local population, was it decided to bring back the body of the apostle to Galicia? Was it possibly because this particular place was very special? A land that was the custodian of the more ancient secrets of forgotten cults? A place of earthly power and of astral magnetism?


Following the Star Mystery
The word Compostela can be variously interpreted. The most obvious is that of 'campus stellae' ( field of the star), with reference to the manifestation of light where the alleged tomb of the saint was later found. The whole Camino de Santiago, from S.Juan pied de port until Compostela, is spread with villages, places and mountain passes that are named after stars or after a trail of light, as if the whole Camino were a stellar route, a route that leads to a special point: the field of the star.
Concerning this the famous French alchemist Fulcanelli offers us a clue that cannot be underestimated.
" The Route of Saint James is also called the Milky Way. Greek mythology tells us that the gods followed this route to go to the palace of Zeus and the heroes as well followed it to enter Olympus. The Route of Saint James is the stellar route, accessible to the chosen ones, to the courageous, persevering and wise mortals."
Another possible interpretation comes from an alchemical term: compost. The appearance of a white star on the surface of the compost, during work in the philosophal laboratory, indicated the realisation of the first part of the Great Work. Again Fulcanelli indicates the way:
" Pure Matter,of which the hermetic star consecrates the perfection: it is now our compost, the blessed water of Compostela ( from the Latin albastrum a contraction of alabastrum, white star). And it is also the vase filled with perfume, the vase of alabaster (Latin alabastrus) and the bud that comes out from the flower of knowledge, the hermetic rose."
" The operation is achieved when there appears on the surface a shining star formed by the rays coming from one center, the prototype of the great rose windows of our gothic cathedrals. This is the sure sign that the pilgrim has happily reached the end of his first journey. He has received the mystical blessing of Saint James, confirmed by the luminous imprint that shone, they say, over the tomb of the apostle. The humble and common shell that he wore on his hat has become a shining star, in a halo of light."

Hermetic knowledge helps us and clears our uncertainties by revealing the ancestral arcane nature of our Pilgrimage in the consecrated earth of the Light of the Divine Knowledge, the eternal Dwelling of the Gods. The whole Camino de Santiago seems to reflect on earth a much greater miracle drawn in the sky. The Milky Way describes a stellar route that leads to the constellation of the Greater Dog and thus to the star Sirius. The Camino is the earthly reflection of the sacred stellar way that leads to the dwelling of the gods. It leads the pilgrims to the sacred field of the star that represents the victorious sign of light, the return that has taken place to the divine origin represented by the star Sirius, that keeps the secrets of our forgotten Origin. This element is reproduced in the sacred iconography of Saint James who is preceded by a dog while he reaches the sacred hillock of the Star. The Celtic populations that lived in Galicia much before the advent of Christianity and the Roman invasion together with the Basques in the whole area of present day Northern Spain, believed that the Milky Way was the Arch of Iris of the God Lug.
Lug is a dark god, black like the coat of a wolf in the night or like the feathers of a raven, a bird that brings messages. When Lug is on earth and follows the Camino de Compostela he is a wolf or a dog; when it flies along the Route of the Sky, Lug is a raven.
It is interesting to note that in Europe we find at least two other great routes of ancient origin. One is in France and another in England, both are perfectly oriented from east to west, (the Camino de Compostela keeps an almost perfect orientation east-west on the 42° parallel). Both are marked by an enormous number of dolmen like structures, by places, towns and countries where there are very frequent references to dogs or wolves. Some men in antiquity knew the earth as a living organism, its power lines, the natural channels through which its life energies flowed. They used to represent these places of energy and power with dolmens and megalithic structures, linking them to each other by tracing routes along the nervous system of the goddess. And they used to build temples near the sacred places, plexuses of power, where the telluric currents of the body of the earth meet with the astral currents of the sidereal spaces like perfect reflections below of what is revealed to be the same thing above.

The Cromlechs in the Pyrenees
The study of the ancient dolmen like structures in the whole of western Europe along the Atlantic ocean and of the cults linked to them can provide further indications for our research on the Camino de Compostela. In fact, the place where our Pilgrimage begins, the lower French Navarre and a circumscribed zone of the Spanish Euskad, that is the western side of the Pyrenees region, is dotted with a great number of cromlechs of prehistoric origin; the cromlechs of the Pyrenees are circles of stones of various shapes and dimensions that vary from 2 to 20 meters of diameter. They are each composed of a varied number of stones set in the ground that make up a circular shape. This type of monument is found in the whole of the region of the Pyrenees, from the Pico de Aneto on the East to the Bay of Biscay on the west. The western boundary is marked by the river Leizaran, a tributary of the river Oria, which it meets in the town of Andoain, in the province of Gipuzcoa. Accurate studies demonstrate that the cromlechs represent stars reflected on the earth from the vault of the sky; if they are grouped they reveal the precise configuration of our present constellations. The non academic researcher Juan José Ochoa de Zabalegi writes in his website <> : " All the Cromlechs in the Pyrenees represent stars! The diameter of the circles, built in relation to the luminosity of the star, gives an idea of the dimensions of the star to which the cromlech corresponds."
" The importance of the names of the sites in the Basque language is underlined. They often help establish the astronomical significance for more than a group of stone circles or to find again the vernacular name of more than one constellation and to prove the sacred nature of these groups at the time in question."
" It has been considered that in general the groups of stone circles follow a series of topographical alignments linked to those of the mountains that are found in the same area as these sites. This contention does not reveal anything new as concerning other sites and monuments, Alfred Watkins, in 1925, already mentioned the existence of alignments between prehistorical monuments which he called 'leys'lines' (*)"

The multidisciplinary studies of de Zabalegi indicate that it is possible to date without any doubts the stone circles in the Pyrenees to the first millennium before Christ.

During a conference held in 1999 at the University of Salamanca, he presented the hypothesis that the original pilgrimage towards the west that, in later centuries, became the pilgrimage to Santiago, had its true origins and its mysterious cult in the stone circles of the Pyrenees.

The extensive consolidation of a stellar religion in the 6th century BC, the cult of two doors for the passage of the souls, one at birth: the northern gate or of mankind, and the other for the return of mankind to heaven after death: the southern gate or the gate of the gods.
"For the ancient Greeks the souls descended on earth from paradise during the summer solstice through the gate of Cancer, the so-called gate of man" and came back to Paradise during the winter solstice, through the Gate of the Capricorn, known as the gate of the gods (Porfirio " The caverns of the nymphs of the Odyssey ").
There are some contradictions among the different authors concerning the position of the two gates in the sky. However they agree on the fact that the gates are situated where the ecliptic (2), the annual path of the Sun, crosses the Milky Way.
In de Zabalegi ‘s study emphasis is made on the widespread belief in the whole ancient world that both the extremities of the Milky Way possessed a gate for the stars. The southern gate was near the tail of Sagittarius and the northern gate, near the position ' of shaking hands' of Orion. Ancient authors like Macrobius, Santillana and Dechend stated and proved that the gates for the souls to enter and exit from the sky had a rather elastic position. They stated that the northern gate ran from Taurus to Gemini and the southern gate from Scorpio to Sagittarius. This map although it is imprecise because of divergences,albeit minimal, between authors, do not take us far from the Pilgrimage we are concerned with here and we find in the section of the sky exalted during the winter solstice our white star Sirius shining bright. Once again it offers the light of its adamant Wisdom to the travellers in search of eternity.
The Camino de Compostela is once again the way of the return to the immortal Celestial Origin, the route that leads to the gate of the gods revealed during the winter solstice near the sacred field of the Star, on the earth as it is in heaven.

The Campo of the Star
Under every one of the Christian cathedrals or shrine or pilgrimage place are found temples of preceding periods belonging to more ancient cults. Often archaeological excavations reveal multiple layers belonging to different periods under the actual Christian ritual places. From the excavations, sacred wells, grottoes or ancient megalithic structures emerge. Compostela is no exception to this rule. Excavations have revealed not only the remains of the older cathedral destroyed by the Moors but also a preceding Roman temple and an even older Celtic well.
It is thus obvious that the field of the star was a place of worship in former periods and that, maybe, even the apostle James himself visited this site having been, in some ways, magnetised by the sacred energy that originated from here.

When in the 9th century AD the pilgrimages to Santiago began, this route already existed and all the cities and the villages along its path already bore the names of stars, of wolf, of goose or raven.
It is thus evident that our Pilgrimage coincides with the ascension of a powerful current of life energy of the earth, known and traced much before the beginnings of the Camino de Santiago. The artery of energy of the Goddess that corresponds to the Heavenly Milky Way, a path of light that leads to the White Star, the Origin of Life, was drawn by ancient and mysterious initiates to the Mysteries of the Cosmos and of the Creation. The Camino of the Star that is so important for the destination to be reached, was equally important for the journey itself, so that it became the true initiatory experience, dotted with tests and enormous difficulties to overcome represented by the seven mountain harbours that had to be crossed to conquer the desired goal.
We are faced with the cult of an ancient civilisation that is at the origin of many European peoples, rich with a legacy of culture and knowledge equal to the other ancient civilisations of the world and even to those whose origin date to before the Flood. It is not per chance that there is a narrative tradition that indicates that Noah landed in Galicia. This myth or legend is ultimately the archetype that links all the ancient civilisations of the world to the same universal myth – that of the great purification and the sinking of Atlantis, about 12.000 years ago. The Noah who landed in Galicia at the estuary of the Noya river, like all the cultures of the ancient peoples of the world, brought knowledge that was lost and forgotten, arts like that of agriculture, the breeding of cattle and the art of building. He thought the art of carving stone and to represent over it symbols that neither time nor the inclemency of weather could obliterate and render its message inaudible.
Our Camino lets us see glimpses of ancient traditions lost in the course of time. Legends of men that came from the sea and that brought their knowledge. Men that continued to honour their world lost in the depth of the ocean and who traced , according to their ancient wisdom,sacred routes towards the west from where to ascend to superior worlds, to the temples of light and eternal life.
Thus when the first Christians began to live side by side with the men of the Pyrenees, they understood that these already had profound traditions and spoke of a sacred route, of a field of a star where one arrives at the end of a long and hard journey that it is necessary to undertake to reach the Kingdom of Immortality.

These beliefs proved to be impossible to obliterate and were systematically Christianised by two specific religious orders, that of Cluny and that of the Knights Templar that, from the beginning of the year one thousand controlled the construction of all Christian places of worship in the region and the transformation of all the sacred symbols of the ancient cults in subjects integrated into the new Christian culture.
Thus the ancient symbols of the star, the shell, the goose leg, the raven, the wolf and the dog were transformed into symbols for the Christian pilgrimage. They survived even though permuted and hidden, immortalised into the stone of the cathedrals, carved by the wise hands of mystical artists. Artists who in the face of oblivion hid them among the symbols of the new doctrine allowing the courageous and wise Philosophers to find again the ancient route of the Return. Fulcanelli says:
"Without any doubt our traveller has walked for a long time; nevertheless his smile well expresses how much he is happy and satisfied for having kept his vows. Because his empty haversack, his pilgrim’s staff, his empty gourd, show that this worthy son of 'Alvernia does not have any longer to worry about drinking or eating. In addition the shell attached to his hat, the special badge of the pilgrims of Saint James proves that he has returned directly from Compostela."

Towards Pure Matter – The Gate of Man
This notwithstanding, the reunion with the Philosophal Star that shines above the head of the victorious initiated must be completed with the return journey that will provide not a few further surprises.
" The arrival at Compostela implies the acquisition of the Star. But the philosophal subject is still too impure to undergo maturation. Our mercury must raise progressively to the supreme degree of required purity through a series of sublimitations that need a special substance before being partially coagulated in live sulphur.."
Fulcanelli indicates the existence of two ways to come back, one humid, that is maritime, long, dangerous, uncertain and useless if one makes the slightest mistake, and a dry one that although it is shorter, fast and secure is hidden behind a thick mystery. If the long route of the Camino de Compostela has led the pilgrim to the glorious seal of the Divine Knowledge allowing him to cross the gate of the gods, to climb the steps of the palace of Zeus, and to receive from Zeus’ own hands the supreme gift of immortality, he must now return and walk back the route in a contrary direction. The victorious pilgrim will have to face other tests to refine completely the original matter that now constitutes the substance of his awareness. He has to overcome new dangers and terrible difficulties to reach the gate of man, revealed in the summer solstice in the precise place where the pilgrimage began, at the heart of the Gulf of Biscay. To cross the northern gate ratifies the rebirth of the new man and the return of the Reborn in the world of men, on earth.

The return journey of our pilgrimage to Compostela is wrapped in a mystery reserved for those who have reached the blessed Field of the Star. It is an impetuous and implacable journey in the Love that the creation possesses and that man possesses; it is the journey of those that have such a great treasure to take as a gift, and who can suffer so much to be worthy of it. So much so that they can see their most intimate certainties die, like friends who abandon us precisely at the last step, before arriving at one’s destination.

The Alchemist surprises us for the last time before returning into the silence of the night, to scan the stars, the mysterious routes of our heavenly homeland never forgotten.

" All alchemists are obliged to undertake this pilgrimage. At least in the figurative sense because it concerns a symbolic journey, and he who wants to profit from it cannot, even if for one instant only, leave the laboratory. He must day and night be alert, stand in the breach.. Compostela, he emblematic city is not at all located in Spanish territory, but it the same ground of the philosophal subject. Harsh and hard path, full of surprises and dangers. The route is long and tiring, that route through which the potential becomes actual and the occult is manifest! "




(1) Ley Lines
Ley lines, o Leys, are alignments of ancient sites that move across territories. Ancient sites or sacred places can be situated on a straight line at one or two or many miles in the distance. A ley can be identified simply by aligning precise sites or can be visible on the ground for all or a part of its length from the remains of ancient routes.Ley Lines were rediscovered on June 30th 1921 by Alfred Watkins who unified cartographic studies with personal and clever intuitions elaborated into a precise theory.Watkins supposed that these lines on a straight line or ley lines as he called them from the beginning were the remains of prehistoric trade routes. He associated the ley lines with the Greek god Hermes ( the Roman god Mercury, the Norwegian Odin) who was the god of communication and borders, the winged messenger, the guide for travellers embarking on unknown paths.. It was the occultist Dion Fortunein his novel written in 1936 " The god with the foot of a goat", who invented or divined that the ley lines were " power lines" linking prehistorical sites. Some years later it was suggested tat the Ley lines followed lines of cosmic energy in the earth and could be identified trough dowsing. In 1960 the ley lines were closely linked to the ufological phenomena. In 1969,the ley lines were studied by John Michell, who discusses them in the context of a study on geomancy.

(2) Ecliptic
In astronomy, the circular route apparently described by the Sun on the heavenly sphere in its relative motion around the Earth. The plane of the ecliptic crosses the celestial equator, that is the projection of the earthly equator on the celestial sphere , forming with the equatorial plane an angle equal to about 23° 27' 8''. This inclination known as obliquity of the ecliptic stays approximately constant for periods of millions of years although at the present time it is diminishing at a rate of 48 seconds of arch per century. It will continue to diminish for many more millennia until it will reach 22° 54'; it will then begin again to increase.
The two points where the ecliptic crosses the celestial equator are called nodes or equinoxes. Each year the Sun crosses at the point of the spring equinox, that is at the ascendant node around the 21
st of March, and at the point of the autumn equinox, that is at the descending node, around the 23rd of September. The furthest points of the ecliptic from the celestial equator are called instead summer and winter solstices and are located at about half way between the two nodes. The Sun reaches the solstices respectively around the 21st of June and the 22nd
of December. The names of these four points correspond to those of the seasons that begin in the Northern Hemisphere at those dates. Since the plane of the celestial equator rotates in relation to the ecliptic with a period of about 25.868 years, the equinoxes are not fixed but set a motion known as precession of the equinoxes. As a result the celestial maps must be periodically corrected to determine the true position of a star at a given time..
The ecliptic represents the fundamental circle in a system of celestial co-ordinates called the ecliptic system.
The celestial latitude is measured towards the north and towards the south in relation to the plane of the ecliptic while the celestial longitude is measured towards
the east and towards the west in relation to the spring equinox