Thursday, 25 September 2008

You can't kill the spirit

Wherever a length of wire fence borders the route, pilgrims lace it with twigs or grass to make crosses. Worn-out socks, old bandages and flowers all make their appearance. It's a mania. Perhaps an uncontrollable force moves them to do it.

More than anything these fences provoke warm memories of the Greenham Common peace camp. There, the fences were strung with colourful wool and ribbons woven into messages of peace; with pictures and gifts from family and friends, with photos and soft toys. The military fence was beautified - or if not beautified, then emasculated, feminised - by the women's life-affirming symbols.

All these crosses make me ponder that the spirit of Greenham Common lives on in the Camino, perhaps seeded by the women of my generation and older who we see walking indomitably on, alone. Does it live on in the thin seam of belief in the power of love to end wars that we see scrawled on the walls of underpasses? Yet the will to decorate these fences seems like an ancient ritual that people still perform, unaware of its meaning or origins.

21st September 2008

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