Camino Francés Stage 6: Onward to the Camino de Finisterre

Photo by Beebe Bahrami

The Sixth of Six Sections on the Camino de Santiago

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To the Ocean and the Setting Sun

Stage Six leaves Santiago de Compostela for the final stretch to the Atlantic ocean. Often called the Camino de Finisterre, it passes through Cereixo, MuxíaMoraime and Finisterre.

You can walk to these in any order: there is no right or wrong way. Indeed, it is here more than elsewhere that the Camino reveals its deeper nature, as a spiral or a circle rather than as a line.

This route is one that more closely follows what some Galicians claim is a more ancient Camino, one that has been in existence at least since the Celts lived here some 2,500 years ago, and perhaps even earlier, during the Neolithic.

Neolithic dolmens are numerous along this coastline. Among the most famous near the Camino are between Finisterre and the town of Vimianzo, near Muxía. There, look for the 6,000 year old dolmens of Pedra Cuberta, Pedra da Arca, and A Mina. Nearby also is the 4,500 year old dolmen of Casota de Berdoias.

In local Galician lore the Camino de Finisterre first heads north to visit the site of the church of Moraime. This is considered an ancient place of the birthing sun.  Next, some 11 kilometers north of Moraime, is the church of Santiago de Cereixo. This church is on the location the same local lore identifies as the place of the dying sun. Then, Muxía, three kilometers northwest of Moraime, lore views as the place between the birthing and the dying suns.

Looking at a map, this makes little sense.  But if we place ourselves in the mind of early medieval pilgrims or of earlier Celtic initiates on a journey dedicated to the sun’s cycle, they might first arrive at the village of Cereixo, where Santiago’s church now marks the site where the sun dies, and then cross the nearby bay by boat to Muxía.

Once in Muxía, the lunar land between the dying and birthing sun, they might have performed special rituals of transition. Muxía is a place laden with miracles from both pagan and Christian times.

From Muxía initiates then made the final three kilometer journey to Moraime, where the sun is born again, making a full circle.

The idea that the ocean is the birthing vehicle of the reborn sun, that the moon hold a place in between, and that a person walks a circle more than a line is in fact a more accurate reenactment of the cycles of the sun and the moon. This seems more attuned to an ancient mindset than to our modern linear one, and is another great example of how local folklore can tell us important facts about the past.

You can visit Finisterre in either direction, first or last. It possesses its now pagan rituals that honor the power of the ocean and the setting sun.

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