By July 2003 Hollywood star Shirley MacLaine’s spiritual quest takes her on foot along the Camino, an ancient Spanish pilgrimage route along the earth’s natural energy lines Shirley MacLaine, Oscar-winning actress, social activist, singular entertainer and bestselling author, is as famous for her long association with Hollywood as she is as seeker of personal and metaphysical truth. This latter quest has led her to write a series of books such as Don’t Fall off the Mountain, Out on a Limb, Dancing in the Light and It’s all in the Playing. Shirley’s inner quest has also led her to power spot destinations, known to inspire rare insights, such as Machu Picchu in Peru and the Camino, an ancient pilgrimage route in northern Spain. Literally ‘the way’ in Spanish, the Camino begins in France, crosses the Pyrenees and ends at the famous cathedral Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of St James are said to be interred. In her book, The Camino—A Journey of the Spirit, Shirley recounts her remarkable 30-day journey on foot that she calls going “back in time to the very origin of the universe”. She narrates a range of astonishing visions and revelations that helped her understand the meaning of the cosmos and gain insight into human genesis. Santiago Camino is known since ancient times to evoke self-reflection and an understanding of one’s destiny. History books associate the Camino with Celtic times, and grand stories of cosmic revelation on the path have been told for generations in the land the Camino passes through. Referring to her journey on the Camino in Woman Spirit magazine, Shirley writes: “It is said that the road to Camino lies directly under the Milky Way, and follows ley lines that reflect the energy from those star systems above.” Ley energy is believed to exist below and above the earth’s surface and when experienced by human consciousness, can induce clarity of thought and revelation. “Just as human beings are the physical vehicles for expressing their spiritual and multi-dimensional selves, so the geological earth is the physical vehicle for manifestation of ancient memories and an alive inner spirit,” she says. It was in 1991 while performing in Brazil that Shirley first considered a trip to the Camino. The inspiration came mysteriously in the form of an unsigned hand-written letter urging her to visit Santiago de Compostela Camino. She discarded the idea the first time, only to receive a similar letter three years later imploring her to make the trip for her spiritual growth. Convinced of the importance of this journey, she cancelled her filming schedule for summer to walk across Spain. For Shirley, a visit to the Camino was not just a grueling trip but also a journey within. She talks of her journey as traveling to a place that made her aware of what has made the human race so dispassionate and ‘feeling-less’. She feels that science is the new enslaver of truth, evoking a false sense of reality. “But we need to acknowledge what has preceded our understanding of our lives because therein lies the history of our conflict, loneliness, confusion, hatred and separation from God, and ourselves,” she says. For a sexagenarian, walking 20 miles per day for 30 days posed both a physical and spiritual challenge, but Shirley reports that every step brought her closer to an understanding of herself and the world. “When a journey of the soul is recognized, a re-establishment of the emotions takes place. There was no doubt that my emotions and emotions of the world were out of balance when I began the Camino. During the journey I began to understand why.”
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