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Re: [anthroposophy] The Asuras Issue - a dissenting voice

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  • Mark Willan
    Not really - for that response took over 10 years to filter through...and if so then all the inner work I have been doing in the last decade has been so much
    Message 1 of 17 , Aug 21, 2004
      Not really - for that response took over 10 years to filter
      through...and if so then all the inner work I have been doing in the
      last decade has been so much time wasted...

      On 21 Aug, 2004, at 03:46 pm, Jan wrote:

      > >
      > > Mark wrote -
      >   "The issue is that they have the force to withstand the call to the
      > > individual Christ forces in the I (I even distinctly recall the
      > mockery
      > > of the challenge "Go on- call on the Christ for all the good it
      > will do
      > > you!"). In fact, at the time, and even with Klockenbring, that was
      > all
      > > we had the wit to do, and though the Christ forces took up the
      > karmic
      > > consequences after contact was broken off, there remained negative
      > > effects, which have still not yet been fully resolved.
      > >
      > > However, Steiner, in his 2 lecture cycles on the Apocalypse, gives
      > the
      > > answer (though only in 1 sentence -!) and that is to call upon the
      > > force of Michael."
      > Hello Mark,
      >   Perhaps directing you back to the lectures and the Michael prayer
      > and
      > forces appropriate to your particular need and situation was Christ's
      > response to your call?
      > Jan
      > >
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    • holderlin66
      holderlin wrote: It is to our horror and nightmare that we present wonderful nuclear containment, reams of techno gibberish and yet fail to imagine what truly
      Message 2 of 17 , Aug 22, 2004
        holderlin wrote:

        "It is to our horror and nightmare that we present wonderful nuclear
        containment, reams of techno gibberish and yet fail to imagine what
        truly makes up the Moral forces of our Earth. Our failure to
        understand the holes we are knocking in the occult Earth with our
        nuclear testing, and sprinkling of the ecosystem with Depleted
        Uranium etc, produces future fire energy without present or past
        fire insight.

        "If we look at the infection and the effects that radiation and DU or
        Depleted Urnaium has on man..we also come to an elemental mystery of
        how moral forces and betrayed fire spirits, ancient Agni fire gods,
        and spirits have been knocked out of sync with human development
        through our nuclear testing. You might say, how did you get that
        strange idea Bugford? Well my geiger counter is going to tell me
        that this part of the woods is not going to be safe to walk. Even if
        everything looks the same, the buildings are intact, flowers seem to
        grow, cars are in the streets, food is in cans, but something is
        wrong, the people are all dead."

        Bradford is stunned by what follows;

        This next piece of information was a long time coming but here it
        is. It doesn't come from Dr. Steiner or Jan or Joksu or Danny and it
        certainly doesn't come from me. It is the result of piecing together
        the contents of the Joint Handbook Notes into the certainty of what
        Matter, light, moral forces and fire amount to. Indeed, this piece
        of the puzzle is the most horrific because it comes from the moral
        vision of science. As Anthros it is O' so easy to dismiss those who
        research out of Spiritual Science, and it is done with a mere shrug
        of the shoulders. The following link to all that has been brought so
        far is truly a kicker that takes the fat headed wind right out of
        our sails. If you can't put all the things together from Notes I-II-
        here is a little piece of Notebook number III, just so that we can
        at least say, we saw it.


        Depleted Uranium: Dirty Bombs, Dirty Missiles, Dirty Bullets
        by Leuren Moret
        SF Bay View

        A death sentence here and abroad
        "Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns
        in foreign policy." - Henry Kissinger, quoted in "Kiss the Boys
        Goodbye: How the United States Betrayed Its Own POW's in Vietnam"

        Vietnam was a chemical war for oil, permanently contaminating
        large regions and countries downriver with Agent Orange, and
        environmentally the most devastating war in world history. But since
        1991, the U.S. has staged four nuclear wars using depleted uranium
        weaponry, which, like Agent Orange, meets the U.S. government
        definition of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Vast regions in the
        Middle East and Central Asia have been permanently contaminated with

        And what about our soldiers? Terry Jemison of the Department of
        Veterans Affairs reported this week to the American Free Press
        that "Gulf-era veterans" now on medical disability since 1991 number
        518,739, with only 7,035 reported wounded in Iraq in that same 14-
        year period.

        This week the American Free Press dropped a "dirty bomb" on the
        Pentagon by reporting that eight out of 20 men who served in one
        unit in the 2003 U.S. military offensive in Iraq now have
        malignancies. That means that 40 percent of the soldiers in that
        unit have developed malignancies in just 16 months.

        Since these soldiers were exposed to vaccines and depleted
        uranium (DU) only, this is strong evidence for researchers and
        scientists working on this issue, that DU is the definitive cause of
        Gulf War Syndrome. Vaccines are not known to cause cancer. One of
        the first published researchers on Gulf War Syndrome, who also
        served in 1991 in Iraq, Dr. Andras Korényi-Both, is in agreement
        with Barbara Goodno from the Department of Defense's Deployment
        Health Support Directorate, that in this war soldiers were not
        exposed to chemicals, pesticides, bioagents or other suspect causes
        this time to confuse the issue.

        This powerful new evidence is blowing holes in the cover-up
        perpetrated by the Pentagon and three presidential administrations
        ever since DU was first used in 1991 in the Persian Gulf War.
        Fourteen years after the introduction of DU on the battlefield in
        1991, the long-term effects have revealed that DU is a death
        sentence and very nasty stuff.

        Scientists studying the biological effects of uranium in the
        1960s reported that it targets the DNA. Marion Fulk, a nuclear
        physical chemist retired from the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab and
        formerly involved with the Manhattan Project, interprets the new and
        rapid malignancies in soldiers from the 2003 war as "spectacular …
        and a matter of concern."

        This evidence shows that of the three effects which DU has on
        biological systems - radiation, chemical and particulate – the
        particulate effect from nano-size particles is the most dominant one
        immediately after exposure and targets the Master Code in the DNA.
        This is bad news, but it explains why DU causes a myriad of diseases
        which are difficult to define.

        In simple words, DU "trashes the body." When asked if the main
        purpose for using it was for destroying things and killing people,
        Fulk was more specific: "I would say that it is the perfect weapon
        for killing lots of people."

        Soldiers developing malignancies so quickly since 2003 can be
        expected to develop multiple cancers from independent causes. This
        phenomenon has been reported by doctors in hospitals treating
        civilians following NATO bombing with DU in Yugoslavia in 1998-1999
        and the U.S. military invasion of Iraq using DU for the first time
        in 1991. Medical experts report that this phenomenon of multiple
        malignancies from unrelated causes has been unknown until now and is
        a new syndrome associated with internal DU exposure.

        Just 467 U.S. personnel were wounded in the three-week Persian
        Gulf War in 1990-1991. Out of 580,400 soldiers who served in Gulf
        War I, 11,000 are dead, and by 2000 there were 325,000 on permanent
        medical disability. This astounding number of disabled vets means
        that a decade later, 56 percent of those soldiers who served now
        have medical problems.

        The number of disabled vets reported up to 2000 has been
        increasing by 43,000 every year. Brad Flohr of the Department of
        Veterans Affairs told American Free Press that he believes there are
        more disabled vets now than even after World War II.

        They brought it home
        Not only were soldiers exposed to DU on and off the
        battlefields, but they brought it home. DU in the semen of soldiers
        internally contaminated their wives, partners and girlfriends.
        Tragically, some women in their 20s and 30s who were sexual partners
        of exposed soldiers developed endometriosis and were forced to have
        hysterectomies because of health problems.

        In a group of 251 soldiers from a study group in Mississippi who
        had all had normal babies before the Gulf War, 67 percent of their
        post-war babies were born with severe birth defects. They were born
        with missing legs, arms, organs or eyes or had immune system and
        blood diseases. In some veterans' families now, the only normal or
        healthy members of the family are the children born before the war.

        The Department of Veterans Affairs has stated that they do not
        keep records of birth defects occurring in families of veterans.

        How did they hide it?
        Before a new weapons system can be used, it must be fully
        tested. The blueprint for depleted uranium weapons is a 1943
        declassified document from the Manhattan Project.

        Harvard President and physicist James B. Conant, who developed
        poison gas in World War I, was brought into the Manhattan Project by
        the father of presidential candidate John Kerry. Kerry's father
        served at a high level in the Manhattan Project and was a CIA agent.

        Conant was chair of the S-1 Poison Gas Committee, which
        recommended developing poison gas weapons from the radioactive trash
        of the atomic bomb project in World War II. At that time, it was
        known that radioactive materials dispersed in bombs from the air,
        from land vehicles or on the battlefield produced very fine
        radioactive dust which would penetrate all protective clothing, any
        gas mask or filter or the skin. By contaminating the lungs and
        blood, it could kill or cause illness very quickly.

        They also recommended it as a permanent terrain contaminant,
        which could be used to destroy populations by contaminating water
        supplies and agricultural land with the radioactive dust.

        The first DU weapons system was developed for the Navy in 1968,
        and DU weapons were given to and used by Israel in 1973 under U.S.
        supervision in the Yom Kippur war against the Arabs.

        The Phalanx weapons system, using DU, was tested on the USS
        Bigelow out of Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in 1977, and DU weapons
        have been sold by the U.S. to 29 countries.

        Military research report summaries detail the testing of DU from
        1974-1999 at military testing grounds, bombing and gunnery ranges
        and at civilian labs under contract. Today 42 states are
        contaminated with DU from manufacture, testing and deployment.

        Women living around these facilities have reported increases in
        endometriosis, birth defects in babies, leukemia in children and
        cancers and other diseases in adults. Thousands of tons of DU
        weapons tested for decades by the Navy on four bombing and gunnery
        ranges around Fallon, Nevada, is no doubt the cause of the fastest
        growing leukemia cluster in the U.S. over the past decade. The
        military denies that DU is the cause.

        The medical profession has been active in the cover-up - just as
        they were in hiding the effects from the American public - of low
        level radiation from atmospheric testing and nuclear power plants. A
        medical doctor in Northern California reported being trained by the
        Pentagon with other doctors, months before the 2003 war started, to
        diagnose and treat soldiers returning from the 2003 war for mental
        problems only.

        Medical professionals in hospitals and facilities treating
        returning soldiers were threatened with $10,000 fines if they talked
        about the soldiers or their medical problems. They were also
        threatened with jail.

        Reporters have also been prevented access to more than 14,000
        medically evacuated soldiers flown nightly since the 2003 war in C-
        150s from Germany who are brought to Walter Reed Hospital near
        Washington, D.C.

        Dr. Robert Gould, former president of the Bay Area chapter of
        Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), has contacted three
        medical doctors since February 2004, after I had been invited to
        speak about DU. Dr. Katharine Thomasson, president of the Oregon
        chapter of the PSR, informed me that Dr. Gould had contacted her and
        tried to convince her to cancel her invitation for me to speak about
        DU at Portland State University on April 12. Although I was able to
        do a presentation, Dr. Thomasson told me I could only talk about DU
        in Oregon "and nothing overseas … nothing political."

        Dr. Gould also contacted and discouraged Dr. Ross Wilcox in
        Toronto, Canada, from inviting me to speak to Physicians for Global
        Survival (PGS), the Canadian equivalent of PSR, several months
        later. When that didn't work, he contacted Dr. Allan Connoly, the
        Canadian national president of PGS, who was able to cancel my
        invitation and nearly succeeded in preventing Dr. Wilcox, his own
        member, from showing photos and presenting details on civilians
        suffering from DU exposure and cancer provided to him by doctors in
        southern Iraq.

        Dr. Janette Sherman, a former and long-standing member of PSR,
        reported that she finally quit some time after being invited to
        lunch by a new PSR executive administrator. After the woman had
        pumped Dr. Sherman for information all through lunch about her
        position on key issues, the woman informed Dr. Sherman that her last
        job had been with the CIA.

        How was the truth about DU hidden from military personnel
        serving in successive DU wars? Before his tragic death, Sen. Paul
        Wellstone informed Joyce Riley, R.N., B.S.N., executive director of
        the American Gulf War Veterans Association, that 95 percent of Gulf
        War veterans had been recycled out of the military by 1995. Any of
        those continuing in military service were isolated from each other,
        preventing critical information being transferred to new troops.
        The "next DU war" had already been planned, and those planning it
        wanted "no skunk at the garden party."

        The US has a dirty (DU) little (CIA) secret
        A new book just published at the American Free Press by Michael
        Collins Piper, "The High Priests of War: The Secret History of How
        America's Neo-Conservative Trotskyites Came to Power and
        Orchestrated the War Against Iraq as the First Step in Their Drive
        for Global Empire," details the early plans for a war against the
        Arab world by Henry Kissinger and the neo-cons in the late 1960s and
        early 1970s. That just happens to coincide with getting the DU "show
        on the road" and the oil crisis in the Middle East, which caused
        concern not only to President Nixon. The British had been plotting
        and scheming for control of the oil in Iraq for decades since first
        using poison gas on the Iraqis and Kurds in 1912.

        The book details the creation of the neo-cons by
        their "godfather" and Trotsky lover Irving Kristol, who pushed for
        a "war against terrorism" long before 9/11 and was lavishly funded
        for years by the CIA. His son, William Kristol, is one of the most
        influential men in the United States.

        Both are public relations men for the Israeli lobby's neo-
        conservative network, with strong ties to Rupert Murdoch. Kissinger
        also has ties to this network and the Carlyle Group, who, one could
        say, have facilitated these omnicidal wars beginning from the time
        former President Bush took office. It would be easy to say that we
        are recycling World Wars I and II, with the same faces.

        When I asked Vietnam Special Ops Green Beret Capt. John
        McCarthy, who could have devised this omnicidal plan to use DU to
        destroy the genetic code and genetic future of large populations of
        Arabs and Moslems in the Middle East and Central Asia - just
        coincidentally the areas where most of the world's oil deposits are
        located - he replied: "It has all the handprints of Henry

        In Zbignew Brzezinski's book "The Grand Chessboard: American
        Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives," the map of the Eurasian
        chessboard includes four regions strategic to U.S. foreign policy.
        The "South" region corresponds precisely to the regions now
        contaminated permanently with radiation from U.S. bombs, missiles
        and bullets made with thousands of tons of DU.

        A Japanese professor, Dr. K. Yagasaki, has calculated that 800
        tons of DU is the atomicity equivalent of 83,000 Nagasaki bombs. The
        U.S. has used more DU since 1991 than the atomicity equivalent of
        400,000 Nagasaki bombs. Four nuclear wars indeed, and 10 times the
        amount of radiation released into the atmosphere from atmospheric

        No wonder our soldiers, their families and the people of the
        Middle East, Yugoslavia and Central Asia are sick. But as Henry
        Kissinger said after Vietnam when our soldiers came home ill from
        Agent Orange, "Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used
        for foreign policy."

        Unfortunately, more and more of those soldiers are men and women
        with brown skin. And unfortunately, the DU radioactive dust will be
        carried around the world and deposited in our environments just as
        the "smog of war" from the 1991 Gulf War was found in deposits in
        South America, the Himalayas and Hawaii.

        In June 2003, the World Health Organization announced in a press
        release that global cancer rates will increase 50 percent by 2020.
        What else do they know that they aren't telling us? I know that
        depleted uranium is a death sentence … for all of us. We will all
        die in silent ways."
      • holderlin66
        16th April Charles Spencer Charlie Chaplin (1889) 20th April Adolf Hitler (1889); Name: Albert Einstein Birth Date: March 14, 1879 Death Date:
        Message 3 of 17 , Aug 22, 2004
          16th April Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin (1889)

          20th April Adolf Hitler (1889);

          Name: Albert Einstein
          Birth Date: March 14, 1879
          Death Date: April 18, 1955
          Place of Birth: Ulm, Germany
          Place of Death: Princeton, Massachusetts, United States
          Nationality: American
          Gender: Male
          Occupations: physicist, scientist

          "Forty years after he came to America , Chaplin was accused of being
          a communist. He had no answer to prove the accusations wrong except
          that it was his constitutional right, and with Senator McCarthy on
          the loose that wasn't enough. Charlie had come to America, that
          forty years ago, to breathe free air. Now he was leaving for the
          same reason (James, Clive, pg 137).

          After finding out that Chaplin was "sympathetic with the Leftist
          beliefs", the FBI went to work to find out what was going on. The
          extensive files on Chaplin maintained by the FBI over a period of
          more than fifty years. They total more than nineteen hundred pages.
          Not only was he accused of being a communist, he was also accused of
          being Jewish, as well, because his half-brother, Sidney, was three-
          fourths Jewish. Chaplin's reputation was not good with the FBI.

          Charlie's investigation began on August 15, 1922, when an agent
          called A.A. Hopkins passed on the information to the FBI that
          Charlie had given a reception for a prominent labor leader, William
          Z. Foster, who was visiting Los Angeles (Robinson, David, pg. 751).
          He was also frequently the guest of the millionaire D.C. James at
          his cliffside mansion in Carmel. It was there that he came to
          delight with his host's son, Dan, a would be writer and a communist
          whom he later would employ as an assistant director on "The Great

          After being questioned about being a communist, Chaplin answered, "I
          do not want to create any revolution, all I want to do is create a
          few more films. I might amuse people. I hope so." (Robinson, David,

          The FBI interviewed scores of witnesses, and the secret evidence
          they collected fills more than four hundred pages. On January 15th,
          1927, Chaplin suffered a serious nervous breakdown. Three days after
          that, the broken comedian learned from a story in the New York Times
          that the U.S. Government was about to lien on his assets. In 1933
          the impromptu performances stopped. Instead, Chaplin's dark moods
          became more obvious, and his anger flashes more constant. A fear of
          failure was plaguing him. The secret to Chaplin's fortitude in
          weathering the storms of the late 1940's was the unqualified success
          and happiness of his marriage to Oona. '

          Bradford comments;

          Firstly we can see that Einstein came into incarnation, 1879, when
          the bonified Michael Battle and the Ahrimanic forces had had their
          War In Heaven. This War in Heaven, shifted the field of battle to
          Humanity. Here in our human environment, certain secrets that had
          been hidden in the world of the Angels, would now be part of human
          life on Earth. The light bulb and Edison, blinked on in 1879, but
          Einstein had brought into his incarnation and destiny a potent and
          exclusive focus and quetion. Something had impressed Einstein about
          the nature of our universe as he surveyed the Stunning War in Heaven
          and looked ahead into the rise of Ahrimanic forces in 1933.

          Einstein certainly wasn't the last soul to see the battle of 1879
          and the War in Heaven but he captured something of the stunned
          severing force of light and anti-light. Einstein had grasped the
          shift of how light is Love and Love and Light is laced in matter.
          But Einstein lost the pieces of the riddle, but not the potency of
          the pre-birth experience.

          Einstein brought with him the peculiar living Manichean strife of
          Light and Darkness all the way down into his brain. The War in
          Heaven and the nature of Light thundered down into the very interior
          brain cortex of the forming embryo of baby Einstein. The defeat and
          meaning of Ahrimanic forces and the high complexity of Light trailed
          out of Heaven and tumbled into the crib of Einstein. But Ahriman was
          mixed and tossed into the tumult as that which was exiled into the
          brains and deeds of humanity, once the Michael's House had been

          In dealing with Christic and Incarnational details we can point
          precisely to how Charlie Chaplin and Hitler had moved through the
          world to the point where Chaplin had them intersect in his
          film, "The Great Dictator". We can literally observe a risen Christ,
          Etheric Christ, crisis signature, in the destiny of Chaplin. He is
          haunted and hounded by Hoover's FBI. Like Novalis and Jerry Lee
          Lewis Chaplin saw an unfallen majesty in a young girl.

          However, if we attempt to examine anything of the delicate nature of
          biography, we find that the guns of AntiSemitism constantly point at
          Steiner. It is easier to point those guns than build an impression
          of the Risen Etheric Christ Event of the 20th century. That is too
          difficult so it is easier to shoot Steiner in the knees with the
          label Antisemitic. This blunt weapon is used against Steiner with as
          many rumors as there are bristles on boars head.

          Now understanding the impact of the Etheric Christ on everyone also
          allows us to see the effects of the Etheric Christ on Charlie
          Chaplin, Albert Einstein and Adolf Hitler.
        • Danny F.
          ... wrote: Bradford quoted Steiner: This layer has specific characteristics: its ... And Danny says: Twould be nice to have Occultists....
          Message 4 of 17 , Aug 23, 2004
            --- In anthroposophy@yahoogroups.com, "holderlin66"
            <holderlin66@h...> wrote:

            Bradford quoted Steiner:

            This layer has specific characteristics: its
            > substance begins to display certain spiritual qualities, which
            > consist in the fact that as soon as it is brought into contact with
            > something living, it strives to expel and destroy this life. The
            > occultist is able to investigate this layer by pure concentration.

            And Danny says:

            'Twould be nice to have Occultists....
            (And also just Normal 'Perceptives'...)

            =>SOUL - Forces of 'DETECTION' Missing;

            That; amongst 'Many' (and also casual daily) other things...

            Danny Gazing
          • holderlin66
            Overview of our Planet allows both historical and future perspectives. Bottling future religious fire, is not like bottling beer. Someday, as in Church
            Message 5 of 17 , Aug 28, 2004
              Overview of our Planet allows both historical and future
              perspectives. Bottling future religious fire, is not like bottling
              beer. Someday, as in Church Pilgrimages/as Jan has noted, MAGEs we
              might be able to open a bottle of Agni raw fire and drink it down
              with Christic bubbly delight.

              "All of this, as it relates to locations of nuclear plants and
              new churches for the Asuric Beings to be thrust into cannisters and
              dumped in mountains like sacred Native American grounds and Yucca
              Mountain or tossed to leak and rust at the bottom of the seas,
              reveals a failure to understand the Beasts of Light that we must
              needs encounter as Picture and Imagination and as Science and
              Technology. Central to such understanding is the core of the
              Immortality of Humanity and the mystery of the Occult Core of the
              Nine Layered Earth.

              Jan wonderfully contributed;

              "Churches were sited not only upon holy, healing wells and caverns of
              ancient initiation but also deliberately built upon vortex sites of
              evil earth energies, often of a very baleful, raw kind and
              consciously transformed within the community of the church, often by
              means of ceremony and chanting, re-enchanting into raised and useful
              form what was seeping from darker regions of the earth. A form of
              search and transform - a Manichean journey into the darkest places
              secure in the magical power of Christ-light. This is no longer
              understood and it is the task of those who can to detect and act in
              an appropriate way upon such energies, as there are ever more

              Current Pilgrimage notes added free of charge:


              "As we crossed over the escarpment at the Mount of Joy —
              traditionally the place where pilgrims caught their first glimpse of
              the spires of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, but now a
              grim and dirty picnic spot with a hideous modern monument to a
              recent visit by the Pope, a kiosk selling soft drinks, and no view
              because the cathedral has been obscured by suburbs and trees — our
              eyes winced in the late afternoon sun, which hung directly in front
              of us. To the left, the heavens were black with the storm clouds
              that had soaked us throughout the morning; to the right, the
              brilliant blue sky had been washed bluer by the day's rain. Whether
              this dramatic bisection of the firmament reminded other pilgrims too
              of Last Judgments with heaven on one side and hell on the other, I
              don't know; but there can be few more dramatic or moving experiences
              than arriving at your destination, in my case after walking for 16
              days and 300 miles, as the sun is setting in front of you. Perhaps
              this explains why, alone among the great mediaeval pilgrimage
              routes, the Way of St James is now more popular than ever.

              Anyone who has walked west for weeks on end instinctively
              understands that a pilgrimage is a metaphor for life, and that our
              life's journey has only one certain end, namely death. Not that the
              camino (as the pilgrim's way is universally known) has anything
              morbid or even particularly religious about it. Instead, it is
              rather like a peripatetic dinner party, or a school outing for grown-
              ups. Far from being a conscious act of mortification, the camino is
              for many just a cheap holiday offering outdoor activity, a hippy-
              dippy lifestyle, or at most a whiff of right-on spirituality. Often
              pilgrims look like the sort of people who go to Stonehenge for the
              solstice, and their relationship to Christianity is tangential at
              best. On one of my first nights, an Irishman expounded the truths
              revealed in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (that Mary Magdalene was
              Christ's wife and that they had many children) while a tubby Native
              American woman from Quebec, who played a deep-toned Red Indian pipe,
              explained the superiority of Celtic religions over Christianity
              because of the pre-eminent role accorded to goddesses by the former.
              I learnt, too, how tolerant the Moors had been in Spain, unlike
              those evil Christians with their cult of St James the Moor Slayer —
              a point of view, I felt, which had probably not been shared by the
              Christian slaves on whose backs the bells of Santiago cathedral were
              carried to Cordoba, where they were placed upside-down by the mosque
              as an insult and a humiliation. So far, indeed, were the minds of
              most so-called pilgrims from the clouds of incense emitted by the
              enormous censer, the famous `botafumeiro', which is swung on a huge
              pulley operated by eight men at the end of the daily pilgrim Mass in
              Santiago cathedral, that the most pungent smoke I detected during
              the walk came when a blonde German girl and two long-haired
              Argentinian boys repaired to a bench by a village church to puff
              their way through a remarkably fat spliff.

              But what the pilgrims lacked in traditional spirituality they made
              up for in traditional charity. They were kind, considerate, friendly
              and generous to one another. For weeks people from all over the
              world walk, sleep, eat, wash, snore, fart and pick their blisters
              together in conditions of extreme privation. The pain is constant
              and everyone's feet swell up like Hobbits'. You sleep in the
              pilgrim `refuges' which have sprung up all along the way — large
              dormitories, often bug-infested. People who back home in Milan or
              Paris would shudder to invite a stranger into their home for a drink
              seem happy to throw themselves into sudden intimacy with people they
              do not know, often including sleeping in what amounts to the same
              bed. At Leon, a barrel-bellied, bearded man snored like an open
              sewer with a partial blockage, keeping the whole dorm awake, and a
              boy from Bavaria attempted vainly to quell the noise by getting out
              of bed and rattling the snorer's bunk at three in the morning. When
              that failed, he simply rummaged in his rucksack until he found an
              unneeded object to throw at him; but no one bore the man, still less
              the boy, any serious grudge.

              Perhaps the greatest deprivation is of a lie-in, or anything
              approaching it. Spaniards have a love of noise and a hatred of sun,
              and they are the usual suspects when, without fail at 5 a.m. or
              earlier, alarm clocks start to ring and bags start to rustle, as
              those walkers start the day who wish to finish by lunchtime. Then
              the slow torture begins, for those still in bed, of listening to the
              zip and unzip of camping gear and to the infuriatingly gentle swoosh
              which light waterproof fabrics make when they are being packed into
              a rucksack. Many early risers have torches which they fix to their
              foreheads and so, for what seems like for ever, the dormitory
              resembles Nibelheim, as strange figures move around furtively
              performing unnatural tasks in the gloom. Yet no one complains, for
              that would infringe the unspoken but universally understood rules of
              pilgrim camaraderie.

              Given that these simple truths about doing without are immediately
              grasped by anyone who experiences them, I found it incredible that I
              never once heard the word `penance' from the lips of a priest in the
              villages and towns along the way, even when they specifically
              preached on pilgrimage. Instead those few pilgrims who attended Mass
              were treated to sermons composed of what my Canadian walking
              companion (non-religious) pithily described as `a lot of New Age
              bullshit' about self-discovery and the unity of humankind. Even the
              Archbishop of Santiago, in his sermon, told the throngs in his
              cathedral that `We are all pilgrims' — a nice enough thought,
              perhaps, but rather irritating for those of us who actually were.
              Never did any cleric explain that a pilgrimage is a physical act of
              penance by which sins can be redeemed — not only one's own but also
              other people's. And yet the Christian religion has no greater
              message than the injunction to imitate Christ by performing self-

              A pilgrimage, like life, is a stony, hard, often lonely and
              sometimes desolate path..."
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