It's easy to give a tetchy harrumph to the idea of pilgrim guidebooks. That elusive satori may slip through your fingers if you treat the journey as paint-by-numbers. I remember space-time being disturbed by a turmoil of anxiety when I encountered a group of pilgrims at one of the rare forks in the road which were missing the ⟶ to show The Way as if that direction was the only option at any intersection. But heck, it's hard enough to walk 100km or 700km to Santiago without doing it on your knees . . . or without a Brierley booklet. No need to go all Joshua Slocum circumnavigating the globe with an old alarm clock for a chronometer - GPS is okay. And, for sure, the demand is there: 1 million copies have been sold in several languages.
My sister met Johnny Brierley in the 1980s when they were both finding their way in Findhorn. Years later, we all went for a pint in Slad, Gloucs about 5 years after I returned from Fisterra. I was on the fifth draft of my own Analysis of the Process of Pilgrimage and realising that writing the goll-dang thing was enough and it didn't need to be published. As you do, we swapped yarns and ideas about Santiago, the Camino and life-the-universe-and-everything. I liked him and wasn't off-put by the inner light which made his gaze a bit intense. I sent him a message and he replied
I, likewise, enjoyed our brief encounter and stories of El Camino.
Thank you for sending me your treatise on the adventures through
Portugal and Spain – I found it delightful and illuminating to read and
I particularly endorse the tripartite nature of an extended walk and the
need to 'allow the time it takes'. It is also my experience that the
journey only really deepens to a spiritual dimension once sufficient
time has been spent in the physical and psychological realms. Alas too
often we allow time constraints to interfere with the alchemical process
and to rob us of the potential of achieving altered states (whether
body, mind or soul).
Let the journey continue with joy and lightness of step. Johnny.