My Camino Way Series: Article 1
HEMINGWAY, MY DOPELGANGER: AMAZING SYNCHRONICITIES ON EL CAMINO TRAIL
Dopelganger [n]: A ghostly double or counterpart of a living person
Robert Stewart, 2012, El Camino, Spain Ernest Hemingway on his Yacht, 1950, Public Domain
If you’ve ever gone on a long spiritual journey, you’ll probably agree with me on this. Synchronicities – those mysterious echoes of connected events – seem at such times to multiply like biblical loaves of bread and fish. During my pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in 2012 (and indeed the entire time leading up to it and afterward as I continued on to India) I experienced many synchronicities.
Jung, who coined the term, sometimes referred to synchronicity as “meaningful coincidences” arising out of the collective unconscious. I like to think of it as divine intervention meant to wake us up to our soul’s intention.
Synchronous events take many forms – symbols, dreams, chance meetings. The beauty of it is that we don’t need to understand them while they’re happening. Sometimes we need time to process our spiritual journey and decode its messages.
Spiritual messages are imprinted on our souls; we can access them whenever we wish.
One unique synchronicity I had on the Camino walk involved a dalliance with a deceased soul – the famous writer Ernest Hemingway. It started with casual comments from fellow pilgrims and locals that I looked a lot like him. Over time, I began to wonder if Hemingway was my spiritual dopelganger – at least for the while I was in Spain.
Being told you bear resemblance to someone else is not exactly a unique occurrence. Far more important is the reason it’s happening.
At first I laughed off the Hemingway reference, chalking it up to our big white beards. In hindsight, I understood the deeper significance – that I was being called by my spiritual guides to take notice of Hemingway the man – especially as it relates to my work as a peace educator.
Hemingway exuded his own brand of male charisma, playing all the roles our society has glorified as the epitome of masculinity: the bull-fighter, the boxer, the war correspondent, the big game hunter. Although I do appreciate his writing, when I set out for Spain I wasn’t interested in tracing Hemingway’s footsteps or running with bulls in Pamplona. My goal was spiritual and peace-based.
Before embarking upon my journey, however, I focused on very specific meditations to help overcome my fears so I could embrace adventure more fully - something Hemingway did with ease. He grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns. His name was synonymous with adventure.
Hemingway also represents a more tragic reality of the wounded child that never had a chance to heal. Hence he developed a male energy that was gravely imbalanced, like the country in which he was born.
This unresolved conflict Hemingway carried within him speaks a truth to me: that before we can go out into the world fearlessly to leave our mark, we must summon up the courage to look inside ourselves, and face our old ghosts and inner demons.
As a literary genius, Hemingway was ahead of his time, but he was still a product of his time. He experienced world war first hand. His spiritual wounds were profound. And in this sense, one might say he mirrored the American psyche of the 20th century – male dominated and cracked at the center. As a peace educator, Hemingway was an important person for me to “meet” and reflect upon at this time, then - and not just the writer but the human being also.
Everyone we meet, even the dearly departed, are mirrors of one kind or another showing us something we need to see, something that will help us grow and do the work we need to do. Doppelgangers might be viewed as reflections of the duality in us all – our divine masculine and feminine energies. When we meet our doppelganger, we’re being asked by the universe to embrace our duality, which helps balance our energy and heal the spiritual rift within.
Of all my guides on the Camino Way, Papa Hemingway was perhaps the most unexpected and unusual. It was his adventurous spirit that I was being invited to embrace, which has as much to do with spiritual growth as does letting go of our emotional baggage. And with the help of fellow pilgrims, I did this with great glee, particularly during the marvellous medieval festivals that are also part of the Camino walk experience.
The universe puts what we need in our path, when we need it. El Camino de Santiago, as the saying goes, provides. I needed to get more in touch with my masculine energy, to celebrate life (to grab the bull by the horns as it were) and enjoy some good old-fashioned fun. I also needed to get in touch with my feminine side so I could do what Hemingway could not do in his lifetime – heal old wounds and keep growing in peace. The Camino indeed provided, through amazing synchronicities and in many other ways as well.
Stay tuned next week for WHAT’S A RELATIONSHIP SABBATICAL, BOB? I’ll be writing about ... well, what a relationship sabbatical is and how I did it on El Camino trail. So if you’re having challenges in that area of your life, this blog will offer some insights on how to take you and your relationship to a higher level.
Until next time, Buen Camino!
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