Let her be : exploring feminine divine, pilgrimage as continuum, and ritual creativity on the Camino de Santiago : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Social Anthropology, Massey University (Palmerston North, Aotearoa New Zealand)

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As one of the world’s most popular pilgrimages, the Camino de Santiago runs millennium deep and has been the subject of much scholarly research. However, I argue there is a gap in research concerning what is characterised throughout this thesis (by historic and symbolic associations) as being feminine divine aspects of the Camino in contemporary pilgrimage and anthropological religious studies. This contrasts with measurable increases in feminine divine studies and Marian pilgrimage studies in recent times. Through the use of an impressionist narrative, phenomenological approach, this digital ethnographic research explores the experiences of six pilgrims, asking how, and if, they applied any significance to the Camino’s feminine divine. And, where this was not the case, the research establishes that there were significant aspects of the Camino that led the participants to respond to a recruitment notice with ‘feminine divine’ as its organising principle. This research was conducted during periods of isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, and consequently participants were recruited from a private Facebook community that had an ethos of enabling virtual pilgrimage. The study reveals multiple ways that participants suggested both beneficent and problematic associations with the Camino’s feminine divine. Additionally, it explores the ways that pilgrims enacted and regarded pilgrimage as a continuum while living as ‘pilgrims in place’. To achieve this, the research determines the creative ritual practices and material means that pilgrims used to enable a sense of simultaneous pilgrimage between their homes and Santiago de Compostela. I conclude this research underscores the value of understanding feminine divine associations, as well as other aspects of alternative pilgrimage, with Santiago de Compostela, alongside existing studies of the dominant pilgrimage narrative, to broaden pilgrimage scholarship and better appreciate the particular sociocultural indicators that such research offers.
Camino de Santiago, Feminine Divine, Sacred Feminine, Pilgrimage in Place, Pilgrimage as Continuum, Creative Ritual, Alternative Pilgrimage, Materiality, Digital Ethnography, Virtual Pilgrimage, Camino Energy