Portomarín finally in view. Re: this Camino trail marker, we’d seen piles of stones and even larger cairns throughout our journey on El Camino.
Historically, piles of stones mean different things to different people in different countries. Known as huacas in South America, they pertained to sacred pyramids; in parts of Africa, placing a stone on the mound of rough stones (i.e. a cairn) meant prayers for a safe journey.
For those traveling on El Camino de Santiago (aka St. James Way), unloading a stone relates to unloading a personal burden or leaving behind things that weigh you down. Prior to beginning the journey, others bring a stone from home and rub all your fears, hurts and sorrows into the stone and place at the base of the cairn.
Yet another ritual has another symbolic meaning – if you leave the stones in the road, also you leave behind your mistakes and pains of the past to reach the Cathedral of Santiago with light soul and purified.