The Hidden Camino
"Wonderful experience! Louise Sommer shows us that our learning and history must be more than a passive experience."
Dr. Jim Brown, Elon Univeristy
Ass. Professor in History, Eme.
In the second edition of her best-selling travel memoir, The Hidden Camino, Louise Sommer takes us back to the famous Camino Francés where she uncovered the truth behind the Catholic Church and its suppression of women. It is a story so compelling you will never look at the Camino the same way again.
There are many legends swirling around the extraordinary El Camino, but one of the earliest and most profound is the Irish legend of Tir-na-Nog. According to this Celtic pre-Christian lore, you must be ‘invited’ to walk the Way. And that's exactly what happened to Louise Sommer. Her invitation came in a series of dreams that led her to discover the hidden truth of the famous pilgrimage, The Camino.
"A true story fold with excitement, passion, and precision... A story which leaves you feeling you have made the journey."
Dr. Paul Gannon, SCU
Ass. Professor in Educational Psychology
"What a beautiful book! You're a great storyteller and have something very important to tell!"
New York City
Like so many other readers, I was quite amazed at the amount of knowledge you have about goddessess, pre-Christian symbols, but also women in history. How did you come by this?
"It was almost a life long study we are talking about here. Now, as an Educational Psychologist, everything I see, is through the eyes of the interaction between our culture and us, as individual human beings. So the way I approach all the Goddess now, is through those eyes. I look into their psychological, cultural, historical, mythological and spiritual contexts. The way we label these past Goddesses today, mirrors just how amputated women have become throughout history. Let’s look at Venus for example. Today she symbolises the ’lucky charm’ in romance. Originally, she was the mighty giver of Life - the universial 'Love' of Oneness. But to return to your question, yes, I have studied and questioned my role as a woman since I was a child. My serious historical interest in Goddesses started in my early twenties."
You provide a harsh critique towards historians and archaeologists. Some would even say you are blaming these researchers for how women are being portrayed in history. Is this fair?
"First of all, the way women are being portrayed historically, is the reason we have such a massive problem with women in power and spirituality today. Everywhere you look, you will find how female characters have been distorted and their roles downplayed. In my own Nordic Mythology, women have become nothing but an irrelevant accessory, like Freja, who has become just an object of desire. Why do we need something called Feminist psychology? Why are historical female figures continually described as vicious, manipulative and blood thirsty, like Boudicca and Mary Queen of Scots. And then on the other hand, we have countless historical male personalities like Dick Turbin, who was a downright villain. He’s being portrayed like a Robin Hood. And how many people know that viking women fought side by side with men when going into battle? Druids were both women and men, and the Cathars’ Perfects were both women and men. So why are they still being portrayed as men only? When I started on my Masters Degree, our rector, a famous and highly influencial philosopher of that time, spent a full hour – as his welcoming speech – explaining why women were the root of all the problems in our Western society. I mean, really?! So I am not ’harsh’ nor blaming nor being unfair. I am just showing reality as it is!"
In your book, you describe the pre-Christian iconography you discover within the Catholic churches and museums. What is your theory behind why the church has retained those symbols?
"This is really where all the great theories about secret societies begin. The way I see it, pagan iconography has survived for several reasons. Firstly; the church has adopted basically all their rituals and figures from pre-Christian cultures and traditions. If people didn’t feel ’at home’ with the new Catholic religion, they wouldn’t embrace its teachings. So it was essential for the church to keep those well-known goddesses, rituals and traditions. Secondly; up until Pope Gregory the Great (died in 604AD) women did exist as priests, poets, teachers, scholars and spiritual leaders within the church, and thirdly; we know there have been many groups who had to hide from the Roman Church; those we call the alchemists, those with different views on spirituality and life - the Cathars for example or the Freemasons, those who fought to protect our history and legacy, as well as all the sub groups within the church. People today have forgotten just how dangerous it was to think or speak differently from the accepted church doctrine of that time. So in that sense, what better place is there to hide than within the walls of the enemy itself? This pre-Christian iconography was, after all, only for those with eyes to see… "
How can this historical distortion of women be rectified?
"Well, the first step is becoming aware, and then acknowledging that a problem exists. Then we can redefine the traditional way of thinking, describing and analysing… The thing is, if we allow women a fair and equal place in history, we will need to rewrite the history books. History, as we are being taught, is literally HIS-story. We now need to uncover, re-write and re-tell HERstory so that we can start creating the most important record of them all, OURstory."