I became intrigued with the scallop shell markers that I would encounter near our home in the forest. Here in Germany, the trails are marked well and I wondered about the shell marker- which eventually led me to the road that I will soon follow.
The scallop shell has been the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. Many legends associated with the shell abound. Two common versions are:
After James’ death, his disciples shipped his body to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. Off the coast of Spain a heavy storm hit the ship, and the body was lost to the ocean. After some time, however, the body washed ashore undamaged, covered in scallops.
After James’ death his body was mysteriously transported by a ship with no crew back to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. As James’ ship approached land, a wedding was taking place on the shore. The young groom was on horseback, and on seeing the ship approaching, his horse got spooked, and the horse and rider plunged into the sea. Through miraculous intervention, the horse and rider emerged from the water alive, covered in seashells
The symbolism of the shell with the grooves coming together represent many roads leading to the final destination. I believe that the shell which are plentiful in the Galacian region of Spain were most likely used to gather water or used as an eating utensil or bowl, and soon became associated with the Camino. Today, many pilgrims wear the shell to signify that they are pilgrims on the route. The Camino is marked with blue and yellow signs pointing The Way.