Peregrinos, Ponte Maceria, and The Balrog

“Watch out now, take care

Beware of greedy leaders

They take you where you should not go

While weeping atlas cedars

They just want to grow, grow and grow”- George Harrison 

The concept that life is a repeat performance on a grand stage is expressed yet again today as I am walking this ancient pathway. 

Consider this stamp from my Pilgrim’s passport that I received here today. 

It portrays a local legend that is reported to have occurred on the now restored medieval bridge in Ponte Maceria.  

In the story, God destroys this bridge in order to prevent Roman soldiers (based in Fisterre) who were pursuing some followers of Saint James.  The forces of good escape darkness and death. 

Marcia travels the bridge
Most of the long distance hikers that I have encountered love the Lord of The Rings stories, expressed both in written word and movies.  

Did Tolkien visit here? Could this albergue passport stamp have inspired Tolkien to reframe the tale as a major scene in LOR, one that is particularly relevant to my own journey ?

In 1967, before I was given my trail name as Uncle Tom by Dave Palmer, I carried the nickname Balrog. I received that “nom de passage” when I was a fledgling member of one of the most important groups that I had the pleasure of being included in- The UMass Outing Club. It was there that my life as a backpacker began to develop and eventually take deep root. 

The Balrog was a fictional character in The Fellowship of The Rings, described as tall and menacing with the ability to shroud itself in fire, darkness, and shadow. 

Gandalf challenged the Balrog on the span of the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. In the course of the dramatic fight, Gandalf shattered the Bridge with his staff, allowing the rest of the Fellowship to flee while Gandalf was dragged into the chasm below with the Balrog.

At the very least, I consider Balrog to be my own personal shadow figure.  

I highly encourage the reader to further explore the psychology of The Shadow, expressed superbly by Robert Bly in his slim but very powerful book entitled “The Little Book On The Human Shadow”. 

I have been particularly moved by the brief section of the book entitled The Long Bag We Drag Behind Us.  Take less than five minutes to follow this link in order to understand the importance of  exploring and addressing your own darkness. 

“We spend our life until we’re twenty deciding what parts of ourself to put into the bag, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out again.”- Robert Bly

One thought on “Peregrinos, Ponte Maceria, and The Balrog

  1. Lock Kiermaier

    Another wonderful entry and of course, I loved the Robert Bly reference. “A Little Book on the Human Shadow” is priceless and important.


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