Following the Milky Way

Elyn Aviva is a cultural anthropologist who wrote her PhD dissertation on the cultural and anthropological aspects of doing a pilgrimage. Her book is both scholarly and unrefined. On the one hand it is a very detailed description of the ancient ruins (and their stories) that you find along the Camino FranceĀ“s, on the other hand it is a very raw account of the rigours of the trek – sleeping out doors, brutal pain, indifferent locals…and more.

The author walked her Camino in 1982 with a male friend. Although fluent in Spanish, she is not Catholic, but her friend is. Not only are they trying to walk the authentic route of the original Camino, they are also trying to answer the question, “How much did the early church bury of the old pre-christian pilgrimage in order to super-impose its own theology on it?”

Elyn’s story is compelling. Written in a conversational style as journal entires, it is a very real account of a difficult journey. Her first Camino has a very profound effect on her, as she not only goes on to walk the path twice more, she also completes a Master of Divinity degree in 1997.

I think that you will enjoy this book. Although I found the detailed descriptions of the historical places a bit tedious, I loved her personal accounts of the journey and the descriptions of the food they ate.

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