Traveling Souls

Traveling Souls

“Reading the wonderfully varied and unexpected stories assembled here, I was struck by how much the notion of pilgrimage today has to do with retrieving a sense of purpose (and simplicity, and constancy); with putting oneself, quite literally, in the footsteps of the past. Once upon a less secular time, almost everyone made pilgrimages, and most of the great works of our early literature—Dante’s ascent into the stars, Chaucer’s wanderers to Canterbury, the tales of Orpheus and Odysseus and Hercules—commemorate both inward and outward journeys; these days, I suspect, many of us travel in part to experience pilgrimage by proxy. Most of the travelers in this volume leave home, as I have done, to partake of someone else’s pilgrimage, and so to learn what animates people to undertake such sacrificial tasks; the destination of pilgrimage is pilgrimage itself.”

–From the foreword by Pico Iyer

Foreword Magazine’s 1999 Book of the Year Award (Travel Essay)

What a delightful book! Engagingly narrated with simplicity and humility, each of these accounts contains perceptions valuable for readers of various persuasions. Highly recommended.

Library Journal

A striking collection of personal essays chronicling modern pilgrimages both religious and wholly personal in nature. These thoughtful accounts, introduced by Pico Iyer, disclose a range of motivations, destinations, and experiences.


Another great dawn-of-the-millennium read . . . sure to inspire. . . . The book will leave you thoughtful, ecstatic, roadwise, astonished, and filled with a thirst for more miraculously moving adventures.

San Francisco Examiner

Reading the stories in this collection is like listening in on the tales told by Chaucer’s pilgrims at the Tabard Inn after their return from Canterbury. Together, these travelers reveal a sense of communitas, camaraderie, and even compassion that turns ordinary travel into spiritual adventure. It is an invaluable resource for those on the threshold of pilgrimage.

Phil Cousineau, author of The Art of Pilgrimage

  • Pico Iyer, Foreword
  • Brian Bouldrey, Preface
  • Abigail Seymour, Ultreya
  • Malcolm X, Mecca
  • Alice Walker, Looking for Zora
  • Alane Salierno Mason, Holy City
  • Marvin Barrett, Climbing to Christmas
  • Rachel Kadish, Reparation Spoken Here?
  • Gretel Ehrlich, The Road to Emei Shan
  • John Hanson Mitchell, Providence Hill
  • Barbara Wilson , Joshua Tree
  • Michael Wolfe, When Men and Mountains Meet
  • Satish Kumar, Iona
  • Anne Cushman, Spiritual Discomfort
  • Oliver Statler, Japanese Pilgrimage
  • Jennifer Lash, Lourdes
  • Gary Paul Nabhan, La Verna’s Wounds
  • Marvin Barrett
  • Anne Cushman
  • Gretel Ehrlich
  • Rachel Kadish
  • Satish Kumar
  • Jennifer Lash
  • Alane Salierno Mason
  • John Hanson Mitchell
  • Gary Paul Nabhan
  • Abigail Seymour
  • Oliver Statler
  • Alice Walker
  • Barbara Wilson
  • Michael Wolfe
  • and Malcolm X

Traveling Souls: Contemporary Pilgrimage Stories, edited by Brian Bouldrey, $14.95, ISBN # 1-883513-08-1

Excerpts to come.

Posted on 13 February 2010

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