Elyn Aviva earned a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology at Princeton University (1985); her dissertation topic was the modern-day pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. It was the first anthropological dissertation on the Camino, and Following the Milky Way, her travel narrative based on her experiences and her research, was the first contemporary American account of the pilgrimage. Elyn has traveled the Camino a number of times, including three times on foot (1982, 1997, and 2000). In 2002, 2003, and 2004 she and her husband, Gary White, walked one of the French Chemins de St. Jacques (Roads of St. James), the route that begins in Le Puy en Velay. She has also traveled the Camino by car, exploring its hidden esoteric dimensions. She has written a number of books and articles about pilgrimage and the Camino.
Elyn earned a Master of Divinity degree from Iliff School of Theology (Denver, Colorado) in 1997. While completing the degree, she spent a summer training to be a hospital chaplain, and she served First Universalist Church of Denver as an intern minister for over a year, during which she gave various sermons that drew on her background in comparative religion.
In addition, Elyn has worked as a tribal planner for the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas, as a health planner for the State of Kansas, and as a science writer for the Department of Energy. She established and ran the Department of Energy's High-Temperature Superconductivity Information Center at the Ames Laboratory at Iowa State University. She has also taught Introduction to Religious Studies and led various adult religious-education courses.
Elyn is currently living in Girona (Catalonia), Spain, with her husband, Gary White. They are co-authoring the Powerful Places guidebook series. The series focuses on transformational travel: how to experience a place, not simply visit it.
A pilgrim at heart, Elyn is happiest when she is doing research on and writing about sacred sites and spiritual quest. She is available for presentations on pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, and labyrinths. For author inquiries, please contact us.
Selected recent publications:
Elyn's numerous articles on YourLifeIsATrip.com
Powerful Places Guidebooks (with Gary White), Pilgrims Process, Inc., 2010.
Walking Through Cancer: A Pilgrimage of Gratitude on the Way of St. James, Pilgrims Process, Inc., 2009.
The Journey: A Novel of Pilgrimage and Spiritual Quest, Pilgrims Process, Inc., 2004.
Dead End on the Camino, Pilgrims Process, Inc., 2001.
Following the Milky Way: A Pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, 2nd edition, Pilgrims' Process, Inc., 2001. (First edition, Following the Milky Way: A Pilgrimage across Spain, published by Iowa State University Press, 1989.)
Music in Our World: An Active Listening Approach, co-authored with Gary White and David Stuart (McGraw-Hill, 2001).
"Life Ever Difficult: Paradoxes of the Venetian Ghetto," The World & I, Sept. 2001.
"Music: North Africa and Middle East," Vol. 3, Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women, 2001, pp. 1402-1404.
"Music: Sub-Saharan and Southern Africa," Vol. 3, Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women, 2001, pp. 1413-1415.
"Tourism," Vol. 4, Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women, 2001, pp. 1947-1951.
"A Living Fossil? In Search of Celtic Heritage in Galicia, Spain," The World & I, April 1999.
"Mysterious Megaliths: The Standing Stones of Carnac, Brittany," The World & I, October 1998.
"Touring with the Sun," The World & I, October 1998.
"Introduction to Sacred Geometry," The New Age Retailer (sometime in 1998).
"The Labyrinth: Walking a Sacred Path," The Quest, Summer 1998.
"Buen Camino: A forty-day walk across northern Spain's ancient pilgrimage route produces transient friendships but lasting memories," The World & I, June 1998.
"Walking the Labyrinth: The Wisdom of the Sacred Path," New Age Retailer, May/June 1998.
"The Amazing Labyrinth," The World & I, September 1997.
"A Journey without End: Reflections on a Pilgrim's Progress," The Quest, Summer 1996.
(While an undergraduate, Elyn published poetry in several college literary magazines at Stanford and at Iowa State University, where she graduated in 1969 with Distinctions and Honors, with a major in English.)