Shirley MacLaine’s Camino Adventure

A Journey of the Actor’s Mind, Body, and Spirit in One Volume

Where will a walk on the way of Saint James take your mind, body, and soul?

Where will a walk on the way of Saint James take your mind, body, and soul?

Actress Shirley MacLaine—of Downton Abbey, Terms of Endearment, Steel Magnolias, and Postcards from the Edge fame—also has a bit of a New Age-bent. She takes quite an interesting mind journey as she walks the Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of Saint James, in Spain.

No matter who the pilgrim, the journey seems to follow a familiar route—an exhausting physical undertaking involving some 500 miles of sometimes poorly-marked trails, communal lodging including snorers and mice, the accumulation of walking buddies along with some annoying personages, and a wild dog or two or more.

Pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago look for scallop shell markers pointing them in the right direction.

Pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago look for scallop shell markers pointing them in the right direction.

MacLaine bares quite a bit in her book, The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit (Pocket Books, 2000), documenting the walk that she took when she was about 60 years old. It seems it was just time. An anonymous note sender suggests the journey to her repeatedly. Finally, she goes.

Dodging paparazzi, washing out her undies in sinks, and having some very wild reveries are all a part of the program. Not surprisingly, readers learn about past lives MacLaine has experienced, and the journey proceeds very far from the humble path of the pilgrim when the reveries include time in the lost city of Atlantis and thereabouts.

Souls hardy enough to walk the path of Saint James in Spain carry their own loads.

Souls hardy enough to walk the path of Saint James in Spain carry their own loads.

Where does the mind go on a very long walk? The spirit? No matter who is taking this journey, the challenges and victories of the camino seem to be the same. Can the pilgrim reach the end? Will the camino give her what she wants? What she needs? Will the pilgrim’s life alter, for the better, during the pilgrimage? After? At all?

For the traveler contemplating making this journey, MacLaine’s book adds more evidence that this is a pilgrimage waiting to be made. The mind, the spirit, the body all will change.

—Lori Tripoli

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