The Big Trip: Prologue

In early 1991, while being smudged with a combination of five herbs sacred to the Yaqui tradition, I had a spontaneous and rather overwhelming out-of-body experience. I met with some deeply spiritual people at church—a very cool Episcopal church in Washington, D.C.—about this experience, and they told they felt God was calling me to do a serious study of shamanism, or was in fact calling me to become a shaman.

Almost immediately I had a driving desire to go to the Pacific Northwest to see the places I had visited in my OOBE. Some of this may well have had to do with the confluence of two television programs, Northern Exposure, a show that had thoroughly stolen my heart and which, though set in Alaska, was filmed in the little town of Roslyn, Washington; and Twin Peaks, the beautiful and deeply twisted drama from David Lynch, which was filmed in the towns of Snoqualmie and North Bend, about an hour from Roslyn. Of course I had to visit these towns as well.

It would take a month. I had $2,000, and a car that had no business being on the road, much less driving across the country and back again. I would spend many nights camping in the national parks and forests, despite the fact that I had previously done only two overnight camping trips before, both of them close to my home, and had a body that was built for comfort, not for sleeping on the ground in a tent.

Along the way, I interviewed a Lakota in Minnesota who was also an Episcopal priest, and was invited to participate in an Inipi, or traditional sweat lodge ceremony. I saw the Corn Palace and Wall Drug in South Dakota, and spent a night lost and terrified in the Black Hills. I lost my wallet for a few days in British Columbia after visiting some of the Canadian glaciers, fell in love with Seattle, had revelatory experiences in Washington’s national forests. And in Montana, where I knew not a soul within its vast 147,046 square miles, I actually bumped into someone I’d eaten dinner with in D.C.

My great friend Indigo Bunting reminded me recently that I had given her a copy of my trip journal, which included a transcription of the tape recordings I had made along the way, the postcards I sent back home to my mother in Maryland, and written journal entries. Superb organizer that I am, I had long since lost my originals, so she was gracious enough to send me a photocopy. I think it’s time to tell the story of that time, that journey that was such a seminal and initatory experience in my life.

I’ll likely interrupt it from time to time with non-trip-related blog entries, and I may take several entries to describe some of the events. I immersed myself in kitsch, had a few bizarre and hilarious encounters, and found a spiritual path that has been profound and transformative.

I hope you will take the trip with me, and will give me your thoughts along the way.

Tomorrow’s episode: What Happened the Night Before.

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Categories: Shamanism, The Big Trip, Travel | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “The Big Trip: Prologue

  1. indigo bunting

    I am so excited about this. I have been wanting to reread your journal for quite some time now, but never manage the time, so having installments is going to be a yummy treat.

  2. sewa: I’m coming along for the ride. When I first visited your blog this afternoon my computor seized up. I was convinced it was the ghost of Epicurus warning me away. Then I read some of your posts. I’m quite sure now it was just my stupid computor. I’m convinced you’re sincere and convinced that you’re good…and I like your sense of humour. Onward and upward!

  3. YAY! A Travelblog.

    I’m going to pretend I invented that and will read yours with great care and attention.

    As far as Northern Exposure, all the times we decided we’d pick up and go to Roslyn and didn’t give an ounce of moose-droppings that it wasn’t real. It deserved to be.

  4. Ahh, Twin Peaks.

    Indigo Bunting told me to come and pay your blog a visit. Glad I listened to her.

  5. I loved Roslyn, and it was quite real, as you’ll see.

  6. Dona, welcome! I hope you’ll enjoy my little journey.

  7. my mamas name is roslynn deloney.

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