Crossing to Avalon: A Woman's Midlife Quest for the Sacred Feminine

Crossing to Avalon: A Woman's Midlife Quest for the Sacred Feminine

by Jean Shinoda Bolen

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

A MIDLIFE QUEST FOR THE GRAIL AND THE GODDESS

Dr Jean Shinoda Bolen's extraordinary memoir celebrates the pilgrimage that heralded her spiritual awakening and leads readers down the path of self-discovery. In this account of her journey to Europe in search of the sacred feminine, she unveils the mythological significance of the midlife search for meaning and renewal.

"[Bolen] charts a path that will lead many readers to the heart of their own emotional and spiritual pilgrimages."
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE BOOK REVIEW

"This wise and challenging work, the most personal of Jean Shinoda Bolen's books, is an absorbing often uncannily perceptive, and useful companion for the soul journeys of our time, which is 'The Time of the Goddess Returning."'
ALICE WALKER, author of 'The Color Purple'

"In 'Crossing to Avalon', Jean Shinoda Bolen turns her acute and brilliant eye toward the interconnectedness of women's mysteries, sacredness of the body, the effect of pilgrimage on soul, and deep feminine friendships."
CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTES, Ph.D., author of 'Women Who Run with the Wolves'

Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., is a Jungian analyst and clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. She is the author of 'Goddesses in Everywoman, Gods in Everyman,' and 'The Tao of Psychology.'

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062502728
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/20/2004
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 253,706
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD, is a psychiatrist, a Jungian analyst, and an internationally known author and speaker. Her books include Goddesses in Everywoman, Gods in Everyman, and many others. She is a distinguished life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and was a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco. She lives in Marin County, California.

Read an Excerpt

Invitation: Pilgrimage

I opened the bulky envelope that had come in the day's mail and found an invitation that would change my life. A total stranger was inviting me on a pilgrimage. She intended that I might "experience my spiritual sources" and so was proposing a pilgrimage to the sacred sites in Europe. I recognized the names of some of the places she suggested I visit -- Chartres Cathedral in France; Glastonbury, England; and Iona, an island off the coast of northern Scotland. And she had timed the trip so that I could meet the Dalai Lama, who would be in the Netherlands when I arrived. The packet contained the letter of invitation, dated February 6, 1986, from Mrs. Elinore Detiger of the Tiger Trust, the Netherlands; a check ; and a beautiful handmade gold pendant in the shape of a vesica piscis. I would later find that this was the same design as on the wellhead of the Chalice Well at Glastonbury, the well in which the Grail was once supposedly hidden.

Glastonbury, England, was a place that had been alive in my imagination for years, ever since I had a dream through which I made a connection with this site. Here exist the ruins of what was once the greatest Christian abbey in Britain, which was reputed to be the site of the first humble church to be consecrated to Mary, the mother of Jesus, Glastonbury was also the fictional location where one could cross through the mists to Avalon, the realm of the Goddess.

This amazing gift of pilgrimage actually had its origins in Glastonbury, where through a series of coincidental events, my book Goddesses in Everywoman had reached Mrs. Detiger. A woman from Glastonbury had visited San Francisco several months before and had been given a copy of Goddesses in Everywoman by a friend who also knew me. She had then taken it back to Glastonbury and was in the midst of reading it when Mrs. Detiger paid her a visit, discovered the book, and decided to bring its author to Europe.

Table of Contents

Preface 1.    Invitation: Pilgrimage
2.    Meeting: The Dalai Lama
3.    Quickening: Chartres Cathedral
4.    The Grail Legend: The Spiritual Journey
5.    Women's Mysteries and the Grail
6.    Pilgrimage to Glastonbury
7.    Sister Pilgrims: Glastonbury Tales
8.    Avalon: Otherworld and Motherworld
9.    In the Forest: Midlife Landscape
10.    The Wasteland: Depression and Despair
11.    Circumambulation: London
12.    The Greening of the Wasteland: Findhorn
13.    Musings: Iona and Other Sacred Places
14.    Holy Island: Mother Earth
15.    Down to Earth: Return
Acknowledgments
References
Index

What People are Saying About This

Alice Walker

This wise and challenging work, the most personal of Jean Shinoda Bolen's books, is an absorbing, often uncannily perceptive, and useful companion for the soul journeys of our time, which is The Time of the Goddess Returning.

Rollo May

"A fascinating, original, and significant contribution to psychology."

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

In Crossing to Avalon, Jean Shinoda Bolen turns her acute and brilliant eye toward the interconnectedness of women's mysteries, sacredness of the body, the effect of pilgrimage on soul, and deep feminine friendships.

Preface

We usually imagine the Grail as a chalice, most often as the chalice filled with wine that Jesus held aloft at the Last Supper, saying to his disciples as he did so, "This is my blood...." His words and motions became ritualized in the Christian communion.

When we consider that as a rounded container a chalice is a feminine symbol, the idea of a vessel filled with blood becomes an image-metaphor for a woman's womb, and the Grail then takes on the possibility of another meaning -- that of a numinous or mysterious feminine symbol, something transformative and healing, with a sacred or divine dimension of the feminine. In the most famous of the Grail Legends, there is a wounded king whose kingdom is a wasteland. His wound can only be healed by the Grail, and until his wound is healed, his kingdom remains devastated. Substituting patriarchy for "kingdom," this myth has considerable relevance today. Deforestation, famine, and armed hostilities, bad as they are, pale in comparison to the ultimate fate of an earth facing potential nuclear or ecological disasters that could turn the entire earth into a wasteland.

The legend of the Grail also has considerable psychological relevance. If we are living in a spiritual wasteland of depression, despair, fears, anger, meaninglessness, emptiness or addictions, an understanding of the legend can teach us something about what ails us and what can heal us.

On the eve of a new millennium, something momentous is happening. We can see "the Goddess" re-emerging everywhere -- as concern for and the resacralization of the planet, as a new appreciation for the feminine aspect of the divinity, as an awareness of the sacredness and wisdom of the body. Images of goddesses are coming forth in dreams, in art, and in poetry. Once again, the Earth is seen as a living organism, as Gaia, the Greek goddess of the Earth.

I see the emergence of goddess consciousness as a return of the Grail into the world, a return that is for now liminal; that is, on the threshold, still between the worlds, emerging out of the mist, perceived by many and yet not fully present in the culture. The Goddess becomes known in embodied sacred moments. In order for her to emerge into the culture and change it, enough individuals must become aware of those deep and sacred moments in which a woman and the Goddess are one in the same -- when Earth and Goddess and Mother and Woman partake of divinity.

The need for return of the Grail and the Goddess is as I have experienced its meaning, a personal and planetary story about wounds and healing, about hope and wholeness

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