The Mystic Path

by Raven Winters

My journey along the Mystic Path of the Goddess and Avalon began when I was about sixteen years old. I had begun digging into my Celtic ancestry and simultaneously looking into Kabbalah and Gnosticism, where I learned about the Gospels of Mary Magdalene and Thomas. Discovering the Shekinah (Sophia) and Mary Magdalene as the Rose Goddess was a profound moment for me, and that she is the Holy Grail and once dwelt in Avalon.

As daughters of Avalon on the Mystic Path, we are striving to reach the Sacred Centre. But what is it, and where is it exactly? This is something that has been debated by priestess and even some academics alike, and the answer is somewhat personal and varies.

I believe the Sacred Centre of Avalon is symbolically the Tor, surrounded by a Labyrinth. But the Tor is merely an earthly representation and perhaps dwelling place of the Spirit or Shekinah/Sophia (Wisdom) of the Goddess in all her Aspects, and the Labyrinth is the Mystic Path Her daughters walk through life as we strive to reach Her.

In considering the ways the women—the daughters of Avalon—have maintained and nurtured this Sacred Centre, I find myself thinking of circles. The women of Avalon have stood, do stand, and will stand for all time in a circle, hands clasped together, hearts and minds fixated upon Modron (Welsh, “the Mother”), as we each strive energetically and spiritually to be all that we are meant to be.

As Jhenah Telyndru has said, whether Avalon really existed as a physical place in Glastonbury or not doesn’t matter; women for centuries have focused their spiritual energies on the site of Glastonbury, caring for it as the mystical Isle of Avalon, and even when the spiritual energy there has changed in tone and interpretation (such as when Christian churches were built on the site in the 13th and 14th centuries), the Tor has been and remains the focus of prayer, meditation, and sacred living in many forms.

Archaeological discoveries of flint tools tell us that the Tor was visited as far back as the Neolithic Age, and there is said to be a current of energy in Glastonbury which matches many sacred sites around the world, such as Stonehenge, Sedona, Arizona, or the Majorville Medicine Wheel in Alberta, Canada. Certainly, the same ley line running through England intersects Stonehenge and the Glastonbury Tor. Once, there were many people (I suspect predominately women) in tune with these sorts of energies. Today those who feel them when present in those holy places are dismissed as New Age radical thinkers or followers of pseudo-science, but this doesn’t invalidate the experiences of those who are in tune with Earth’s (and therefore the Goddess’s) energies, especially those of us who are in tune with the Rose Goddess Aspect and the Avalonian Pantheon.

Whether Avalon physically existed in our world (at Glastonbury Tor or another location) or was/is a place that can only be accessed in vision quests (Imrammas) via liminal spaces, the daughters and priestesses of Avalon once made their lives there, connected by the unbreakable bonds of spiritual sisterhood and the love of the Mother Goddess. They focused their intentions on doing the work of the Goddess and on working on themselves (shadow work) for the greater good, not only of their own souls, but those of the Avalonian community and the world. These were real flesh and blood women who, one way or another, lived in Avalon and cared for each other under the loving gaze of the Mother. Today, many of us have heard the Goddess’s call and felt the pull of the feminine ancestral Avalonian spirits and the Five Goddesses of Wales—Rhiannon, Arianrhod, Cerridwen, Branwen, and Blodeuwedd—across time and space reaching out to us, summoning us to come home.

In Wales, there is a term (hiraeth) which translates roughly to an irresistible longing for our ancestral homeland, regardless of whether we have ever been there or not. Hiraeth also translates as homesickness, and I believe that one does not have to be of Celtic ancestry to feel it. We are all homesick for the Mother, whether we realize it or not.

As a teenager, I found journal entries from Virginia Woolf resonating deep within:

“I have some restless searcher in me. Why is there not a discovery in life? Something one can lay hands on and say, ‘This is it?’…One incident—say the fall of a flower—might contain it.…I’m looking: but that’s not it—that’s not it. What is it? And shall I die before I find it?”

Since I never knew her personally, I can’t say for certain if Virginia felt some form of hiraeth, but her words about searching for “it” are the best way to describe what I feel. I have felt hiraeth all my life, long before I had any concept of what “it” was, this strange desire to go somewhere, a place I could neither name nor identify on any map…until I discovered my Celtic ancestry and heard the first whispers of the Goddess calling me to Glastonbury, to Stonehenge, to Wales, to Scotland and Ireland…to the Orkneys, the Hebrides, the Isle of Man and the Isle of Skye.

At ages sixteen and seventeen, I had no idea whose whispers I heard, and quickly dismissed them as I still had a limited understanding of the world, spiritual and physical alike. But the feeling of hiraeth never left me, and when I read the Mists of Avalon series by Marion Zimmer Bradley for the first time, I remember wishing for a place like Avalon and bonds with other like-minded women. Back then, I thought it was nothing more than a fruitless dream and filed it away as a fantasy, as unreachable as a parallel dream I had of exploring space on a powerful starship at warp speed. I never imagined I’d find myself walking that path at age forty, on a spiritual quest for Avalon.

The beauty of walking the mythical Labyrinth on one’s spiritual quest, dancing in the celestial heavens through meditation and study, enriching one’s soul through contemplation of many disciplines and listening to the Voice of the Goddess as She guides one to truly See the Universe in all its interconnected splendour, is what the daughters of Avalon have sought and lived for centuries untold. And it is what we are striving for today.

How the ancient daughters of Avalon maintained its Sacred Centre was, in my view, by walking in truth and light, in sovereignty, heads held high and focused on Sophia/the Mother/Rose Goddess/the Five Goddesses of Wales, heedless of what patriarchal minds must have thought of them. What we can learn from this is that it doesn’t matter what other people think. We know our truth, we know our place in this world, we know our devotion, we know our worth. We have merely forgotten those things as we’ve listened to the words and songs of those who would oppress us and suppress the truth.

In a world today where everything seems to be shattering and the illusions of old are being cast off—whether in love as we strive for honesty in our roles as daughters of the Goddess, or in anger as those walking a different path rise up in insurrection against centuries-old patriarchal and prejudiced tyrannies—we must be brave and hold tight to our truth. We must love the Goddess, love each other, and send our love out into the world where it will manifest as rays of light, that all those birthing a new world may hold onto it in these times of darkness.

We may find ourselves feeling many different things at various times. We may feel uplifted or we may feel depressed; we may feel content or we may feel restless; we may find ourselves dispassionate or we may find ourselves overwhelmed. And all of those things are alright. We must realize that all our emotions, however positive or negative, are valid. We all have much shadow work to do, but we mustn’t be discouraged by this or allow ourselves to believe that there is something wrong with us for how we feel as we move through this stage of our lives. Chameli Ardagh, founder of the Awakening Women’s Institute and priestess of the Goddess, has a powerful perspective on women’s emotions:

“Perhaps your feelings too can be sacred offerings to Goddess, food that she is yearning for. Maybe your feelings are not a mistake but her message to you, a lifeline she has cast from the realm of the real. Beneath the glitter and the rags, could it be that all feelings are in their essence expressions of Goddess herself?”

As sisters and daughters of Avalon, we are ourselves expressions of the Goddess, even as our emotions are expressions of Her. Once we realize that, once we join the infinite circle of women throughout time and space who have stood, still stand, and will stand in Avalon, we will be able to not only lift each other up and integrate our whole, authentic, sovereign selves, but we will also be able to send our love and light out into the world and help begin to heal. It starts by accepting the love of our Mother the Goddess in each of our hearts, by embracing Her as She embraces us, and then working to love and improve ourselves, a love which we will extend to all of our sisters as we walk down our own unique but parallel paths. Finally, that love will be extended via the sacred heart of the Mother out into the world, and bit by bit, healing will ensue.

Those of us who believe in Avalon have always been, and will always be, healers. But healing ourselves, our families, our communities, our world, is not something that can be done all at once, nor can it be done alone by any one individual. Only by standing together can we create real change.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” This is precisely what our inner work is about. For myself, I know I have grown and changed and continue to evolve all my life, and I will change again and again for the rest of my time in this world. A verse from Stanley Kunitz’s poem The Layers struck me as a near perfect summation of my thoughts on the constant evolution of all our souls:

“In my darkest night,

when the moon was covered

and I roamed through wreckage,

a nimbus-clouded voice

directed me:

‘Live in the layers,

not on the litter.’

Though I lack the art

to decipher it,

no doubt the next chapter

in my book of transformations

is already written.

I am not done with my changes.”

I too “am not done with my changes.” None of us are. As sisters and daughters of Avalon seeking to live our truth in the world, we will “live in the layers, not on the litter.” We will move forward and live in the present, not in the past. We are bound together by the Goddess and our sacred duties. Our individual paths are of course our own but, like the ley lines which intersect the holy sites throughout the world, we move forward together in sacred pilgrimage, drawing our inspiration and wisdom (the “awen”) from the Mother’s great Cauldron, and shining the rays of our light as we part the mists and toss aside the veils laid upon our souls, to each other, to Humanity, to all beings of the many dimensions of the universe…and beyond.

Raven Winters is a Canadian writer, editor, and artist, a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon, the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, devotee to the Rose Goddess Mary Magdalene and the Norse God Odin, and eclectic witch. Her interests include mythology, ancient history, Gnosis, Kabbalah, Tibetan Buddhism, Tarot, astrology, theoretical physics, astronomy, ornithology, marine biology, literature, poetry, film, and music. She writes science fiction, fantasy, and contemplative poetry about the Goddess, nature, Ravens, and the cosmos. Raven lives in Western Canada with her partner, two beautiful children, and three personable cats. She is custodian of a fledgling garden and an enthusiastic birder with a regular flock of mischievous magpies, crows, northern flickers, sparrows, chickadees, and other birds who enjoy being doted on with seeds and peanuts in her yard (as do the local squirrels). When she’s not busy with family, wild birds, spiritual practices, writing and art, you can find her on Instagram waxing poetic about her other passions, including Marvel, Time Travel and the Multiverse @ravenwintersauthor

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