Sunday, August 16, 2009

Is Avalon there? Do you believe?

There are two books written by Judith Duerk called The Circle Of Stones and I Sit Listening To The Wind. I believe that every woman should read these books. I cried when I first read them because they spoke to me at such a deep level. They told me what I had always felt but didn't know what it was that I felt. After each chapter she writes a short piece that starts with "How would your life have been different if....". For the one about depression she wrote: "How might your life have been different, if, when you were a young woman, the first time you felt feelings of depression, an older woman had come to sit with you? If she had come to sit with you, as someone had come to sit with her the first time she had feelings of depression? To simply sit, quietly, perhaps wordlessly--to sit with you, during your dark time?

And how might your life have been different if the woman had accepted your feelings of depression? Had accepted them so completely and fully that you began to feel safe with them. If there had been no judgment and no attempt to make you smile. to betray your feelings, to deny your darkness. If the woman had simply sat in silence with you, with your pain, and in the darkest moments had been able to reflect it to reflect to you your witness...attend...and by her quiet respect for it, to help you learn to respect it...your own pain and witness, attend and respect your depression...and to see that just as the woman had faith in it, you also might have a glimmer of faith that there was meaning and truth in your darkness."
"How might your life be different?"
In my other life, before things changed, I had rather a graniose dream of creating a place called Avalon Healing Center. A place where women could go and have their feelings honoured and respected. I chose the name because of the way Marianne Williamson describes Avalon in her book, A Return To Love: "Avalon symbolizes a world beyond the world we see with our physical eyes. It represents the miraculous sense of things, the enchanted realm that we knew as children. Our childlike self is the deepest level of our being. It is who we really are and what is real doesn't go away. The truth doesn't stop being the truth just because we're not looking at it. Love merely becomes clouded over, or surrounded by mental mists."
"Avalon is the world we knew when we were still connected to our softness, our innocence, our spirit. It's actually the same world we see now, but informed by love, interpreted gently, with hope and faith and a sense of wonder. It's easily retrieved, because perception is a choice. The mists part when we believe that Avalon is behind them."

"And that's what a miracle is: a parting of the mists, a shift in perception, a return to love."
Avalon was also a mythical place during the time of King Arthur, it was a place hidden behind the mists. The mists wouldn't part unless you believed the island was there.
Which reminds me of another book, The Mists Of Avalon by Marion Bradley. It's the story of the women of King Arthur's time.
The Circle Of Stones and The Mists Of Avalon came to me in serendipidous ways. The Circle of Stones was bought as a Christmas gift when I worked at the Women's Shelter and was put with all the other gifts under the tree. Each person chose a number and then got to choose any gift they wanted. The last gift left, the book, was mine. The person who bought the book told me later that she had thought of me when she bought it.
I saw The Mists Of Avalon at Book Warehouse when I was visiting Vancouver. I was intrigued by it when I first saw it but didn't buy it. I kept seeing it and it seemed to call to me, as books often do, so I finally bought it. I didn't read it right away and in the meantime moved to Vancouver. I ended up belonging to a group called the Sisterhood Of Avalon and read the book then. Funny how things happen.
I felt very connected to all of this at one time but have really drifted away from it. I don't know anyone any more who is interested in this type of thing, except on blogs. I so often feel that I don't belong anywhere because my interests don't seem to fit with other people's interests. I don't seem to FIT anywhere. I don't even know if that is good or bad.
So many women carry so much pain and there is no place to express it and be heard, because we live in a world that is informed by men. Women are still devalued, just for being women. Their emotions are ridiculed and they are dismissed. It's all so covert now.
I think The Artist's Way is bringing all of this up for me. Reminding me of the different parts of myself.


  1. I think, if many of us met in real life we would not see all the things we share on our blogs, we wouldn't know how much we had in common. I think Circle of Stones is about this, how women bury what they are. I think on our blogs is where we women can show ourselves.... You probably do know women like you but they just arn't public... Enjoying the Circle of Stones by the way!

  2. They sound like great books - I must find them!
    I feel the same in many ways - not part of a group, feeling like I am looking in. I find more kinship here.
    I have been way behind in the Artist's Way. Trying to do too many other things I guess. Must get back on track!
    Do take care Leone.

  3. Yes, Rose, you are right, I think our blogs is where we share our true selves, there is a sense of both kinship and anonimity. I'm glad you are enjoying the Circle Of Stones.

    I hope you can find the books Bev. The Artist's Way can be quite challenging so doing it at your own speed is a good idea. It's good to know you share the same feelings as me and find kinship here.

  4. This post gave me goosebumps! ;)

    I read "The Mist of Avalon" more than 15 years ago. It had changed my entire perception on storytelling, the Arthurian perception, religion and women. But more deeply, this book brought back that bright-eyed child who was buried deep inside of me. This book awoke me to a genre - legend & fantasy - which I had loved since I was a little kid. Hence (in a way) like you, Avalon had become a very important "symbol" to me.

    Did you know that the book has been made into a film some years ago? It's on DVD and you should be able to get it from online store like Amazon.

    Also Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of "The Mists of Avalon", had written another 3 or may be 4 more books following the characters of "The Mist of Avalon". You might want to read them as well.

    And thanks to you again, I think I'm going to get the Circle of Stones. :)

  5. Hi Hybrid J I'm happy that my post brought up good memories. I haven't read her other books and will check them out. I hope you like The Circle Of Stones. I have the DVD of TMOA, they did a very good job on it, I think.

  6. What a wonderful post...I must get my hands on those books.

    There's so much I'd like to say about Avalon...I, too, read The Mists of Avalon many, many years ago and, looking back, was the beginning of many changes in my life.

    I do believe in Avalon. In some pagan traditions, Avalon is also the name of the Summerland, also known as the Summer Country...the 'after-world', where our spirits reside when we die (in my tradition, anyway!). It's why children bob for apples at Halloween....Avalon is also known as the Isle of Apples -- so we place apples out as offerings for our ancestors during Samhain -- when the veil, or mists, between the worlds are thinnest...

    The idea of having an older woman sit with me when I was young and feeling my Shadow for the first time is different things would be...

    It's not too late for the Avalon Healing Center, is it? *grin*

    ~much love~

  7. I'm afraid it is too late for the Avalon Healing Center, Mel. What would be even better is if we could create a society that incorporated this into it's fabric, this, of course, would be up to the women. In some ways, I think blogging is women's attempt to create this.

  8. I have read and re-read these books since they first came out, and they still speak to me, but in a different way - perhaps my role in the give-and-take of women nurturing women has changed, as I've grown through some of the early challenges - willy nilly, not very gracefully, but still alive and growing. But I don't always find it easy to put words to what I've learned. I agree, Leone, that blogging can be a place for the sharing and support of the healing circle envisioned in these books to happen.