Archive for August, 2011

When preparing to start this blog, I decided to stay abreast on the latest and greatest content about all things Avalonian. So, I decided to use Google Alert to give me a hand.

For those of you unfamiliar with Google Alert, it is a tool by Google that delivers to your inbox an e-mail each day showing you links to anything posted online using a search term that you specified. Of course, creating a Google Alert for Avalon was one of the first things I did.

Smart and resourceful, right?

Yeah, no. The rest of the world uses the name Avalon in a rather lax fashion. I had expected to get at least some information about the mythic isle, though perhaps through reviews of modern fiction, but I was disappointed. Almost nothing about that. Nada

But I was sometimes intrigued by what did pop up.

I was reminded of a visage from childhood Sonic commercials – the visage known as Frankie Avalon. Of course, the Toyota Avalon was a frequent visitor to my daily e-mail, especially with the talk of last year’s acceleration problems. There was even a police report of a woman last seen in her gold Avalon.

Another frequent visitor is Avalon Waterways, which provides river cruises in the UK. That last one totally makes sense – a boat and water, right? And there is an Avalon stage at the Glastonbury Festival. That’s another one that makes sense even if it doesn’t help me out. Also on the musical front is Godsmack frontman Sully Erna’s acoustic solo album, Avalon. Side note: If you like Erna’s voice, but not necessarily the hard edge of Godsmack, you might enjoy this album. And it has some nice percussion and rhythm, which is always a plus for me.

Now switch gears.

Did you know that Avalon can show you how to make a glass jellyfish? Avalon Glassworks, that is. Really, they are more beautiful than they sound! Check them out: www.avalonglassworks.com/glassjellyfishdemo.aspx.

Then there are the services. Again, since the role of Avalon is essentially spiritual and healing service, this one makes sense to me. In nearby Joplin, Missouri, there was an Avalon Hospice (one of several retirement and hospice services). And I learned that Avalon: A Center for Women and Children was “grappling” with budget issues after funding cuts in York.

But by far the most prolific use of the name Avalon is in place names. Town after town in English-speaking areas cropped up over and over.

One of the more interesting places was a Canadian heritage site, Colony of Avalon, located in – get this – Ferryland. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up!

Their gift shop has some fascinating items such as reproductions and replicas, including Bellarmine bottles that were commonly used for witch bottles in folk magic. The colony has several interesting features including kitchen, herb, and gentleman’s gardens; an ongoing archeological dig; a visitor’s center; aconservation lab; and more. Take a gander: www.heritage.nf.ca/avalon/default.html.

Not a town but an apartment complex named Avalon Bay was given the OK to reduce the number of parking spaces at its complex. Gee, I thought there was just one barge anyway . . .

And I read about a fundraiser held at the Avalon Golf Club. Really? Golf club? Unless they have a watery tart distributing titanium golf clubs to those who get hole in one, I feel this is pushing the use of the name a wee bit. (Oh, don’t be so serious – I realize it’s probably the golf club in a town named Avalon.)

Now for the last and best one: Avalon Correctional Facility. Now we know the truth about why King Arthur was taken to a secluded island!

OK, I’ve had my fun. Here’s hoping everyone has a wonderful weekend, and next Tuesday will feature a more serious post, I promise.

Bright blessings,

Thistle

 

© 2011 PJ Graham

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When thinking of post topics for this new venture, defining the tradition popped into my head almost immediately. After all, we should start at the basics, the beginning, right?

Well, after outlining this a bit, I almost put it in the back of the pile. Why? Because the ways that different people and organizations define this trad are so varied and contradictory, it makes it a bit intimidating to approach. But I decided to stick to my stubborn Taurean guns and plow through it anyway.

This is a sticky topic, trying to define something like the Avalonian tradition. And frankly, I’m not comfortable saying there is one definition for it. Looking at the various Avalon-inspired groups, it is easy to see that stating an opinion on this matter is sure to bring disagreements – if not outright arguments – to the fore.

For starters, there are different names for the trad: Avalonian Tradition, Avalon Mystery Tradition, Avalonian Druidry, and others, I’m sure. Perhaps I shouldn’t be lumping all these together, but they all seem to stem from the same inspiration. Note that when I write the name for myself, I use a lowercase “t” to indicate the path in the more general sense.

Some Avalonian groups are completely Pagan, while others blend Christianity and Paganism. And though I don’t know of any, I wouldn’t be surprised to find a completely Christian Avalon group. Some of these groups are only for women, yet others include men.

So, where to start? I find the Avalon Druid Order to be an interesting group (based on their website – I am not a member). They state that their practice is based on the native – as in pre-Celtic – peoples of Britain who are referred to as Faery. The group does recognize that this wisdom is passed down through Celtic lore: “We study Celtic literature as a window looking into Avalon’s earlier, native spirituality. The spiritual ancestors who founded Avalonian Tradition are remembered in Celtic lore, but they are not Celts, and while there are many points of overlap there remain also many important points of divergence.”

Author and founder of the Avalon Mystery School, Mara Freeman offers this about Avalon: “Avalon is the Inner Temple of the Celtic and British Mysteries, a landscape of the soul, a country of the heart. . . . Avalon does not exist in the dimensions of time and space. It lies within the Otherworld, a place that the Celts have always taught us exists now and always . . .”

I do know that Freeman’s mystery school utilizes many different methods, symbols, and archetypes in her school – Pagan, Christian, and more – and offers it to both men and women.

In her book Avalon Within, Sisterhood of Avalon founder Jhenah Telyndru states that the tradition is a mix of myth, legend, folklore, geomancy, Druidry, Western Esoteric beliefs, goddess spirituality, and more (pg 8). Additionally, in a 2005 interview in PanGaia magazine, she clearly labels her Avalonian Tradition as “a Celtic Women’s Mystery tradition related to Welsh Druidism, and patterned after priestess enclaves found throughout the mythos of the British Isles.” (pg 26)

And Kathy Jones, co-founder of the Glastonbury Goddess Temple, organizer of the Glastonbury Goddess Conference, and author of several books, doesn’t appear to discuss the do’s and don’ts of the tradition, focusing instead on a very intuitive and lyrical practice. However, on the back of her book Priestess of Avalon, Priestess of the Goddess, she indicates the path is for both men and women: “A Priestess or Priest of Avalon is one who devotes her/himself to the service of the Lady of Avalon, to Her sacred land, and to Her people.”

And there are other Avalon-inspired groups, but I’m stopping for the sake of not boring you, kind reader, to death.

All of this, of course, leaves us with some ambiguity. But since when is spirituality cut and dry?

As someone who tries to be inclusive rather than exclusive, I have to admit that my personal definition might prove flimsy to some folks. I find the Avalonian tradition to be a spiritual path where one finds inspiration from the legends and stories of Avalon – most notably the matter of Britain – and from Celtic myths and symbols to develop a healing and magical practice. Tah-dah! There, that’s my definition.

Notice that I didn’t say “for women” in there. I feel that Avalon is a place where both men and women are welcome, though I agree it seems to appeal more to women. In fact, I’ve only met two men in person who seem drawn to the myths of Avalon and Arthur in a spiritual sense – one Pagan and one Christian. Perhaps the strong lunar aspect of many Avalonian groups is the reason for this. But consider that Arthur is taken to the Isle to heal, well, I doubt they neutered him first.

So what is your definition of the Avalonian tradition? How do you see it in comparison to the Arthurian or Druid trads? Or any other trad? Do you believe it is a path for men as well as women?

Well, see you on Friday, when I’ll lighten things up with a look at Google search results for Avalon.

Bright blessings,

Thistle

Sources:

Druids of Avalon, Avalon Druid Order, http://www.avalondruidorder.org/ (accessed August 19, 2011).

Mara Freeman, The Inner Realm of Avalon, Avalon Mystery School, http://www.avalonmysteryschool.net/inneravalon.htm  (accessed August 19, 2011)

Barrette, Elizabeth, “Voices of Modern Druidry.” PanGaia, September-November 2005, Issue 42, pages 22-28.

Telyndru, Jhenah. Avalon Within: A Sacred Journey of Myth, Mystery, and Inner Wisdom, second edition. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2010.

Jones, Kathy. Priestess of Avalon, Priestess of the Goddess. Glastonbury, Somerset, England: Ariadne Publications, 2006.

 

© 2011 PJ Graham

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First of all, blessed Lughnasadh! (Or Imbolc for those in the southern hemisphere.) May the harvests be plentiful and the games joyful.

Second, welcome to Parting the Mists, a blog dedicated to sharing experiences and thoughts on the Avalonian spiritual tradition. Posts here might be serious, they might be funny, but first and foremost they will be about the spiritual journey to Avalon for all people: men and women, Pagan and Christian, or anyone that feels the call.

The Avalonian tradition is heavily influenced by myth and stories and can be afflicted with a few folks who are, shall we say, creative to the point of confusing reality with fiction. So I want to be very clear about a few things:

I am not the reincarnation of Morgan le Fay, the Lady of the Lake, or Dion Fortune.

I do not receive psychic messages from the spirits of any of the aforementioned ladies.

King Arthur has not returned from the Isle of Avalon (to my knowledge, anyway) and named me the official mouthpiece of the Avalonian tradition.

I am not a Celtic scholar or New Age author.

I’m just an average woman in the Midwest of the United States who has followed the path to Avalon for more than six years and has been drawn to the myths and legends of Avalon and Camelot for almost 20 years. I’ve been fortunate to be part of a group of women dedicated to Avalon and have learned much from them.

But most Avalonian groups and websites I find have limitations – they are either only for women or just for those who have a very narrow view of what it means to be Avalonian. It seemed a shame there wasn‘t a public forum that was for both men and women, both Pagan and open-minded Christian (or other faiths), and for those with various ideas about what Avalon means to us today.

I’m also a practical, grounded person who likes for people to do their research. But there is so much reading and research that can done, so I’m not claiming to have done it all. However, I am not easily wooed by those who put forward speculation or UPG (unverified personal gnosis) as fact. Not that those views don’t have a place, I simply prefer my nonfiction to have bibliographies.

Look for posts twice a week: every Tuesday and Friday is the goal. I’m posting this introduction today, a Monday, but we’ll have a regular post tomorrow. While I might miss a post day here or there, one sure thing is a broad range of topics: gods, goddesses, saints, and literary characters connected to Avalon; reviews; places where Avalon might have been located (and if it ever was located in the physical world); current events specific to this path; recipes, guided imagery; the occasional joke; and more.

I’m a Pagan and will often write from that perspective, but I am interested in including the Christian aspects of the tradition – perhaps via guest bloggers if some can be rounded up. And as I have eclectic interests, you might see some surprises thrown in from time to time. Having input about what you would like to see would be wonderful and welcome.

Whatever happens, I hope others will join me in discovering the spirit and beauty that lies beyond the mists.

Blessings of Avalon!

Thistle

 

© 2011 PJ Graham

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