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Some parting thoughts about 2009 and recent reading material

December 31, 2009

I’ve been making my way through Jean Shinoda-Bolen’s book Crossing to Avalon.  It’s been on my shelf for a long time, and it seemed like a good thing to read after finishing up Scot McKnight’s The Real Mary, a book written to clarify Mary for evangelical Christians who might not have a proper appreciation for her and who are down right distressed by her appparent near deification by the Catholic church.

I’m a Marian, even though the story of the virgin birth smacks of patriarchy to me, and the docile Mary image we have been left with grates on my nerves, things McKnight’s book actually does a pretty good job of dispelling.  Could God have made a virgin birth if he wanted to?  Yeah, I suppose he could, but why would he?  Sex and sexuality aren’t the dirty thing Augustine supposed them to be. I find it far more likely that Joseph was Jesus father, in as much as I’m also not uncomfortable with the idea that Yeshua had brothers and sisters born of Mary’s body.  If Christ was to be human, it seems just as logical to me that he was truly human, and infused with divnity through God’s will.  But anyway, I digress.

Shinoda-Bolen’s book is a book about the Goddess and the Grail Quest.  It has some pretty interesting parallels for the Goddess and various Christian sacred sites, where the Goddess was transformed into Mary, just as Marion Zimmer-Bradley pointed out in her fictional work on the Arthurian legend from the femine perspective, The Mists of Avalon. This book moved me so strongly when I read it as a very young woman.  I have always identified strongly with Celtic mysticism. My cross of choice has been a celtic one, and Shinoda-Bolen talks about the circle in the cross being a femine symbol – an encorporation of the Goddess aspect into Celtic Christianity. Within that, my Marian affinity seems to make strong sense when I think about it.  The Docile Mary – not so much.  The Mother Mary, I identify with strongly, and when I pray for intercession through Mary, I know the power of a mother to a child, and the love for a mother for a child.  My mom used to talk about feeling drawn to Mary, because, when you are hurting, who else do you turn to but mother?  Shinoda-Bolen spends a good deal of time in this book developing the ideology behind that strong mother archetype.

You may notice that I have changed my blog header.  The image is of Persephone and Demeter – Maiden and Mother.  This past year, I have suffered pain and loss, rage, guilt and grief.  I’ve done more to uncover certain aspects of my darker side then I’ve ever done before. I’m moving from identifying with the Maiden to a stronger deeper identification with the Mother. I can create and I can destroy.  Creation I’m comfortable with – destruction – as a capacity in myself, not so much.

I still have NO idea what to do with these uncovered dark aspects of myself. They make me squirm and sometime they make me loathe myself.  I’ve unwittingly launched myself into a deep dark night of the soul.  I can no longer pretend to be the virtuous innocent girl I tried to portray myself as – I’m apparently far more complicated than that. I’m as capable of hurting others as I am of being hurt.  I’m not perfect. I’m sometimes selfish, self-centered, malicious, jealous and self-serving.  Despite a lifetime of shoving all that down, it seems, it’s all still there anyway.

However, the uncovering of a thing is a long far way from actually living with it in any amount of comfort. Hence, my dark night. I don’t know who I am anymore. I can’t go back, and I have no earthly idea of how to move forward.

I suppose the simple answer to that is one step at a time.

I’m in the forest. I’ve been Perceval the fool, I think sometimes. But on I keep moving. One day at a time.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. December 31, 2009 10:29 pm

    What a brilliant post – heart-wrenching, thought provoking and very powerful.

    I do not buy all that little lady dressed in blue nonsense. I wrote about that myself recently. As for virgin – well I have some thoughts about that too. Does it matter? And what does virginal mean?

    Thanks for sharing this Eileen. Happy 2010.

    • episcopalifem permalink*
      January 1, 2010 10:09 am

      Thank you Fran. Brilliant? Eh…just some of my jumbled thoughts on all this “stuff”. Sometimes I just need to put it in writing to sort through my thoughts and feelings, and I’d been attempting to write this post for several days, and not getting anywhere with it. Even re-reading it now, I feel like I missed some of the essence of what I was trying to say! But, so it goes with writing, no?

      Your recent piece on Mary actually helped me to draw together some of my more disparate thoughts, and for that, as always I thank you.

      Wishing you a blessed 2010!

  2. January 1, 2010 12:08 am

    I’d also recommend that you read Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. I think you’d like it.

    • episcopalifem permalink*
      January 1, 2010 10:10 am

      Okie dokie. I wonder if I already have it on my shelf? (Thinks of all the “to be read” books there, and wanders off….)

      Happy New Year Kay!

  3. January 1, 2010 1:40 am

    Oh that book is GREAT.

  4. January 1, 2010 4:47 pm

    I can no longer pretend to be the virtuous innocent girl I tried to portray myself as – I’m apparently far more complicated than that. I’m as capable of hurting others as I am of being hurt. I’m not perfect. I’m sometimes selfish, self-centered, malicious, jealous and self-serving. Despite a lifetime of shoving all that down, it seems, it’s all still there anyway.

    Oh honey! I have so been there in that place. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to face—that the image I had of myself was not a true or honest one. That realization was profoundly dislocating and–honestly–terrifying.

    The only way out of that forest is through it. You remain in my daily prayers and you have my number. Dial it if you need me.


    • episcopalifem permalink*
      January 2, 2010 8:46 am

      Thanks Doxy. ((((you)))))

      I know I’m not alone in this experience. It’s good to be reminded that I am not.

  5. January 2, 2010 11:01 am

    Eileen, Doxy is right. We have all been where you are now, if we have the courage to look in the dark corners inside ourselves. You are human. I am human. None of us is innocent. We fool ourselves when we think or say we are. Facing our own imperfections and acknowledging them serves to keep us humble and from being quick to judge others.

    Prayers for you to know that despite your flawed humanity, you are God’s beloved.

    • episcopalifem permalink*
      January 5, 2010 3:50 pm

      Thanks Mimi. One day, I’ll be able to move those thoughts from my head to my heart.

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