Looking Back, Looking Forward
The Last Sleep of Arthur by Edward Burne-Jones.
The Isle of Glass (Ynis Witrin), also known as Avalon, has always been a place of retreat and healing. According to legend, it is the mysterious island of mists where King Arthur was taken after his final battle. There, he could be enveloped in its healing energy and nursed back to health by its skilled priestesses. It is said that someday, when Britain needs him again, Arthur will emerge from this magickal temple of healing and respite to once again wield Excalibur, the sword of truth and justice, for the good of all humanity. For many, and for me, the name Avalon equates to healing, magickal peace. It's the name I took as my identity many, many years ago when I first dedicated myself to a life of spiritual pursuit. As a healer, a massage therapist, a medium, a minister, a teacher, a writer, and a counselor, it embodied the energy of what I wanted to bring to the world. I wanted to be Avalon for others. I wanted to provide a safe space where people could heal and learn and grow and experience all the magick they deserved to know in their lives. For nearly 30 years, this is what I did. And doing this was a true blessing for a very long time.
Two years ago, in June of 2020, we were about 3 months deep into a deadly pandemic that threatened the whole world. It's still threatening us, and although it's diminished, it's left an indelible mark in our world and on our collective consciousness that we won't soon forget. But the pandemic notwithstanding, I'd found myself growing more and more unhappy. For the first time in my life, I felt truly lost. I simply couldn't figure it out. If I was doing what I was "supposed to do," if I was fulfilling my purpose in life -- being a teacher, a writer, a spiritual leader, a medium -- then why did I feel so anxious, so fearful, so unsure, so very, very empty? Had I done everything I needed to do in my life? Was there nothing more ahead for me? Was this terrible feeling of disillusion and emptiness something I needed to learn to live with? But how could I live with it without allowing it to infuse and hurt my work with others? These were problems I'd struggled with for several years, and the pandemic became the final message from the Universe, the message I could no longer ignore or minimize: I needed to step away, to reassess, to discover what I'd lost.
And so I did. I told my wonderful teaching and office partner that I couldn't do it anymore. I resigned from the school for mediumship we'd built together. I informed my many loyal and lovely clients that I was unavailable for consultations, indefinitely. I stopped organizing women's circles and teaching my own online classes. I began the mundane tasks necessary for closing my business. And I retreated.
This retreat was mostly figurative, of course. I went back to therapy (remotely) to dig around in my psyche and to have support while I did so. I wrote countless journal entries of lamentation and self-flagellation. I talked to my husband and my friends about my lost self and tried to heed the advice they so graciously and lovingly gave. I found an online spiritual sanctuary in the Glastonbury Goddess Temple, located in England in what many believe to be the actual physical location of Avalon. I studied online with beautiful siblings and mentors at the Morgan le Fay Mystery School, and I received challenges and insights I know I needed. I read books and listened to podcasts and watched media meant to inspire and empower me. But in spite of it all, I continued to spin in circles, as if the healing waters of Avalon were really whirlpools delivering me to Scylla and Charybdis.
My health didn't help matters. As I've aged, I've developed life-changing heart issues, which added to my psychological and spiritual struggles. Health outlets made it clear that I was in a high-risk group during the worst times of the spreading pandemic, so I isolated as much as possible. Along with that isolation came less physical activity and more self-soothing through eating, which ballooned my weight and made everything a chore. And last summer, I developed a problem with my Achilles tendon, forcing me to walk less and less and exacerbating the inactive lifestyle I'd fallen into. As I write this, I'm recovering from Covid, which finally caught up with me and laid me out despite being vaccinated and boosted as recommended. Healing physically and concentrating on my body have become a vital piece of my everyday life, which is something I still haven't completely integrated. I'm a work in progress.
Just reading this last paragraph makes me roll my eyes in frustration. We all have challenges, don't we? Mine are no worse than anyone else's, and, quite frankly, they pale in comparison to some. But...I'm trying to be authentic here, trying to own what's happening in my life so I can move forward. So I can once again contribute something to this world that brings me joy and makes it a better place. This is all I've ever wanted. I got to do just that for a long time. Now, I've got to figure out how to do that in the days ahead of me.
So, what have I learned? I'm not entirely sure. I know I need to be authentic in every moment of every day. I need to own who I am and be confident in the divine "rightness" of that identity. And it's not about labelling myself: medium, minister, teacher, writer, healer, priestess, etc. It's about doing each thing with as much focus, love, and joy as I can. I'm still teaching online and in person for a few institutions, and I may even offer some online classes of my own. I serve occasionally at my church, the USCL. I'm mentoring some students privately who've asked for guidance sessions. I'm writing bits and pieces of things, and I'm hopeful that they many turn into an actual project at some point. I'm nurturing my body and focusing on what I need to do to be healthy. I'm concentrating on having meaningful relationships with my family and circle of friends. I'm meditating and journaling and worshipping and honoring Spirit and re-establishing my connection to the Divine. But I'm doing all of this on my terms. I'm not trying to compete with anyone. I'm not scrambling to make money. I'm not allowing my ego to rule what I do and say and present.
In other words: I'm being Rose. Rose of Avalon. For this is what Avalon is: this beautiful and challenging life I've created and fought against and cried about and laughed at and embodied, because this life...this life, itself, IS the healing.
May your Avalon, your life, be filled with all the blessings you can handle. Thank you for journeying with me.