Sunday, August 4, 2019

Book Review: 'Heroines of Avalon and Other Tales' by Ayn Cates Sullivan

Heroines of Avalon and Other Tales by Ayn Cates Sullivan
‘Goddesses don’t sacrifice themselves for others’

Author Ayn Cates Sullivan has earned her degrees in both spiritual psychology and literature from USM, Columbia University and King's College London. Her highly awarded books range from poetry to children’s books to health and healing to metaphysical and mythological fiction. 

Opening her book with her history of exploration of the genealogy and ancestry of her family, Ayn provides an eloquent canvas on which she paints this collection of mythological tales of great women of the past that serves as a well researched introduction to the deities and heroines of British and Welsh origin. The connection between Ayn’s ancestry and the stories she unveils is palpable, not unlike being personally present at the feet of a singing harpist as the stories unwind.

A taste of the mesmerizing charm of this luminous book is offered as we encounter the initial story – Arianrhod In Welsh Mythology: ‘Arianrhod is a Celtic Moon Mother Goddess who is the ruler of Caer Sidi, an enchanted island located off the coast of Wales. Caer Sidi is sometimes seen as a revolving castle or portal to Annwn, a Celtic Otherworld. In folklore, Arianrhod rides her celestial chariot through the sky as she observes the tides. She oversees who is coming into the world and who is departing. Arianrhod is the archetypical womb Goddess who connects us to birth, death and re-birth, Her Silver Wheel is a symbol of reincarnation.’ Introducing each of the feminine characters in this way makes the following stories about them lush and visual. 

Following each of the treasured stories Ayn relates, with her fine-tuned sense of respect enhanced by humor, some fine ‘lessons’ are offered – the impact of the character on present day beliefs and customs and manifestations in nature and in literature. For example, ‘The Celtics knew that our friends and family live on, and that one day we will join them in celebration again. It is possible to stay in relationship with people long after they have left our human world. This is useful because we know who to call when it is our time to step into the Tunnel of Light and cross on to the next dimension.’ And in sharing such concepts we grow to understand Ayn’s respect for the Eternal Feminine, a profound lesson for us all. And Ayn's poems are scattered throughout this chronicle, accompanied by the elegant drawings of Belle Crow duCray.

The realm of mythology into which we as readers are invited is not only a most satisfying excursion in which to gain knowledge of the great feminine figures of the past, but it is also a sensitively related resource to appreciate the impact of women, not only in history and mythology: the lessons related and the manner in which Ayn presents her exceptionally well researched ‘biographies’ is one of the most significant platforms for the advancement of women today. Successful on every level – intellectual, mystical, reverential, and spiritual – this is a unique literary contribution, and one that deserves a very wide readership. Highly recommended.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.