I read this book this week, while I was on my Internet fast and reading all the stuff on my shelf that I hadn’t gotten to yet. It uses the Avalonian landscape – that is, landscape features from the vicinity of Glastonbury Tor – as the basis for a fivefold system that combines the Western magical tradition with the Mabinogion and a large helping of feminist psychology. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting very much. I love working with women and female-centered magical groups have a particular energy all their own that I miss. However, such groups far too often fall into becoming annoying bitch sessions with lots of poor-meism, combined with shallow pop psychologizing.
Um, anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by the book. I do find psychology personally annoying, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a valuable tool. To my surprise, the author really does know her way around the Western magical tradition and makes some impressively high-level observations – she seems to have done a great deal of her homework. I hope that doesn’t sound condescending – I mean it with utmost respect. While there is ample room for plaintive bitching in the practices she gives, it’s balanced out by an emphasis on taking that deep inner work and putting it to work in the outer world. I’ve started working with the system, and while it’s too soon to make a comment about it, I like it so far. I am seriously thinking of joining the Sisterhood of Avalon, the associated order. I think it makes a good complement to my AODA work – the one complaint I have about the AODA is that there doesn’t seem to be any acknowledgement of the varying experiences between the genders. It’s not even really a complaint, but I do believe that there are women’s and men’s mysteries, and I want to keep that feminine power in my work. A woman’s group would bring some more of that sort of thing into my life. I also checked their “required reading” list and saw that I have read all but two of those books, and that they include Franz Bardon, of all people, on the list – I can see where it is that she did her aforementioned homework. There is plenty of overlap with the AODA stuff – she even has a section of the book that talks about three-fold, four-fold, and five-fold systems that is very close to what is in the Handbook.
I have until Beltaine to decide -they only accept new members at certain times – so I’m going to work with this material a few times a week and see how I feel about it by then.