You know when something pulls on you and you can’t explain it other than you just have to follow the impulse?
That’s exactly how I felt about going to Avalon.
When I saw photos on Facebook from last year’s retreat, I immediately told Kalila (founder of Priestess Presence), that I needed to go to the next one.
The idea of going on a week long retreat and leaving my 11 month old (Summer) and 3 and a half year old (Kali) at home scared me.
Would Summer want to breastfeed when I got back?
Would I damage her?
Would Brent be able to handle both of them for 10 days?
But even with all the fears and worries surfacing, the pull to go was stronger.
So I trusted it and took the leap.
The Priestess Pilgrimage
Not knowing anything about this place, I dove into the mammoth book The Mists of Avalon to educate myself, learning that during the time of King Arthur, the priestesses lived and trained on the Isle of Avalon and the high priestess put her faith in King Arthur by giving him the sacred “Sword in the Stone” to protect the pagan traditions and unite all people of England.
That’s it (I got halfway through the book).
The word Priestess came to me in 2013 when I led a powerful gathering called Honoring the Masculine, inviting 60+ men into a women’s circle to share what it means to be a man.
I knew nothing else about this word, other than that’s the archetype I was embodying. The work I did in circle felt channeled from past lifetimes.
And I needed to know more.
But as I researched, I found very little.
Over the years, more and more revealed itself as I become more skilled as a circle facilitator and learned the mysteries of the divine feminine. I became more discerning of using this title without any formal training.
So this trip felt like a homecoming, and as the name of the retreat suggested – Avalon Remembered – a remembrance of my lineage as a priestess. A full remembrance of my soul.
I had no intention, no expectations. The weeks leading up to the retreat oddly gave some clues as to what my experience would entail.
I read Sera Beak’s book Redvelations, the reclaiming of her soul and the remembrance of Mary Magdalene’s daughter Sarah.
The oil Jasmine called me to work with her at our Mastery of Circle Leadership retreat.
My husband and I had an argument about sex that culminated in a major blow out the weekend before.
When I went to check my flight details, I noticed that I was arriving a day late.
Two days before my flight, I got violently ill throwing up for 5 hours.
When I finally arrived on the second day of the retreat, I had a couple of hours until our first excursion to the Chalice Well.
A splitting headache, hungry and tired from jet lag, I took a short nap and got ready to go.
The Chalice Well is said to have sprung from the chalice (Holy Grail) that Jesus drank from at the Last Supper and had drops of his blood from the crucifiction.
The water from this well is red and tastes of iron.
When the doors to the public closed, we gathered privately in ceremony around the well and as I closed my eyes, felt myself drifting back in time …
I am a sister of the rose.
The rose of love.
I feel you Mary.
I know you.
I am of this lineage.
I remember what it was like.
I remember when I was in training.
I remember when this body was free.
I am here to reclaim this body.
I am here to remember my sacred sexuality.
Tears came to my eyes as I sat on the cold stones, the stones that hold the memories of thousands of years, remembering through the stones, remembering my soul’s journey.
When I came out of the trance, my purpose for being here was crystal clear:
I am here to reconnect and reclaim my sacred, sovereign sexuality.
And as the ceremony finished, Diana handed me my oil, Jasmine, which she called Dancing with Passion.
It smelled so strong. It pulled me in deeper.
Yes, this all makes sense.
I have been dancing with passion with my work in the world, I have been deeply connected with my soul’s purpose for years, leading circles.
Simultaneously along my journey, I have slowly been learning about my sexuality and awakening that passion in my body.
But I had been experiencing a major block that felt mysterious and inaccessible.
My husband had said that perhaps I simply was not a sexual person.
But I am.
There is nothing wrong with me.
I AM a sensual, sexual woman.
I just lost the way.
This is where I got lost.
And this is where I get to find myself again.
The fullness of my passion was about to emerge … through the oil, through the stones, through the Magdalene.
Up until the last decade of my life, I had felt disconnected from my body and sexuality. And even after major shifts and giving natural birth to my two daughters, I still felt like something was missing.
I didn’t want to give to my husband.
I felt icky at times, and most recently described sex as if “feeling used, like a prostitute.”
He would scratch his head, confused, “But you are my wife, not a prostitute.”
I know. I can’t explain it. I know that’s not how he is treating me. It has nothing to do with him. I have no clue why I am using that word, but it feels significant.
So many times I would check out and leave my body. I was tired of it. I wanted to come back home to my body. I wanted to find my WAY.
Becoming the Anointed Ones
So when the day came to “become the anointed ones,” where we would anoint one another from the feet to the head, awakening each chakra with the holy oils, I had a splitting headache again and could barely keep my eyes open at breakfast. I felt drugged. I felt sick. And when Diana came over to me and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll come over and wake up your kundalini,” I about fainted.
My anointing sister, also carrier of Jasmine Dancing with Passion, started with my feet and I immediately felt myself pulled into another trance.
When she reached my sacral chakra, I felt another hand slide under my tailbone, shaking and moving me gently. And then faster.
Until the first scream came curling out.
Guttural, primal screams.
I just let it rip. I shook and convulsed. I coughed and sputtered. I wanted this out of my body OUT OUT OUT.
Hundreds of years of disconnect, mistreatment, abuse.
It was not safe to be in this body.
The patriarchy had stripped me of my sacred, holy, divine connection with my body.
Letting go of pain, so much pain that my soul had been through.
And now she screamed and screamed and screamed.
All the years of silence.
All the years of suffering.
All the years of forgotten knowledge.
All the years of dormant, unexpressed passion.
After what felt like years, I finally came to a resting point. Drifting into a calm bliss.
My sister placed her hands on my heart and I cried with relief.
This is my body.
This is my heart.
This is safe.
She started to move the energy from my womb up to my heart in a circle and I felt myself revving up until I exploded into a million lights.
I am light.
A light body.
Bliss. Love. Ecstasy.
A full body orgasmic energy continued to reverberate in every cell of my body.
Yes, this was the kundalini rising experience Diana intended for me.
It wasn’t sexual in the sense of a connection between two bodies. It wasn’t about anyone but myself. It was my energy pulsating throughout my body. It was freedom. It was a reclaiming of my sacred, sovereign sexuality. It was a coming home to myself.
I laughed hysterically.
I. Could. Not. Stop. Laughing.
Oh goddess you got me. You got me good.
This body is made for pleasure.
This body is made to feel good.
But this is not a story that ends with rainbows and butterflies. The path of the priestess is one of initiation after initiation. Just when you think you reach the top of the mountain into the light, you plunge back into the valley of the shadow.
Stepping into true power as a priestess is about holding opposites, simultaneously. Honoring all faces of the goddess as divine, even the dark goddess.
My Intimacy Shadow
When we switched, and I was to do the anointing for my sister, my ecstatic joy melted away and I was back in my head with performance anxiety.
Could I give her what she just gave me?
I felt clumsy. Awkward. Distracted. Not present.
She kept directing me, which fed my self-consciousness. I just wanted to give up. I wanted to be saved by Diana or Kalila. Someone, anyone, do this for me.
But that was exactly the mirror of where I struggle in intimacy. Where I’m afraid to show up in any relationship whether it be my husband or a friend – I’m so afraid to disappoint. Where I feel incompetent and inadequate.
So when my sister asked me to just hold her, I let go of showing up a certain way to “do” something for her and just held her. Her journey and her needs looked different than mine.
This I can do. This I can be.
When I shared with her about my experience after, I realized that this is what stops women from leading circles: they feel they need to show up a certain way and “perform” as a leader. But all that is really required of us is to show up as ourselves and just be perfectly imperfect.
That’s what my sister needed – not for me to “do” this magical anointing ceremony for her, but to “be” with her and respond to her needs.
This is what we are reclaiming as women.
This is the feminine.
This is our sacred, sovereignty.
It’s not about performance, proving ourselves, pleasing others, or getting it perfect.
Our magic lies in our ability to get out of our minds and instead get present in our bodies. Our magic lies in our ability to just be.
As I shared my experience at dinner one evening, one of the women told me to read the book The Heart of Tantric Sex: A Unique Guide to Love and Sexual Fulfillment, which I immediately downloaded on my Kindle and dove into right away.
The book translated my experience into a way of being in sexual relationship with my husband moving forward: letting go of conventional sex’s rules that create performance-based orgasm chasing, and instead being “dancing with passion,” the orgasmic energy that I experienced through the anointing.
“The response to relaxation is innate; we are born with it. I sometimes call it the sixth sense. If one person is fully relaxed and present the other person will automatically be affected and become more relaxed and present themselves. For instance, when a woman relaxes deeply in lovemaking, without actually doing anything but focusing on receiving and being present instead, automatically her partner will become more conscious, sensitive, and loving. He will naturally align with the present, and thoughts of orgasm will not even arise. Instead a magical doorway opens and the man perceives something completely different happening to him. It is an unforgettable experience.”
Through being relaxed and present in my body, we could come together in sacred union, the hieros gamos.
This was part of the Magdalene’s teaching. Coming into sacred sovereignty within myself, holding opposites of both the feminine AND masculine within. Then coming into sacred union with my divine partner.
This deeper understanding was the next level of my feminine embodiment; it would not only serve my marriage, it would also increase my capacity to lead.
The Magdalene teaches us to walk as love, which requires resilience, courage and strength to shed light on our shadows from the past and step into the divine union that is our next evolution.
Coming home, I am beginning to integrate these lessons from Avalon. But if there is one thing that is guiding me as a North Star it is the word TRUST.
I don’t have all the answers, but I trust they will be revealed.
I don’t have all the words, but I trust I will find them over time.
In trusting love – love for myself, love for my partner, love for my work – I know that more will open up and this trip will have an even more profound effect on my life and work than I’m even aware of.
I’ve been sitting with this post for a couple weeks now, unable to close it out and publish it. But what I realize is that the story is incomplete. It’s still in process. And so it is perfect to end right here. Trusting that Part 2 will reveal itself soon.
Over to you, Beloved
Have you been to Avalon? If so, share your experience. If not, do you feel called? What part of you are you ready to reclaim?