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Excerpted from Crossing to Avalon by Jean Shinoda Bolen. Copyright © 1994 by Jean Shinoda Bolen. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"It was a very difficult period of transition and disillusion, and yet it had an unexpected richness."

Jean Shinoda Bolen, Crossing to Avalon, Part 2

The invitation came when I was in a muddled, painful, and perplexing time of my life. I was forty-nine years old and was trying to get my bearings; in the previous year I had separated from my husband after nineteen years of marriage and was now in a period of uncertainty. It was a very difficult period of transition and disillusion, and yet it had an unexpected richness. I was finding refuge in solitude, and in spite of the lack of external support for what I was doing, I had an inner conviction that I was following a soul path, even if I could not see where it was taking me. 

Like the return of sensation after circulation has been cut off or numbed by cold, I was also painfully and uncomfortably experiencing feelings of anxiety that I had held in my body and had not been aware of when the marriage was ending. My intellectual understanding had served as a defense; I had gone into my head and had become cut off from my feelings. This was the situation when Mrs. Detigerís invitation to go on pilgrimage arrived. It was not just the contents but the synchronicity of the date of the letter itself that made an impression on me that this was an out-of-the-ordinary invitation: on this day one year before, matters had come to a head in a confrontation that led to a separation and eventually a divorce. I wondered what ending or beginning this letter might portend.

My letter in response began:

There is so much synchronicity (which you could not know of) in the timing of your letter, the plans you are proposing, the places and people you have in mind for me to meet, that I am awed. I have tingles up my spine. Somehow this trip feels like a continuation of an unfolding midlife path, an initiatory rite perhaps, and certainly an introduction to something I only have vague intimations about.

I went on to say:

Your letter arrived during a period that gnostically feels like a gateway, a mythic moment of time and place (like the approach to Mount Analogue, if you are familiar with that strange book). This is a time of liminality for me, a passage from one part of my life to another, when I am venturing psychologically out beyond "my known world," heeding a call to live my life more authentically even as it puts me in conflict and uncertainty.

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