These words offer wishes of good fortune to travelers of the Camino, or ‘The Way,’ – a pilgrimage on the Compostela de Santiago trail that runs from southern France through northern Spain. A friend from my writing critique group recently invited me to trek this 500 mile path with her. I was excited and intrigued at the prospect.
I wondered what it was about the Camino that had me so enthralled. The Camino pilgrimage is a physical challenge, but it is primarily a spiritual journey, one that thousands have traveled since medieval times. Daily hiking compels the traveler to interact with the land and its many ancient sacred sites along the way, as well as to inwardly focus on their own interior soul landscape. The pilgrimage is reminiscent of the Celtic Imram, the name given to the physical voyages and counterpart soul quests of the ancient Celtic peoples of Ireland and Britain. The Camino invitation brought back memories of one of the most important Imrams of my life – my journey to Glastonbury, England. It was a sojourn that eventually fueled the inspiration for my Goddess of the Stars and the Sea novels.
Glastonbury, the ancient isle of Avalon, is the setting in my favorite novel, the classic The Mists of Avalon, penned by Marion Zimmer Bradley. The story tells the Arthurian Grail legend from the feminine viewpoint of Morgaine, King Arthur’s half sister and priestess of the Goddess. Bradley’s novel has been a best seller for many years because it touches the collective psyche of our times. Her novel characterizes the re-emergence of the Divine Feminine in spirituality, along with the return of respecting our hearts in balance with our heads, of acknowledging the validity of intuition and feelings, of valuing collaboration and love, and the reality of mystical and everyday magic.
My enchantment with Bradley’s novel and its setting not only catalyzed my imagination, it transformed my life. The protagonist Morgaine sparked a longing in me to learn about, and eventually become a priestess. It changed my life literally in that I felt compelled to move to Glastonbury. I discovered a kinship and affinity for Glastonbury that I have not felt in any other place on earth. The land and its sacred sites stirred my heart and nourished my soul.
While living there, I sought out the solace and magic of the holy Chalice Well on a daily basis. Often, while seated beside the well, I would experience spontaneous waking visions. These visions surprised me and threw me into a sort of spiritual emergency, and ultimately a spiritual deepening. From my meditative visions I came to know the Goddess of the Stars and the Sea. She is the face of the Divine Feminine who has since then inspired both my writing and my life.
I also had mystical nighttime dreams about Glastonbury and its history. I began to study Glastonbury’s folklore and legend, and its covert sacro-magical knowledge. I immersed myself in its energy, and did in-depth research.
I then built upon my natural writing ability by studying the craft of writing. Using all of these experiences, I began to create my Goddess of the Stars and the Sea series about priestesses who had lived in Glastonbury throughout the ages through today. My first novella was published by Glastonbury Press.
Glastonbury taught me to explore the realms of the mystical and the magical, of worlds seen and unseen. The worlds that lay parallel to our everyday existence. I tapped into these realms of legend and archetype, especially Celtic lore, to weave a magical fantasy thread throughout my novels. Developing my relationship with the Goddess alive in the land of Avalon, I infused my novels with her energy, forming the underlying Visionary Fiction facets of my writing. This Visionary Fiction aspect became my passion, my purpose for writing.
Glastonbury remains one of my favorite spots on earth. The Chalice Well Gardens, the beacon-like hill called the Tor, the enigmatic remains of the ancient Glastonbury Abbey – all the sacred sites I was introduced to through reading The Mists of Avalon – touched my deeply and continue to inspire the content of all of my Visionary Fiction novels.
So, maybe I will indeed take my friend up on her invitation and hike the Camino Trail – and find a whole new arena of magic and mysticism to explore and inform my writing. Or, instead of the Camino trail, I might return to Avalon. Back to where my muse first spoke to me. Perhaps I will rent a cottage for the summer and complete my fifth novel in the Goddess of the Stars and the Sea series. Because Avalon is my perpetual grail cup of regeneration and inspiration.
No matter which pilgrimage route I choose, which Imram I embark upon, I know I will carry with me the spirit behind the wishes – ‘Buen Camino’!