CROSSING TO AVALON by Jean Shinoda Bolen


A Woman's Midlife Pilgrimage
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 A vivid account of one woman's pilgrimage to the shrines and sacred sites of the New Age quickly degenerates into pop psychology and pseudo-profundities. Bolen (Goddess in Everywoman, 1984), a Jungian psychoanalyst and a professor of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco, begins this spiritual memoir at a low point in her life. Nearing 50 and recently separated from her husband, she is searching for a new direction. Just at this midlife crossroads, an invitation arrives from a Netherlands foundation to undertake a journey. She is to visit many of the supposed holy places of Europe. Readily accepting this apparent godsend, she begins her quest for fulfillment with an arranged audience with the Dalai Lama. The spiritual and temporal leader of Tibetan Buddhism seems, by the author's own account, more bemused than captivated by her question about possible connections among Tibetans, the Hopi Indians, and the Oracle at Delphi. Her next stop is the great cathedral at Chartres, where she meditates on its relation to the Earth Goddess. A lengthy discussion of the legend of the Holy Grail and its psychological meaning precedes and follows her visit to Glastonbury, where the Grail was supposedly brought by Joseph of Arimathea. The book's title derives from the mystical island other world to which King Arthur sailed in death. Two places in Scotland- -Findhorn, a well-known New Age commune, and the Isle of Iona, an ancient Christian community--round out her personal quest. As she journeys, she picks up other spiritual vagabonds in the manner of Chaucer's travelers to Canterbury. Jungian psychological concepts form an overlay. Although the trip chronicled was undoubtedly meaningful for the author and will appeal to New Age seekers, it will leave others cold. ($50,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-250112-7
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1994