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Crossing to Avalon: A Woman's Midlife Quest for the Sacred Feminine
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Crossing to Avalon: A Woman's Midlife Quest for the Sacred Feminine

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  449 ratings  ·  45 reviews

Dr Jean Shinoda Bolen's extraordinary memoir celebrates the pilgrimage that heralded her spiritual awakening and leads readers down the path of self-discovery. In this account of her journey to Europe in search of the sacred feminine, she unveils the mythological significance of the midlife search for meaning and renewal.

Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 20th 2004 by HarperOne (first published 1994)
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I have re-read this book many, many times since I was about 16 years old. Not just for women in mid-life.
Actually, I just started this today 4/21/12. I had only read the Preface when I posted and I picked it up today and read to the fourth chapter. I'm torn between this book and everything else that calls for my attention -- one very good reason to dive in! It's about just that -- participating in an archetypal inner journey that transforms one's life in the outside world. That transformation is described -- and through the Grail Legend, no less -- in a way that rings so true and is so pertinent to ...more
Sep 07, 2011 Tristy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the feminine aspect of spirituality
As someone else said in her review, you don't have to be at midlife (or a woman, for that matter) to enjoy this book. Jean Shinoda Bolen takes on a tour of some of the ancient mystical Goddess sites of Europe. I have been to these sites many times, and it was nice to take a trip back there with Bolen and observe the different feelings she felt on her journeys. It was hard for me not to get a little depressed, as I always do, at the almost complete annihilation of matrifocal worship in our world' ...more
Deborah Blanchard
This book takes you on a magical journey from the very first page. It will make you honor your inner self as a woman. This is a book to be savored and I will continue to read it to reinforce my sense of self worth as a beautiful soul, called woman. It is written in such a way as to make you think and ponder life in general. This book will be on my nightstand, along with my Bible and my daily affirmations. I highly recommend this book and I would like to thank my wonderful friend Christine, for i ...more
Janice George (JG) George
Author Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., a Jungian analyst and clinical professor of psychiatry at UC Berkeley, was invited to take a pilgrimage to several sacred sites in Europe in order to experience first-hand what these places had to offer by way of the mythic, legendary, and archetypal presence of the Goddess (or goddesses / empowered females and their stories and artifacts). She accepted the invitation, and the result is this fascinating memoir, travel journal, and compendium of myths, archetypes, ...more
The author is a jungian analyst (psychiatrist affiliated with UCSF). She has written a variety of interesting books. I enjoyed this one because of her focus on mid-life, the divine feminine and Glastonbury, England - which is a town (and Tor) we have enjoyed.
Courtney Anthony
Some parts are fascinating, and some parts seem to lack focus and drag on. Definitely still worth a read, but read Goddesses in Everywoman first.
C.J. Prince
For those of us who search for expression of the Divine Feminine, Jean Shinoda Bolin shines a light.
A bit "woo woo" but interesting non the less.
Anthony Larusso
The description of how she started her journey prepares the reader for a magical journey, and leads the reader to believe it'll be equal parts magic, description, theory, history, and adventure. Her book circuitously hits some of those points but inconsistently.

The Author is a highly-thinking therapist moving steadily into heart-opening and mystery -- and this journey is very moving at times, but in a subdued manner. There's smaller revelations that add up, rather than a few building with a sen
Donna Swindells
"Crossing into Avalon"
This is a Woman's midlife quest to find the Sacred Female, with our know She will find Her heart's longing, the Goddess Herself. I read this book 5 years ago, and forgot to list as a wonderful adventure for anyone wishing to find the Loving, beating heart of the Mother Goddess Herself.
The author is an excellent writer and you are on an armchair express with Her, as She experiences Her spiritual awakening rekindled. I highly recommend this book for any Woman, who might fe
Part memoir of spiritual awakening, part self help book. I expected it to be a bit more memoir than it actually was. It's definitely a useful book, though I didn't find it as engaging as I did Goddesses in Every Woman (by the same author). This would be of interest to anyone looking for their spiritual path or anyone interested in finding the goddess in themselves and in the world.
Hmm, what to say about this book. I liked a lot of the ideas the author had, but by no means all of them. Sometimes I felt like she was generalizing too much in her analysis of peoples lives. People frequently (myself included) make statements and use the word "everyone" carelessly. This felt more deliberate then that, as if she truly felt that every single woman should feel this way, and have such and such understanding of the world. I am glad I read it, and agreed with the general feeling of t ...more
Apr 19, 2009 Jodi rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women-centered spirituality seekers
Recommended to Jodi by: no one
I enjoyed the way the author pointed out connections between pagan traditions and Christianity in this book, as well as the various ties/aspects of women's involvement. The reason I've rated it a 3 is because there are sections that are poorly written, and thus are somewhat difficult to understand. I would also like to have seen a basic description of the Grail myth at the beginning (for those of us who don't know much about it) since much of the book presupposes this knowledge.
I have a fondness for Bolen since she was on the vanguard of the goddess spirituality movement with 'Goddesses in Everywoman' in the mid-'80s. This book has some interesting personal insights, particularly when she contrasts the different spiritual encounters she has had with God vs. those with the Goddess. But overall, the book has a cerebral rather than spiritual tone & reads more like a psychology text (she's a Jungian analyst) on the symbolism of the Grail legend. So, eh.
Jean Shinoda Bolen's descriptions of these magnificent places and her story of growth couldn't have come at a better time for me. I really want to go on a similar pilgrimage and see all these places for myself. I am getting older, my nest is starting to empty, and I am making life changes, this book helped me put some of this into perspective and really look inside to learn more about myself.
Fascinating, and easy to read. About the goddess religions which existed prior to the current 2,000 year old patriarchal world, and the sacred places, some cathedrals, now occupying former places of goddess worship. Her personal journey to some of these places and how deeply it affected her. This is so inspiring, I may go on a Jean Bolen trip to Ireland (sacred sites)!
Slow going on some parts but in others she was writing about my life in addition to her own. If not for my desire to pass along to someone I think would also appreciate it, I would keep to reread in a few years as I am with her Goddesses in Every women which I originally read when it came out in the 80s
I just couldn't get through this. I thought the subject material was interesting, but her writing style does not jive with me. It felt choppy and monotone, and read more like a textbook than something written about an inspiring, life-affirming journey. I tried and tried to finish this and finally gave up.

I agree the writing is a little choppy. Worth the read though. There is so much wisdom in this book and it's woven into a very real experience. I like the marriage of the mystical and mundane in this book.
I liked the mix of personal spiritual experience and more scholarly information. Lots of information about Jungian archetypes and the Goddess. I'm going to have to read this again when I reach my fifties.
I read this during my high peak feminist days and was really impressed. Now I see all the things I was searching for was right in the LDS church all along. Sometimes you have to go away to appreciate home.
Good to read, made me think about my life and the coincidences in it, but at the same time it was not extraordinarily deep for me as it was an account of one woman's journey and what it meant for her.
Can't quite remember what I thought of this book. I think it was not bad, not the most interesting but a story about a woman's quest to find meaning later in life. I'd give it two and a half stars.
Mar 25, 2012 Ardhanarishvara is currently reading it
i am not as much of a mentally-trained woman as she is, so find her assumptions assumptive at times. her quest and her travels are interesting, and the journey contains much insight.
Jul 06, 2007 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women
Although this is an account of one woman's journey, it is an everywoman's journey: to find meaning, to find connection, to find the meaningful divine within us when our lives are in chaos.
A friend sent this to me in the mail after reading an entire passage of it to me on voicemail weeks earlier about the nature the magical child archetype. I'm intrigued...
The book was a very interesting pilgrimage to awaken ones sense of inner Grail.....The book makes the reader ask self-reflecting questions on themselves and their life.
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Jean Shinoda Bolen, M. D. is a psychiatrist, Jungian analyst, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco, a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and recipient of the Institute for Health and Healing’s "Pioneers in Art, Science, and the Soul of Healing Award". She is a former board member of the Ms. Foundation for Women.
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