Portrait of “Elen of the Ways” by Belle Crow duCray.

In the Celtic tradition, kings and heroes must honor the Great Queen or Sovereignty Goddess in order to find unity with the land and community. My idea behind the “Legends of the Grail” series was that the cup, cauldron or grail was symbolic of the feminine deities (the well maidens and other faces of the divine feminine) that were dishonored during the Roman invasion of Britain and the coming of Christianity. The Goddesses all became Mary (and thank goodness she survived) but in the process we lost many archetypes, especially the more frightening ones. We need all of the faces of the Goddess to find our wholeness, our Grail.

Elen is one of these wild women who flies with the deer! Elen of the Ways is a Goddess of Sovereignty who has been worshipped since Paleolithic times and is linked to fertility and the wellbeing of the land. She is often depicted as an antlered deer-woman running along a path. Mythical Elen Luyddog of the Hosts (340-388 AD) of Britain became known as Helen of Caernarfon and the mother of Constantine the Blessed. She is associated with the Roman roads in Wales. It is said that Saint Helena’s pilgrimage trail once extended to Jerusalem. There are more holy wells named after her in Britain than any other female saint. In some legends, Saint Helena of Caernarfon ordered the building of Sarn Helen, a great Roman road that runs through Wales. You can read more about her in Heroines of Avalon & Other Tales.

Was it an accident that I found myself standing on Sarn Helen in North Wales? I had been looking for the road, but I believe it has to find you. There are certain times in life when the shining paths open to you, and magically and mystically you are invited into another world. By a river near Betws y Coed in North Wales, I noticed we were walking on ancient stones. We had found Sarn Helen, I was following Elen’s Way. The forest seemed animated, and I could imagine that Tolkien had once walked there. It did seem that some ancient doorway had opened and that I was walking amongst the creatures of Middle Earth. Each oak seemed like a doorway into another world. Looking down I noticed a white stone looking back at me, and felt quite certain that Elen was allowing me into a poetic and magical dimension.

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Seeing with the Eyes of a Deer

To learn to shapeshift, practice with a gentle deer. Begin by walking mindfully on the Earth for at least 15 minutes. Move slowly, as if you were a deer, moving silently and deeply in rhythm with all of life. With each step, practice listening not only with your ears, but also with your heart. Blink your eyes a few times, and then merge with the energy of the deer. Look at the woods with the deer through her eyes. As you begin to see with the eyes of the deer notice if the world around you appears differently….

(from Heroines of Avalon & Other Tales, “Practice” p.141)
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news-2-19-4Finding the Llywelyns of Dolwyddelan Castle

On a blustery day in October, a friend and I were hiking near Betws-y-Coed in North Wales when the clouds cleared for a moment. The sun lit up a path that shone with a golden radiance. Even the sheep turned to look at the glorious path. What could we do but follow the road to a Wondrous Castle? As we walked I thought about the stories my father used to tell me about his grandmother, a Lloyd who came from London and that her great-grandparents were from a Welsh royal bloodline. I began to understand why my dreams and the whispers of my muses pulled me to Wales. What I love about finding royal bloodlines is that they are fairly easy to trace. Also, these ancient royals believed (for better or worse) that they were on Earth to hold the light for the world. We soon found ourselves standing in front of Dolwyddelan Castle. It took us about ten minutes to figure out the pronunciation, but according to some Welsh sites it is pronounced “dol-why-do-lan.”

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When we visit a sacred site there is a history etched in the soil. If we close our eyes and listen like a deer or other wild creature, the wind might blow through the leaves in a way that opens an enchanted world.



Kings & Heroes

The shining path of the Goddess Elen is interwoven with the path of the Llywelyns. If we look at the name carefully “Llyw–elyn”- it is clear who this tribe served. “Llyw” comes from a Welsh word meaning leader. Leaders of who? Well, leaders of “Elyn” or “Elen.” The ancient ones remembered that the land thrives when the Goddess of Sovereignty is honored!

I felt shivers of excitement as I imagined what it must have been like to be a hero and leader in the 12th century and even earlier. During our current chaotic times, I have thought about the qualities that make a great leader. Certainly King Arthur embodies the qualities of a true king. A true king and hero serves and protects the people. It is his role to love his queen and continue his dynasty. He must do his best to form alliances, create unity and establish peace. A true king and hero must also be prepared to defend his people and his lands with his life. What if these noble qualities were awakened in each one of us? What if we possessed the steadfast strength of kings and heroes? Well, stay tuned because that is the subject of the book I am currently writing…

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Blessings from Trees

by AynCates on August 22, 2018

in Poetry



Blessing the Earth Ayn’s Summer Newsletter 2018

August 2, 2018 Uncategorized

August 1st is Lughnasadh Lughnasadh is a day to celebrate the abundance that the Earth provides for us. Today many people in the Celtic world make a meal to celebrate the harvest and the life giving feminine energy that sustains us. With the changes that are taking place now on the Earth, it is wise […]

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The Many Faces of the Goddess

May 1, 2018 Uncategorized

There is one subject that really lights me up without fail. Any mention of Grail legend and you have my full attention. What is the Grail? The Grail is a symbol that means different things to different people, and some people swear it is a physical object. The image pictured here is the Vesica Pisces […]

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Write Because You Have To

September 27, 2017 Spiritual Inspiration

If I could offer ONE tip or piece of advice for an aspiring writer, I would say – BE AUTHENTIC – find your voice. In the beginning, aspiring writers need to learn as much as they can from well-known and established authors. It is wise to take time to read the classics, and immerse yourself […]

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Indie Publishing

September 19, 2017 Spiritual Inspiration

PLEASE PUBLISH MY BOOKS… When my daughter called from college to ask me if I would publish the children’s books I had written for her as a child, I was intrigued. I wondered why college students would want the stories I had written for my children? “My friends are depressed and they need the messages […]

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How To Find Peace In A Chaotic World

February 7, 2017 Uncategorized

Staying Centered During Times of Change Times of great change are upon us. We have been told by sages that we would need to prepare for a shift. Are we ready? Changes always surprise us. The wise ones respond to uncertainty by closing their eyes and going into deep meditation. If you feel too agitated, […]

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Avalon, The Island of Apples

August 24, 2016 Media

The symbolism behind the golden apple is profound and can be found in all mythologies. In Greek mythology, the eleventh labor of Herakles is to find the Gardens of the Hesperides and take a golden apple from a tree protected by a dragon. In Norse mythologies the golden apples keep the gods young. Judeo-Christian mystics […]

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Legends of the Grail is off to press!

August 22, 2016 Uncategorized

What a wonderful feeling! I have just handed in 469 typed pages to my editor who will then pass the book on to the designer. Legends of the Grail is scheduled to launch in early January 2017. I first began walking the sacred sites of Britain and Ireland in 1986. That was thirty years ago, […]

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Review by Sherri Rosen

November 25, 2015 Uncategorized

Review by Sherri Rosen of “A Story Of Becoming” by Ayn Cates Sullivan I’ve read and reread this book many times. Each time I read I receive another gift. The book is for children and adults. The artist, Belle Crow Du Cray, brings each page alive with her illustrations. The messages in the book are […]

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