Tribute for Ayn

Tribute for Ayn

Ayn Cates Sullivan, the author of Legends of the Grail: Stories of the Celtic Goddesses, was a postgraduate student under my supervision at King’s College, London. She left us with a PhD for an excellent thesis on the life and work of Augusta, Lady Gregory. Together with William Butler Yeats, Lady Gregory played a very important part in the establishment of the Irish Dramatic Movement and of Dublin’s famous Abbey Theatre. Gregory herself wrote many plays among them Cathleen ni Houlihan (written with Yeats), Hyacinth Halvey, and The Rising of the Moon.

In her thesis, as in this book, Ayn paid particular attention to the growing interest in Irish folklore and the ‘Celtic Revival’ in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Lady Gregory’s volumes of folk and mythic material, Cuchulain of Muirthemne of 1902, Gods and Fighting Men of 1904 and her Kiltartan Books of 1909 and 1910, all made a great contribution to this movement and are of relevance to Legends of the Grail. Ayn also included in her thesis a pioneering study of Augusta Gregory’s translations from Moliѐre, showing the extent to which Gregory cut and reorganised the French dramatist’s plays for an Irish audience, and considering the effect of Moliѐre on Gregory’s own theory of comedy.

After completing her thesis, Ayn has gone on to a very successful career as a writer. Her published work represents a considerable contribution to the literature of legend and of myth. Her remarkable book for children, A Story of Becoming of 2014, has won eighteen literary prizes, with several gold medals amongst them. A young seed begins to grow into an apple tree, but has to contend with many setbacks. If Legends of the Grail opens up another world, that of the Celtic goddesses, it also demonstrates the processes of the growth of the spirit, and of the difficulties to be overcome in fulfilling one’s destiny.

As Ayn tells us in her Author’s note, she herself has Irish forebears, and her study takes in Irish and Scottish legend. Danu, the mother goddess, is, appropriately, the first of seven figures who tell their own story and who are presented in detail. Opening the way for what is to come, with her background in the wider world, Danu is associated here with the landscape, with water, hills, plains and the sea. As Ayn tells us, Danu’s daughters, who include Dagda, Brighid, Aine and Eriu, appear in other parts of this book, as does Tir na Ban, the mystical land of women to which Danu and her children make their way.

Ayn also shows how some of these figures can be linked to Judaic and Christian traditions. Anu, another name for Danu, has been associated with St Anne, the grandmother of Jesus. Aine, the solar goddess, and a daughter of Danu, was also incorporated into Christian worship as St Anne. Brighid, whose legend goes back for fifteen thousand years, has been incorporated into the Irish Christian church as the fifth to sixth century nun St Brigid, who was associated with St Patrick, and is a patron saint of Ireland. She is also the subject of a play by Lady Gregory, The Story Brought by Brigit of 1924, in which she is present at the crucifixion of Christ.

Most striking of all in this respect is the legend of Ayn’s second goddess, Ceasair, the grand-daughter of Noah, who, like her grandfather, set sail in order to escape from the danger of the flood. Descended from Cain rather than Abel, she is unable to travel with her grandfather, but, guided and protected by another of the Irish goddesses, Eriu, her party goes first to Spain, and then on to Bantry Bay, where they land and then go on to settle in Ireland. Several of the goddesses are, like Danu, associated with particular places in Ireland and with rivers and hills. The reference to specific locations, whether in Ireland or in Western Scotland, takes in a number of well-known sites, including Skye, Knockainey, the Hill of Tara, Dun Aengus and the River Boyne. ‘Mythology is a sacred part of the living landscape’ (18), Ayn tells us, and she adds that Coole Park, home of Lady Gregory is amongst the places which have influenced her own writing career.

Each of the goddesses speaks for herself, in a separate section following the account of a particular figure. Their voices are heard, and readers are encouraged to experience them, often in relation to the natural world, or to the Irish or Scottish landscape. We, as readers, can live more fully if we enter into this relationship with a controlling and absorbing force.

This is a book which concentrates on sacred women, but they are often seen in relation to their male relatives, fathers, husbands, lovers and sons. Caer loves the poet Aengus who first sees her as a swan. Emer marries the legendary hero Cucuhulain, who already has a child by the warrior goddess Scatach, and they have three daughters. (Yeats took on another aspect of the relationship of these two legendary figures in his play The Only Jealousy of Emer of 1919).

Legends of the Grail shows us into an ancient world, which has parallels and influences in our own day. We learn about the colours and the plants and trees associated with particular goddesses, and also about the objects, for example the cauldron or the churn, which are part of their legends. The list of names and terms at the end of the book is invaluable and even tells us how to pronounce them.

I cannot help thinking that the subject of Ayn’s thesis, Augusta Gregory, would be delighted, and fascinated, by this outstanding and beautifully illustrated study.

– Dr Leonee Ormand
Professor of Literature
Kings College London

Love From Oskar Fassler:

I met Ayn Cates Sullivan almost a year ago when I found myself knocking on the door of a big ranch in Ojai California. I was welcomed by a woman dressed in all white with shining blond hair who’s first words were: “Hey, there you are, I saw you in my dream last night.”

Immediately I could sense the depth of her presence and my heart felt drawn to this woman’s purity and natural expression. I found myself talking to Ayn for about 3 hours and felt like I have known her for years. Finally someone could hold space for all my life’s questions and see them from a higher perspective. She would answer all of them with joy, clarity and from her own experience. What was fascinating me the most about her was not only that she was a highly realized spiritual being but at the same time a great mother, friend, creator, adventurer and human. The way she managed all aspects of her life so skillfully was really touching. Throughout my stay I got to meet her husband John Patrick, her son William and later on her daughter Kathryn. People of great love and a open heart.

Her actions were selfless and filled with infinite abundance. One time I asked her about having a spiritual teacher something I was looking for at that time. She looked at me and said: “I see you with Gangaji you should check her out.”

I had no idea who that woman was back at the time but after leaving the US for Germany I came to Berlin and almost a week after my arrival this woman would give a talk in Berlin. I learned a lot from connecting with Gangaji and she transmitted the silent mind in a way I have never experienced it before. I understood that the spiritual seeker is just a mental construct. In allowing myself to stop all activity I am dwelling in grace. This opened me up to a deeper way of being and much greater acceptance. Gangaji would ask people from time to time: “What do you want?”

I stayed with that question. What I wanted was to be free, to be awake. Throughout the summer I discovered that the spiritual urge of awakening is transpersonal and I allowed myself to surrender into it.

In late August Ayn wrote me that she was going to be in the UK to visit her daughter Kathryn in London who was about to start studying naturopathic medicine in London. I was really happy to hear that she was coming to Europe and my schedule allowed me to go and see her for five days.

It was so beautiful to reconnect in London with Ayn and meet her beautiful daughter Kathryn. I remember bringing Kathryn lots of gifts for her new flat in London, yet for Ayn I didn’t know what to get. I was a little bit sad about that but there was no gift that I could have bought anywhere in this world that would express the gratitude and love that I felt towards her. So I gave her the most loving hug I could give her when we saw each other after this long time.

After we spent a beautiful evening together Ayn suggested to go on a mystical adventure to Glastonbury and Avebury for the next three days. I have never explored the ancient roots of the United Kingdom and Ayn could recall all the mystical stories about the places that we went to see. It was a pure adventure to connect to the intelligence of the stones in Avebury and experience grace in Glastonbury.

When I am speaking of grace in Glastonbury I am pointing out a really special moment in my life that has transformed my entire sense of self and view of the world in a profound way.

In the morning of August 26th, 2014 we decided to leave Ayn’s beautiful friends where we were warmly hosted a night to go to Glastonbury, the spiritual center of the UK which is known for its famous Chalice Well as much as the Glastonbury Tor. I sat by the Chalice for almost 30 min with Kathryn immersed in the healing energy that this vortex creates. My body felt rejuvenated and Ayn was suggesting to go up to the Tor.

The Glastonbury Tor is a big roofless tower, which sits on the top of a hill. It’s a famous pilgrimage place throughout human history. When we were there the setting looked magical and powerful. We were standing on the feet of the hill and I could see some people making their path up to the Tor walking in circular motion to get to the top of the hill.

Ayn was excited about this special adventure and asked me if I am ready for the initiation. I had no idea what she was talking about and I replied that I am always ready. We smiled and started walking towards the top. The sun was showing itself between the clouds and the blue sky and I noticed two rainbows beside each other sitting in the sky going up vertical . It was a special set up which I pointed out to Kathryn and Ayn.

We arrived at the top after some time. I found myself standing in the middle of the tower when Ayn was telling me to look up into the sky. The tower had no roof so I could see clearly. Three clouds passed by and then I got hit by an intensity of energy I have never experienced before. My body was shaking and my face was still directed towards the heaven. It felt like my vessel was getting loaded with orgasmic joy and bliss. It was really special and might have taken 30 minutes. After this Ayn told me to sit down in front of her and look into her eyes. I was in a state of pure let go and surrender. All of a sudden the wind started showing its power and Ayn’s hair was getting blown all over the place. I felt like I am in a movie. Then Ayn asked me if I am ready for the crown? I replied: “Yes.” I was hearing a finger snap above my head and in an instant everything was quiet. The best way I could describe it is that something moved through me from the top of my head out through the floor of my pelvis. Everything disappeared. “I must have been sitting there for another hour but I totally lost track of time. When I got up I was gone. What I mean by this is that I was everything and nothing. Pure silence. It was everywhere in me, in the wall of the tower, in the spaces between. Everything was this silence. I touched my head because I could feel so much space in there. It was burning hot. Immersed in this pure state of awareness without a center I slowly walked out and saw Ayn and Kathryn laying in the grass enjoying the sun.

I didn’t feel like talking but I heard me asking Ayn: “What was that?” She smiled at me and said: “You got hit by the light, doesn’t happen to too many people.”

I had no idea what she was talking about. All which was there was deep peace and it was everywhere.

Slowly we walked down the mountain no words were needed anymore. We sat for a snack by the bottom of the hill and later on went to a beautiful restaurant on Glastonbury’s main street. The next morning I woke up and the deep peace was still there, everywhere. Even more I could feel on top of my head a connection to infinite bliss and love. Later on I could understand that this was the connection to the light Ayn was talking about. It was so overwhelming that I didn’t believe its possible. Many days past by until then of asking the question: “It’s still here?” It is indescribable and hasn’t left me ever since.

I feel that my personality fell into the infinite ocean of union and plays a really minor role in my life now because I came to discover that I am free in essence. That there is only freedom and I am that freedom. This revelation was birthed through something bigger than myself and the grace and love that Ayn shares for the awakening of consciousness and love on our planet.

I am so deeply grateful for having met Ayn who answered my prayer for liberation a multiple times yet the experience at the Tor is of another category.

After this life changing adventure at the Tor in Glastonbury we stayed another morning exploring the small town until we headed out to see Hannah a friend of Ayn’s who we helped to connect to her life purpose and mission again so her body would feel better.

In the late evening we arrived in London. All of us where filled with excitement and love. The next morning I had to leave early to catch my flight back to Berlin, Germany. I was sad to say goodbye to my soul family and at the same time I knew I had to move on.

When I came back home I saw nothing had changed, yet everything had changed. Forever.

From the dark to the light with Ayn, a truly inspiring lady.

From the moment I was born, Ayn was in my life. She is this whirlwind of sheer energy, fun and unconditional love. Hours would go by in a blink of an eye talking with this incredible lady. You cannot help being mesmerized by her. In our family, we describe Ayn as the Crazy American. I call her my fairy godmother. You never know what is going to happen or where she’ll be but you can guarantee it will be fun, spiritually up lifting and fill you with hope, light and joy.

The most resents time I spent with my fairy godmother was last summer. I got sick. Really sick. Emergency trips to the hospital, my heart stopping at one point, all the really scary things you never want to experience. The doctors had no idea what was happening to me. In a quite side room on a hospital ward, sobbing and scared, I messaged my fairy godmother. “I need help.” Sometimes the hardest word to utter. Life had come crashing down around me. I had no idea who I was or what I should do anymore. I was totally and utterly lost. It was a very dark time.

Ayn was coming to England to settle her daughter into her new life in London. I knew that she was coming to see me. I was excited! Ayn would help me back on my path. Get me back in the light and banish the dark. She came with her daughter (who I refer to as my little sis) and a very tall stranger from Germany! (See you never know who or what will happen when Ayn is around!) I lay on my sofa in our new house.. The three them began to work on me. I had cut myself off from the light, from myself. I felt I could not be me any more. Too much pain had engulfed me. I had lost so much. Gently and lovingly the three of them worked on reconnecting me. Soon I was giggling with joy as the soft golden light fell on me like raindrops. Then the grey over cast clouds overhead parted to let streams of sunlight land right on me. “See, you are more powerful than you think.” Ayn said smiling down at me. When I felt like the world had given up on me, there was Ayn, shining bright and sharing her wisdom with me. There are no words to describe how grateful I am for her and the work she does, not just for me but the many others around the world. I feel proud and honored to know her and support her in her work. Although she may not be able to be physically by everyone’s side, her beautiful books can be. Each one like a little part of her ready to be shared in the beautiful light that is in each and every one of us. They are encouragement to throw open those curtains, let the light in and love life!

– Hannah May Hocking, United Kingdom