How can the way the divine feminine shows up in Celtic mythology inform our lives today? What are the aspects of the goddess that were cast aside that are in deep need of reclamation today and how do we do that? In this episode, SLSP host Tatiana Berindei and renowned author Ayn Cates Sullivan explore the forgotten sacred realms of the goddess and some simple and life-affirming ways to call them back. Tune in to this episode for fantastic stories that bring to life the importance of reclaiming what was abandoned and how to do just that.
Hello everyone and welcome to the Sex, Love and SuperPowers podcast show. We’ve got a very special edition for you today because I have with me Dr. Ayn Cates Sullivan and she is not only a fabulous person that I’m going to tell you all about, but she is also a new up and coming host. So, she’s going to have her own show with the SuperPower Up! podcast. I’m absolutely thrilled to have her on as she prepares her own show for you all that will be airing in a little while. We don’t know the exact timing, but yay for a new show. Let me tell you, get excited, because let me tell you about her and why her show is going to be awesome and she is awesome. So, Ayn Cates Sullivan is an award winning best selling author, focusing on mythology and folklore for the modern age.
Dr. Sullivan has co-owned and ran the Healing Center of Santa Monica in the mid-1990s and continues to offer private consultations and runs workshops for people interested in the Heroine’s Journey. She obtained her BA with honors at Hollins University and her Master’s and Doctorate degrees in literature from Columbia University and King’s College in London. She is also the owner and president of Infinite Light Publishing. Her books include Consider This, Tracking the Deer, The Windhorse, and Three Days in the Light as well as an award-winning children’s series including Sparkle and the Gift, Sparkle & the Light, Ella’s Magic, and The Rainbow Dragon’s Emerald.
Her bestseller, A Story of Becoming, sold over 250,000 eBooks and won 18 literary awards. Her books on Celtic Mythology include Legends of the Grail: Stories of Celtic Goddesses and Heroines of Avalon and Other Tales. She has won over 30 literary awards and she is here today with us to talk about the divine feminine in Celtic mythology.
Welcome to the show Ayn.
Well, thank you so much for having me.
Absolutely. I am excited for this conversation, but before we dive in, will you please tell our listeners what your superpowers are?
Absolutely. You know, years ago I went out beside a river and I found this swan feather and I wasn’t quite sure where it came from, but I picked it up and I realized as I started to fly through the air that my superpower was air. I could actually fly with the swan all through the universe, collecting stories that people needed all over the world.
Brilliant, and so you have been collecting these stories and this is, you know, we talk a lot about sex on this show, obviously, because it’s called Sex Love and SuperPowers, and a lot about relationships and this topic today is a little bit different and yet also super relevant. You’ve been collecting stories about the goddesses, especially Celtic goddesses, for a long time now, right?
Yes, about 35 years. And speaking of sexuality, you know, the Celtic tradition, it’s a culture of life. So they absolutely love sacred sexuality, and my husband, who is 99% Irish, has been on this journey with me. So, I’ve had this wonderful companion, you know, as we bring the culture of life back together again.
I love that you call it that, the culture of life, and I think that it’s true of most indigenous and roots cultures that there has been a celebration of sexuality and a celebration of fecundity and life bringing acts. We have so much fear and taboo in our culture around it, which is why I started this show. So, I’m really excited to have this conversation with you. I’m curious if you could share with our listeners sort of how you got started on this journey of investigating the goddess.
Well, I actually started in England in the 80s, early 1980s, and a couple of things happened. I was given this overseas research award and my job was to go and gather or to understand and study the work of Lady Gregory who was a folklorist and a playwright in Ireland. She was one of the main patrons of WB Gates and started the Abby Theater, and was one of the people that were responsible for bringing Celtic mythology back to universities. Actually, she reinstated Gaelic in schools because see for a long time if people told Gaelic stories or Celtic stories or spoke Gaelic they could be killed. So, they’re not as well known as the Greco Roman stories for that reason. They were suppressed and when I was over there gathering these, there were a couple of things that happened because there’s always this personal quest too, right?
Now, I know that my ancestors were from England and I had been told all kinds of stories, and actually we still have our legacy farm in Virginia and our English ancestors are buried there. So, I was raised with this sort of tradition of storytelling, but what happened when I was in England was that I was very excited to be working on this doctorate and my uncle that I was living with committed suicide. It was such a shock and I had an existential crisis and all of a sudden the world of academia wasn’t really enough. I needed to find some kind of understanding of the spiritual world.
What happened to him, where did he go, and so I wound up doing pilgrimages. At first I was looking for Mary Magdalene and wound up in Gloucester Berry and got really, really caught up with the myths and legends of Joseph of Arimathea and the Holy Grail, which is one way to weave the Western tradition of the got us back together again, but what I started encountering were these presences that are very real, actually, when you go to the places, they’re these sacred places where you can encounter deities, I’m sure in the native American tradition, that’s also true.
So, I had some very powerful encounters and it seemed like Danu and Ériu, some of these Irish goddesses, were the ones who started leading me on these quests. So, I would go on these journeys physically as well as shamanically to go back into these old Karens and listen to the dreams of the earth and remember my roots, remember why I’m here, and also where we go. That was the other part that was really important and really came to peace with what happened to my uncle, felt that I could continue my conversation with him through the veils. So, that’s a whole conversation right there too, it is like how you walk between the worlds with those you love.
Well, and I think it’s so interesting you bring that up. That was absolutely a huge catalyst for my own spiritual journey as well with my brother’s death. You know, he overdosed on heroin and so I can absolutely relate with this. It’s like this instinctual urge to go. It’s like where did you go, you know, and you go on this quest, this epic quest, to find where they went and it’s an amazing journey for sure. So, we’re not going to dive into it because we have to go to a quick break and I think there’s a lot to discuss here. So, before we go to break, will you tell our listeners where they can go to find out more about you and your work and your books?
Yes, you can go to my website, ayncatessullivan.com . So, if you Google me, I usually come straight up, but ayncatessullivan.com and there you can sign up for a newsletter, which I will write again soon and there are all kinds of books you can find all sorts of podcasts, things you can listen to. I try to keep inspiring people, that’s really my role. So, I hope you’ll go and feel like you can find your roots and maybe some of your branches also on the side.
Beautiful, and soon you’ll be able to find her on the SuperPower Up! podcast as well. So, stay tuned for that. We’re talking with Ayn Cates Sullivan about the divine feminine in Celtic mythology. More when we get back stay tuned.