Sometimes, I have to admit, I'm a bit sceptical of the hype about sacred sexuality as the ultimate way to spiritually bring together the masculine and feminine so that all live happily ever after … it doesn't seem so easy in a patriarchal society where gender inequality is inherent in all structures and makes itself felt in the workplace and in the family, in the media and in relationships. Apart from doubting the apparently "easy" solution, I also sometimes worry about the role of the woman in sacred sexuality – and I mean today, not in times when Priestesses held a sacred and revered role for the whole of society.

"In All Ways", by Jim Malachi

So why do books such as In All Ways that is self-confidently subtitled "A Tale of Spiritual Eroticism" keep turning up and seem to be waiting to be read – and this one to be reviewed – by me? Maybe because In All Ways is an intriguing account of an initiation of a young man by the divine feminine that, once the reader gets used to the fantastical language and the outlandish names, is hard to put down. Perhaps because I love science fiction and fantasy for its potential to present us with alternative perspectives of human community, a lived spirituality, and different gender roles. This book does indeed offer a glimpse into a different world, one that is rooted in a deep connection between human beings and the whole of the cosmos, and a society gaining its wisdom by shamanic techniques and an interaction with plants and animals, which is sensitive to all kinds of energies and listens to the wisdom of dreams as important inner guidance. One the one hand, the novel is an individual account of a response to the call of the unfathomable divine feminine, and on the other hand, the book makes it clear that by surrendering to feminine divine power and experiencing its mystery, a whole tribe can be healed. Thus, the hero's self-healing brings healing to the community as a whole. How much this rings true for our patriarchal society! With every woman who remembers her divine origins and goddess-given power and particularly with every man who is courageous enough to open to the divine feminine and find ways to define his masculinity in a loving relation to the feminine, our world changes. And even if I'm just too impatient at times, a book such as this points in the right direction to heal this separation.

However, this doesn't mean that the novel is easy to read. Since in the given society, dreams are as important as in any shamanic society – directing one's vision and subsequent life choices – the book remains in a dreamlike language that is sometimes very confusing. After disturbing visions following the loss of his wife, the protagonist Akiim sets out on a journey to the sacred mountain lake, which is guarded by "The Dark Mistress Mbura, The Lady of the Lake." What begins as a fool's journey, which leads him into the mysteries of nature along something reminding of the song lines, culminates in a merging with the Goddess where the recurring motif –  "I become You become Me" – and its mantric power really struck a chord with me. Finally, the initiation he undergoes is a spiritual and a sexual one where he experiences "love in all ways" by merging with a cosmic oneness. His vision quest also connects him to his son and his father; it becomes clear that by his initiation into the mystery of the divine feminine he heals a whole masculine line.

When the readers are presented with the figure of the Lady of the Lake and when they meet priestesses on the way who say "We are the Nine", this evocation of the Lady of Avalon and the Nine Morgens as the spirits of Avalon is no coincidence. For in the prologue the author describes part of his own journey to the Goddess which culminates in his experience of her presence at the Glastonbury Goddess Conference celebrating the divine feminine as the Lover. The "shift of consciousness" during the Lammas ceremony in the Goddess Temple and his contact to the Goddess in the following days, Jim Malachi claims, has inspired him to write In All Ways – and of course to dedicate it to Rhiannon.

The initiatory journey into these mysteries for a male hero reminded me of two books with a similar topic which I've just recently (re-)read: one is Lindsay Clarke's The Chymical Wedding; as the title indicates, the novel deals with a symbolic and sexual quest for an alchemical merging of the feminine and the masculine, which I found mesmerizing. The other book, Tim Ward's Savage Breast, presents a real-life journey to reconnect with the lost Goddesses of the author's European ancestors which makes him face his personal fear of women and the traumas associated with it, finally leading him on a healing journey where he discovers female as well as male power. Books such as these illustrate very clearly that if men are cut off from the divine feminine, as they presently are and have been for thousands of years, it is no wonder that their relationships with women are difficult, to say the least, and that patriarchy as a system which destroys nature and the lives of women, children, and many men, continues to exist. Read in this context, In All Ways offers an enticing new vision.

©Miriam Raven

In All Ways is published by Booklocker and can be found on Amazon.