Today I want to take you on a little tour to one of my favourite places in the UK:
Many of you will know the place from the famous Glastonbury Festival which in fact does not take place in Glastonbury itself but a little outside close to Pilton on Worthy Farm. Well, there is the so-called Abbey Extravaganza, which takes place since 20 years on the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey but let’s not hair split this topic ;-).
I had never heard of the festival when my obsession with the Glastonbury started. At the beginning of the 1990’s I spent a holiday with my ex-husband in Ireland and acquired a second-hand paperback of M. Zimmer-Bradley’s “The Mists of Avalon”.
I was fascinated by the different take on the Arthur story and ever since I read the book I wanted to see Glastonbury. About 15 years later I actually managed with my ex-partner, and I loved it.
The town of Glastonbury makes the most of the Arthur saga, the arrival of Christianity and the Glastonbury festival. I have never been to a place where New Age spirituality, Christianity and probably pretty much every other faith on Earth lives side by side so peacefully.
According to legend, Josef of Arimathea who gave his own tomb for Jesus’s burial came to Glastonbury and put his staff down when he wanted to sleep. It miraculously took root and became the famous “Glastonbury Thorn”. The original one was burnt as relics of paganism in the English Civil War. One was replanted on Wearyall Hill in 1951, but its branches were cut off in 2010. No one knows who was it and why he or she did it.
There are two other important trees in Glastonbury one at the Abbey and one at the Church of St. John. All three are Hawthorns but those in and around Glastonbury flower twice: Once in winter and once in spring.
I have been to Glastonbury twice and both times I felt like the town has its own microclimate. It felt a lot warmer and more humid than the area around which made it seem logic to me that hawthorns flower twice. However, the reason is probably more the fact that hawthorns have been propagated by grafting since ancient times.
Either Joseph himself or his son Josephus supposedly brought the chalice also known as the Holy Grail to Britain, but I do not go any further into this. It might end with Monty Python, and not everybody is fond of them ;-).
There are two favourite places of mine in Glastonbury. The Tor and the Chalice Well Gardens. The Tor has always fascinated me first of all as it’s name is the same as the word for Gate in German. And, coming back to “The Mists of Avalon”, it was the gate between the Isle of Apples (Avalon) and the surrounding Christian area. One of the priestesses decided to move Avalon behind a veil of mists into a different dimension to prevent their religion from being overrun by Christians. This is where Arthur finds his last resting place in the book.
The Tor according to Wikipedia is a “conical hill of clay and Blue Lias rises from the Somerset Levels. It was formed when surrounding softer deposits were eroded, leaving the hard cap of sandstone exposed. The slopes of the hill are terraced, but the method by which they were formed remains unexplained. Artefacts from human visitation have been found, dating from the Iron Age to Roman eras.” There is a roofless church tower on top.
You have a stunning view over Glastonbury itself and the surrounding landscape when you managed the often steep climb to St. Michaels Tower on the Tor. I have spent a few marvelous hours up there enjoying the hustle and bustle of tourists and my own ponderings about spirituality and “The Mists of Avalon”.
Chalice Well Gardens is a beautiful multi-spiritual place nestled between the Tor and Chalice Hill. The introduction they give on their homepage explains this place better than I can:
Chalice Well is one of Britain’s most ancient wells, nestling in the Vale of Avalon between the famous Glastonbury Tor and Chalice Hill. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and orchards, it is a living sanctuary in which the visitor can experience the quiet healing of this sacred place. For over two thousand years this has been a place where people have gathered to drink the waters and find solace, peace and inspiration.
At present, we work with the theme of ‘Many Paths, One Source’ to welcome all people of goodwill to the gardens throughout the year. We also mark ‘the wheel of the year’ at regular intervals with events of celebration, silence and meditation, and conversation. This includes an evening programme of music, poetry and performance throughout the summer months in our candlelit gardens.
If you are sensible to the different energies that work in this reality, you certainly realise that Chalice Well Gardens is a sacred and healing place. Spending time there in meditation and relaxing has kick-started several bouts of healing for me and I would not be who I am now if I would not have visited the Chalice Well Gardens.
That, of course, is the total opposite to the maniac activities to the Glastonbury Festival, which always takes place at the beginning of June. If you ever want to go: be prepared: The British weather has a reputation to lose and hardly does it at that time of the year. You will get muddy no end ;-).
I’ve never made it. The best husband (Jeremy Clarkson voice) in the world and I had pondered on going when the children are a little older, but our distaste for crowds prevents us from doing so. I’d rather watch it on the telly :-).
There is of course much more to say about Glastonbury, but I leave that for another day. If you got curious though please have a look at these links:
- Glastonbury Festival
- Chalice Well Gardens
- Glastonbury Online
- Glastonbury Abbey
- Visit Somerset ~ Glastonbury
- The Isle of Avalon