Saturday, 4 January 2014

Glastonbury: A Place apart

Glastonbury: Avalon of the Heart/ Isle of Apples

Like many people I have long had an awareness of Glastonbury, which in my case predates the annual (or is it biannual now?) music festival held by Michael Eavis on his farmlands. Indeed if we momentarily glance towards that festival, its strangeness when compared to the plethora of festivals now staged in these islands, is immediately apparent: this uniqueness, I would suggest, stems not only from the creative talents of the artists involved, but also from the place where it is situated; a sacred place the holiness of which has been recognised by its inhabitants for thousands of years; a place identified with Arthur and the Grail Quest; a place where even the topographical features shout out the hermetic maxim “As Above, So Below”. 

The long journey, temporally that is, which resulted in my wife and I standing on the summit of Glastonbury Tor, began some years ago, over the weekend of my First Stage Reiki attunement. On the Saturday evening I returned home, literally spaced out from the energies I had experienced during the attunement, and lay down on our sofa for a few moments. I had no sooner closed my eyes when I was immersed in a vivid vision of what I recognised as Glastonbury Tor; this seemed to last for quite a while before it subsided and I came back to something approximating my senses! I immediately commented on this to my wife and we both agreed that Glastonbury obviously was a place of significance for us, and that we should arrange to go on a pilgrimage there in the near future. Life however, as it has a habit of doing, intervened (or perhaps the time wasn’t quite right) whichever, it took us a few years to actually make our way there.

The Holiest Earth in England

When we did the journey was one filled with high anticipation; our spirits weren’t even dampened by the torrential rain which greeted us in Bristol, and which accompanied us on the coach journey through Wells to Glastonbury. However, as we arrived and turned onto the top of Glastonbury High Street, the rain ceased and the sun illuminated the town – a very auspicious portent: the sun stayed with us for our entire visit. The favourable omens continued when we sat down for lunch and started to browse a local free sheet, which included details of upcoming events in the town. We were staggered to discover that the author Paul Weston, who was probably my favourite esoteric author at that time, was giving a talk the next night, 20 yards from our B&B on Jose Arquelles, Quetzalcoatl and the path to 2012. [I highly recommend Weston’s work – a mix of esoteric history, popular culture and personal experience which resonates with me partly because we are the same age and seem to have a catalogue of similar interests and because of his limpid writing style; the book I had just finished before leaving for Glastonbury was his Avalonian Aeon: A Personal Occult Odyssey which is focussed on Glastonbury – a good place to start would be his book Aleister Crowley and the Aeon of Horus.] Needless to say we attended the talk which was fascinating – as was the atmosphere in the room: spirits teasing; the aural becoming aura; and the heaviness of  (k)now.

Goddess Dances in the Abbey Grounds

For me one of the leading practitioners and commentators on the Western Esoteric Tradition, along with the often maligned (usually from ignorance, seldom from good reason) Aleister Crowley, is Dion Fortune. Fortune lived in Glastonbury, beside the Chalice Well, between the Wars and wrote extensively about its mystical significance. Here is a short extract from her introduction to Glastonbury: Avalon of the Heart.

There are many different roads leading to our English Jerusalem, ‘the holiest erthe in Englande’.We can approach it by the high-road of history […] or we can come to [it] by the upland path of legend.[…] There ia a third way to Glastonbury, one of the secret Green Roads of the soul – the Mystic Way that leads through the Hidden Door into a land known only to the eye of vision. This is Avalon of the Heart to those who love her.

For the threshold pilgrim, this is an excellent supplement to the more common or garden travel guides; helping you along the mystic way and pointing towards the threshold experiences, which are to be found in abundance. 

Next time in Glastonbury: A Place Apart 2 – thresholds aplenty: Tor, Well, Thorn and Zodiac.

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