Urban Pagan in Somerset

Urban Pagan in Somerset

Monday, 29 August 2011

Missed in Avalon

For a long time Ive been promising to take Rhiannon to my most favourite places. Places I love. Last year we visited Avebury for the first time and she also found it was a place she felt was special. This year I finally had the resources, car etc to take her to Glastonbury. Its been a long time since I was there last. Over 10 years in fact. It goes by so quickly, I hadnt realised how long it had been, although I realised how much I had missed being there.

It couldnt be a long visit though. I had to be back home for a hospital appointment and time it all between some summer leave from work, so a nice long weekend was planned to stay with a friend of mine who had moved down there just a year ago. So much excitement. Finally to visit the place I have longed to live in for so many years.

I first visited Glastonbury about 20 years ago. Starting with a trip into the town during my stay at the Glastonbury Festival. I loved it instantly. The feeling of being 'at home' there. Wonderful and interesting shops all nestling along with the usual ones in a high street. I remember a cavernlike shop called ISIS. Full of interesting books, decorative items you walked through one shop into another and at the back was a studio with the wonderful paintings of Peter Pracownik and stuff he was working on at the time. What I also loved was that there were lots of interesting witchy shops, not just the odd one you sometimes see in most towns.

I watched people in the streets while I sipped coffee, in the Blue note cafe, a man with bare feet walking along with a guitar strung on his back. Then a lady with a twinset and court shoes clip clopping along. A melting pot of many different types of people and ideas, all milling around together. It was a festival feeling there. And not just because of the Glastonbury festival. I visited again several times over the next few years at different times in the year and the same feeling was there.

And so I longed to live there. To be part of this amazing place. And then - on top of all this, the most wonderful Tor and the Chalice Well.

Wonderful places with such amazing energy. Over the years when I visited either along or with my older children, we always made sure we climbed the Tor and drank from the well. I remember one really wild and windy day, climbing the hill with my children (just the 2 then) and having to hold them really tight. Im sure if I had attached string to them I could have flown them like kites!

My visits stopped for a while for various reasons, my personal life changed, I became a one parent family with little money for expenses like transport or holidays. And living in Kent as I do, it was a fair distance to get to. Specially lugging heavy camping gear and trailing 2 children with me. And so the years slipped by.

My circumstances changed, I wished so much to revisit the Isle of Avalon once again. And take my youngest daughter to visit. I had told Rhiannon so much about it and she wanted to see it too. Last year it almost happened but something came up, so when a friend of mine moved down there just a year ago and invited us to visit, we were ready.

Our trip from kent was broken with a stop at Avebury on the way. Wonderful, we circled the Stones and left an offering at the trees with the plaited roots. Rejuvinated we drove the last few miles to Glastonbury. And when we saw the Tor in the distance I felt so happy. At last! 10 years of waiting and im finally here again.

The Tor was magical - the chalice well was calm and peaceful and beautiful. We drank the waters and made a staff while the gardens hosted a healing festival that was on that weekend. We saw our friend and met a few new ones too. And the Goddess Temple in the centre of Glastonbury was lovely. So peaceful and beautiful. We sat in it for a while, Rhiannon drawing a picture of the Goddess that the lovely melissa put on the altar and promised to take a photo when it was closed to email us later.

So why was I saddened during my visit?

Isnt this a place I love, have longed to see again, a place that restores my soul?

Actually.....I dont like it any more. Well, Im afraid I dont like the town itself. I loved climbing the Tor again, pausing for breath at the bench half way up. Sitting at the top, closing my eyes and feeling the healing energies from the earth. Paddling in the Chalice well waters and filling bottles with the healing waters was wonderful too. But these are the ancient places that make up Avalon and will never change no matter what people do to them.

The town is another matter. Oh yes - I enjoyed sitting in the cafe drinking hot apple punch and snacking on the nicest carrot cake ive ever tasted. And the Goddess temple itself was an oasis of peace and love. But what about the rest?

Maybe its not that I dislike it but just realised I wouldnt want to live here. Maybe if I did I might dip under the brash prices and sugar coating spirituality being sold around me. I could meet the genuine dwellers - like the few I met on my visit through my friend. Maybe I could connect with the people hidden in the mists of this Isle that remain hidden to the outsiders who briefly visit - such as me!

But now, when I look at the town, I see the tinsel for sale. The unwelcoming notices to parents regarding the sale items. NO TOUCHING signs. I understand why. The giant crystals ripped from the earth for sale at thousands of pounds, ornaments and statues at similar large prices. No one wants the children touching them. Breakages must be paid for.

One or two places still welcomed the customer. But on the whole I saw the ££££ signs and the posters with the latest guru being advertised. Courses priced int the hundreds and thousands.

Now before anyone says anything, I have no problem with people needing to earn a living. We all have to pay the rent, bills and put food on the table. But it seems we have new updated courses and workshops to experience and then along comes anew one, more money, more money, more money!

And at night the place changed - during the time I was there staying in the town I heard shouting, noise, arguments and threats between groups of people coming from the pubs.I closed my eyes and thought of the peace in the Well gardens and on the Tor in the early morning.

So I left, knowing my home and path lie elsewhere. To continue to honour the Goddess who is everywhere afterall. Sad in some ways that this place I dreamed of living in for so long, is not meant for me. But also, strangely free!


Hermit Witch said...

I know exactly what you mean. I was so looking forward to my visit to Glastonbury a couple of years ago. For years I'd listened to friends proclaim it as an oasis of calm; a wonderous, magical, spiritual place and at last I was going there myself! Oh joy.
Maybe all the hype had set my expectations too high, but I was so disapointed. There were, as you say, some beautiful, tranquil places but so much of what I saw felt plastic. And the prices!!!
Then to top it all off the fire alarm in the stunning old hotel we stayed in went off three times during the night! We took that as a sign that it really wasn't for us and high tailed it out of there the next morning.

Lilith said...

I read your post with interest, as I too, long to visit Glastonbury. I had a vision of it being spiritual everywhere - I suppose I hadn't factored-in real life! I was going to go there this year, but was unsure of my job security (I am a single parent also) so didn't make it. I will go one day to experience the good things about it, but now I'll go with more realistic expectations!

Karl Beech said...

A moving description of a pilgrimage...thank you for posting this..