We were early, having left Buckinghamshire before six am to get to Glastonbury for the Walk and Talk event… so the windows of the bookshops had, inevitably, drawn us…
“It’s the marmalade hair…” A hand extended and ignored in favour of a hug…
…and thus began the Silent Eye‘s first informal event in Glastonbury on Saturday morning. We had a fair idea that it was going to be a magical day… we had crested a rise on the way into town and our first glimpse of the Tor was accompanied by a rainbow in a pastel sky over the apples of Avalon… what better sign could we have wished for?
Our company gathered to much hugging outside the George and Pilgrim… students and friends old and new. A small company, given the atrocious weather forecast and hurricane warning there had inevitably been cancellations… but it made for an intimate group from a diversity of spiritual backgrounds.
Our first stop was to pay our respects at the graveside of one of those responsible for lifting esoteric studies out of the closet and making them accessible and sensible. The theme of the day was Being Human… and she was. She was Violet Firth… just a woman with a very human story. But she was also Dion Fortune, one of the best loved and most important esoteric writers of the modern era. many see her in the guise of Vivien Le Fay, the Sea Priestess of her novel… and those three layers of persona, all real in their own terms depending upon perspective, gave us our starting point on the journey for the day. The grave, a simple thing, is decked with small tokens brought by others who come to pay their respects. Each Companion was invited to share a reading that spoke of what being human meant to them and some beautiful things were read and discussed. We joined in a short guided meditation and Morgana West of the Glastonbury Pilgrim Reception Centre shared a few words with us. The weather brightened during the meditation and held beautifully for the rest of the day. Somehow when we come together for these events, we always seem to be blessed with the weather we need.
We walked back towards the town and on toward the White Spring, talking as we walked and getting to know each other. It was early and the White Spring was closed, which was perfect for our purposes. Those who wished drank from the red and white sacred springs, the twin streams of Avalon, and we gathered in the little courtyard of an elderly building built to provide clean water for the town yet quickly rendered redundant. Morgana told us the history and legends of the springs and spoke of the ‘dragon egg’ stones… which fitted beautifully with the guided meditation written for this spot. The building that houses the spring is a little shabby and unprepossessing, yet within it are the sacred waters and a modern shrine where once there were ferns and caves…it was a perfect analogy for the next part of our discussion and journey together.
Within the outer shell of each of us something pure and sacred lies concealed beneath the layers of the the persona and the masks we wear, rising from a source that may seem distant but which is connected to us through the constant flow of life and being.
The texts that were shared here ranged from poetry to the words of American Indians, and each reading brought an aspect of the reader and their interpretation and meaning to the words.
From the White Spring we headed in search of refreshments at the George… heavily and gorily decorated for Hallowe’en and the charity Zombie Walk scheduled for the evening along with the Fairy Ball… both of which seemed entirely appropriate as we explored what makes us human.
After lunch, much discussion and the suitable and necessary consumption of Stowford’s… a cider akin to nectar….we walked past the Market Cross along magdalen Street, passing the remains of the great and once glorious Abbey. Here, is is said, the remains of King Arthur once lay with Guinevere… many legends abound. It is said that it was on Wearyall Hill that Joseph of Arimathea planted his staff and it flowered, giving birth to the Holy Thorn that flowers at Christmas. Land was given to the early followers of Jesus and the first Christian church was raised on the land sacred to the Goddess in tolerance and understanding that all paths lead to the Light. This tolerance… Unity through Diversity… is very much a part of the town still today.
There is a tiny chapel on Magdalen Street. It is an incredibly beautiful and peaceful place that I love. Here I asked the Companions to join me as I said a silent, personal prayer for someone very dear to me and to the School. In an act of sheer, spontaneous beauty they too lit candles and sat in silent meditation and love. It was a moment I shall not forget and which moved me deeply. And I thank them.
One by one the Companions filed out into the tiny, peaceful garden. A baptism was about to take place and it began to rain gently… Morgana gained permission for us to borrow one of the lovely little alms houses.. simple, single rooms, where we concluded the readings and the final meditation. It was entirely fitting that the theme was Love.
We spent a few minutes enjoying the peace before heading back into the town, stopping at the Shrine of Our Lady of Glastonbury. The tradition and history of the shrine goes back a very long way. When the Saxons reached Glastonbury in AD 658 the ‘old church’ as it was known was already standing and there has been a tradition of pilgrimage to the Lady, in this place of the Goddess, ever since. Pagan and Christian, sacred hill and esoteric study… all meet here in this place and our walk had encompassed them all.
We ended the day as we had begun… at a pub. This time it was the Mitre. Morgana had to collect the Glastonbury Unity Candle, a tall blue candle in a lantern, made with the flowers of the local landscape and the Holy Thorn. This candle is a beautiful symbol of the essence and spirit of Glastonbury. It is passed to groups of all paths, groups active in faith or in community, spiritual, religious and secular and they are asked to light and bless the candle as a symbol of unity and peace. It was my great honour to be asked to light the flame and that too is a moment of loving trust that I shall not forget. The simple act moved me deeply, bringing me into a chain of love, acceptance and togetherness.. a tiny part of a greater flame of humanity and even the writing of the memory brings me to tears tonight.
Then it was time to part… with hugs and smiles after a wonderful day and surrounded by gathering zombies and fairies… of which more in a later post. It had been a beautiful day, made even more special by Morgana… a friend and fellow Yorkshire lass with heather in the blood, who knows Glastonbury inside out and who shared so much with us that we would not have known.
Yet each companion brought something unique with their energy and understanding, their readings and interpretations, their laughter and their stories… and this was what the day had been about… how beautiful and alike we are are in our uniqueness, our diversity, our kinship. It was all about being human.