Where is the mist of Avalon?


For a very long time I had wanted to see Glastonbury. I had a rough idea where it was, but never thought I would make it across the ocean to see it. Little did I know I would be moving to England and living fairly close to it. Surely now I could go see Glastonbury.
Couldn't I?

Well, time went by and I still didn't know any people here. In two years I still hadn't met any American-friendly Pagans and had been told I would just be something to laugh at. So, I guess that put me off a bit. But I had met a wonderful woman from Glastonbury who was in Portland one summer for a solstice celebration. Her name is Kathy Jones. She was very nice and I loved to hear her stories. I loved hearing about Glastonbury. I wrote to the Brigid Healing Centre where she works and told her I was over here now.

A year went by and one day I got something in the mail that was like a dream come true. It was a registration form for the "Goddess Conference" in Glastonbury. Would I be willing to take the train to who knows where and stay in some sort of hotel for 5 nights? YES!!! I was finally going to Glastonbury.

Although I was plagued by a horrible, nasty cold, I was determined. Having already paid and booked my hotel, I was more than ready when the time came. Finally, the Tor, Chalice Well and all those wonderful things were going to be within my grasp.

There were more people there than I had expected and the opening ceremony was almost overwhelming because of the closeness and heat from the room. But there I was, finally amongst people I could talk to and relate to, and they didn't care that I was American, because many of them were too. They accepted me as I am. What a nice feeling after two years.

Here is a picture of the hotel I stayed in across from the hub of the Goddess Conference. The George and Pilgrim Hotel was built in 1470. There is a passageway from the cellar to the Abbey but it has been closed to the public.

George and Pilgrim, built in 1470.

I was to stay in the to section, where the bars are, but the windows were at chin height and I would have needed a ladder to get onto the four-poster bed, so I moved. The name of that first room was "Henry VIII" who was not one of my favourite people in the history of the world, and the room gave me the creeps.

Most of the time I lacked the energy to follow the rest of the crowd and found myself doing as I pleased, which translates as "shopping". I was upset that I didn't have the energy to climb the Tor. Maybe next time. But I did take the "Tor bus" and stopped at the beautiful Chalice Well on the way back. It was a warm, sunny day and everything was as perfect as I had hoped it would be.

Glastonbury Tor
Glastonbury Tor

Lion's head where you can drink the water. Bottom part of the well. The Source.
Some shots of Chalice Well

The water from Chalice Well has always been thought to have healing properties. One thing is certain, it is full of iron. That is what gives all the stones it flows over a red colour. In the old times, people mistook it for blood. The women felt closer to this well as it was a symbol of the Goddess and fertility. I tasted the water. It smelled and tasted of iron. I just had to bring some home. I'm not sure why, I just did. The local people still go and fill their water bottles. I saw one old woman, as she packed her bottles to go home, stop and rub the water onto her eyes.

One of the workshops I went to was a very eye-opening experience for me. Many of us have read "The Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and hoped this magical place was still there. I had heard of the lakes and small islands where the women of Avalon lived and worked their magic. So, was it all just fantasy? Did any of this really exist? Yes, it did. Until Christianity arrived.

Now many of you who know me know that I am not a big fan of what the Christian people have done to the rest of the world, and after hearing what I am about to tell you, I was even more devastated. I even cried that such a wonderful, naturally magical place was destroyed by them, and I was angry. But this was not just a rumour. This was fact.

I met a fascinating woman at this workshop who told us all about what it was like long ago. She even wrote about it. She gave me permission to quote from her writings for my web page. Her name is Chesca Potter. Here is a part of what she wrote in Avalon magazine, in an article called "The Lady of the Lake".

"I feel that is was a draining of the marshes by Christians C6thCE which caused the extinguishing of the statue of the old ways. Imagine previously numerous tiny islands and hills, surrounded by watery bog and marsh, often concealed by the mists. The locals would have had intimate knowledge of this treacherous landscape and could hide easily, as well as keep their ceremonies hidden. Drain the waters and all is exposed to the eye of Christianity. The pagan cults of Avalon were water based. This mythic landscape was physically destoyed. To take away the power fo the Ladies of the Lake, drain their power source - the Lakes.

"Imagine the area in the late neolithic and Bronze age. There were numerous narrow trackways across the marshs made of hazel, oak and yew. People lived in lake villages on stilts. They travelled in flat bottomed oak log boats - later remembered as the barge of Avalon. They hunted with longbows: there is a reconstruction of a beautiful yew longbow from Meare near Glastonbury, dated 2,300 BCE in the British Museum. Women excel at archery - a woman could take her longbow for food and protection on her small log boat and with intimate knowledge of the landscape could be independent for days, both physically and magically.

"The magical realms of the Ladies of the Lake are still phsyically visible. I see them as more ancient, less romanticised, than the descriptions in the inspiring novel The Mists of Avalon. I see various magical islands with different aspects. Priestesses dressed in cowhide giving healing; Raven feathered cloaked women dismembering bodies and carrying the souls of the dead, heron cloaked triplicities, women who guarded wisdom and prophecy and fate, and were later seen as the fates, the norns, the hooded ones or cuculatti. I see very primitive nature based spirits, islands of the apples of love, and those of the dark night and stellar wisdom."

Meeting Chesca Potter was a fascinating experience and I hope I can meet with her again one day. In her workshop, we took greenery from the area and she trusted us with some of her treasured personal items to create a green woman. I was fascinated at the way she would talk to us all, looking around the room.....with her eyes closed. She knew we were there. To me it seemed a better way to communicate. I hung on her every word. Her art work is incredible. Please follow the link on her name to find out more about her and her work.

Here are some pictures from the Abbey. This had all been water and marsh, but was drained to build the Abbey.
Photo by Kevin Redpath
The photo above was taken by Kevin Redpath.

The Abbott's kitchen
The Abbott's kitchen. There is more here than meets the eye.

In neolithic times, the lines of energy in the earth underground waterways were usually marked by a large stone. There are many such places where the Abbey now stand. I have felt them for myself when a group of German dowsers invited me to join them. It was fascinating. However, the only marker that was left by the Christians when they came in and drained the land for the Abbey was one large egg-shaped stone that has been rolled behind the Abbott's kitchen and forgotten most people. The stone now has a hole in the top where the monks once tried to put a cross in it. There is nothing there to tell people about this stone. Maybe they are hoping we will forget. I will not. Here is a picture of that stone.

Neolithic stone behind the Abbott's Kitchen.

My trip to Glastonbury was incredible. Even though I was sick and didn't attend all the events I had planned to, I had a wonderful time. The best times were the times I got to spend alone in these incredibly powerful places. I think that is how they should be seen. If you go to Glastonbury to see the Tor and Chalice Well, leave yourself a lot of time, because it seems to stand still. Maybe they were right about Avalon. They said the fairies there would let you fall asleep and you would wake up and a year had passed. I felt as though that could happen to me. Climb the Tor, drink from the well, and be glad that you were able to visit such a magical place as Avalon.

Remember the Ladies of the Lake.


For more information, please visit these links:

Isle of Avalon

Glastonbury Abbey