21 June 2011 a post by Greenwood The Bard

Yew and Me

It was Summer Solstice, and as I always am at that time, I was in Glastonbury. I purposely pick a campsite that's the far side of the Tor away from the town, so that I have to climb the Tor on my way into town each day of my visit.

chalice well Sometimes, bad as it sounds, when I look at the hollow stone of St. Michael's Tower, last remnant of a monastery standing alone on the hilltop like a chess piece, it makes me think of all the other comatose churches that cover the country. Impressive, attractive, but once you get closer, hollow and empty. From dusk on Solstice Eve through til dawn on Solstice Day, the tower is full of celebrations, with guitars, drums, dancing and sounds it would be very kind to describe as singing. Meantime, those of a more peaceful personality sleep outside, leaned against the tower out of the wind, and await the dawn which, since this is the highest hill for miles around and most of the surrounding marshland is covered in mist, can be breath-taking. Many more people gather at the actual moment of Sunrise, but by then most of those inside the tower are too danced-out, or too drunk, to notice. Now I've got nothing against a party, and there's nothing wrong with having a wild side, but it just seems that they've little or no appreciation of the magic and meaning of the day, unlike those who are gathered on the hill around me, staring at the Sun. Not for the first time, the dawn was so stunning it moved me to tears. Later on, I couldn't help thinking of the different kinds of response inside and outside the tower, as another picture of some churches I've been involved with. Seeming full of life inside, but totally out of touch with the feelings of people outside. On a more recent visit, it was encouraging to find in the tower a commemorative cross someone had left for a loved one; made with twigs, held together with twine, and ringed with roses. Amazing how a little bit of Mother Nature can fill the emptiest, loneliest places with life and light. But the best and worst was yet to come, as I moved on down the Tor to Chalice Well Gardens. There are two ways to walk around this place, that I call the tourist trail and the pilgrim path. There are stone and gravel pathways that lead you from one significant site to another through the gardens to the well itself, like a guided tour. And then there are the truly spiritually special places, off the path, that you would only know if you were looking for them. If you want the latter, the best way to enter the gardens is between the Guardian Yews, standing side by side like guards at a gate. This I did, and stopped to rest my hand on a branch, to share a moment of love, honour and respect for my brothers of bark. And something was not right. Now I can sometimes be quite spiritually sensitive, especially to persistent echoes of past events. And something was wrong with the Yew trees. Then I noticed the hanging trinkets. Many trees by the well have tributes hanging from them; where people have said a prayer, made a wish, given or received a blessing, there are ribbons and such hanging from branches. But today these were different. There were trinkets with meaning. Someone who believed in the flow of power, both physical and spiritual, through ancient trees such as this, had tried to cast a spell here, to bind and claim that power. Now witchcraft and enchantment is not always done with evil intent; sometimes a person just wants to use the energy that keeps nature in balance and motion, to enrich their lives and the lives of others. But this, I could tell by the placing of their little posessions, had been done with selfish and disrespectful motive. In that moment, the feelings I began to feel from inside myself and outside, I agreed with those who believe plants can feel pain. I took down the trinkets and threw them away. Then I sat between the trees and prayed. And it was like trying to make myself heard in a crowd at a concert. Physically, the place was sparsely populated. Spiritually it was crowded and chaotic. I stood up and continued to pray more determinedly, hoping my standing firm and stubborn would get the attention of whoever and whatever was listening, be they for me and the trees or against us. As I went on, gradually I was able to think more clearly, and speak more clearly, but my body felt as if it had just been beaten up, and my spirit was starting to feel the same. I told myself to keep going, as it felt as though the clouds were clearing. I opened my eyes, hoping the clear air and colourful atmosphere would do me good as I prayed on. And there was a truly lovely lady standing in front of me, obvious from the way she was standing that she had been praying with me or for me the whole time. Now it's hard to describe her, and it was hard to choose the word "lovely" just now. If I had seen a picture of her, I wouldn't have been blown away by her beauty; but when we met there was something indescribably attractive about her presence. Her face seemed to say everything was OK now. I stopped; although I could have found it in me to carry on if there was any need, something about her presence told me there wasn't. We walked away together and she spoke a blessing over me, taking hold of my hand and smiling. As I spotted someone I wanted to talk to about what had just happened, she kept smiling but let go of my hand and walked away. When I spoke to the person I'd spotted, I pointed in the direction the lady had walked, but she was nowhere to be seen. So I looked back to the Yews, and the air around them seemed cleaner, brighter and warmer. They seemed to stand taller, more proud, more free. I smiled, and searched the gathering crowd for my benefactor, but she was gone.

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Your comments:

Greenwood, thank you for sharing that - i might strongly suspect your lady was St Bridget or Bride in the English some of us exploring the spiritual realities of places like Glastonbury have become very aware of the way ancient saints have helped in sanctifying their natural power as a part of thee mission to Celtic Britain. many saints legends and holy sites and wells are part of their legacy. i think as our country becomes more spiritually awake and Christians also re-connect with this ancestry we are finding if you like the ancient saints ans their sites are also waking up. Bride has significance in Glastonbury for this reason. i may be wrong but suspect she is your beautiful holy lady.  glad anyway for you to have been there playing your part as a guardian.

#1. By Steve Hollinghurst on June 21, 2011

Mystical indeed…

#2. By Sara Stanley on June 21, 2011

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