Answering the call of Avalon
Answering the call of Avalon
Adventures in Glastonbury - May 2017 - Day 2
Every time I feel called to visit Glastonbury without any pre-set plans, Spirit uses the space offered and steps in big time! Magical meetings, secret messages, chance discoveries, sudden finds and extreme synchronicity breathes through every fibre of my stay in this sacred place. My previous visit had been either too long ago or too short a stay, and now the whispers of the ‘Ancient Isle of Avalon’ had been steadily caressing my mind and heart for weeks! Divine timing, as always, was spot on; I make it a point to do something different than the usual stuff of daily life in the days leading up to and after my birthday. Because, as an Ozzy friend once so wisely shared in 1998, these days ‘out of normality’ create an opening for growth and set an energy for the upcoming year in your personal cycle. So I will try to get away to either a completely new place to explore – or go deeper into the magic of a familiar one. And in this case, the Spirit of Avalon had already been nudging me that it would be the latter.
Being an early May birthday girl, I love the gentleness of the Spring season when the tender blossoming of joy already carries the promise of Summer’s abundance. Back in 2004, when the Goddess stepped into my life while I experienced my first ever stay in Glastonbury, I promised Her to live my life in Her service and when She calls, I answer and immerse myself in Her landscape for rest, healing and to be given the next step(s) of my earth journey. It happens automatically, there’s no chasing leads. The magic just finds me. My job is to be aware of every moment’s richness. Glastonbury has several layers of reality and depending on where one’s focus lies, that is what you will be given on your journey there. This is why some visitors completely miss out on the magical character of it and why others will feel inspired and refreshed after a week’s retreat. Not to mention a host of experiences in-between, varying from fear to love, as this place magnifies everything that resides inside you that you need to be aware of in order to trigger transformation, growth, rebirth and claiming your power. For many years, often several times a year, I guided small groups of 6 to 8 Dutch pilgrims on an Avalon Retreat. Depending on the season in the sun’s cycle, the moon’s cycle, its appropriate astrology and the theme inspired through oracles and inner guidance, I would work out a magical itinerary and make use of all the transformational places Glastonbury has to offer and of those hidden places that are scattered around this spiritual smorgasbord of a town. Every one of those activities on the itinerary would be designed to trigger personal growth of the pilgrim. However, the activities on the itinerary were always just a ‘framework’; it left enough space for the Spirit of Avalon to work through it. In contrast, Spirit reigns complete when I visit Glastonbury without pilgrims or a pre-set plan and guides me to what I need to know. This is exactly what happened in the week that I stayed there early May 2017. After a 13 year cycle of being in service to the Goddess/Divine Feminine, the birthday gift I gave myself quite unexpectedly turned into a new cycle of being led to start working with the God/Divine Masculine as well. This is the story.
HEART OF THE HILL
The urge to empty my wallet on shiny crystals in the display windows of the many magical shops of Glastonbury’s High Street was successfully mastered (although I did drool a little bit while window-shopping). The pitched sound of a door bell announced an incoming customer as I went into one of the little bookshops and bought an Ordnance Survey map of the surrounding areas of Glastonbury. I had a strong feeling I wanted to go somewhere I’d never been before, perhaps go up a nearby hill. Yes. I felt strongly pulled to visit a hill. But which one? Armed with the map and making a way up to a panoramic point overlooking the vales, my eyes grazed the landscape to see if any hill in particular was calling. Nope. Then I looked at the map and kept getting tiny impulses to go to a nearby hill in Compton Dundon, 5 miles south of Glastonbury. From the symbols they used on the map, I learned that the hill used to be a hill fort. It also features a tumulus and a beacon. That sounds good, let’s go!
The sweet little Somerset village of Dundon felt like eye candy with its pretty bluebells and wild flowers everywhere. After having given in to the urge to photograph some of them, I followed the footpath that led to a steep uphill track signposted ‘Dundon Beacon Nature Reserve’ on the top of the hill. About one third up, an adventurous looking tiny track led into the woods with its magical carpet of bluebells. The rushing young green leaves had ‘invitation’ written all over their beckoning hands. “Oh, why not?” Well, because I got fearfully fairy pranked, that’s why not! The welcoming path quickly became smaller and led away from the hill. To stay on the hill, the only way was either clambering up a Bluebell covered slope with slippery earth - or back the way I came in. Bad decision number two was going up. There was no path and it really was rather steep. The steepest I’d ever done. Halfway up the hill and having found a sturdy wooden stick to help me, I had become a little bit more confident about not slipping and rolling down the hill but when the uncharted and difficult trek ended with barb wire just underneath the top of the hill and no way through, I slightly panicked. Noooo! It had already been such an arduous climb upwards; going down this steep side was not an option. Not without danger. “Sideways then?” This felt like going even deeper into the unknown. But there was little choice. Following what looked like a track used by wildlife while dodging unhappy insects, avoiding hungry nettles and potential ankle breaking logs and pits, the discomfort and fear raised by the fairy prank finally ended when the wildlife path joined up with the footpath. Well, I say joined up but there would have to be a little jump over a ditch. “Phew, made it!” Coming out of the woods felt like being hit in the face by everyday normal reality. While catching my breath, feeling utterly sticky, and calming my galloping heart down, I realised that if I had just followed this public footpath in stead of deviating into the woods, I would have already been at this spot like 40 minutes ago. Aargh! It was only a couple of days later that I remembered that the Lady Of Avalon always asks an offer first before bestowing her grace. This steep hill ordeal on my first day here was designed for me to conquer one of my fears. That, plus having to keep a rock steady faith in ‘there must be a way out of this’ while there seemed to be none, had been my tests. I had successfully passed the ‘guardians’ of the realm and now entered through the metaphysical gateway into the ‘real’Avalon. The Lady smiling upon me with a wink. The Bluebell fairies probably still laughing their tiny little asses off. I growled an imaginary growl to them but at the same time thanked them for helping me to become humble again and for leading me into deeper emotional territory.
On top of Dundon Hill, two small black ponies, they may have been Fallabellas (a tiny horse species rather than being ponies), observed me coming through the wooden gate at the entrance of the nature reserve. They watched as I took the iron-forged dowsing rod out from my walking bag. I treasure my pair of rods; before he died, Hamish Miller made them for me in his forge, based on a drawing of my hands and engraved with symbols that hold intention and meaning to me. I never dowsed with two rods at the same time as I found it much easer to adopt Hamish’ style of using only one rod. In the green field of the nature reserve, I took a deep breath of the fresh Spring air and held the rod in my right hand while the fingers of the other hand wandered along its shaft. At the end of the shaft I noticed the sharp end. “Ah, this is the rod with the prickly point!” Usually, I dowse with the other rod from the pair, distinguishable by the blunt point. Apparently I had taken the much less used rod with me for this journey. Little did I know that this would turn out to be of significance as the meaning of the symbols that are engraved in its handles, have to do with what was to become the theme and message of my adventures in Avalon. Funny thing; you don’t use a rod for years (like you can own an unread book for years) and then the time comes for the rod (or book) to become timely and significant. Like a divinely guided time capsule opening and revealing its patient secrets.
My eyes explored the area while my lungs filled on the scents of the verdant greens all around me. There was a sweet freshness in the air. Serenity too. I noticed swaying trees, grasses, shrubs and masses of airborne seeds, shaken off the branches by the playful breeze. My two new best furry friends started to walk towards me. Correction; towards my walking bag! “Surely there must be some hidden treats in that bag?” While keeping the food happy equine mates at bay, I concentrated on dowsing and asked if there was an earth energy line here. There was! Two of them actually. And they crossed near a tree. Someone must have known, or intuitively felt, that there was a special energy here because in that tree, an all natural, ‘dream catcher’ was hung from a branch. The dream catcher was made from sheep’s wool, willow wood and a suspended white heart! This charm was hanging on the centre line of one of the earth energy lines, just a few paces away from the place where the earth energy lines crossed. The dream catcher resembled a love charm, spreading pure white light from its heart. At that time I still had no clue about the developments that would lie ahead in which White Heart would rapidly become a theme in this journey.
After mapping out the earth energy lines and taking measurements while being closely followed by black fur on hooves, some communication and interaction with the lines was in order to further establish some answers. By using the dowsing rod to determine the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers to my questions, as always, I also asked the lines if I could be of help here? Yes, it wanted me to leave an offering. But what? Some more dowsing told me that it was something I held in my walking bag and after narrowing down the answers, apparently it wanted me to leave a note. “Write something. But not a prayer or a blessing.” (Nor anything I else I could come up with and asked them). Mmm. What did I need to write then? I listened deep within. It had something to do with ‘naming’. I assumed it meant naming the lines. But that turned out to be difficult because, for some reason, I couldn’t come up with any name that the dowsing rod positively reacted to. The only thing that had a slight reaction of the rod was ‘Sacred Union’ but that’s not really a name, is it? I had already spent a lot of time in this place and was running late for the Mantra Chanting session I wanted to attend later, so I decided to leave it at that for now but planned to ‘go deeper’ to do the naming part later. Already had this place given some intriguing answers which I scribbled in my dowsing notebook. Such as the fact that both lines were about 21 paces wide, one was mainly female/female in energy and the other male/female. Never found that before! I triple checked on it but every time same answers. One line was an ‘8’ in health and the other a ‘3’ (10 being super healthy). Yet there was nothing I needed to do as the ‘3 in health’ line stated it was only temporary and would be naturally restored soon enough. Alrighty then. I was good to go.
Meeting the drum
Heading back to Glastonbury for a soulful evening of singing sacred Tibetan mantras for 2 hours, I met up with my drumming teacher Jana Runnalls and her friend and very competent drummer Daniella, who was already setting up the circle of chairs in the United Reformed Church hall. We’d met the evening before too, for a profound Shamanic Drumming Circle in the beautifully simple St. Margaret’s Chapel on Magdalene Street, a very special place that was originally built in 11th century as a hospital with a chapel and later two rows of almshouses for the poor were added. One row has now completely gone and instead offers a sweet little flower garden opposite the tiny rooms of the row of almshouses that are still standing. The whole place is immersed in a sacred silence, just as in the Glastonbury Abbey, both quite in contrast to the rest of the buzzing town centre in which they are situated. During that drumming circle of the previous evening in the chapel, I had asked Jana about available drums for a friend who I knew maybe was interested in buying one. Every now and then Jana sells shaman drums that are made by Nicci Antoinette and I can assure you these are gorgeous drums, handmade with love and care; they are tunable and often they will have a crystal in the back. I have crafted my own shaman drum, many years ago, under Nicci’s and her then late partner’s guidance. Mine was constructed from deer skin, American Oak and decorated with deer antler and local wood that I gathered and wanted to be part of my drum. Crafting a shaman drum is quite the process, accompanied with emotions and a bonding of energies with the spirit of the hide it is made from, in my case Deer Spirit. Your fingers will hurt and your muscles ache when you build your own drum but it is so worth it as the drum will truly be a result of an energetic marriage between you and the animal. It took me two weekends to complete my deer drum back then and ever since it has been in service to the Divine Feminine energy. It has been to ceremonies, to sacred sites and on mystical journeys. I have used the drum to heal, to inspire, to rekindle and to make merry. It is one of the few cherished things I posses that are of value to me. But that evening, a change was in the air.
On the previous evening, Jana had spoken of a drum with camel hide, made by Nicci, which was up for sale and now she had brought the drum with her to the Sacred Mantra Chanting session so I could have a look at it and make a photo to send to my friend who may be interested. After the mantra singing, I took the drum out and carefully put it in the church path where there was enough light to take a decent photograph. It looked amazing. It is a rarity to encounter a drum with a camel hide! In the back of the drum, Nicci had beautifully embedded a Tibetan turquoise stone in the centre. The beater that belonged to the drum was made with two different surfaces: one suede side and one side made out of a sort of long haired cloth, each of them creating a different sound on the drum. The moment I tried the drum out, just out of curiosity, we bonded. I did not count on that to happen and I almost felt sad to realise that I couldn’t afford the drum, otherwise I’d loved to keep it to myself. Not that I needed a new drum! I was happy with the deer drum and wasn’t looking for a second one. What would I even do with a second drum? I can only play one. But this Camel Drum spoke to me loudly in the silence of our hearts where we connected. However, without showing it to others, I controlled my disappointment and made peace with the fact that there was no way I could buy it, so I told myself ‘let go, Nathascha, let go’. And I did. Yet the drum had a mind of its own, as I would find out two days later. At the end of this story, it will make you realise that I didn’t find the drum. No. It found me!
Till so far the May adventures in Avalon. The story will soon be continued with Day 3 of the journey, uncovering the mystery of Dundon Hill’s twin symbolism in the sacred zodiac landscape, the third ‘horn’ of the bull and the heart healing from St. Andrew’s church’s resident Yew tree that presides over the same earth energy lines as were found on top of Dundon Hill. The plot thickens!
Meanwhile, I found this soulful song that has been recorded inside St. Margaret's Chapel.