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Back to Avalon

When I was in university, I went on a 10 week study abroad program called “Literature and Theater in London”. As a theater major, this was a dream program! While I was in England, I did a bit of traveling, including visiting Glastonbury. Ever since, I have wanted to go back to Avalon.

Don’t get me wrong, most of that trip was focused on theater. I saw twenty-two shows over my ten week stay. As a group, we traveled to Stratford-upon-Avon to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as attending several performances, both large and small, around London. We also took a couple of group tours, one to Warwick, and one to Stonehenge and Bath.

Side trips

Back to Avalon - Glastonbury Tor through the Mists

I only had classes on Tuesday evening, Wednesday, and Thursday morning, which meant I was free from Thursday afternoon to Tuesday afternoon. The last half of the program, I spent a lot of time at Battersea Arts Centre on an internship. I helped out backstage for The Captains of Cordoba, and I really loved getting to know the actors in that show. (Incidentally, they didn’t think they would need me to do much at first, and then when I had to be away for a couple of nights, they said they missed me!)

I took a couple of side trips on my own as well. Regrettably, I didn’t have as much spending money (or room on credit cards) as I would have liked, so I didn’t join my roommates when they went to Dublin or Paris. I traveled with one of my roommates, also a friend from my own university, to Scotland though. We toured Edinburgh and Inverness together, and I will never forget Gordon’s Minibus Tour of Loch Ness, and paying for two B&B’s one night because the first one was weird and creepy.

The Magic of Avalon

The highlight of the whole trip for me, though, was going to Glastonbury. My favorite book is still The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. There was no way I was going to be that close and NOT go visit.

I decided to go for Beltaine, or May Day. I didn’t know much about Wicca or Goddess spirituality at the time, but I knew this was a magical time. The problem was, I hadn’t planned it out. When we went to Scotland, we used my friend’s travel guide, and picked a bed and breakfast right before we left. Her travel guide didn’t have much information about hostels or B&B’s in Glastonbury itself, at least not ones in my price range, but I was determined and decided to wing it.

No trains went all the way to Glastonbury, so I had to take a bus the last part of the way. Waiting for the bus, I struck up a conversation with another woman. I don’t remember now whether it was because of a book she was reading, or jewelry she was wearing, but we had a magical connection. On the bus, she asked me where I was staying. I told her I didn’t know yet. She said it would be hard to get a place, it being Beltaine weekend.

However, she had booked a room at and Inn, and also put her name on a waiting list at a bed & breakfast. She had gotten the call that a space had opened up just before she left, and hadn’t cancelled the room at the Inn yet. She was willing to give me her room, as it meant that she wouldn’t have to pay for both. Magic!

Money Problems

Glastonbury is a small town. Even though it is a popular new age tourist destination, it’s not a bustling urban center. My main credit card was a Discover card, and there weren’t many (if any) places in Glastonbury that would take it, including the Inn. I had to pay for my stay using the cash I had on me.

No problem, I thought! I’ll just get money from a bank machine. WRONG. The bank machine wouldn’t take my Discover card, either. I really don’t know what I would have done without Beverly. She took care of me all weekend, making sure I was fed, and showing me some of the sites. We were both staying until Monday, so we went to the bank together when it opened for me to pay her back. She even invited me to visit her and took me to Avebury, a huge circle of standing stones (with a town in the middle) that you can still touch – unlike Stonehenge.

Back to Avalon

Ever since that trip, I have wanted to go back to Avalon. Glastonbury is said to be the site of the original Avalon, and it is definitely a magical place. From the Chalice Well to St. Michael’s Tower on the Tor to the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, the area holds a sense of wonder. Although I brought home water from the sacred spring, it was thrown out when the movers packed us up for our move to British Columbia.

The Chalice Well symbol, a vesica piscis, is so important to me, it was the first tattoo I ever got. For a long time, it was my only tattoo.

Imagine my delight when the theme for this year’s Hekate’s Sickle Festival was announced, and it was Awaken Avalon! I’ve been immersing myself in the lore of King Arthur and Morgaine, the Merlin and the Lady of the Lake, and loving every moment. I even purchased a few items from the Chalice Well Trust, including a flask with water from the spring. Hekate’s Sickle is good motivation to renew my passion for the place.

I’m pretty nervous about putting this in writing. I’m starting, with this paycheck, to save money to go back to Avalon. I don’t know yet how long it will take to save enough. Or maybe the Universe will bless me with an unexpected windfall. All I know is that I have to go back there – back to Avalon.

Blessings,
Mary

2 thoughts on “Back to Avalon”

  1. Michele McNeal

    You should organize a tour! As you have some experience with the location, and loads of background research and inspiration, I for one would be excited to visit this key site (I’m also a huge Mysts of Avalon fan) with some direction and assistance from you! This could also help fund your trip!

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