by Maria Ede-Weaving
I have just had the pleasure of spending my birthday in Glastonbury – always a joy to find myself in this place again; I have so many magical memories of it and have been blessed with some powerfully transformative times here over the years.
The first time I visited as an adult, my climb up the Tor was in a scarily high wind, the darkest of storm clouds glowering above St Michael’s tower at its peak. I was actually just a little bit terrified – but it was an encounter with the elements – and with that extraordinarily shaped hill – that served to vividly impress upon my psyche how close the Otherworld can be felt in this memorable landscape. I was hooked!
For weeks after, I had a repeated dream that the Tower on the Tor was cracking and crumbling, just like the Lightning Struck Tower of the Tarot. It was apparent that my visit had somehow triggered my own inner Tower moment: old spiritual constructs breaking apart; something new and mysterious pushing to be born from the rubble.
I had recalled that prior to that first visit to Glastonbury, I had dreamed of a woman with long dark hair, dressed in a purple gown. She had a strength and power in her presence that I was a little afraid of.
She and I were in a beautiful garden. She held a staff up above her head and tapped an archway of flowers that stood before us; she then walked through the archway and up to a second arch further into the garden and repeated the gesture. She turned to me, pointed to the first archway and said, ‘when you walk through this arch, you will experience all the blissful feelings it is possible to feel, but in order to be able to return through this portal again, you must walk through the second arch, and here you will experience all the darkest emotions it is possible to feel’.
It has struck me many times since, that this dream encounter illustrates so well the high and lows of our spiritual journey. When we come to Druidry, we can feel the most blissful sense of homecoming and joy; our magical vision expands; our spiritual senses heighten and we feel at one with our world. However, spiritual paths are essentially journeys of self-discovery and quests for self-knowledge: at some point, we walk through that second arch and hit head-on our own shadow. This can bring with it the most painful of underworld journeys as we find ourselves taken apart and reshaped in the Cauldron of Annwn.
The journey through that shadowy portal – whether it is triggered through loss or bereavement, through disillusionment or betrayal, through illness or any number of life’s challenges – can feel relentless and crushingly grim, but we do eventually surface, a little less inflated but a lot wiser. In time, we are walking through that blissful arch once more, but this time our bliss comes from a deeper, more authentic place, rooted in understanding and compassion, born of experience…
I now interpret the woman in my dreams as the Lady of Avalon, and her transformative and healing power has been a huge source of inspiration and strength on my path. Avalon, as magical Otherworld parallel to our own material world, is – like the Chalice Well and White Springs of Glastonbury – an ever-flowing well-spring, a magical source we can always connect to should we need it. It can feed us and sustain us; it flows up from the deep, fertile, dark earth into the sun and air and we are quenched and revitalized by it.
I have walked through those arches many times since that dream all those years ago, and although Glastonbury is a place dear to my heart, I now understand that Avalon is around us and within us, in touch with us, no matter where we dwell or where we travel. Sometimes, if we are lucky, we can pierce its misty veil and glimpse its beauty more clearly; sometimes we just have to trust it is there. Either way, we carry the Temple within us.
Maria’s Blog A Druid Thurible