When I was a child, I was fascinated with Greek and Roman mythology. Then I moved to India, I found myself intrigued with Indian myths and legends, it kind of escaped my attention that Britain also has it’s own mythology, legends and folklore. It’s not intertwined with daily life as it is here in India, but it’s there, among weather worn stones and sparkling springs.
Boggarts, elves and faeries are said to dwell on the British Isles. King Arthur ruled Camelot, Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor and Saint George slayed a dragon. My elder sister lives in the small town of Glastonbury, the site of many myths, mysteries and legends. The Glastonbury Tor has been linked with the Holy Grail, Merlin, Celtic Druids, and Neolithic Mother Goddess rituals.
I was carrying a large baby, full term and I really hoping I didn’t go overdue. My midwife recommend I walk up and down stairs to gently help get things going. We were driving home from visiting my sister and I saw the iconic Tor, a 500 foot tall conical shaped clay hill with a 14th century Church tower perched on top. The Tor has steps, lots of them.
It was Sunday afternoon and a reasonably sunny day. It started off well, breathing the fresh air and watching ribbons tied to trees flutter in the breeze. We reached the bottom of the hill and looked up, baby and I could do this.
The most famous legend associated with Glastonbury Tor is that of Joseph of Arimathea. Joseph buried the Holy Grail containing two drops of Jesus’ blood at the foot of the Glastonbury Tor. The Holy Grail containing the blood is rumoured to be the source of the natural spring which bursts from the Tor, the water even runs red (due to iron oxide in the soil…but that ruins a good story).
A third of the way up, we walked passed a man dressed like a wizard with a pack of tarot cards, sat on a log with a small table in front of him. Half way up, I needed a lie down. A group of jolly women walked passed, all wearing long skirts, carrying longer sticks and crowns of flowers woven into their silver hair.
I managed to get up to the top eventually, by crawling on my hands and knees at one point. I had another lie down and enjoyed the absolutely spectacular views of the Somerset levels.
It’s hard work walking up the Tor when you’re not carrying a full grown baby in your womb, so I felt pretty amazing. I have heard since that it’s quite a common thing to do. I’ve had friends tell me they did it or know someone who also walked up the Tor when they decided it was time for baby to arrive (so maybe it’s still the site of a kind of Mother Goddess ritual of sorts?).
British folklore and mythology has inspired the likes of J.K. Rowling and J.R.R Tolkein (who included the name Rohan, which is Gaelic as well as a Sanskrit, in the Lord of the Rings series).The Glastonbury Tor didn’t inspire Rohan to make an appearance until a couple of weeks later. I can’t wait to take him back there one day.