This is the final part of my Summer Solstice 2011 quest in and around Glastonbury. In the first part of the day I had meditated at Glastonbury Abbey and seen a vision of Arthur and Guinivere, visited the Holy Thorn tree, and then mixed the red and the white waters from the Tor’s streams together. Now I was heading to Cadbury Castle – a site I had tried to find the time to visit on previous pilgrimages, but had never managed to get to.
5. Cadbury Castle
Finding the castle was easy. I set the navigation systems for South Cadbury village, and from there the signs were obvious – there were small brown tourist signs telling me where to go from that point. No esoteric signs required, and still no dowsing rods needed (which was fortunate because I hadn’t brought them deliberately). This was intuitive work, and I was being tested to see if I could hack it.
I parked the car and noticed a girl walking her dog was wearing wellingtons despite the outrageous heat of the day. I wondered if she knew something I didn’t. As I walked up the dark tunnel made by hawthorn trees that led me up the hill to the castle I realised that she did know something – the path was incredibly rutted and muddy! The ascent went slowly as I picked my way through the delightful remainders of a cow’s digestion, the inches deep mud, and the streams of…well, I didn’t dare contemplate what they might be, but I hoped they were water.
As I neared the top of the slope I was presented with various possible paths. I decided to follow my intuition again. Which was the correct entrance for a servant of Merlin, I wondered? I felt a path to the right was the correct one, so I took it despite it being surrounded by high nettles. Soon there was no path any more, only nettles. I stopped because I couldn’t go any further and I looked down at my feet as something caught my eye – there was a black feather to go with the white swan feather that I had brought with me for some reason. A complimentary pair! I picked it up and picked my way up the hill, somehow finding the path I came in on and then I was able to climb into the castle, mounting its embankments to survey the scene.
The scene was difficult to imagine as a castle. There was a flat wide-open space, slanting uphill towards a concrete pillar at the summit, and the field was enclosed by six-feet high embankments that enclosed a herd of grazing cows. The wind was also rushing sternly across the top of the hill ensuring that I didn’t hang about wistfully imagining a fantasy Arthurian Camelot scene. Instead I headed for the lee side of the slope at the peak of the site where the wind was stiller and the sun beat down like a proper English summer day. I rested there with my staff, breathing in the summer air, listening to the insects at work, and delighting in the occasional call of a songbird.
When my lazy urge had passed I set about creating an elemental crystal layout and tried to unify the two feathers in terms of their energy, like Arthur and Guinivere. I positioned the feathers in what I felt was a unifying manner, and then surrounded them with the four quadrants of the elements – the cardinal points. Frustratingly nothing felt as though it was happening. I tried several configurations of crystals. Maybe I just had them int he wrong position, or the wrong order, or….nothing was happening. At that moment when all hope had vanished and I had cleared the paraphernalia away I was interrupted by a jovial set of old Americans who proceeded to give me a short history of the castle unbidden. No harm in that! We passed the time and then I departed for more hospitable places – the wind was spoiling the beautiful summer day heat.
What had happened to the magical moments of this pilgrimage? Had I taken a wrong turn? I returned to Glastonbury feeling like a simple tourist.
6. Chalice Well Gardens
What better place to while away the time before the sunset than at the most beautiful small garden in Somerset? Chalice Well Gardens are a haven from the bustle of the town and the Tor on a Solstice afternoon.
I was just in time for the gardens at what must be their quietest time of the day – late afternoon. I admired the flowers and plants, then headed for a high spot to meditate. It was difficult, so I went to the spot between the yew trees and called the Goddess, like a famous druid had told me to do. This worked well and soon i was feeling energised, but still no information was forthcoming. One last try – I went to my favourite spot and looked at the dappled sunlight through the trees. It worked.
Ironically, the message that I got was that I had to work on patience. I had to learn to be more patient with people, and to wait for situations to come about as they would, not to force things. This was exactly what a friend had said to me recently. I promised to the unseen forces that I would try. One of the other things to come out of the meditation was the news that the feathers could only be used for the last part of the day’s work on the Tor itself at sundown. That was why they hadn’t done anything at Cadbury Castle. Now I understood. Should have been more patient, eh?
7. The Tor
For the last part of the day Kal re-joined me in Glastonbury town. Yet again he had trekked across the vast wastelands of the south-western fringes of civilization to partake in some jocularity and light-hearted piss-taking. Oh, and he may have been there for the solstice sunset too, perhaps. He had, of course, his own quest to follow so as I told him of my day’s work he picked up on the waters of the red and white stream that I had mixed. He will tell you his own tale of how he found out some critical information whilst meditating in the Glabbey grounds, and how then he found he needed the waters that I had mixed to complete his own health quest. That’s a story worth telling in its own right. For now, let me continue with my story.
We walked up the Tor by the easy route, but started it just above the two springs. The climb was much easier now that we were both a lot fitter. At the top of the Tor I waited for the “right time”. With no dowsing rods this was difficult, but eventually, about 9:40pm, I was ready to work. I went to the west slope and put the two feathers in formation. I had picked up a grey pigeon feather from my walk through the town earlier and the three of them seemed to make sense now – white, grey and black, This seemed to signal the end of the Hawk of May quest – officially.
One the Tor I was getting nothing for my meditation. Perhaps it was too busy or too noisy? Maybe the wind was too strong? There were a hundred excuses but the result was the same – I couldn’t see or intuit anything on this ancient place of power about where my quest would go next. Nothing was forthcoming. Then I remembered one of the elements of the tarot that I had drawn at the start of the quest – “Don’t be afraid to ask“, and also remembered that in the grail myth Gawain failed the quest initially by not asking the important question that would release the grail to him. Suddenly I knew what to do. I had recently been in contact with The Hawk of May – Gwalchmai. This archetype or spirit is associated with Gawain and the Grail Quest too, but I knew that in the myth it was Percival who fails to ask the question. Was I Percival in this quest? Was I failing to ask the right question – to ask for help? Could Gwalchmai help me now?
I sat before the Tor’s church tower and called upon Gwalchmai three times. Suddenly I saw and simultaneously was a hawk circling the Tor. I could see it from where I sat and yet I was the hawk too, looking down on my distant figure below as I meditated. I asked the Hawk to show me what my next quest would be. I saw a hawk in my mind circling the Tor, then it flew straight through the building and out to Wearyall Hill. The hawk landed on the cage surrounding the Holy Thorn. The indication was clear to me – I would be doing more healing work, possibly more protection work too.
I knew that for the next six months I would be learning how to heal. This was an area I had been staying away from, but now the signs were clear and unrelenting. It was time for healing work – serious healing work. I had to learn to be a healer whether I liked it or not, and it would take…key word of the day….patience.