The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
As I was driving along the A39 on Friday night, I felt an overwhelming urge to sigh.
I crawled along the M5 in Friday afternoon rush hour traffic, listening to music, then a podcast, before finally opting for silence for the last leg of my journey.
As I rounded over the hill, my sigh came like a wave, dissipating the tension I carried here with me. As I breathed deeply, I looked up to see the Tor silhouetted against the skyline high above me.
The first thing I notice about Glastonbury is the sound of the birds. The sky is alive with a cacophony of song. Even in the more residential parts of the Town the air is filled with the sound of birds.
It’s 8:30 on a Saturday morning and the Town is deserted and mostly closed, but I find a small coffee shop that's staffed by women with gentle west country accents.
When I've finished my coffee I wander through a town filled with colourful crystal shops, curiosities and vegan cafes. I spot Priestess Marian Brigante by the gates of the church. She's dressed from head to toe in shades of red and purple and she smiles warmly as I approach her.
Patricia, from Spain joins us for our walk, and Marian explains that we will start when we get onto the lands of Avalon. Avalon means ‘isle of apple trees’ and it’s the name for the legendary island that’s thought to exist where Glastonbury now stands. It’s linked to the legend of King Arthur and there’s even a legend that says Jesus visited the area with his Uncle, Joseph of Arimathia.
As we walk towards the open fields of Glastonbury, we talk about my project and I explain that it's an exploration of spirituality becoming commoditised. I am also using the project as a reason to explore my own spirituality, through experiencing a wide range of spiritual practices, modalities and through engaging with people who make a living from their spiritual beliefs.
We start on the outskirts of town, at a set of Buddhist prayer wheels. We each turn the wheels and say a prayer. I am reminded of something a friend said earlier this week about the collective consciousness of the world and I think of people in struggle everywhere.
And then we're on the land. For the next couple of hours, I learn about folk-law, the topography of the landscape, the traditions of Goddesses and the strong Feminine energy that's associated with Avalon and Glastonbury. I close my eyes under the branches of an ancient lime tree. I receive blessings. I walk faerie paths. I meditate in an orchard and I meet someone who's just about to conduct a hand-fasting. I learn about mothers, crones and maidens.
I climb the Tor, visualising each level of the hill as corresponding with a chakra opening.
I sit on the top of an ancient hill and breathe.