When we explained to our hostess at the countryside bed and breakfast that our next stop was Glastonbury, she told us that it was a very interesting town, “very spiritual.” I wasn’t sure precisely what she meant, but I had a vague notion that as the site of the ruins of an ancient abbey, it was likely a peaceful place where pious people could go to commune with the divine. It turns out that wasn’t really her meaning.
After we found a car park and I got change for the ticket machine from an auto parts store, we headed for High Street and the abbey. It quickly became apparent what our hostess meant by “spiritual.” High street was loaded with shops selling crystals, incense and energy spray (I’m not entirely certain what that is…). I’m not going to disparage anyone’s path to spirituality—I just wasn’t expecting the residents of a town that claims to be Avalon, the resting place of King Arthur, to make me feel like I was in Santa Fe.
The Abbey was completely different. The large expanse of grass and ruins, filled with myth and history, was quiet and peaceful in comparison. Though people speculate that monks may have invented the graves of Arthur and Guinevere to draw pilgrims in a time of financial need, it feels nice to wonder if maybe it wasn’t true, and maybe that patch of white flowers is growing there for a reason.
Whether you believe that King Arthur was buried here, or that the Glastonbury Thorn was really grown from a clipping of the tree that sprouted when Joseph of Arimethea drove his staff into Wearyall Hill, there is something about a place like this that makes you feel connected to those who have gone before. We didn’t have a problem wandering here for a few hours.