So, again by date we’ll go. September 21 – 24.
September 21: Monday: The best thing that happened today was getting to spend an hour or so having coffee with my dear friend, Katie Player. She has the most wonderful house on the Roman Way which has a spectacular view of Glastonbury Tor. Nearly every morning, Katie wakes us up on Facebook with a picture of the Tor for the day. Sunrise, rain, mist, and snow, it is always there like a sentinel looking out for the inhabitants of Avalon, whether they realize it or not. I won’t go into that right, but, as everywhere, there are a goodly number of people who live here looking at the ground, so to speak. Perhaps, those are some of the ones I really need to get to know. Does someone who lives at the Grand Canyon get so used to the wonder that it isn’t seen anymore? And in the shadow of any of the great mountain peaks? What is it that keeps the human enchanted by the landscape around them? Surely, this is one of the pieces of the puzzle that I am trying to put together here in the landscape of Avalon. Katie surely does appreciate the wonder of the landscape as do many people I have met here. Yet, there are many who do not.
After leaving Katie’s as she had to pick up her too cute daughter, Hollie and a friend from school, just regular life-stuff, you know; I got to meet the young ladies when I bumped into them at the best store, Proper Job. It was a quite complete day.
September 22-24: Tuesday, Wednesday, and early Thursday: I don’t know how many of you know that one of the great things I am getting to do while in England this time around is to present a paper on my project at a conference at Canterbury Christ Church University. More on the conference after this. I am more than thrilled about this particular opportunity. Since I am writing in the present about days already done, I can hardly contain my enthusiasm and return to the miasmic feeling of these three days. Here goes.
#1- I had to finish writing my paper. Oops. Yeah, I know. Don’t leave anything until the last minute, so says the professor who has trouble following her own advice. But it wasn’t that so much, writing a paper, it was the fact that I would literally be “coming out” as a channel who is also an academic and a scholar. Even while the Call For Papers for the conference was so very encouraging and the keynote speakers all talk about this same type of thing, it’s quite another to speak up for one’s self. That made this particular paper extremely difficult to write.
#2- Diabetes. As is often the case, I experienced extreme fatigue and weird blood glucose levels after coming to a new place and getting used to it. Enough said.
#3- The Highlight! I was here to attend the Goddess Hall’s Equinox Ritual, make some new acquaintances and see some familiar faces. And the Hall was completely packed. It was literally standing room only and therefore got really warm pretty fast. Fortunately, the beautiful ritual got everyone involved all wrapped up and despite a few trips of feet in the crowd and beads of sweat becoming rivulets, the ritual was evocative and full of meaning. There was a large infinity symbol on the floor of the Hall, one side white – denoting the light half of the year that is ending – and the other side black – denoting the dark half of the year that is beginning. This a major theme throughout Celtic spirituality and two major cross-quarter holidays, Beltane and Samhain, celebrate and consecrate those beginnings and endings. The equinoxes, both spring and autumnal, mark the center of time; when there are equal parts of day and night. As we were invited and chose to walk around the infinity symbol, much like one would traverse a labyrinth, everyone took slow and careful steps first on the light half, then to the dark. Ending back at the point where both sides meet, we then all got a blessing from a beautiful priestess of Avalon and were invited to go back to our respective spots. After the ritual was done, there was poetry readings and announcements. A community of like minds. As we left out into the chilly September night, we all received fresh picked apples from the bounty here in Somerset. It was a lovely experience!
#4- Last, but not least . . . My car did something very strange. With no warning at all, the seat-belt warning bell would not go off. Would not go off, would not go off, would not go off, would not go off. You get the idea. The sound of that bell is most unpleasant and having no way to deal with it, I had to make an extra trip up to the Bristol airport and trade for something else. I actually like the car I traded for MUCH better. It is a white Vauxhall, stick shift, and cruise control. Then, I had to leave the Bristol airport and head directly to Canterbury. Going through Bristol is a maze of small roads through a big city [about the size of Nashville with Bristol being a bit smaller] that eventually leads one to the M32 then the M4. The M category of highways are comparable to US interstates. So once on the M4, I had 3+ hours of highway driving. Yay, cruise control.
When I rolled into Canterbury, I was completely turned around, tired, and it was raining. I got lost immediately. It took an hour and a half once I arrived to figure out how to find my hotel, The Pilgrim’s Hotel, in the walled city, just across the street from the Marlowe Theatre and in shouting distance of the Cathedral. I wanted to stay in the old part of the city to get some of the ambiance of the now mythological pilgrimages that have taken place here for hundreds of years. The lost-ness was mainly due to the fact that one cannot really drive in the walled city. That is unless one has the benefit (?) of a handicapped badge. Well, I have that, so I finally got some instruction from the hotel manager, one Wesley, on how to navigate down into the town. Whew. That was a torturous day.
Checking into the Pilgrim’s, finally, Wesley was kind enough to get my bags out of the car for me and get me up to my room. And I do mean UP to my room. Now I have already filled out visitor’s survey for the Hotel so I am not saying anything here that I didn’t already tell them. The building is old. I love that. But, for those of you who know me, you also know that stairs are still, after 11 years, still a nemesis that I have not conquered. My room was on the top floor and the staircase was the original 1500s type, narrow and steep, especially to the 2nd floor. Oy. It also never occurred to me that my single room would be the equivalent of a nun’s cell. The bed was quite comfortable, but, that was just about all that fit into the room. There was a desk, but no chair with which to use it, and the closet cabinet opened the wrong way so you had to stand beside the bed between the wall and reach around the closet door (which would not open all of the way due to the bed) to get things in and out. The rooms have obviously been upgraded as there was a new en suite. But, again, it was so small that one could hardly pee with falling into the tub. That was an experience. By the time I got out of my driving clothes and into something suitable for having dinner, I was exhausted and aching all over. Therefore, I AM A PILGRIM! Torture to the body IS part of the point, eh?
The thing I did like about the room was the beautiful old window which opened all the way out. Oh except that there is scaffolding completely enveloping the building, so it wouldn’t open ALL the way, kind of like the closet door… but, from the window, a view across the buildings with top of the cathedral in sight.
Now, I’ll have to say that the food in the two restaurants on the ground floor was really excellent. One is a French-English restaurant called Dems. I had the best mussels there I have ever had. So good. The other one is a Pub with a regular pub menu, not fussy, and very popular with folks going to the Marlowe for the evening.
More later. . . the conference and a walk through the Canterbury Christ Church Cathedral.