December 16, 2015: My intention was to cover the ceremony of the Cutting of the Holy Thorn that travels to the Queen’s Christmas Day table every year since the reign of James 1, ca. 1603. Here is an article from the BBC about the Holy Thorn ceremony and a short history.
As it often happens, in Glastonbury, even though I was invited by the Mayor, Denise Michel, and was out and about well before the 10:30 start, and even saw the Mayor’s contingent walk up the High Street. I could have followed, but Denise had told me the previous evening that there would be a procession with the children to the Holy Thorn. So, I decided to wait for the procession and then take photos and some video at the tree in the Abbey, which, I assumed, would be the spot where the ceremony would take place. I assumed that because every single time I have been on a tour of the Abbey, the guide would always make a point of stopping at the Holy Thorn and tell of the story of the cutting for the regent’s table.
Once there, I found another person, Thèrèse, an Elder Bard here, waiting with her son. We had a very deep discussion and I ended up telling her about some instances in my life that profoundly changed my perspectives on people and how that influenced me to this day. As the time passed, the procession did not come. And did not come. And never came.
Thèrèse finally called someone on the phone and discovered that the ceremony in fact was at the Holy Thorn in St. John’s Church courtyard. Not in the Abbey. Oh, my.
By the time we got up the High Street, the whole lot of children and dignitaries were on their way back down. We missed the official ceremony.
Now, at the surface that sounds like a terrible comedy of errors and very unfortunate. However, I don’t think that is the case.
Avalon clearly had different ideas about what should happen and who would be where. We discovered, upon meeting the dozen+ other Bards coming back down the street, that we weren’t the only ones to miss the St. John’s cue. Yet another Elder Bard had made the considerable hike up to the original Holy Thorn on Wearyall Hill thinking that would be the spot for the ceremony. That thorn is the mythic site of Joseph of Arimathea’s planting of the thorn some 2000 years ago. So, Avalon managed to have a solemn Druidic presence at all three of the thorns.
That’s Glastonbury magick.