Samhain road trip: Stonehenge and Glastonbury!

Being reeeeeeaaaaly busy over the past few weeks, I managed to finally finish my notes on the birthday/Samhain road trip that took place on 29th-31st October 2014

My friends Lumi and Jax were sitting in the car as I was loading some stuff into the back.  “Do you fancy coming to Glastonbury in October?” They asked, it was July at this point.  So that’s how I found myself joining Lumi’s birthday road trip.

So, fast forward to October 29th and this was the day the grey skies came back (my last post? Yeah, well the day after, we had gorgeous golden autumn again!) Drizzle and all.  We even got stuck in traffic for nearly two hours! Sign posts for miles saying ‘Roadworks’ (the bane of British drivers) until we got to the source: fuck all! By this point we’d been entertaining ourselves with listening to T-Rex and eating Cherry Bakewells.  As soon as the roads cleared we cruised to the that all time hit: ‘20th Century Boy’!

Stonehenge
As part of our plan we went to Stonehenge.  It was my third time and the weather was wetter than the first.

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The new tourist centre is open, so you have to take a specially provided bus service to the site, although there is the option for you to get off and walk the rest of the way.  I made eye contact with a Mum of three who returned my friendly smile with a po-faced glare.  So I turned to Lumi, and pulled my snootiest face.  Did the mum see? I hope so, there is no excuse for rudeness.  The Asian family to our right were much friendlier.

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Jax and Lumi

The Henge is fenced off, but at least you can get a bit closer than you could 17 years ago (shudder).  Stonehenge is majestic, it has presence and is a testament to the people, our ancestors, who built it.  Again, I experienced no palpable feeling of spiritual power emanating from it, some people say there is, but I think its more out of a desire to ‘feel’ something.  If anything I’d say it feels…. dead.  Unlike the lone standing Heel Stone we came across, it just sang a long sorrowful song, as though it didn’t want to be apart from its brethren.

It was gift shop time, where I picked up mead and a book on folklore stories (some of which I hadn’t read for years!).  We got back into the car and headed our way to Glastonbury racing into the countryside that was devoured by hungry fog and the inevitable night…. dragon’s breath indeed.

Glastonbury
And here we were! The Pagan and New Age Mecca of Great Britain.  It was a 10 minute walk into town and I was surprised by three things:

Cleanliness: It was totally clean! No rubbish piling up on the streets or anything.  Didn’t even notice any street cleaning going on, but there must’ve been, right?

Quietness: No blaring music or police sirens, being out of Summer season the tourist trade must have trickled off.  Although there were still plenty during the day.

Chain shops: There aren’t any! No BK, no KFC, no GAP, no McDonald’s (thank fuck) the only KFC and Subway we saw were the ones back at our hotel.  Main Street has pubs, butchers, pastry shops and an organic market…. what England high streets SHOULD be.

Glastonbury was a very friendly place (except for when I entered a Hemp shop ran by a woman in what I took to be her Goddess of Avalon dress, her look of disdain gave me the impression that Men weren’t welcome in her shop.  You ladies might be able to feel when a man is checking you out, but we can certainly feel when we’re not welcome- amendment: a source has confirmed that her particular shop has nothing to do with the Goddess movement) and everyone we came across was friendly in an almost Yorkshire way.  My Northern British readers will know what I mean.  There were even hippies hanging around the war memorial and outside the George and Pilgrim.  There are more esoteric shops than you can shake a wand at! Some have an aura of incense before you go in (I love it), some are really expensive, some are what my friend, Dumbledore, calls: Seaside shops for witches.  There is literally something for everyone.  That’s one thing you need to prepare for…. make sure you go with a healthy wallet!

One of the coolest things was the first night there and after exploring the pubs and drinking mead (mine included flies!), we headed back and chilled out.  I got out my Druid Animal Oracle and asked a random question, not even relating to Glastonbury.  I got the Fire Dragon card and couldn’t help notice the Tor in the background.  The morning after, me and Jax got breakfast in Subway and on our way back to the hotel we saw Glastonbury Tor on the hill outside our room!

Note the Tor and Tower on the right hand side
Note the Tor and Tower on the right hand side

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View of Tor and Tower.

The very last day of our visit was October 31st and it was a glorious, windy, golden autumn day! It was hot too!  We decided to visit the Chalice Well.  The gardens had a beautiful serenity that was immediately full of calm.  I even walked around barefoot.  Everyone was chilled out and it was, for me, the most potent spiritual place in Glastonbury.

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Gardens, fountain and Jax in the sun.

We had missed the special Samhain ceremony but got to look and sit by the well once the people had moved.  The well itself didn’t feel that special (has to be said) as I felt more drawn to the waterway that fed the pool we put our feet into.  One question remains, though:  why oh why didn’t I tell the selfish person who was talking very loudly whilst people were trying to meditate by the well to shut the hell up?  Answer: I didn’t want any bother…. really wish I did though!
Eventually, it was time to go and try the Tor.  Word of warning, parking for the Well and Tor is almost impossible, there is nowhere really close, unless you don’t mind a brief walk (I rather enjoyed it).  Well, there is one car park sort of close, but you have to get there early….

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To get to the Tor, you have to go up a steep hill and then make your way up the winding Tor itself until you reach the Tower, which was already decorated with Halloween themed items.  The higher we climbed, the windier it got, I had to take my hat off so it wouldn’t get blown away! And the sky became bluer and bluer, then when at the top, you could see the gorgeous panorama!  I’d sat down on the grass and closed my eyes for a few moments and remembered the Fire Dragon card, so I asked ‘Alright, Fire Dragon: what did you want to show me?’. Jax asked ‘What’s that?’ I opened my eyes and turned to where she was pointing.  There was a bird of prey hovering in the wind eddies, a hawk or kestrel.  It dive bombed so I went to have a closer look and saw a whole bunch of them playing in the wind currents,circling and bombing each other.

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Pics of Tor, tower and us three.

Our drive back took us through Bristol and nearly to London, but we were witness to a gorgeous sunset and beautiful sky.  An alternative Samhain and one I’ll never forget.