On Wednesday 1st August, I travelled down to Glastonbury for the day with my partner Fleur and her children Toby and Amy. There we joined with maybe 50 others around Chalice Well to mark this time of Lammas or Lughnasadh.
The sunflowers and abundant greenery around the well reflected the unusually glorious Summer we have been experiencing here in England this season. As we sat together on the old worn steps of the well, a general atmosphere of benevolence and beneficence pervaded proceedings.
Suddenly an officious voice was whispering strongly in my ear “ Excuse me sir; I’m going to have to ask you to leave – you’re far too old to be here.”
It was my cheeky, ever joking friend Richard Bennet, playing his usual tricks- and for a second having me half believing him, before I burst out laughing.
Several others around the wellhead were familiar faces and old friends, who, like Richard, I hadn’t seen in good while.
Thats one of the beautiful aspects of Lughnasadh for me- a gathering and reunion of family, friends and community. And so it was.
(Blood on the Tor).
Being such a beautiful day , we made the most of our time and, bumping into yet another old friend outside, we joined Ravi and his dog ‘Petal’, for a brisk walk up the Tor by the ‘back route’ . For Amy to get to walk the dog for an hour, was seventh heaven: Meanwhile Petal’s enthusiasm to get up the Tor had her pulling Amy along the path and getting the lead caught up round Toby’s ankle, causing him to fall and graze his knee, bless. At one level, maybe it was his ‘blood offering’ for the day 🙂 .
Up on top it was fresh and blustery – a welcome contrast to the intense heat which has been generally prevalent this season. With skirts billowing wildly in the wind, Amy and Fleur danced their way around the Tor, before Fleur and I offered our prayers and blessings to each quarter and to each element before heading down again. remarking on the phenomenol amount of sheep poo gracing the hillside and seeming to provide instant art installations on every other step.
Then we saw why, as a small army of scrawny, blue daubed sheep trotted, hobbled and scuttled their way between hillocks. They were being herded – by an enthusiastic sheepdog at their heels, who was incredibly alert and responsive to his masters subtle calls and whistles. The shepherd himself meanwhile, brandished a shepherd’s crook – perhaps seven feet tall and made of metal. Unusual these days in my experience – with the whole scene – embodying heat, sheep and sun parched hillside – being far more reminiscent of Provence in France, than Somerset in provincial England.
We rounded off the day with a contrasting visit to the White Spring as we descended the Tor: Coolness, darkness and dampness compensating for their direct opposites.
Our eyes adjusting to the candles and tea-lights, altars and offerings, we sank into the stillness. With Toby and Amy outside – with their hands full looking after the dog – Fleur took the opportunity for a quick dip in the pool as an offering to the Goddess, while I meanwhile I offered song. We concluded with three Awens together in front of the central altar in gratitude; – a fitting finale to our Lughnasadh foray.