The Ghosts of Glastonbury
Guest writer MJ Wayland explores mysterious Glastonbury in this two part series, starting with The Ghosts of Glastonbury.
Glastonbury or Avalon? Glastonbury was both an Isle of the Dead and an Isle of the Blessed. Two pagan deities are known to reside here and both are related to the underworld.
The fairy king Avalloch is said to have presided over the town, little is known about him although it’s believed he was the father of the Mother Goddess Modron. He used the Tor as a gateway where the souls of the dead can pass freely. Another deity also associated with the Tor, Gwynn ap Nudd of the Welsh tradition used the Tor for a doorway to the dead. Gwynn was the Lord of the Underworld and the Wild Hunt, it was believed on dark nights when the moon is full that you could hear his ghost hounds traversing the sky hunting for souls.
These traditions must have built up around Glastonbury for a reason, I believe that since the dawn of man, the Tor and Glastonbury has been a site of burial and ultimately rebirth. So let us take a journey with some of the town’s dead inhabitants.
Many legends are attached to the Abbey, many believe that the Holy Thorn tree that can be seen in the grounds originated from Joseph of Arimathea’s staff. Others are convinced that King Arthur and Queen Guinevere are buried in the Abbey grounds. Whatever one believes, the Abbey was one of the richest and most elaborate in the country and can celebrate over 2000 years of Christianity.
Some proclaim that King Arthur was laid to rest here after the battle of Badon Hill, while others believe this was a site near Cadbury Castle. Arthur was brought to Avalon and laid to rest in the centre of the abbey. Most legends state that Arthur lays in an eternal sleep until England needs such a hero again, at Glastonbury the legend is quite the reverse.