These remnants in the picture are all that is left of the powerful Glastonbury Abbey, once the foremost center of Christianity in Great Britain and a highly popular place of pilgrimage. The sacredness of Glastonbury is based on many myths and legends, but also on the fact that for 3000 years it was a center of religious power.
According to the most prevalent legend, it was here that the first Christian church in England, and possibly in all Christendom, was founded. The deed is attributed to St. Joseph of Arimathea, who is said to have traveled from Jerusalem through southern France and Cornwall to the sacred isle of Avalon, where he built the original wattle church in 63 A.D.
The legend goes on to say that with him, St. Joseph brought two cruets and a chalice that Jesus used at the Last Supper—the legendary Holy Grail. In addition, St. Joseph was accompanied by twelve holy men, who built twelve huts around the wattle church.
Now, we may read this legend at a surface level, but we may see it at a deeper level as an allegory, connecting Christianity with the principles of Druidic belief system which it replaced, as well as the Arthurian myth.
The pre-Christian Celtic societies (and many others, for that matter) were based on the traditional code of cosmology centered on the number twelve. This number, issuing from the twelve signs of the zodiac, was the emblem of the sacred order which provided the structure for organizing social order—architectural proportions, measures, and music were all based on this numerical canon. Hence, Odysseus led twelve heroes, Hercules conducted twelve labors, King Arthur was accompanied by twelve Knights of the Round Table, Charlemagne’s court was composed of twelve nobles, and even Jesus had twelve apostles.
The holy atmosphere that the pilgrims experienced at the Abbey was created by the “priestly arts”—the knowledge of sacred measures and their influence on human psyche. An important part of these priestly arts was music. Music or sound, being frequency, has the power to induce higher states of consciousness (or lower, as in the case of some modern forms of music). In the early days of Christianity in Britain, known as the Celtic Church period, a new liturgical chant was introduced: a twelve-part chant, based on the twelve notes of the chromatic scale. These chants were performed around the clock in every Christian community, as it was believed that the sacred music sets the tone for the whole country. One of those perpetual choirs was in Glastonbury Abbey, where monks maintained the chanting day and night. (Incidentally, the word “enchantment” comes from “chanting.”)
We can only try to imagine what effect this practice had on subtle planes. The frequencies emitted by perpetual chanting all around the country created something like warp and weft, an invisible scaffolding that held together not only social order, but also higher beliefs and principles. And the human psyche was immersed in those sacred frequencies as if in an invisible ocean. I can’t but remark that today we’re surrounded by the perpetually-emitting frequencies of our wireless technology that affects our psyche—for better or for worse.