In remote times, when the Ice Age glaciers receded, this Somerset landscape was a marshy inland sea, an extension of the Bristol Channel. The sea was dotted with island hills, seven of which were held sacred. And among those seven sacred isles, the Isle of Avalon (today’s Glastonbury) had a prominent place.
In Celtic mythology, this whole plane was referred to as the Summer Land (hence Somerset), the realm of perpetual youth and summer, where plants yielded fruit all year around—Elysium, a reflection of heaven on earth. It was here that the souls of the deceased arrived for their deserved rest, play, and feasting before rebirth.
Set in the heart of this paradisiacal, sacred landscape was Avalon, called in Celtic the “Isle of Glass” (hence Glass-town-bury). In Welsh, Glastonbury has another etymology: it means the “Isle of Apples,” apples being fruits that grow in paradise. Mythologically, a glassy isle is a place of enchantment, a place where the veil between the worlds—the invisible world of the spirit and that of matter—dissolves. A place where the entrance to the Otherworld is to be found.
The rulers of such an enchanted landscape are, naturally, fairies. And the main among them was Morgan le Fey (“the Fairy”), whose abode was the Glass Castle on the Isle of Avalon. Morgan le Fey, also known as the Lady of the Lake, is an aspect of the Divine Feminine closely connected with the processes of death and rebirth. It was Morgan who received the dying King Arthur to escort him on his journey into the other world. According to the legends, Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, was made on this island and was guarded here.
Standing on top of Glastonbury Tor (where this picture was taken), with the panoramic view of the whole valley at my feet, I imagined the misty, watery landscape with reed beds, and boats gliding between isles. There is something special about Glastonbury and this view, a certain mystical quality of the light over the landscape… Glastonbury has the power to stir up memories of some distant, golden past.