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Samhain at Chalice Well ~ Glastonbury ~ England

Author: Mystic Avalon [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: October 1st. 2006
Times Viewed: 4,684

I arrived in Glastonbury ~ Somerset ~ England, also known as the Isle of Avalon at about 18.30 and after an excellent meal at the internet restaurant on the main street walked up to the Well at about 19.20.

The night was clear and warm and wherever you looked there were people of all ages moving towards the top of the high street in the direction of the Well and many happy children with painted faces, pointed hats and magick wands returning home with their equally happy parents.

When I reached the Well, it was the first time in years that I had experienced a queue that reached into the street. There were a wide range of folks there, some quiet and reflective, others chatting gaily and others saying hi to the endless steam of children and their parents leaving, not by the lower gate, but back out thought the top entrance.

All the time there was the constant sound of young people enjoying themselves echoing over the garden wall.

When I reached the head of the queue, I was informed that the response was overwhelming and at least 600 people had attended so far!

At 19.45 I was standing above the Vestris Pool, just as the drum was being beaten by the gardener and the bell was rung to invite us all to the cress field.

As we processed to the field, I became aware of the hundreds of candles burning wherever one looked, lighting ones way to the netherworld, at this time when the veil is so thin and the ancestors await for our yearly thanks to them.

The procession took us past the Well, where a young couple was deep in contemplation. It so was strange that they seemed far away from us, as if in a sacred space untouched by our presence in this time.

As we processed into the cress field, there were four flickering torches ahead of us, set at the cardinal points and at their intersection stood a tall bonfire, lovingly crafted from old and autumnal wood with the still leafy branches catching the trembling torchlight which gave them an apparent life of their own as we all gathered in an expectant circle in response to the gentle rhythm of the gardeners drum.

As we formed a circle around the awaiting bonfire and our eyes adjusted to the magick of the night, we noticed the three celebrants who stood before us. One was the gardener still gently tapping his drum, who like the Green Man seemed uniquely relaxed and at home within these, his own surroundings.

Then Michael with his reddened face and Autumnal garments burnished like falling leaves who represented the male God as the Lord of Death, preparing souls for their next incarnation, and Lynne with her enigmatic silver mask, flowing cloak and truly frightening rattle as the Goddess in her "crone" aspect.

She, the Wise Woman who speaks the hard truths and carries the God within her who will be reborn at the Winter Solstice.

Michael welcomed one and all, explaining the history of Samhain, introducing the excellent pagan drumming musicians and the programme for the evening. The underlying emphasis was on love, friendship, honoring the ancestors and participation. As he was making this introduction I was conscious of the expectant sea of faces around the circle changing in the illumination from the four flames, and as the wispy cloud scudded across the face of the nearly full moon the light waxed and waned setting the aged branches of the trees above the well afire in a pale silvery light.

It is a true challenge to remember all of that which followed, the inspirational chanting, drumming and singing of the group processing deocil around the unlit fire, illuminated by only the four flickering flames is something that I will remember for a long time. As is the exquisite teamwork of Michael and Lynne as they led the proceedings with love, reverence and a heart felt passion. Lynne seemed to truly embody the Goddess and her echoing words and the emphasizing sound of her rattle would certainly summon or frighten any spirits that I am acquainted with.

There is little more that I can add about the ceremony, except that the most poignant and spiritual happening for me was in those moments prior to the fire being lit, when the four flames had been extinguished and when the solitary drum above the well head in the darkness was calling out to the spirits of the nether world. The misty moon was illuminating the Tor and we were awaiting, entranced by the flickering flame coming towards us from high up in the cress field.

Then, welcomed into the circle, the flame was split four ways to rekindle the lamps and the to light the Samhain fire, which caught quickly accompanied by the drumming, singing and chanting of the group.

That was truly a moment of pure magick.

As the flames grew higher and the light far brighter, we, a laughing happy crowd of intimate strangers and old and new friends collected a few ripe seeds from a bowl held by Michael, casting these into the flames as a very real present and yet very ancient ritual cleansing of the old and a magickal preparation for the new.

When all was well done, Michael thanked us one and all, and invited us to either stay by the fire under the autumn moon or enjoy ourselves even more by listening to the excellent story telling of ancient deeds of daring, on the lawn above the Vestris pool, plus partaking of the hot and very welcome refreshments in the gardeners’ palace.

I spent a few moments contemplating the ceremony and the symbolism of the fire and with a truly happy heart processed down to the garden. On the way down, as I passed by the well I noticed the couple was still there, and two others had joined them with a young child. They were all in their 20s, lost still in contemplation.

Why they were there I will never know, and as I passed by to view the Vestris pool, sat and listened to the marvelous storyteller with a hot drink in my hand, I sent them a silent blessing. Wishing them well and at that moment came the realization that all together we are all part of the miracle that is Chalice Well.


Mystic Avalon

Location: Upper Basildon, Berkshire, England

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