Why is Glastonbury town a wonderful place?
We love Glastonbury town and I'd like to tell you why. I add town as, it seems, most people who do not know the place only know of the famous Glastonbury Festival but Glastonbury town is so much more than a host for a large festival.
Something about the town triggers a joyful positive reaction with us. Why it does so I'll try to sum up here for you. We have started to trade at the Assembly Rooms market in the town and have done so twice and we come back absolutely buzzing and feeling so good, maybe this blog post will help tell you why.
Glastonbury attracts certain folk and it has been doing so for a very, very long time. It is associated with many myths and legends mostly based on its history, majestic tor and springs. It's clearly been a place of ancient spiritual pilgrimage, reverence and importance well before the British conversion to Christianity and has an energy you can feel just by being there whether you believe in laylines a Mother Goddess or not.
These folk that have been attracted to settle, visit and write about Glastonbury have helped shape it into a town of curiosities and personal freedom. It's a festival of life in itself, all year round. It's fair to say that, it seems, in Glastonbury anything goes and can, to a point, be tolerated. It's level of tolerance towards belief systems and lifestyles seems way beyond other towns I have visited. What is normal for Glastonbury is weird elsewhere and that is glorious in my mind.
These Glastonbury folks also established independent businesses based on this wide range of beliefs and lifestyles; some focused on the myth and legends, others on spiritual awareness and counterculture. The upshot of that is a shopping experience that is interesting and diverse because the town is devoid of the usual franchise coffee houses, burger joints and bars that litter every other large town in the UK. Book shops have choices so much more specific and left-field, coffee bars are unique and wonderfully inviting as are the pubs. Creativity abounds in the shops and, to mention just one, The Portal is stunning. It's a trip to be in there looking at their workmanship, designs and shop interior. If you want a vegan meal you are spoilt for choice but if you want a greasy spoon meat based fry-up you are also well catered for. And you are aware as you browse and soak in the surroundings, these businesses being independently owned, have an ethos both genuine and heartfelt a world apart from a corporate five year plan derived from focus groups and market research to target a demographic population.
It is certainly touristy but the folks it attracts for a visit know why they are going there and they, largely, are folks that fit right in. I say that from our own perspective, as a visitor ourselves. We feel right at home, surrounded by the odd, the curious, folks with a freedom of expression and of being one with themselves and those around them. This is what 'normal' should be in my mind.
So other than shopping, bars, cafe's and people watching what else does Glastonbury town offer?
I'll start at the spiritual but it's hard to do that justice as I can only tell you from our experience, from our preference, you may be totally different but in the spirit of oneness and freedom of expression I'm sure you'll forgive me.
The spirit of the town, for me, is in the earth, a feeling that resonates through the ground and maybe focused on the striking Tor close by. A natural hill, sculptured in antiquity, clearly reminiscent of a breast or pregnant bump, images important to pre-Christian belief systems. It's energy is certainly feminine. It is topped with a tower, the left-overs from a church. Now it reminds me of some sort of phallic contribution to the feminine energy, or even a nipple. Whatever the tower reminds you of it helps stamp the Tor in your mind when you see it from afar. The tower also offers you some refuge when you walk the hill and it reminds you that this is an ancient sacred place prior to Christianity; why else would early Christians attempt to claim the hill for themselves by building their own place for contemplation on there? I get the feeling the sculptured terracing of the sides are ceremonial paths; possible remnants of a ceremony that is extremely old; older than Stonehenge maybe when it was an island rising out from the shallow waters that surrounded it once upon a time. Who knows? I certainly don't know but my imagination is fired up whenever I see it and it just makes me feel small but connected to it's feminine presence.
A magic of the tor, for us, lies at its base. Two springs emerge just metres apart from each other that are so different, so special that it's really hard to describe, you really need to visit yourself. It seems most visitors know of the Chalice Well (which has water that is iron rich) as it's a very popular destination so I will not go into detail here. It's the lesser known White Spring (which is rich in Calcite) very close by I want to try to describe here as it is so utterly wonderful.
The Victorians tried to tame the natural, sacred, spring water there. They constructed an enclosure and channelled it's water into pipes to supply the town but the mineral rich water quickly rendered the plumbing useless and they eventually gave up maintaining them. They left behind an enclosure for the spring that has, through the work of a wonderful community of volunteers, been turned into a temple, a sacred space that is both dramatic and powerful to be in. Several immersion pools cascade down from the source and spill out over the floor you walk on. People gather around sing and chant that harmonise with the sound of the water; stand or sit and soak up that space, feel the energy and connect with the consciousness of each other, the earth and the water spirit of the tor.
Another offering of Glastonbury is the music scene. We were there last on a Saturday in December. We went to a wonderfully genuine pub called The King Arthur and watched a great band the Charlie Miller Band and talked to some fascinating locals. But that same night we had a choice to see many bands playing at The Prince William, The Assembly Rooms, St. John's Church and the Red Brick Building. So much to do in such a small town, that is unique.
Lets talk about the food a bit more. The Queen of Cups there is probably our favourite restaurant on earth at the moment. We have eaten there three times and it's Middle Eastern flavours are just magnificent. It's not a cheap meal but it's not expensive either so you'll come away feeling totally satisfied with it. Glastonbury has many cheaper places where you can get good, standard fayre but this is not standard at the Queen of Cups, it is special and such a treat. After we've finished trading at our stall at The Assembly Rooms it's great to enjoy what the Queen of Cups has to offer.
Talking of us trading we really want to mention why we do it at Glastonbury, although it may be obvious. Firstly it's only one and a half hours drive away from our home in Devon and a place we love. It's clear it fits our business as it fits us. Trading online makes us feel isolated from our customers as does living in North Devon so when we trade in a market we connect to people buying our products. We love to meet other traders as that community is an inspiring one. As you can imagine, the stall holders in Glastonbury are particularly wonderful and uplifting and we have met many lovely individuals. I'd like to mention a few here; the artist and writer Tara Joy, Dorenev Creations making her own incense, lotion/potions, pyrography art and Infinite Creations with their beautiful artwork and Peter Longden Photography. So much more like massages, healing, photography, felt-work....and more....come and check it out yourself.
Because we started having a stall there we even had a local shop owner trialling selling our products in her shop. So if you go into Goddess Temple Gifts in the Courtyard just off High Street. Go in and ask if they have any decals/stickers and you may be able to buy our products. Kind of exciting for us.
So if you've never been to the town and this blog interests you I suggest you go. If you can keep an eye on our Facebook Page to find out when we'll be there and plan your visit to come meet us and say hello to us. So fare we are booked in on 29th April and 17th June but hope to also be there 23rd September and 25th November so see you there maybe, enjoy the town, checkout the vibe and recharge the positive energy banks.