What are the Ancient Roots of Goddess Culture in which our Modern Goddess Spirituality is Based?
by Luna Silver
For the purposes of this essay I have decided to look specifically at Our Priestess of Avalon Lineage and the mysteries of Glastonbury as a sacred enclosure through my own personal soul remembering of a life lived as a priestess on this land.
GLASTONBURY – THE ISLE OF THE DEAD
Geographically Glastonbury is in truth an island. Until the land was drained it would only have been accessible by boat, the land being boggy salt marshes. Recent flooding has shown the real nature of the levels, as unattended drainage systems and heavy rainfalls allowed the land to default to its former condition. Anyone who has driven over the levels at night and experienced the eerie disembodied will-o-the –wisp mist wraiths or jumped up and down on the floating fields and felt the land lurch and ripple or stood atop the Tor when the mists are down knows without a doubt that Glastonbury is still to this day an island, surrounded by water, mostly now laying under ground, still set apart and somehow different.
When I first visited Glastonbury and walked up the Tor I experienced a vision where I saw myself being pulled out of a hole in the ground. This was a remembering of the culmination of more than 20 years of training; the last initiation. I realised that I was looking at my own dead body and that I was a spirit. I had died in the Labyrinth inside the Tor. For 20 years I held this image never exploring it any deeper until during my 2nd year initiation in the coils of the Labyrinth I ended up face down in the dirt overwhelmed by grief and utterly unable to explain why. I decided it was important to go back to this first original vision and find the whole story. This is what I discovered:
I am in another incarnation a Priestess of the Isle of the Dead. Glastonbury was not at this time a place for the living. This was the place where the dead were brought, their bodies laid out and eaten; bones picked clean by the carrion. The crows still circle the Tor to this day, perhaps remembering the rich pickings of an earlier age. The bones of the dead were retained and added to the bones of previous generations in a belief that wisdom was held in the bones and could be accessed when needed. The ancestors were honoured and still considered part of the tribe. As a Priestess of the Isle of the Dead I lived on the island, never returning to the mainland. We lived apart in this place between the worlds. After long training and service some were chosen to step into a deeper connection between the world of the living and the world of the dead. We needed to have a strong and compelling attraction with another Priestess or Priest in service on the isle of the dead. Our teachers would look for this. It was not common but when it arose it was utilized by special nurture and practice. The pairing Priest/esses were taught the blending of souls into one whole, an alchemical bonding of souls for eternity to the extent that we gave up the illusion of separation and became one spiritual being. When this intensive practice period was complete both priest/esses would enter the labyrinth inside the Tor for an extended initiation time. During this initiation one would die and cross the threshold between the living and the dead and the other would cross over with them as far as they could go, learn the mysteries of death and then return to serve on the living side of the divide, bringing the body of their beloved back to the surface with them to feed the crows and then the bones were processed to become a part of the partner Priest/esses paraphernalia. This process formed a bridge between the worlds across which the paired Priest/esses could communicate to aid the crossing of souls from this world to the other and also for prophecy and mediumship. The ancestors could be more easily consulted via the messengers and safe passage was assured for the dead.
As time moves on and the ages rise and fall the soul bonding remains. I became a watcher in the hill, a tutelary spirit without a tribe to serve watching the unfolding of time, other selves drawn again and again to live and serve on the isle until I remember and reclaim.
Through time I saw my beloved pass me by like a moth on the other side of a glass window, drawn to me yet unable to touch while also reincarnating in lives together to live out short intense dramas in an attempt to recall ourselves. In1999, living in Glastonbury I met my lover again. It was difficult to live together but impossible to live apart and then after 5 intense years he died.
When he died the worlds collapsed and I saw and knew reality as it truly is. There was no divide. He was ecstatic in death. I had the choice in that moment. I could have stepped across the threshold. I could have just stopped breathing and ceased to be incarnating as me and become one in union with all. I experienced bliss, union and ecstasy. All this happened as this world continued around me as a dream and then the moment passed.
Of the many soul gifts he gave me his death was the greatest. In dying he gifted me a glimpse of the mystery so profound and complete that I am changed forever in that knowing and yet what to do with this knowledge? How to live in the world with the knowing and longing for union, to live astride the worlds, a foot in each and keep body and soul together. Sometimes I have slipped. Tracking my lover’s soul I strayed beyond the places that I could travel to and stay connected to my body. I remember that there was a silver cord connected to my navel and that I was pulling at it to free myself so that I could travel further.
As I near the completion of my training to be a dedicated Priestess of Avalon I sit in my new home in Glastonbury. Suddenly a wind whips up from nowhere and blows a gale around my house. I feel the power of the Lady and of her body, this sacred land that I have returned to yet again as she speaks to me. She welcomes me home. She tells me to adjust my position, meaning where my soul is in relation to my body. I cannot dedicate before I am fully reclaimed and remembered. I must be strongly in my body because the path of a priestess is an embodied path. In another incarnation I chose the path of a shadow priestess beyond the veil and in time this teaching will be of great value to me and to the growth of our lineage but what is important if I am to be of service at this time is that I be healthy and the way to do this is to draw strength from her sacred body, the land of the sacred isle of Avalon and all will be well and in doing this I help to draw Avalon and Glastonbury closer together too. Glastonbury and Avalon. Body and Soul. Blessed Be.