I have been aware of the physical space christened Glastonbury Experience since I first started to frequent – and feel the call towards – Ynys Witrin in 1993. But I did not know of the deeper, more personal experience until very recently – though Morgana West, whose excellent talk on this subject I attended on Thursday night, did warn me about it back in October last year.
Glastonbury is an extraordinary place – but it also pulls very ordinary, and disturbing, emotions, memories and stuck places to the surface fairly speedily. This phenomenon is apparently not just widely known, but also shared with other, similar places: Places where the Seeker, having followed the Rainbow Path, fetches up, maybe permanently, maybe only as a staging post upon the Spiritual Journey, and is confronted with the Abyss.
Arrival in Glastonbury has been likened to a Honeymoon period – and, having undergone that phase, I can attest to its validity and reality: In love, aroused, lolloping about in beauty and an almost-sexual harmony, every day seems like two special weeks in the holiday area of one’s dreams. Happiness overflows. Meetings with same wave-lengthers seem so easy and frequent. New activities are leapt into with a childlike joy and innocence. The grown-up world, the day-to-day reality of the marital state, both seem aeons away and not worth worrying about.
But, many of us dive into marriage for the wrong reasons. Likewise, many of us are drawn to Glastonbury – and its sisters all over the world – from the clearing upon which our bier has been lying, surrounded by pennants, for so long, the land withering all around us. For we are the Wounded King*, and the blood flows ceaselessly from our loins. Our sexual crippling and inability to heal triggers the Wasteland.
The irony of it all – and, in a very real sense, the frustration and sadness – lies in this fact: Our gashes can give every appearance of having dried up for a while, and it is very easy to feel, as so many of us do during this period of remission/Honeymoon, that we are completely healed; that the inner haemorrhages will never return; that we are safe and free and better.
But we forget – Oh, how easily we forget! – that deep truism of life: Wherever we travel, we take ourselves with us, cicatrices, insecurities and all. By this token, we also bring with us that capacity for summonsing, for enabling, the Wasteland. And, in the excitement of all this joyous frolicking and bonding, our days one endless emotional orgasm, we also lose sight of the Grail and the crucial importance of its question when healing is needed in the world.
And so it is, five months in, that the stirrings of unease began to writhe, serpents, tiny at first, wriggling under the psychic skin; doubts worming their way into the ecstasy of the marital bed; a smudge upon the ancient beauty of my surroundings; the clanging of the bell whose toll cries, ‘All is not well!’- and a horrible sinking into the acknowledgement that no amount of frantic coupling, no amount of new activities and lovely friends, can hide the chasm that is unhealed pain, can sew up the grievous wounds I dragged with me.
Only I can ask the important Grail Question. Only I can banish my own Wasteland.
So, going away from the symbolic and esoteric for a moment, how has this manifested itself in the exoteric realms? I’ll tell you, though some of you may well have picked this up already from some recent posts on here:
My fundamental insecurity has resurfaced, not as a mild affliction I can ignore while I continue to romp, but as a major theme in the novel of my life. All those little things which I can safely put to one side whilst in the delightful throes of love-making come hurtling to the surface post-sex, metaphorically speaking.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder, the attack, my troubled marriage and its ending, my absolute terror of being rejected, left out, deemed not good enough – all of this, and more, is now spilling from the re-opened cuts, demanding attention, crying out to be stitched, made better; screaming for the pain to cease.
I look for signs of anger in others and feel all the old fear that entails. I am watchful, wavering, weepy inside. I read rejection in cheap runes roughly and wrongly cast.
Honeymoon segued – in a ghastly irony of which I am all too aware – into almost instantaneous divorce. And I know that many people, at this stage, opt to leave: That the Dark Night of the Soul spits out casualties with an almost-insulting ease.
I have tried to stay with these turbulent feelings, to document them on here – and in my trusty journal – as and when they rise up. This latest one – the intense fear of being invisible, unseen, left out of the play of other children – is as old as I am, or very nearly- and still has the power to make me cry, to make me call out, albeit silently, ‘Please don’t leave me behind! Please include me too…’
I think it is exacerbated by my age and status: Older women often are seen as almost invisible entities – and are passed over, or ignored, because they are too old to be deemed sexy or serviceable or useful any more. They are grannies, grey-haired has-beens; they are there to look after the grandchildren while the children go off and have fun; they are the founts of wisdom nobody actually wishes to hear!
Last night was so hot, so oppressive, I lay in bed, sweating and seething with inchoate fear. The land quivered. Suddenly, a glare of lightning shocked the sky, leaving a limp rag of electric blue draped over the hills in its wake. Thunder Dragons roared and flamed and fought. Rain pelted and punished. Goddess knows the parched and baked earth needed it. We puny humans too: Our bodies and souls required that sizzling shock; that opening of the flood doors; that tumultuous timpani; that syringe of adrenaline into our failing hearts and scorched souls.
Now greyness abounds; the stretched skin of a palpitating landscape rattles in rhythmic storm-wind; the final remnants of Honeymoon’s dazzling night-gown are sloughed off in the wake of electrical violence and the body lies, glistening, bare, bloodied, upon the bier once more.
The Glastonbury Experience, personified in storm-flaying nights, bursts forth, reaches deep within, will have its day, whether we mortals find it convenient or not.
Divorced in one reality, I now willingly seek some form of severance in another.
I ask the Grail Question.
*In most Tarot Decks, the twelfth Major Arcana card is the Hanged Man – but, as I have been working with Caitlin and John Matthews’ Arthurian deck since 1993, I am using the Wounded King symbolism.