I lived near and in Glastonbury during the 1980s. At one time, many of the local hippies wore a badge declaring Glastonbury as an open-air lunatic asylum! This charismatic town has certainly attracted people with maverick ideas for generations, and if you go there today you will find it is even stranger than it was thirty years ago. Nowadays, I would describe Glastonbury as a New Age theme park, where a lot of seriously weird stuff bumps up against more thoughtful possibilities. In The Angel of Secrets: Sigil I, Beth Morgan doesn’t feel at all comfortable in Glastonbury although, after reluctantly visiting an astrologer, she does purchase a pack of oracle cards in an esoteric bookshop. These cards will play a significant part in helping unravel the mystery of The Book of Raziel.
The most famous legend of Glastonbury concerns a visit from Jesus. Some researchers reckon his uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, was a tin trader – certainly tin trade between the west coast of Britain and Mediterranean countries would have been common at the time Jesus was alive. There is a saying in the West Country: As sure as our Lord was at Priddy – Priddy is a small Somerset village a few miles from Glastonbury. This story – that Jesus visited England as a young lad – is well embedded in the South-West tradition and was sufficiently familiar to English people nationally that William Blake wrote these lines in his poem, Jerusalem (1804), later set to stirring music by Hubert Parry in 1916:
And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?
Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England’s green and pleasant Land.
I felt called by the ‘mists of Avalon’, though the call was a mixed blessing – as will often be the case when one is on a spiritual quest…