Discovering Brides Mound – People and Place

In the last post we looked at the many legends surrounding Brides Mound in Glastonbury.  Now I’d like to look at how people interact with this special place. How do people celebrate the land, and connect to the living mythical landscape?  How do the enduring legends contribute to the sense of the land as sacred, and what do visitors gain from their pilgrimage here?

“In Glastonbury, the interaction of myth, belief, story, vernacular religion and contemporary spirituality provides a constantly evolving means whereby varied groups of people interact with the past, the landscape and whatever they perceive as their spiritual goals”

Marion Bowman [1]

Friends of Brides Mound

Although not as well-known as its cousin Glastonbury Tor, Brides Mound is not without friends and devotees.  In 1995 an organisation called the Friends of Brides Mound was formed to protect and restore this area, previously a little neglected.  Their mission statement is:

To preserve, protect and enhance the land and environment known as Bride’s Mound, and to create and care for the space which is open to all who feel drawn to visit here, regardless of beliefs or affiliations.
[2]

The organisation has planted trees on the site and has plans to recreate a sanctuary and shrine with a perpetual flame, within an orchard and herb garden setting, along with reinstating Brides Well and placing further information boards explaining the significance of the site.  There are hopes that the whole area will eventually be incorporated into an archeologically protected area (Scheduled Ancient Monument Protection). [2]

Walking the Land

“A walk is only a step away from a story”

Robert Macfarlane [3]

Walking pilgrimage to sacred sites has a history thousands of years old, with the journey constituting a process of self-reflection and deep connection with myth, legend and sacred story [4]

Many different organisations organise walking tours around the sacred sites of Glastonbury/Avalon, and Brides Mound is an important stop on these popular routes.  Walking the land is seen as a way to contact and connect with nature, and with the ‘storied nature of place’.  Glastonbury is seen as the heart chakra of the planet, and people come to Brides Mound to make a heart connection of their own. [5, 6, 7]  Those getting married at the Glastonbury Goddess Temple often walk the land with their guests the day before, to connect with each other and with the landscape. [8]

Pre-wedding walk of the landscape
photo thanks to http://avaloncloaks.co.uk/

” We believe that the energy of the sacred places we visit, can really open you up to your deeper knowing and intuition. By doing this we hope you will connect, not just with the land, but also with who you truly are. The pathways of the land, guide you back home to yourself”

Mystical Earth Tours [5]

Others walk Brides Mound as part of the Glastonbury Zodiac, or as part of paths following earth energy ley lines [9].  As we saw in the last post, Brides Mound is a place holding significance for visitors in many different ways.

Imbolc

Imbolc, February 1st, is the traditional feast day of the Goddess Brigit/Bride in Pagan traditions, and of St Brigit in Christian traditions.  Celebrators of Brigit in all her guises are drawn to Brides Mound for ritual and celebration every year.

The Friends of Brides Mound organise an annual pilgrimage to the site at Imbolc, this was a tradition started by Christine and Janet Allen and Kitty Tudor Pole – those that you will remember found the Blue bowl back in 1906 – and Alice Buckton, who recorded the route in the 1920’s.

Nowadays, participants start with a ceremony at the Chalice Well, make traditional Bridie dolls and Brigit crosses and walk a pilgrimage to Brides Mound to celebrate this time of the quickening of the new life of spring in the belly of the earth.  Celebrants often stop along the way to hang ‘clooties’ on the thorn tree near Brides well, as offerings intended to bring blessings or healing.[2]

Thorn tree with clooties at the entrance to Brides Mound
photo via https://singinghead.wordpress.com/2016/04/21/brides-well-in-glastonbury/

Modern Goddess Community

Brides Mound’s strong associations with the Irish Goddess Brigit make it a very important site to the modern Goddess Spirituality community.  Those training to become Priestesses of Brigit visit the site for initial dedication to their path at Brides well, and for rituals as their training progresses, and others of the Goddess community hold rituals of healing, blessing and celebration here.

“To work with Goddess, with Brighde, can sometimes feel too etheric, hard to grasp. To have a sacred place on the land, like Brides Mound, with both a historic and mythical connection with Brighde as Saint and Goddess, can offer a place to ground and connect deeply; it offers a place of focus of energy, attention and devotion to Goddess in and as the land.”

Marion Brigantia, Priestess of Brigit. http://www.marionbrigantia.com – Personal communication
Kathy Jones, Priestess of Avalon, sending blessings from Brides Mound

Cross-cultural Celebrations

A beautiful example of cross-cultural celebration occurred at Brides Mound on the final day of the 2004 Glastonbury Goddess Conference. The Brigidine sisters of the Christian community of Solas Bhride in Kildare, where Brigit’s ancient perpetual flame has been tended since its rekindling in 1993, brought her flame from Kildare to be joined in a ceremony on the mound to five other sacred flames. Fire from the central conference flame, lit by the sun; the Hiroshima peace flame, lit by a female survivor from the embers of the nuclear devastation there, the children’s flame and the Madonna Ministry flame from the USA, Bridie’s flame from Lewis in the Hebrides and Brigit’s flame of Kildare were joined to form the Flame of Avalon and dedicated in ritual to the Goddess Brigid of the triple flame.  [10, 11]

All conference participants were invited to light a tea light from the Flame of Avalon and take the flame’s energy out into the world.  Priestesses of Avalon in four different countries still tend the perpetual flame in rotation, which symbolises the love of the Goddess and the heart of Avalon.

Photo via: https://goddesstemple.co.uk/the-flame-of-avalon/

Liminal Space

Sitting on the western edge of the town of Glastonbury, Brides Mound is considered a liminal space, a bridge between worlds. Those looking to connect with Bride or St Brigit, with King Arthur, either as a Christian hero, Pagan hero or New Age hero [1], with the Druids of ancient and modern times or with the energies of the earth itself, all find something meaningful on this modest windswept hill.

‘Avalon Rising’ recited by the Bard of Glastonbury on Brides Mound

References

1.            Bowman, M., Arthur and Bridget in Avalon: Celtic myth, vernacular religion and contemporary spirituality in Glastonbury. Fabula, 2007. 48(1-2): p. 16-32.

2.            Friends of Brides Mound. Available from: http://friendsofbridesmound.com/.

3.            Macfarlane, R., The old ways: A journey on foot. Vol. 3. 2012: Penguin.

4.            Zhang, M., et al., Religious tourism and cultural pilgrimage: A Chinese perspective. Religious tourism and pilgrimage management: An international perspective, 2007: p. 98-112.

5.            Mystical Earth Tours. Available from: https://www.mysticalearthtours.com/the-isle-of-avalon.

6.            Transformational Breath Foundation UK. Available from: https://www.transformationalbreath.co.uk/events/breathing-in-nature-walking-in-the-sacred-landscape-of-glastonbury/.

7.            Treyade Studio. Available from: http://treyadestudio.com/new-beginnings-5-day-journey/.

8.            Glastonbury Goddess Temple Weddings. Available from: http://goddesstempleweddings.co.uk/sacred-walks/.

9.            Spiral Path Pilgrimages. Available from: http://www.spiralpathpilgrimages.com/walking-glastonbury.html.

10.          Weatherstone, L., Tending Brigid’s Flame: Awaken to the Celtic Goddess of Hearth, Temple, and Forge. 2015: Llewellyn Worldwide, Limited.

11.          Goddess Temple Glastonbury. Available from: https://goddesstemple.co.uk/the-flame-of-avalon/.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Paul says:

    Lovely work x

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good to see this – visiting on Imbolc 2021!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amelie Rowan says:

      Have a wonderful visit! Glastonbury is so magical!

      Like

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