An Introduction to ‘A Glastonbury Experience’
The concept of the spiritual life as a journey is universal. By Christians it is called the ‘Way’ but it has as many names as there are spiritual paths and religions. Sometimes it is looked upon as a series of initiations. Sometimes it is seen as a series of experiences as in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s progress. In every case it is seen as a process through which the journeying one gradually increases in awareness and their consciousness is raised to the point where they are able to reach oneness with the Divine.
The process is universal. But it appears in different guises in different places and at different times. In Glastonbury today, there appears to be a distinct and specific pattern to this process. Whilst the experience is different for every individual, the stages of the process appear to be something that can be recognised by many who have experienced them. In Glastonbury this is sometimes called going through ‘A Glastonbury Experience’.
In this article, we will outline the broad stages into which this process appears to fall.. Again we need to say that the timing, the order in which these experiences occur and the way they occur will be different for every individual. What we are putting forward is the concept that there is a broad underlying pattern, a process, and that an understanding of this process can help the individual progress more smoothly through the often intense experiences that will inevitably occur.
To understand what we are going to describe, it is necessary to accept that there are certain broad assumptions that lie behind the way the Glastonbury Experience is perceived. You do not have to agree with these assumptions but for the sake of this booklet it will be helpful if you are able to accept the possibility of these factors being valid. These are the views of those writing this booklet and are not necessarily Universal Truths.
There are two key points that we wish to establish:
There is a World of the Spirit
- A Spiritual World exists side by side with the Material World.
- There are beings in the spiritual world that can be contacted through our intuition.
- There are various ways of attuning with our intuition including that of meditation.
There is an Unseen Presence
- In Glastonbury there is in the Spiritual World an ‘Over-lighting’ energy - an Unseen Presence that cares for Glastonbury and seeks to help the place attain its true potential.
- This Presence has many names including the 'Goddess of Glastonbury’, the ‘Company of Avalon’ and the ‘Angel of Glastonbury’. We will use the term the Angel – the Angel of Glastonbury – in this booklet.
- The Angel knows what Glastonbury needs in the way of people, skills and resources and uses various means to call the people needed and to guide them once they are here.
- The Angel has a purpose that is two fold:
- To help the individual with their own personal spiritual transformation.
- To help Glastonbury reach its full potential.
Life in the material world
Most of us start our lives in the conventional everyday world. We are, hopefully, brought up by loving parents; we are sent off to school where we meet with varying success; we pass some exams and may go on to university. Eventually we find ourselves doing a job in the world. We may be following our own ideas of what we want to do; or we may be responding to what our parents wanted us to do. However we find our work, we will begin to gain experience and knowledge and gradually become more expert at what we are doing.
We will have had some sort of introduction to established religion which may or may not have meant very much to us. Having started to earn our living in the world we will probably find a partner and may settle down and possibly have children. The pressure is on us to conform to what material society expects of us and this usually excludes any conscious spiritual awareness or practice.
The First Stage of the GE Process – The Awakening
Then comes some sort of an awakening. This often takes the form of a crisis. We may lose someone close to us; we may lose our job; or some other dramatic event may take place. This crisis may have the effect of an Epiphany, or a spontaneous act of Grace, which leads to the opportunity for us to look quite differently at our life. An opportunity to look at the spiritual side of life. This often coincides with a growing disillusion with the purely material world.
This event is an opportunity to change and awaken. For each one of us such an opportunity occurs, but it is up to us decided whether or not we are prepared to make the change that is being called for.
If we have a positive response to this spiritual awakening, we often start an active search for a new understanding through books and courses. In turn this may lead to our finding a new Spiritual path and practice. Such a practice may well include meditation or an interest in astrology or some other way of accessing our intuition. Whatever practice is taken will help us to attune to our own guidance and Higher Self with more clarity.
We will often also find a growing discontent with the life that had seemed to work quite well before. This may begin to lead to all sorts of possible difficulties in our working and private life.
This is a period of spiritual awakening. The adopting of our spiritual practice makes us more sensitive to the voice of the intuition and the call of the world of the spirit.
The Second Stage - the Call to live in Glastonbury
We have spoken about the Angel of Glastonbury and its understanding of what is needed for Glastonbury to reach its full potential as a place of transformation. One of the key ingredients is a community of people, resident in Glastonbury, with the right balance of skills, experience and sensitivity to the voice of the spirit to allow them to be guided in the work that needs doing.
People are coming and going all the time and the Angel is always on the lookout for replacement souls.
The Angel detects a particular quality needed and looks for a suitable person. It then puts out a call in terms that will attract that particular person. Often these terms will be different to the real purpose for which the individual is needed. If the real purpose was given, the individual would probably not respond!
The word is put out, but it will be only possible for the individual to hear this call if they are already sensitive to their intuition and able to hear their own inner voice. The individual may be able to hear the call but still decide that is not for them. We all have free will and it is entirely up to each one of us whether or not we respond positively whether we decide that it is not for us.
For the sake of this exercise we will assume that the decision is made to respond positively to the call. Having made this decision, a number of synchronous events will start to occur. The individual will find themselves reading about Glastonbury in a book; they may meet people and talk about Glastonbury and may be invited to visit Glastonbury. All of this may seem very mysterious and, at this stage, there will usually be no concept of moving to live in Glastonbury. However the process continues and through various incidents and developments an individual ‘called’ will eventually find themselves living in Glastonbury’.
The Third Stage – early days in Glastonbury
The new arrival settles into their life in Glastonbury. There is much to be done. They have to find suitable accommodation; they need to find a way of earning their living and they need to find a way of meeting members of the community. There is often a feeling of excitement and joy in these early days. The landscape is wonderful and the people are friendly and there is a feeling that the individual has ’come home’
It is not entirely easy to settle into this new environment as many things are different to those in the world from which the individual has come. As an example they may be a therapist and have had a successful practice in wherever they lived before. They now find that there are literally hundreds of therapists in Glastonbury and relatively few clients and that in consequence it is going to be difficult to establish a new therapeutic practice. There’s also certain hesitancy by potential clients to come to a new therapist. There is much coming and going here and in it takes time for a newcomer to be accepted as a reasonably permanent part of the local scene.
In these early days there begins to be a glimmer of understanding of why they have been called Glastonbury. Often it will be that their experience, talents and personal qualities that they have honed and developed in the material world are exactly what are needed in Glastonbury. But here they may well be required to be used in a completely different way. This may involve working in a voluntary capacity in a community project and working with a different sort of individual. But with this difference in working will come a feeling of satisfaction in that this new way is truly worthwhile and is not being done solely the purpose of generating income.
.The Fourth Stage - The Testing – The ‘Glastonbury Experience’
This might be thought of as the middle stage of the Glastonbury process. This is a stage that is recognized on all spiritual paths. It may be called the ‘dark night of the soul’, the ‘night sea passage’ or as being one of a series of initiations. In Glastonbury it is usually recognized as a ‘Glastonbury Experience’.
This is an experience in which the individual is brought face-to-face with their own inner frailty and shadow. It can be very painful to see the darker side of one’s personality with absolute clarity. These are parts of ourselves that we have hidden from our consciousness for most of our life to date. Until we are able to recognize our own darker side we may project it out onto others and feel that we are surrounded by difficult and impossible people.
Very often the testing takes the form of our being humbled in an area where our pride had been invested. This humbling process appears to be a necessary step before one can move forward with the work of the spirit.
Whatever shapes this testing takes, it may result in a feeling that life is chaotic and pointless and that perhaps one made a tremendous mistake in coming to live in Glastonbury.
Eventually one begins to emerge on the other side. These experiences may continue for a considerable time and may continue for the whole time that one is living in Glastonbury, but in a much reduced form. Nonetheless the time does come when clarity seems to emerge.
This time might be thought of as a period of testing when the angel Glastonbury is seeing whether this newly arrived individual has the strength of character to be able to persevere in the sometimes difficult energies of this place. That is to persevere in carrying out the work for which they have been called.
The Fifth Stage – The Decision
Emerging from the Glastonbury experience process the individual is in many ways changed. Certain clarity will begin to emerge and they will be brought face-to-face with the decision of whether to stay in Glastonbury, and continue with the work that they seem to have been asked to carry out, or whether to leave the town having learned a lot and wishing to put the experience into practice elsewhere. There it is no right or wrong decision and whatever the individual decides is the correct step to take.
The Last Stage – The Final Outcome
There can be no generalisation of the final outcome as it will always be highly individual. But in one way or on another the intentions of the Angel will begin to be apparent. The individual will find that their field of work and with it will come a feeling of completion, satisfaction and fulfilment. They will find their place in the community and a real sense of what they are able to contribute. And they will begin to see how their own particular piece of work is a part of a much greater Whole. The Whole that is Glastonbury is a place of transformation
Being called the Glastonbury is not only for a task of service to others. There is also the opportunity to continue the spiritual growth of the individual who has been called.
Testing will continue throughout the time in Glastonbury but these tests will be seen for their true value of helping to raise the individual’s consciousness.
It is important to realise that every step of the journey has its own value. It is not a question of success or failure but of being present at the right moment to help matters unfold. The part played by the individual may appear to be very modest but in some way or another it is helping the full picture to emerge. In many ways we find ourselves acting as the Angel’s agent in helping others, often in a way which we could not have envisaged before they occur.
So what is it all about?
We believe that there is a particular way in which the spiritual journey occurs to those who are called to Glastonbury. It is not better or worse than other ways in which the path emerges but has its own special characteristics in this place. It has a twofold purpose of helping the individual to grow in awareness on their own spiritual journey and making available to the developing spiritual personality ways in which their talents and skills may be used in service to other individuals, to the community and to Glastonbury.
The experience of those of us who have been here for some time is that, if one is able to be in tune with the guidance that is available, e then eventually one finds an extraordinary sense of fulfilment contentment, peace of mind and happiness.
There is a wealth of information available on Glastonbury as a spiritual centre. The following are possible books that might help on the journey. As always with Glastonbury the key is to listen to one’s own intuition and guidance in deciding what is right for you in the next step on this journey