Wednesday, August 24, 2016

England, 2016, Part 9: The Covenstead in Glastonbury

 Whew! It had taken us 9.5 hours to drive the 144 miles between Gatwick airport and Glastonbury, and it was a WHITE KNUCKLE RIDE pretty much the whole way. But, you know what? It was totally worth it.

Pilgrims, Seekers, Mystics and Shamans have sought out Glastonbury for several thousands of years now. The tiny town, nestled between and alongside its 3 famous hills, rises carefully out of the rivers, marshes and estuaries of Somerset, creating an island of sorts that came to be known as Avalon.

The archeological remains show a strange fact however: There are artifacts and Goddess Figurines and the remains of some pretty awesome bonfires, but very little domestic debris. For all of its geographic advantages and for all of its history, very few people - even our neolithic ancestors - ever LIVED in this place. 

And that's the town, pretty much. Our B+B is under the 'U'
of "Glastonbury Abbey". (Pic from Google Maps)
Glastonbury was, as it still is, a place to worship, not a place to reside. You GO to church: you don’t STAY there. 

People who live in Churches are either saints, sinners, rock stars or wack-jobs. And that pretty much describes the 8,000 people who currently live around the 4 square blocks that comprise the center of the town.

The misfits, the miscast, the miscreant, the mystic: Glastonbury is the lint trap that catches all of Civilized Societies’ rejects. Whether Society rejected them, or they rejected Society is immaterial.

The Covenstead, formerly the Naish House (1825).
The Dormer window at the top was our room.
For it is the immaterial that has always attracted the muse and the misbegotten to this literal backwater in the middle of nowhere. The Poets, the Musicians, the Feminists, the Tree-Huggers, the Sensitives - the shapers of the Immaterial: The WITCHES.

Civilized Society did its best to fight back, setting myriad churches down all over the municipality like Roach Motels, hoping to lure in and poison the mystic mass. But Glastonbury has never been about celebrating the Mass. This town is about the Light and the Energy. And a recent Scientist and mystic has shown that if you take the Mass and multiply it by the Light squared, you get the Energy.
Adele and Karen, and a whole lotta bodaciousness.
Also, check out the decor.....!

And that is why Admiral Karen and I braved the horror of an ass-backward Island road system in order to arrive in G-town late on a Friday night.

We were tired, agitated, freaked and starved: The perfect mood to catch the wave of this place. And no place in this place was more perfect than the B+B that we now checked into - the Covenstead.

At the doorstep of this innocuous 3-story building We were greeted by the owner, Adele, who was sporting one of the worlds biggest smiles - and a colossal pair of breasts that had me and Karen suddenly riveted.
The first sight you see upon entering our B+B.

We followed Adele into her B+B and were overwhelmed by the sights, smells, textures, history, ghosts, and rampant, zany energy of the place. We barely heard our hostess as she showed us our accommodations - we were so taken with the zap of the place. And the tremendous knockers.

We dragged our luggage up the three flights of stairs - ha! Where is your rolly luggage advantage now? - dropped all of it on the king-sized bed with the fur bedspread (Ah, Heathens), interrupted Adele’s spiel to ask for food recommendations, and ran down the stairs and out into the night.

The Temple Room
The Covenstead is located two doors down from a church and is across the street from the ruins of the Abbey. But then almost every address in Glastonbury is down the street from a church and across from the Abbey.

I counted no less than 12 ooooold christian churches in the center of town, plus the ruins of the 2nd largest Abbey in Medieval England. Again, all in a town with a traditional population of about 4,000 people. Hmmmmm…….and what were they so afraid of………?

We dined at Knights Fish & Chips, because ENGLAND, and afterwards felt almost human again. 

The Reading Room
We walked back slowly in the gathering night, past shopkeepers and musicians and circus performers and High Priestesses all busily buttoning up their day jobs so they could hurry on to their night gigs. 

Energetically I was reminded of the closing of a day at the Renaissance Faire: Herding the paid crowd out of the little town, and even though you have toiled all day and should be tired, the nights entertainments are so enticing that you can’t wait to change costumes and join in the secret sorority that meets every night after they have gone away.

We passed the spire at the top of High Street where young ruffians and cos-players were assembling, past a half-dozen bookstores, all closed, and yet still buzzing, past places called the “Who’d a Thought it”, “Psychics for you”, “the Exchange Den”, “Whispered Wishes” “Bedlam” “Elements of Desire”, “St. Mary’s Catholic Church” and, of course “The Tea Rooms”.

The Spire at the top of High Street
All of this on ‘Magdalene Street’. Oh Holy Mother of God.

This…….town…….tomorrow. Saturday would be our day to zip line into the dunk tank of aether of this place. 

Now, as the spirits of Commerce were tucked away and the Ghosts of the night came out to play, now it was time to enter the Covenstead....
  • The entry way with the smiling wise woman mannequin, surrounded by dried herbs, oils, poppets, familiars and books. 
  • Past the Temple, laid out for a ritual, full of textures and colors and metals and fabrics and carvings. 
  • Past the dining room with the fur-skinned tablecloth and the vividly red walls, seats and rugs all done in a mis-matched salute to gorging - and
    Oh sure, I could see how - - - wha.....??
  • Up the stairs, full of painted temples and oracles and mystical symbols. 
  • Around the first landing, with books both old and new, deep and shallow, engrossing and laughable piled everywhere. 
  • Up the second flight of stairs luridly depicting mythical beasts and games of divination. 
  • Past the reading room, improperly decorated in zebra skin and pumpkin and paintings of plump naked women stretched over divans. 
  • And into our top room, Herne’s Hideaway, full of a darkly wooden bed you could try court cases in, more knick-knacks than some of the shops we just passed and crowned by a headboard of a carved, laughing, hissing Horned God. 
  • And a gorgeous, tree-lined view out of the dormer window, across Magdalene-please-for-the-love-of-God-will-these-people-never-stop-sinning-Street and straight to the spire of the kitchen of the Abbey, now in ruins due to the whim of a Christian King (and the Earthy power of a Pagan Queen).
We fell into His endless bed, smiled at each other, and were instantly asleep, dreaming of a far-off land of enchantment that we were in right now.

And this day! This endless Friday, that began with me totally bamboozled by the London train system, that began with Karen in Norway; this day that had shown us the sacred landscape around Stonehenge; this day where it took us 9.5 hours to travel 144 miles; this day of a thousand near-misses on rock-walled lined country
The remains of Christianity, struggling to keep
upright amidst the overwhelming Nature.
roads, ricocheting through the roundabouts of Wet Pickle Puddle and Whistling Brown Crap and Spanker Panting Splat; This Friday that had left us FRIED - it was all worth it. 

Because it had brought us here, and now, to the place of there, and then; to the Disneyland of Woo: Glastonbury.

Angus McMahan 

Saturday began with a typical bunch of WACKINESS.

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