A Temple of Life
Before going into the recent challenges at The White Spring let’s talk a bit about town. Most will agree, Glastonbury is a unique place. The town and surrounding landscape can be experienced as a huge temple of life, others view it as ‘hippy’ or ‘new age’ central, yet more know the place as the sacred Isle of Avalon. Either way, Glastonbury remains an important site for Pagans and Christians, along with 70 different faiths and spiritual paths.
This great temple of life holds many shrines and sanctuaries. The White Spring, Bride’s Mound, The Abbey Ruins, Chalice Well Gardens, Glastonbury Tor, and St John’s Church stand among many other sacred spaces. Not to mention the wider scope of the Glastonbury Zodiac. (I’ll make a full list on another post; there are far too many to mention here.) These holy places come together to create a diverse and sacred landscape.
To find out more about Glastonbury, I totally recommend popping over to Normal For Glastonbury. It’s the most real, honest and funny blog about Glastonbury on the whole interwebs.
Freedom of Expression
A rare quality of this little market town in Somerset is that it offers the freedom to express a wildness that most townsfolk appreciate and embrace. There are few places in England as freely expressive and accommodating as Glastonbury. Occasionally, it gets really wild, and much of this wildness is vibrant, colourful and creatively uplifting. Sometimes, that high and wild ‘Anything Goes’ attitude gets out of control.
The Temperature is Rising
This Summer 2018 is hot, hot, hot – and long days in the boiling sun can challenge even the coolest of temperaments. To make things worse, along with this physical heat, a whole lot of emotional and mental energy heats up too. Add a few unruly locals to the mix and more than a few bottles of cider, and the potential for dramatic outbursts is increased on the High Street.
The High Street has seen some challenging behaviour lately and locals are quite rightly upset. Visitors who come here expecting only love light and laughter might be surprised by this shadow side of our beautiful town. The whole of Glastonbury is considered sacred and the expectation is that everyone here will behave as such. Unpredictable behaviour is enough to unsettle the most grounded of visitors.
Isle of Glass or A Hall of Mirrors?
This place, this Isle of Glass, has a tendency to amplify and warp. Like a hall of mirrors, the kind of mirrors you see in fairgrounds, the wobble of the glass creates an illusion. It often reflects a distorted perception of what is real; making some people appear bigger, some smaller. Hubris and false humility are common themes here. Similarly, issues and dramas are amplified or underestimated.
Raw expressions of wildness are to be expected. Sometimes this ‘hotness’ is further amplified and shows itself in troublesome ways. It presents a challenge to townsfolk and tourists alike. Locals see this pattern year after year and are prepared for seasonal upset; many of us who live here to observe similar problems and themes emerging again and again.
The White Spring
With it’s constant temperature and perpetually flowing water, The White Spring is the perfect place to cool down in the hot summer months. Who wouldn’t want to wade in the water on hot days like these?
Open every day from 1.30 to 4.30. All are welcome to experience the unique atmosphere of the White Spring. You are welcome to walk barefoot in the water flows and bathe in the pools. (Please check with a keeper before you bathe, the water is deep in places and it is freaking cold!)
This is a healing place. No-one is paid and no-one is charged. All volunteers and keepers work ‘For the Love of It.’ The water sanctuary operates purely on contributions and all who come in peace are welcome. Whilst the whole of town becomes a hub for tourists, pilgrims and spiritual seekers, the White Spring has a constant stream of visitors day and night.
All Who Come in Peace are Welcome.
In so many places, wildness is discouraged. No wonder – it can be frightening and threatening when it appears unbound as we have seen on the High Street. At The White Spring there is no discrimination between scruffy or smart, hedge monkey or healer, loud or quiet … All who come in peace are welcome.
But remember, peace is not all about silence and meditation. Peace is an intention. You can hit a drum and come from a place of peace, gently feeling the place out and working with the atmosphere rather than blasting it with your noise. Or you can bash away with a war drum vibe with no regard to the impact it is having on the locality. (I digress, momentarily distracted by my wish for sensitive drumming.)
A mindful drummer is a beautiful thing. I hope you appreciate the analogy – now, back to peace.
There are times when people arrive at the White Spring grieving, feeling angry, shouting or otherwise expressing anything but peace. Yet, in some way the intention is peace. There are bound to be visitors those who will take the chance to find peace in the rushing waters and hubbub of life that happens around the sacred waters. There will always be those who need to sing, wail, roar or shout. I often used to ask myself … Who am I to deny someone who has come to this place to find peace?
The atmosphere of The White Spring sanctuary changes dramatically as the flow of visitors come and go. Often it is quiet, serene and gentle. Sometimes it is noisy, wild, and apparently limitless. It appears (though it is not) unbounded, a powerful sacred space. Not for everyone, The White Spring is dark and frightening for some. Still, it remains a safe space where many come to bathe in the sacred waters and find liberation.This is why it is my top power spot in Glastonbury, and I invest so much love and dedication to it.
It is my True temple, raw and real and accessible. Small and insignificant, yet massive and vital all at the same time. (Remember the hall of mirrors? )
Staying mentally healthy in the times we are living takes real effort and some people can’t manage it without help. A lot of folk come here for healing. Many find what they are looking for, some don’t. Those who display challenging behaviour are usually moved on from the High Street and other places in town. Most of these individuals will end up at The White Spring.
That is because there is a sense of freedom and wildness that is nurtured here. There is space for folk to be expressive, and as we established earlier, the intention to find a place of peace is not always quiet. This is a level of compassionate acceptance that is rare indeed.
Fires and Aggression
The trouble is, for some people, it is easy to forget the usual tribal boundaries when such freedom is allowed. Some people, those who wish to cause problems for whatever reason, will come and jump up and down on those boundaries. This is difficult to deal with. People are generally moved on from The White Spring unless they are breaking common law. This is defined as, cause no harm, no loss, and no threat. I need to add, no moving in and holding court … because that is also an issue.
More seriously, at least four damaging fires have been started around the courtyard of the White Spring recently. Some of these fires have caused damage to the stones and neighbouring properties. The gate that leads through from Wellhouse Lane to Chalice Well is also fire damaged. Tolerance, compassion and forbearance is encouraged among the keepers, however; when wildness turns to violence it is unacceptable. If one is causing harm, loss or threat in a sacred space, they are desecrating that space.
It must be noted however, no matter the destruction or damage, something beautiful arises each time. Check out what happened the last time I wrote about trouble at The White Spring in 2014 in Wizard News
It Takes a Village
Last week, a couple of local residents went to The White Spring in the evening. When they got there, a fire was being lit in an inappropriate place. The couple questioned those who were lighting the fire and were met with aggression. Still they managed to make sure the fire was extinguished and later reported back to the keepers. The best thing that came from that encounter is the call went out into our local community. Townsfolk have been visiting the White Spring more often than usual. Not to challenge or confront, but to support the keepers and encourage respect.
Chucking Water About
On Wednesday I went to The White Spring to reconsecrate, chuck water about, tend the garden and love the place. I cleansed the boundaries, got soaking wet and was uplifted by the whole experience. On one occasion a lady asked me what I was doing with the water. I told her I was chucking it about. She said she thought I was going to do something magical or spiritual with it. I told her I was. Chucking water about at a water temple is great fun, and deeply spiritual, even when using a builders bucket.
During the three hours the Temple was open, hundreds of visitors came by. Some of them sat in the garden, others went inside, more still collected water. Several of the men in the garden were locals, there specifically because they heard about the fires. Some of them have spoken to the person responsible for lighting them and told him not to damage their sacred place. The issue is being resolved, but I feel the need to call in the love of our community.
For the Love of It
Sacred space responds in the most remarkable ways to being loved and looked after. My biggest lesson in 9 years of service at The White Spring is how love and dedication creates dramatic transformation in a building. This place is taken care of and kept open to the public for free, ‘For The Love of It!’
Check out my poem about tending this sacred space – Loving Well
Love for The White Spring comes from all kinds of people and from all over the world. No matter the diversity and distance of individuals who are part of this community, we are united in our love for this sacred space. So please, if you feel so inspired, include The White Spring in your prayers and meditations. If you are local please visit the White Spring, even when it is closed. This is not to confront or challenge anyone, but simply to love the place. Perhaps you would like to leave a simple and natural offering to the spirit of The White Spring. My biggest wish is that our sacred spring is nurtured for the highest good of all who pass through. Thank you for your good wishes and prayers.