Thursday, May 31, 2007

Visiting England

I've been trying to figure out what I have wanted to say about my trip to Europe. It is difficult to sum up a month long trip in just a few words and pictures. While it is easy to tell you about what I did and where I went, there is definitely more to it than that.

As I didn't specifically go there to "learn," I found that I did learn a lot anyway. I learned a lot about different sacred spot in England, I learned first hand that there is more to a culture than just a difference in language, and I learned a lot about myself. Traveling alone gives you a lot of time to think.

My first few days were spent in the area in and around York. I got to visit several sacred sites thanks to Paul and his wife, who were willing to introduce me to a few of their favorites. As I had mentioned that I enjoyed labyrinths, they took me to two: Julian's Bower and the Caerdonia labyrinth (a.k.a. - The City of Troy). While the first was fenced in due to re-turfing, we were able to walk the second one. (The picture above is of Julian's Bower.)

While I won't mention all the sites that Paul and his wife introduced me to, I will say that one at the end of the second day was my favorite - the river Wharfe, which was a sacred site of the Goddess Verbeia. Even though I spent a lot of my time taking pictures, I could feel the calmness of the area. Seeing the river from above and then walking down into the valley where the river was was a neat experience. Experiencing the feeling of the place from a even a slight distance was very different from getting to experience it close up.

Over the next few days, I began to think about how there is a connection to the land, to a specific area, of which a person lives. There is a sense of disconnection when at a distance. Paul talked about this when he talked about being rooted to place he lives. Like Paul, I began to wonder if those of us in other areas of the world feel at least somewhat cut off from the Gods and Goddesses that we respect and made a part of our lives.

The next few days were spent in Glastonbury and Wells. I started out the day biking from Wells to Glastonbury, seeing the Tor in the distance almost the whole way. After getting lost, ending up taking a long detour, and witnessing a lesson regarding the birds and the bee from a couple of local cows, I finally reached the Chalice Well in Glastonbury. As it was May Day, there were many spiritual seekers walking around, lots of candles and incense that were lit, and some drumming coming from somewhere in the gardens.

After an hour or so in the Chalice Well gardens, I filled up my water bottle from the Lion's Head and headed into town.

Next was a visit to the Abby, where I walked around the ruins and the grounds and also stopped in to hear a presentation by one of the Abbey Monks regarding some of the history of the area. After the presentation, I decided to spend an hour or so sitting in the herb garden to read; It was nice to find a quite place away from all the people that were in town for May Day. The town was packed with visitors for the day's celebrations!

Later in the day, I hopped on a bus to get to the Tor. I climbed up the Tor with the intention of having Lunch at the top. When I arrived at the top, I had to find some shelter from the wind so that I could eat my lunch; I didn't realize that it would be so windy!

Looking at the Tor from the top of hill revealed something interesting: multiple tiers. Due to my interest in labyrinths, I wondered if it could have been a giant labyrinth. Apparently, other people have had similar thoughts.

After a few hours of walking through the throngs of people, visiting Glastonbury Abbey, and going into some of the shops, I headed back to Wells.

I will continue with more from my trip tomorrow.


First picture: Julian's Bower Labyrinth in North Lincolnshire
Second picture: The River Wharfe in North Yorkshire
Third picture: The Chalice Well in Glastonbury decorated for May Day
Forth picture: Glastonbury Tor (Yes, the building is on the top!)


Mo said...

Sounds like you had a lovely time; the pics are gorgeous (I especially like the one of The River Wharfe)!

I'm so glad I wondered onto your site...thanks for sharin' this!

Sojourner said...

Mo - It was a wonderful experience.

Thanks for the compliment about the pictures. They are the reason why I had to split up the post; there are just so many to share!

Autumn said...

Oh what beautiful photos. I love the one of the well. I have been thinking of buying a pendant of the well symbol on it. I have always been drawn to it. I'm glad you had fun. Thanks for sharing your trip with us

Sojourner said...

Autumn - I almost purchased a necklace with the well symbol when I was at the Chalice Well gardens. But then I realized that it wouldn't have gotten worn so I decided against it.

I have worn the same necklace and pendant pretty much everyday for the past 16 years. I made the pendant in high school and the chain was given to me by a close friend at graduation, so it is something that is very special to me. I just can't seem to replace it. :)

I'm glad you have enjoyed the pictures.

Niobium said...

I must reiterate the commenters above: beautiful pictures.

And I understand being rooted to an area. While I'm much more likely to live "away from home" (that is, two hours from where I grew up but even still it was very difficult for me to move out of Massachusetts to New Hampshire.), my mother is not.

About 20 years ago her husband came home from work one day and said "my job has been eliminated. The same position exists in NOrth Carolina so start packing, we're moving." My mother said no: "My family has lived here for 300 years. THose roots run aweful deep and I'm not leaving." It was the only time she said no to him.

Kay said...

Beautiful pics. I snagged the Vescica Pisces one off the web for a post awhile ago. I didn't realize that it's a well cover. That's awesome.

Sojourner said...

Nio - I think that it would be difficult for many people to leave a place that there family had been for 300 years. While my family hasn't been here that long, there is still a sense of being rooted here in Minnesota.

I have no problem with living somewhere else (and I have lived in Virginia in the past), but I will "settle down" in Minnesota. This is my home.

Thanks for the compliment!

Sojourner said...

Thanks for the compliment, Kay!

Anonymous said...

It's been said, but beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to reading more.

I went to England last year for the first time (didn't make it to Glastonbury though) and it was very special. I plan to return someday.

Spider said...

Glad to hear that you enjoyed it over here ... Please tell me that when you were up our end of the country that you visited Thornborough Henges ... You can always do it next time lol :)

Jenavira said...

Welcome back! Sounds like you had a marvellous time, and yes, you did come back with wonderful pictures. :)

I always feel a bit like the odd one out when people start talking about roots; I've never felt I particularly belonged someplace. And then someone will start complaining about the Midwest, and I get very defensive -- looks like I've just got regional roots instead of specific ones. ;)

Sojourner said...

Thanks for the picture compliments, everyone!

Cosette - Glastonbury was fun; especially on the day that I was there. :) If you can get to Glastonbury, I am guessing that you would like it.

Spider - It was mentioned as a possibility, but I didn't go to Thornborough Henges. However, I did see the standing stones (The Three Sisters, aka the Devil's Arrows) of the processional that lead to the Henges. They will be on my list for the next visit to England.

Jenavira - I, too, feel rooted to the midwest. I don't mind moving to other places for a short time, but this is where I want to end up.

peppylady said...

what a neat place.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you've been having a great time!