The Rose of the Tor
Written in Glastonbury, Somerset, England in 2003
The night before, I dreamed… walking through a type of bazaar where paths of consciousness were being offered to me: beautiful colours, deities, and people offering me esoteric knowledge. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed when I heard a far off voice singing my name… but somehow recognized and knew whom it was. I awoke with the sunrise and left for my pilgrimage up the mighty Tor. I anointed myself with an oil called “Ancient Voices” I had bought it at a witchy shop in the High Street the previous day and without so much as taking a shower, I walked in the direction of the Tor.
I still felt a little weary from the community dance the night before. There was a gathering in the town hall, just across the way from my hostel. I went with a girl I was rooming with at the hostel to explore the music and costumed people who were arriving. Once inside, it looked like the scene of a rave with techno-style music and moving images projected on the bare walls. In the middle was an altar of sorts, each direction facing inward. The local Priests and Priestesses cast a circle and blessed every person there, sharing a bowl of raisins offered to the Deities and human guests. My new friend and I danced for hours before finally collapsing in our bunk beds.
The song was still ringing in my head, my name in that distant voice as I tramped through muddy hillsides, over moss-grown stone fences, and the dampness of the settling morning. Everywhere I walked, with every step, I felt the eyes of the landscape on me. The Divine was looking through them all, the ravens dancing on the wind, the squirrels running along the ancient trees, and the hint of a smelly skunk that lived nearby.
When I reached the base of the mighty hill, I looked to see where there might be some sort of path. Historically there was at one point a winding path leading to the top, but all I saw was the overgrown, terraced surface of the mysterious hill. Climbing up, I paced myself the best I could, considering how out of shape I was. At one point I took off my heavy London coat, preferring the crisp morning air to breathe into my skin better. Keeping my senses open to any and all, I sang a Goddess chant as I walked softly on the soil.
At the top, I greeted the four corners. In the East, there were 20 or so ravens, their black feathers reflecting in the first mornings’ ray, that fought through the early clouds. To the South, I felt the fire of my own passion; what had willed me to push forward on this pilgrimage. To the West, I felt the presence of my loved ones back home and I had a deep longing for the great Pacific Ocean. And finally, when I reached the Northern part of the Tor’s peak, I contemplated the Mother Goddess whose spirit ran all through this landscape.
As I sat, I heard a man chanting an “ohm” from within St. Michael’s Tower, a Christian monstrosity which had since replaced the stone circle said to have been at the top in ancient times. The voice was vibrating through the tower, spilling out the top and reverberating through the cool air. Looking out towards the horizon, I felt such peace as never known before…I had found my heart’s true home. I remembered throughout the rest of the day my vision, myself in another life, a priestess here. I had loved and lost, as many others had.
Before departing back down the hillside, a young woman came from out of the mists, hangers-on of the departing night. She was dressed like a hippy, with no shoes,standing from the south and looking at me. I smiled in acknowledgment, recognizing a kindred soul on this beautiful morning. She asked me about the Tor, how I liked it. I replied to her “words cannot describe”. She invited me to her home for breakfast; I was starving and a new friend sounded exciting.
I noticed she had come from the opposite direction from whence I had. I asked her about it, and she replied “There’s a paved pathway leading straight to the top on this side. Did you come another way?” I smiled, and told her about my journey that morning, and she laughed. “Well, then you better go back the way you came, so as to retrieve your coat. You don’t want to leave things lying around here, fairies” she said, in a matter-of-factly voice. Realizing she was right, I thanked her for the offer of breakfast and said goodbye as I set off the other way.
When I reached the half way point, on the side I had left the now muddy trench coat, I saw something sticking out of the ground nearby. I had not noticed it there before when I discarded the extra layer of clothing. It was a red rose, just stuck in the ground; no attached vines, like an offering either to or from the Goddess. since I declined one offer already this morning, I decided on the latter and placed it behind my ear as I headed back to the High Street.