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FOI Online Liturgy
Booklet: Athena, Arcadian Awakening
By: Olivia Robertson

Printable PDF File

Chapter 9: Glastonbury

ALCHEMICAL RITE
PART ONE: THE NARRATION
“WEEP! THE GODS WEEP WITH YOU!”

HOSTESS IN GLASTONBURY, GWENYTH VIVIENNE. SCENE IN A RUINED CHAPEL BY THE RIVER CAM. VISITANTS:  PATH GUIDE: ELAINE. HELPER: AIDEN. ORACLE OF THE VISIONS: DEIRDRE.

ELAINE: Gwenyth, you have a prestigious career in the London Diplomatic Service.  You have just bought this chapel, relic of the Reformation and this piece of land where you have planted apple trees.  Why have you sent the Druid Clan of Dana an urgent plea for help?

GWENYTH: Because in Eire you have managed privately to keep your connection with the Nature Deities, the Sidhe.  In Scotland and Wales the moralistic reformation has thrown out magic, sacraments, icons and any connection at all with Faeries, spirits, Deities and spirits of ancestors.  I was brought up as a non-conformist in North Wales to believe that when you died you either went to heaven or hell, with no intermediate state or hope.

AIDEN: I was taught much the same thing in my liberal upbringing.  Only we had no heaven or hell – just extinction when dead.  Not a Deity or Faery existed – they were hallucinations brought on by madness or drugs.  The first sign was to hear voices.  The last sign was vision, and then you really were classified as clinically insane if you took these seriously.

ELAINE:  I had the same sort of training.  I found to safeguard my natural psychism I had to keep quiet about it.  I only opened up when I met Aiden and others like us.

AIDEN:  We used the safety camouflage “Bohemian”.  Artists were allowed to be eccentric.  We could write and speak of Divinity – because this was “art” – therefore fiction.

ELAINE:  It really seems we are giving the narration for Gwenyth!

GWENYTH:   My experience has been far more than yours.  I was brought up by my parents who were both ardent atheists.  To them religion was a cast off remnant of evolution.  Science showed us the correct modern way.  They really did give me and my brother a good life.  We had the best schools – my brother went to prep and public school and university, and I was sent to a co-educational establishment that insisted on the absolute equality of the sexes.  They carried it to such extremes that we all wore trouser suits of the same shape and colour.

There was one fact that disturbed me.  Yes, we were all of one sex – but it was masculine!  We all had one religion – none. We all had the same moral code – none.  We just obeyed the law of the land which our elders kept altering to suit themselves – we were Establishment.  We could change things and we did.

We aimed for a unified population that was intelligent, with the same cultural way of life.  Yes . . . And I found it profoundly dull.

There was a curious dichotomy in my life.  For during the day I worked in caring for abused women and children – but in the evening I took off my worn working clothes and changed into smart clothes with appropriate jewellery.  “Breaking boundaries” in my social world referred to cricket.  “Appropriate” had a sinister meaning in my work and “Boundaries” in Care Work did not apply to cricket.  Disraeli once said that in England there were two nations – the rich and the poor.  Now there were two different types of humans:  Those who could control computers and the millions who were ruled by them.  Through computers they were fed or let starve, be taken into care or left to be abused. As long as I filled in forms I needed no conscience.  Everything was filed.

ELAINE:   We read of such happenings every day.  Humans are evolving into machines and live virtual lives.

GWENYTH:   But people cannot live on virtual food and drink.  This I found out in a terrible way.  It was a bright day in October and I planned to meet some well-thought of scientists at a dinner-party in Knightsbridge.  I would wear a sophisticated black dress and do my hair up to show my new opal earrings.  That morning I was visiting a Care Home for elderly women and felt pretty exhausted.  I work long hours.  As I left the final ward I heard someone call me in a weak voice.  Impatiently I turned round.  At the end bed was an old woman.  I don’t remember having noticed her before.  Now she was leaning out of her bed, her right arm stretched frantically towards a cup on her locker.  Her mauve dried lips were moving but she could not reach the cup.  I decided to give it to her, but it only contained an old used teabag.

The woman was dehydrated.  I felt icy cold.  She had fallen back on her pillow and lay motionless, still gazing at the cup.  I sent for a Doctor as an emergency.  Meanwhile I sat on her bed, my legs shaking.  I feared she was dying of thirst.

I found that I was copying the woman by also staring at the cup.  It began to change.  It looked smaller and made of some organic material, like a segment of a cow’s horn.  It had over it a small lid and I found myself thinking:  “That’s to keep off flies!”  I was in shock as I was violently struck by a glowing fire in my heart.  I knew what the cup was.  It was the Holy Grael!

I was overcome by weeping shaking my whole body.  I wept aloud like an Irish widow keening.  I wept for the old woman and for my own dead mother and for all I knew who suffered from cancer and abuse and fear of pain and death.  I was unable to stop.  People were beginning to stare at me.

As I wept I rose above the earth and gazed at the pale face of the moon shining like a silver orb through the cup.  I saw a Fairy Thorn which was warmed by a dragon’s fiery breath in the centre of the earth.  The tree was nourished by the watery atmosphere.  Its white flowers were the stars.  I entered ecstasy.

Suddenly a doctor was touching me on the shoulder.  He said “I am told you are the patient’s Care Worker.  You need a rest.  I too have drawn water from the Well of Tears at the World’s End.  Go to Glastonbury.  There you will find your true Vocation as I did.”  When I rose to my feet and looked around, the Doctor was nowhere to be seen.  In his place a brisk younger Doctor with his iPad came up and said: “I will take charge now.”

And so now I seek for the Bliss I found when I saw the Holy Grael in the hospital.  Here I am in Glastonbury where the Doctor said I should visit.  Yet I have found nothing spiritual in the famous tourist sites.  I must discover the True Grael again.  Can you help me?

DEIRDRE:  To accomplish this I am told from Spirit that we need to invoke the Cailleach, She Who Weeps.

ELAINE:  At dawn we shall assemble in this Chapel, which is not as ruined as it appears.

PART TWO: ALCHEMICAL RITE
THE MYSTICAL ISLE OF AVALON
“WHERE YOUR HEART IS, THERE IS YOUR HOME.”

IN A RUINED CHAPEL IN GLASTONBURY THE ALCHEMICAL PARTICIPANTS ARE ASSEMBLED.

THE CHAPEL LOOKS GLORIOUS WITH SILKEN BANNERS PAINTED BY MEMBERS SHOWING CELTIC GODDESSES AND GODS, AND THE AIR IS RICH WITH INCENSE. THIRTEEN CANDLES ARE LIGHTED. IN THE NORTH, IN A SHADOWED RECESS, LIES DEIRDRE OF THE VISIONS IN TRANCE. SHE IS COVERED WITH A MISTY VEIL. AIDEN IS IN FULL ROBES WITH HIGH MITRE OF MANANNAN OF THE OCEANS.

AIDEN:   I invoke the God Manannan Mac Lir, Son of Lir of Space, Deity of the Mighty Oceans and All Waters, right down to the smallest teardrop shed by a little monkey in fear of vivisection in a laboratory.

ELAINE (ROBED IN THE VIOLET AND BLUE OF THE MORRIGAN)In the sacred Name of the Morrigan, Maiden, Queen, Cailleach, the Widow, I pray for the Oracle of An Cailleach, She Who Weeps.  I pray for the lost, the lonely, and the abused.

ORACLE OF AN CAILLEACH, THE WISE ONE

Rather should you pray for the abusers!  For every small child tormented by the stupidity and egotism of elders is blessed in the Spirit Realm.  Each victim is welcomed by the Sidhe of earth, air, fire and water, and by those humans who have longed for children and yet been denied them on earth.

But the abusers find themselves once more bound to Manannan’s Wheel of fatal cause and effect.  In the circling of the zodiac, all that has been done for good or evil bears fruit in many lives of lost souls, either on earth, or in other planets.  It is they who need help.

In the revolving spiral of time and space, I manifest as Youth and Creator and Wise Woman.  And so does my Consort Manannan.  To attain the Great Awakening which all seek, first blindly, then with passion, you need to place yourself in the centre of the Wheel of your Destiny.  Then you will rise above the wasteland of cruelty and stupidity and see that each being on earth has chosen an individual path. Finally each being attains the Centre of Reality that seems so far * * * and yet is under your own feet!

AIDEN:   We give thanks to the Goddess An Cailleach for Her Wisdom.

ELAINE (TO GWENYTH):   I shall be your Guide in this mystical Labyrinth of the Wheel if you accept me.  If so, tell me what you truly desire!

GWENYTH:  I have a life-long nostalgia for the lost island of Avalon for its charming inhabitants, who do not show themselves to me.  I would give my life to reach the Land of Heart’s Desire.

GWENYTH IS LED TO A COUCH BEFORE A LIGHTED ALTAR. SHE IS ALREADY HALF IN TRANCE AND IS TOLD TO KEEP ENOUGH CONSCIOUSNESS TO GIVE THE COMPANY HER REPORT.

TRANCE JOURNEY

GWENYTH:  This is so beautiful!  At last I have Vision.  It is just what I have always dreamed of.  My hair hangs down and I am wearing a robe of blue that is fluttering in a soft breeze.  Oh, I could rest here!  Perfect youths and maidens are in the distance, like a Pre-Raphaelite painting – so that is what artists saw in visions!  And now I can see. They are floating on a shining river in a boat – there are other boats in the distance and to my joy they are sailing towards a mysterious island half hidden by mist.

A small group beckons me to a gilded boat with purple perfumed sails.  Usually I don’t like bank holiday crowds with jolly people showing their teeth in silly laughter.  I like these people.  It must be the future, when everyone will be cultivated and have perfect bodies – no obesity. They have a sweet seriousness and can read my thought.

“Come with us, Vivienne,” says a maiden with long golden plaits. "Your time has come.”  Suddenly I feel doubtful.  Shall I go or stay and have a well-earned rest?

I know that if I lose this opportunity to travel into the unknown, it will never occur again and I shall live a quiet but uninteresting life.  So I get into the boat – it glides swiftly and I become aware of swans flying in a V formation above.  I feel vaguely holy, like a Burne-Jones angel, with “Lohengrin” music – yes, I too come from distant lands where shines the Holy Grael – I am getting sleepier and notice we all have reddish hair – why did that girl call me by my second name, Vivienne?  Wasn’t she a witch?

I decide not to risk this voyage – I try to get out of the boat – but the maidens hold me with jewelled arms. 

As our boat approaches the lovely beach of the Island, fringed by oak, apple and thorn trees – there is a sudden gale that bends the trees.  I am whirled below into the sea and find I am drowning.  Frantically I reach for help but my hand is caught in a tangle of red hair.  I drag myself free – it is only seaweed – and find I am sinking into an underground cave.  So here I shall find the Well of the Mysteries.  I surrender myself with faith.

I have never been so shocked!  I am not in the depths of the mystical Isle of Avalon.  This is not sacred at all.  I am precipitated into the dinner-party which I had rejected after my Grael vision.  The scientists and writers are seated around an oak dinner table with placemats.  On the walls are oil paintings of distinguished persons. “So here is our latest Avalonian Dreamer,” says a clever looking man with a beard. 

An elderly woman in the robe of a University Professor looks me up and down and says:  “She has not had the time to change into her latest black model gown.  But she still wears her opal earrings.  One would expect that.”

A plump lady with red hair takes off her shawl and puts it round me.  “Don’t mind them,” she says in a warm voice.  "You know they like holding forth on metaphysics, and you enjoy listening to them.  A perfect arrangement.”

To my intense relief my own Doctor – the one who told me to find the Well speaks.  But my heart sinks at his words.  “She did not weep for the old lady,” he says, “but for herself.  Her overwhelming guilt was to be exposed.  We see now why the word 'charity' was dropped in favour of 'Care'.  They’ll have to find another word now.  'Care' means 'cruel'.”

I burst out:  “You are as bad.  Why don’t you talk to me and not about me while I stand here?”

“Was this not your method?” asks the Doctor.  “You were the Dominant and 'the patient' was the Subject.”

Despite myself I begin to be interested.  “You can apply this Dominant and Subject to empires and states.” I say.  “And to families . . . babies are blocked by the dominant culture, and are blocked into submission.  As humans we have power of life and death over our 'pets'.  Humans are the tyrants of all nature.”

Again this strange swirling motion overcomes me, as if a mighty wind is tearing across the dinner-party.  “I won’t stay here and endure bullying,” I say, “even if you rule the Establishment with your power.”

I am struck by Lightening.  White light strikes my forehead – I have a star in my head.  The dizzy swirling slows down and I am above the earth.  In the centre is a hill and round it a strange landscape is rotating.  I find the Doctor is standing by me.  This time he is not in a dinner-jacket but wears a white Druid robe.  He says “Many call me Merlin.  I have many names on many planets.  I meet the pilgrims at the Threshold when they dare attain a wider consciousness.”

I ask:  “What is this landscape that I see below us?”  Merlin says:  “You see around us the true pattern of space and time, ever changing with the pulse of life.  Here is the real Glastonbury with its Michael’s Mount.  Around is the pattern of the land going back through the ages – from iron to space age.  What I wish to show you is the path of human revolution and the destiny which is already there in Divine reality.  Now your heart centre is awakened, you need to beware of obsession, which can delay your Awakening.”

“What obsession?” I ask.  “Tell me and I will avoid it.”  Merlin laughs.  “Ah-  if it were only that easy, all suffering and evil would be seen for what it is - self delusion, created by ourselves. For instance, I will show you pictures of this land and see if you are in danger of identifying with the transient and so losing eternity.”

I find myself alone in a vast weeping crowd.  We are at the foot of the Tor. The people look pretty poor with shabby home-made clothes and I notice their bad teeth.  Why are they weeping?  Then more important people arrive on horseback or carriages.  They have a feeling of power and the people shrink away from them.  I am about to witness an execution.  A quiet man is taken forward and I watch his death after such horrible torture that I shut my eyes.  I know who he is – the Abbot of Glastonbury.  I keep telling myself this is only history.  I feel profound sorrow.

The scene changes, but the story is the same.  I see primitive people offering human sacrifice to the Gods. The Gods look on.  The human indifference to suffering I witness in later centuries, in their acceptance of the slave trade by otherwise kindly families who have decided that they can do nothing to stop it, in fear of losing their livelihoods if they speak out.  And I think:  “I always liked those I took to be good natured, kindly people, but now I despise them.  They won’t jeopardise their comfortable lives by intervening and so angering their neighbours.”

Two centuries later I see a city being bombed.  I know it is Bristol.  Its centre is flattened out.  People, animals and buildings are reduced to dust.  I recognise the same Gods and Goddesses as before, calmly looking on.  And I begin to see the connection.  As we sow, so do we reap.  This is the Law.  If the Deities were to intervene, they would also be Dominants ruling over human subjection.        

Then to the dying wailing of an air-raid siren, I find I am whirling through the labyrinth of time and space again – back to Merlin and the hilltop.  “You have passed the Test,” he says. “You have faced the truth.  The Gods only intervene when inspired by the Divine Spirit.  Although you hate evil, you care for people and animals whether they behave well or badly.  You maintain the balance of your work for true Charity through feeling and honesty of mind.  Your sense of humour saves your sanity.”

“Why then do I need help from these Alchemists?” I ask.  Merlin replies: “Because, although you are balanced, you lack inspiration, the White Dove of the Divine Spirit.  Without Divinity you are exiled from Eternity.  Eternity is not infinite length.  It is Now.”

I find I am rising above Avalon and the planet earth and I become aware of our starry galaxy.  Through the Tor and all other sacred hills on earth are connected with the great channel leading to the spiritual centre of the galaxy. 

So what do I truly want?  I only want to know how I can help the old woman I neglected.  I am back in the dinner-party.  Merlin stands by me and the members are collected at a round table and on it are glasses and cups, some valuable and some cheap.  A tall stately woman addresses me.  “This is the Feast of the Gods,” she said “and all may partake.”  I look round.  Here is Manannan and Grainne, and Cerridwen and Taliesin – and I recognise famous artists and poets, and those who are great but unknown to fame.

“Your true prayer is heard,” says the Lady, and she rises into celestial heights, surrounded by the stars.  “I am the old woman in the bed, An Cailleach, She Who Weeps.  Give me to drink of the Grael, and you will forgive yourself.”  She lifts her right arm and it becomes the withered arm of the old woman.  I am once more in the Care Home.  She is reaching towards the cup.  I know what to do.  I reach for the cup and I pick out the teabag, now sodden with my tears.  I gently ease the old lady back onto the pillow and I squeeze the strong tea upon her dry lips.  She smiles and then she falls asleep.

GWENYTH VIVIENNE SLOWLY RETURNS FROM TRANCE.  THE LINES OF CARE ON HER FACE HAVE VANISHED. SHE SMILES AND JOINS IN THE THANKS TO THE DEITIES.  THE COMPANY SHARES REPORTS. 

GWENYTH: I have found that She Who Weeps also smiles.

End of Rite.


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