Monday, 1 May 2017


After a 2 hour drive in the rain, I sat in my car at the bottom of Glastonbury Tor. The rain was still running down the windscreen, it was 0450, and 50 minutes to sunrise. I first came to Glastonbury for Beltane sunrise in 1990 and have been coming every year since (except for the year foot and mouth closed the tor, and another year due to illness). It's become a tradition I hold dear. It's an occasion I usually end up attending alone, I have taken people before, and ask every year, though I think people are put off by the time and the prospect of an early morning climb, not to mention the frequent inclemency. The rain still ran down the windscreen as the clock struck 0500 and it was time to start making my way up the Tor. Miraculously as I left the car, the rain abated; over the years I've found it can often be the way. I like to see it as a sign. The rain may have faded, though the tor was still shrouded in damp mist. As I climbed, part of a long line of pilgrims snaking their way upwards, the ghostly form of the tower emerged. I got closer and could now smell incense wafting on the air, and hear drumming.  Inside the tower folk were crammed, noisily welcoming in the morning, the Green Man and the May Queen. It was getting brighter and the tor filled with more celebrants. Periodically the mist would clear to reveal the patchwork of fields and drains which make up the levels, then just as quickly as they appeared they were gone, and we were returned to standing on an island in a misty sea. Most people had gathered to the north of the tower, small groups doing their thing, others just watching the horizon to the east. The combined morris of Cam Valley and Mendip were preparing to do their thing; I've seen them perform every year and in every weather condition...they are hardcore! About the same time as their accordion breathed life into their dance, a group of women began to sing Deep into the Earth. ''Deep into the earth I go, deep into the earth I know, deep into the earth I go, deep into the earth I know, hold my hand sister hold my hand, hold my hand sister hold my hand,  hold my hand brother hold my hand, hold my hand brother hold my hand'', over and over. They began to form a circle and it soon incorporated more and more smiling people. A hand reached out for mine and I joined the now slowly moving line of people as they wove a labyrinth path around the hill top, still singing. I've been coming to these type of things for nearly 30 years, and still I find it hard to let go, I'm too inhibited, though today  my inhibitions were brought down, first meekly, then with more vigour I joined in the song. As the sky brightened and the clouds began to part, the tor was alive with music and activity, it was beautiful and I remembered (as I always do) why I drive through the night to an often windy hilltop for May morn.  The assembled cheered. Once freed there was no holding back the spring sun, who spread his light across our goddess the land, illuminating all.  One of Rollo's druids blew a horn, people whooped and cheered, smiling they stood transfixed on the sight before them.  The green's face says it all. What a wonderful morning. Beltane blessing to y'all, may the seeds of your dreams and desires fall on fertile ground.

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