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Wednesday, 29 August 2007

The Gigantic Mysteries of Glastonbury Tor

The mysteries of Glastonbury Tor are not only in its legends but have a physical dimension, openly displayed. The hill is presumed natural, but anyone can see that at one time it has been shaped. Around its sides are several tiers of well defined terraces. They stand out most clearly when the sun is low, but can be seen and walked at anytime. It had always been supposed that the terraces were made by early cultivators, for growing vines perhaps.

In 1964 they were seen in an entirely new light by an Irishman, Geoffrey Russell. Twenty years previously he had experienced a vision in which he saw a bilateral figure of concentric rings and understood it to be an image of the brain. Later he came across a diagram of the Cretan labyrinth, as carved on a rock in Tintagel, and recognized it as the figure he had seen in the vision. Labyrinths thereupon became his full-time interest. The subject is notoriously gripping, for the symbolism of the labyrinth is powerful upon a variety of levels. It is generally agreed to be a plan of a journey, a pilgrimage to a world – centre sanctuary such as Jerusalem, and on a deeper level it depicts the pilgrimage of the soul through life, death and rebirth. When Plato in the Republic tells of a journey through the afterworld of a soldier who had been left dead on a battlefield, he describes the path of a labyrinth.

When Russell first saw the ringed terraces on Glastonbury Tor he recognized in them the form of a great three-dimensional labyrinth. A survey was made of the Tor and a model of it was constructed, from which it could be seen that the rings were seven in number and joined up to form a continuous pathway towards the top of the Tor, accurately reproducing the twists and turns of the seven-layered labyrinth which symbolized the classical Mysteries.

A discovery of this scale could not immediately be assimilated by archaeologists and Glastonbury scholars. Moreover, like all discoveries at Glastonbury, it came through revelation, which is not a popular medium among the professors. Yet many discerning people have now accepted the reality of the Tor labyrinth; the evidence for it soberly summarized in a booklet by Geoffrey Ashe, and the plain fact of it can be seen by anyone who cares to follow its winding course up the Tor.

In view of Glastonbury Tor's ancient character as Spiral Castle, centre of the Mysteries, the discovery of a spiral labyrinth around its Tor should not be surprising. The interesting question is when it was constructed. The earliest tribes were wholly concerned with keeping their landscape in the same state of nature as they found it. No doubt they regarded the Tor as a place of initiation, but they are not likely to have engraved marks upon it. The labyrinth, then, must have been carved after the time of settlement, from about 4000 BC. That places it within the age of the giants. It is indeed a typical product of that age. Even though it was always before everyone's eyes, its gigantic scale long hid it from perception. It should perhaps be called the Giant's Maze. (New Light On The Ancient Mystery Of Glastonbury by John Mitchell)