Glastonbury has been held to be a sacred place back through the mists of time and is steeped not only in history, but has a rich, deep well of myth and legend. Here, all three have been muddled and often become intertwined so it's a wise head that seeks to work out what is what.
Legends and Glastonbury
A legend usually includes an element of truth, or is based on historic facts, but with 'mythical qualities'. Semi-true stories are passed on from person-to-person and carry important meaning or symbolism within the background from which it originates. Legends often involve heroic characters or fantastic places and often encompass the spiritual beliefs of a culture.
Examples of these in Glastonbury include the story of Joseph of Arimathea, bringing the young Jesus with him and building the first small wattle church. The tales of King Arthur and Guinevere being buried in the abbey grounds, and of St. Collen banishing Gwyn ap Nudd and the fairy realm from Glastonbury Tor, are other examples.
Myths and Glastonbury
Myths are archetypal stories of the human journey through life, based on tradition or legend, which has a deep symbolic meaning. A myth 'conveys a truth' to those who tell it and hear it. Although some myths can be accounts of actual events, they have become transformed by symbolic meaning or shifted in time or place. Myths are often used to explain universal and local beginnings and involve supernatural or special beings. Glastonbury examples are the stories of the wounded Arthur being rowed to the Isle of Avalon, the nine Morgens, and the fairy kingdom of Gwyn Ap Nudd under the Tor.
What's the difference?
Legends and myths can sometimes be difficult to classify and often overlap. Visual a line with an historical account based on facts at one end and myths or cultural folktales at the other; as you progress towards the mythical/folktale end of the line, what an event symbolises to people, or what they feel about it, becomes of greater historical significance than the facts, which become less important. By the time you reach the far end of the spectrum, the story has taken on a life of its own and the facts of the original event, if there ever were any, have become almost irrelevant..
...it is the message that is important.
Don't miss out!
I'd love to keep in touch with you. Sign up here and keep up to date with my news.