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.
It's the time of year for stumbling across the bright red bursts of colour that heralds Sarcoscypha coccinea, commonly known as the scarlet elf cup, scarlet elf cap, scarlet cup or Fairies' Baths.
After what feels like a long, inhospitable winter, and as Spring calls out "hold on...hold on...I'm almost here!", to come upon the Scarlet Elf Cup is almost an onslaught to the senses. This burst of colour reassuringly reminds us that life isn't always going to be this dreary and dull.
A fungus that grows during the cooler months of winter and early spring, it can be found in amongst the snowdrops in humus rich, damp, deciduous woods with plenty of fallen wood, from which they grow. The contrast of the red elf cups, white flowers and vibrant green moss makes it a very special place to be when awaiting the warmth of spring.
The Scarlet Elfcup, and its close relative the Ruby Elfcup, are considered by some authorities edible as long as they are thoroughly cooked. A few field guides now record these fungi as inedible, and some even suggest that they are 'suspect'.
Sarcoscypha coccinea was used as a medicinal fungus by the Oneida Indians. The fungus, dried and ground up into a powder, was applied as a styptic, particularly to the navels of newborn children that were not healing properly after the umbilical cord had been severed.
Three years of investigation brought the trial to Exeter Crown Court in February 2017. Whilst testimonies were offered up, the jury requested recess in order to process all the pain and horror they had witnessed. On verdict day, as we sat and waited, the victims taking comfort from each other and their supporters, I shared that I have a similar past; sparking the connection only abuse survivors can feel. On the return of the jury, not one of us was breathing. The sharp expulsion of any remaining air was audible when the verdict of the first charge was announced.
"Guilty", said the spokesman.
Followed by guilty on the next fifteen counts. Sat just a few feet away, a bullet-proof opaque glass partition separating us from this pathetic example of a human being, we held each other and wept. The Judge asked if the victims were willing to give an Impact Statement. The prosecutor read these out and my brave, brave friend, stood up in front of all, including the convicted, to read out her own. My friend, you are a warrior and I am so proud to know you.
When it came to sentencing, the judge was clearly saddened in his restrictions. Had the offences occurred in present time, he'd have been able to give life on one of the counts. If the case had needed to rely solely on his offences when he was under-seventeen, he'd have shockingly received even less than he was about to give; the law at that time stating that young people could not be sent to prison. However, Owen was over that age for one of the charges, thus meaning he could be sentenced as an adult and for that, he got 16 years.
Standard sentencing means they serve half, so in reality a sixteen year sentence means only eight years for his crimes. Totalling up the years sentenced on each charge, Owen received 62 years - to run concurrently. Putting a licence on him for parole, meaning he won't automatically qualify for release after half- time and must go before a Board, will keep him away for 10 years as it's not customary to release them at first sit.
It is a very personal decision to bring such matters to the eyes of the law and the public, it takes so much out of us as we endure the experiences and pain of flashbacks; the impact that abuse has had on our lives, there for all to see.
As young men and women, we might have been on the edge of society due to being thought of as 'difficult'. Due to feelings of worthlessness and being out-of-sync with the world, we could well have sojourned down roads of promiscuity, in the need to be 'loved', spiralling into self-destructive patterns, picking abusers as our 'lovers'.
Alcohol and drug abuse are common, Mental and physical health issues are typical. Many abuse survivors resort to cutting themselves - the flow of red blood somehow validating the torture we have experienced, and, in its release into the outer world, pain too hard to bear is discharged for the briefest of moments. Extreme ongoing stress brings about painful physical conditions as our bodies become exhausted and worn out. Finding the strength to carry on is an elusive battle that can be fought over and over again; and sadly, is one that many do not win.
Having our traumas, and their effects, aired in public, is not an easy decision to make. The kind treatment, combined with the respect and admiration of all those involved in the case of Owen Hill, along with the validation and subsequent sentencing has, I hope, offered comfort that will assist his victims in the healing process. I hope their strength might even give other victims an opportunity to use their own voices and speak out.
Our original experiences were harrowing and damaging. Sitting through this case has been equally harrowing, but by all that I hold dear, I have never been more proud of my 'kin' then I am today. I myself can't prosecute my own abusers, they are all dead now, and so this has, in some small measure, allowed me the deep satisfaction that for at least ten years, society is protected from one bit of scum. My gratitude goes to those brave and courageous men and women who put him away.
I'm going to finish with the words of DC Brown;
"I would like to thank the victims in this case for the bravery and patience that they have shown throughout the course of this investigation, which has been ongoing over the last three years and involved the resurrection of two cold-case files from the 1990s. I would also like to thank them for their strength and courage in court during this difficult time.
An NSPCC spokesperson for South West England said:
"These disturbing offences will have caused the victims and their families an enormous amount of distress and we hope they are receiving the right support to overcome these traumatic experiences.
You can read the news report here.
Any adult concerned about the welfare of a child or young person can call the NSPCC helpline for free, 24/7, on 0808 800 5000. Children can call Childline on 0800 1111.
Images below contain links to various organisations that might be of help.
My experiences are as yours - filled with challenges, pain, joy, laughter and love.
The settings of our scenes might be different but along our journey together, we will discover similarities and shared experiences.
Adventure with me for a while, for it is in the Journey, we become One.
High Sierra Winter Solstice
Postcards from America (1)
God's Own Country
An Avalonian Anniversary
..'And did those feet?'
Glastonbury/Avalon of the Heart
Finding Colour in the Grey
Lessons from Morocco
Under African Skies
The Earth Mother
The Glastonbury Unity Candle goes to Knight's Enham