Imbolc 2008 - Glastonbury and Avebury

This page includes reports and photographs from the various events I attended during the season of Imbolc in 2008.

Setting Out On Imbolc Morning

A light caught my eye in a hedge near my house. It was a surprise rising morning Imbolc moon. The bright light pierced through the hedge. It was soon above the hedge and showing hints of the sun to follow.

A rising Imbolc morning moon appears from behind a local hedge

The rising Imbolc morning moon gives a hint of the sun to come about two hours later

Sunrise on Glastonbury Tor

I arrived in Glastonbury to find it pretty cold. I put on my robes thinking I was wearing enough to keep warm. But the Tor is always a surprise and another layer would certainly have been useful - such was the wind chill on this morning. There was no druid event this time so I was able to concentrate on capturing the sunrise. A small group assembled on the Tor to witness the event and while we waited I read and sang my updated Imbolc poetry. We were initially disappointed with the cloudy sky but within the hour the sun had become powerful enough to appear in its full form. I ended up staying on the Tor for nearly two hours, made bearable by conversations with a very interesting local staff maker. And there was great fun when a group of Japanese tourists appeared, each of whom wanted to be photographed with me outside St. Michael’s Tower! By about 9:15 it was time to descend the Tor and head for the White Spring.

On Glastonbury Tor with the first sign of sun in the cloudy sky. Tor Webster looks on

The sun's strength begins to build

The sun's strength begins to build (12x optical zoom on camera)

The sun's strength begins to build (12x optical zoom on camera)

Admiring the strengthening sun

Growing solar power (12x optical zoom on camera)

Growing solar power (12x optical zoom on camera)

The sun from the left of St. Michael's Tower

The sun from inside St. Michael's Tower

The sun has won its battle with the cloud

The sun has won its battle with the cloud

The sun has won its battle with the cloud

The sun has won its battle with the cloud

The Imbolc sun now dominates the Glastonbury sky

Matthew after nearly two hours on Glastonbury Tor on this cold Imbolc morning

Imbolc at the White Spring

For the last two years the group has met in Wellhouse Lane before moving into the White Spring on command. This time the group assembled in the White Spring building and it was soon difficult to get in - Imbolc is one of the big seasonal events in Glastonbury. We entered to the sound of drumming and singing from Jana Runnalls and friends. The doors were then shut and we were left in darkness for two minutes. Gill Atkinson facilitated and talked about the season before there was a knock on the door and a young Bridie entered the building bearing a light. Bethany, daughter of the White Spring’s Lisa Connolly, took on this role. Everyone was given a tealight candle and these were soon lit, bringing much-needed light to the dark building. We then sang traditional songs of the season before processing out into the street and forming a ring around the Chalice Well side doorway. An impromptu song was sung by two people sat near the main White Spring water outlet.

Outside the White Spring with Lisa Connolly and daughter Bethany waiting to play 'Bridie'

Emerging from the White Spring (Photo: Tony Arihanto)

Gathering in Wellhouse Lane

Songs in Wellhouse Lane

Imbolc at Chalice Well

Chalice Well’s Natasha Wardle then introduced herself and asked everyone to file into the gardens, forming two rows and acknowledging each other in the process, Everyone was blessed with water from Sophie and Michelle upon entry. Once this was complete the group moved down to the Vesica Piscis pool. Natasha took everyone through a short meditation before throwing the floor open for other contributions. I dived in first with my Imbolc poetry and others followed with words and song, including minstral Merlin of the Woods who performed as only he can. Natasha rounded off this part of the event with a song of her own. Everyone then processed through the gardens in silence and formed up around the Wellhead. Again Sophie and Michelle blessed everyone with water as they passed through the gates. Water from the red and white springs was then mixed and poured into the Well. With that the group broke up and many people assembled on the main lawn for tea and cakes from the Gardener’s Lodge. And at midday the hardy met outside Chalice Well to begin the annual pilgrimage to Bride’s Mound on the other side of town.

Matthew at Chalice Well. (Photo: mikesey)

Chalice Well Trustee Sophie Knock walks on as a man falls out of the sky :) (Photo: mikesey)

Sophie basks in the welcome morning Imbolc sunshine (Photo: mikesey)

'Bridie' enters Chalice Well, with Gill Atkinson following (Photo: Tony Arihanto)

Poems and songs around the Vesica Piscis pool

Matthew reads his poetry (Photo: Saul Macauley Haines)

Matthew reads his poetry even though his eyes are closed :) (Photo: Saul Macauley Haines)

Matthew reads his poetry with Jaine Raine looking on (Photo: Tony Arihanto)

To the Wellhead for the mixing of the red and white water

The Wellhead decorated for Imbolc (Photo: mikesey)

Afterwards tea at the Gardener's Lodge

Meeting outside Chalice Well for the procession to Bride's Mound

Leaving for St. Bride's Mound

On the way to St. Bride's Mound

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri Imbolc Ritual at Avebury

The Imbolc ritual of the Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri was held at Avebury on 2 February. The weather was cold but with a weak Imbolc sun present for much of the event. The group gathered at the Red Lion and at 14:00 made its way to what remains of the Southern Inner Circle. Conducted by Arthur, the ritual began with the opening of the four quarters. He then talked about the significance of the season, before leading us in three readings of the Druid Oath. Keeper of the Stones Terry Dobney followed with the Druid Prayer. Arthur then entered the circle with his dagger and summoned energy from above and below. It was then time for the first bardic performance, with Jim the Bard of Avebury being invited to enter the centre of the circle to perform a song. Terry’s staff was then used as a talking stick and passed around the circle to allow everyone to say their name and background. Arthur then asked me to enter the circle to read my Imbolc poetry. I moved around the circle with each of the 12 verses, sounding my bowl after each one. I really enjoyed doing this performance. The talking stick then came around again and everyone was invited to make an announcement or to point something out to the group. Terry talked about the perilous state of Silbury Hill, with significant collapse occurring since Winter Solstice. I asked everyone to remember Stonehenge - all the money wasted and the danger of nothing being done or something being lashed up to meet the Olympic deadline. With that the four quarters were closed and the group returned to the Red Lion.

Montage of the complete event

Heading for the Southern Inner Circle

Opening up the quarters

Keeper of the Stones Terry Dobney recites the Druid Oath

Arthur summons energy from above and below

Time for a performance from Jim the Bard of Avebury

Introductions around the circle

Open forum for announcements and points

Arthur begins to round off the ceremony

Closing down the quarters

Closing down the quarters

The Imbolc sun sets on the Avebury stones

The Imbolc sun sets on the Avebury stones


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Page last updated: 24 Jan 2009