What do King Arthur and his Round Table; Queen Guinevere (wife of Arthur); Tristan e Isolde and Parzival ( two Music pieces by R. Wagner, German composer); the city of old Avalon; Joseph of Arimathea, Nobilus Decurio (the man who took Christ down from the cross and put the dead body in his own tomb); The Isles of the West and the Roman Tin Trade and tin ingots of Cornwall (an ancient name the Roman Empire gave the British Isles, the furthest West anyone could go in the then known world); Old King Coel (the actual king whose name inspires the children's rhyme -- you know the "merry, ol' soul"); the French Catholic nunery's daily prayers over "Our Lady's Dowery"; The Quest for the Holy Grail; The Royal Charter or The Domus Dei (A.D. 1086)(later corrupted into The DoomsDay Book) of The Twelve Hides (approximately 1900 acres) of tax free land;the poet William Blake, 1757-1827; Chariots of Fire; the Thorn Tree at Washington National Cathedral, Washington D.C.; and even Augustine's letter written to Pope Gregory which reads: "In the western confines of Britain, there is a certain royal island of large extent, surrrounded by water, abounding in all the beauties of nature and necessities of life. In it, the first..."[Don't you wonder "the first" what?] -- But enough, this list could go on andd on!
...E. Raymond Capt's scholarly investigation of the Traditions of Glastonbury are worth listening to.
Here's Karl Jenkin's "Introit" from Requiem 2005, a beautiful musical piece reflecting on The Traditions of Glastonbury, the first Christian church above ground, which according to Augustine, and other church fathers, is where Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived out her final days on earth...
So, my question is: What do all these names and places have in common? How do they all relate to each other?
Inextricably, each has roots to Glastonbury in western England. So what are the Traditions? Well, there are so many! But most of the Traditions center around a handful of people that traveled there to live or simply to visit. People whose legacies are known around the world still today. I'll never forget while studying Literature at the University of Southern California reading about the old poem "Mary, Mary quite contrary... how does your garden grow?" only to further learn that that verse refers to Mary Magdalene whose name is borrowed by the famed Magdalene College, Oxford, England which houses ancient papyri dating from no later than 68A.D.
In his haunting poem from the 1700's (set to the tune Jerusalem by H. Parry in the early 1900's), the English poet -- William Blake asks the question,
"And did those feet in ancient times -- Walk upon England's mountain's green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God -- On England's pleasant pastures seen? " Capt (p 108)
If you ever get a chance to walk the gardens of the Washington National Cathedral, remember to ask one of the grounds keepers to point out the Thorn Tree (which is one of only two cuttings ever permitted from the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey -- the other growing on Castle grounds bbelonging to the Queen of England). Capt (p 88) When I was in Washington D.C. in Sept., 1995, I asked a lady busily preparing for some event if she could direct me to the Thorn Tree's location. She didn't have a clue as to what I was talking about. But when her friend arrived who knew all about the history of the Thorn Tree , the conversation immediately became animated as she told how excited Prince Charles had been on his recent visit to the Cathedral insisting on seeing it. At the very least, visit the Cathedral Homepage and notice the several references to Glastonbury (starting at the High Altar). Check it out!
An interesting fact -- after Gutenberg, inventor of the moveable type printing press, first printed his Bible, the second most popular book circulated on the continent of Europe during that time was a book about The Life of Joseph of Arimathea describing his position as powerful Minister in charge of the secret Roman Tin Mines in the Cornwall region, first century CE.
E. Raymond Capt's 6-Part series on the Traditions of Glastonbury is worth listening to in its entirety...
Going beyond E. Raymond Capt's presentation of the Traditions of Glastonbury, one can find much confusion and strangely drawn conclusions...
Even the recent and very popular book Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln supports the early history of those people identified with Glastonbury having travelled through southern France to reach their destination in Western England.(p 344) Joseph of Arimathea and this band of people have often been considered by some lost to history. Though, until recently, others still sang folksongs about them in the region around Glastonbury .
As E. Raymond Capt, archaeologist, in his Traditions of Glastonbury says, "Consider [them]. They cannot be dismissed as mere fables, for legend is not fiction, nor is truth confined only to that which can be established by documentary evidence. It is a fact that legends and traditions are generally rooted in a basis of truth. In the absence of positive proof to the contrary, there is no reason why one would not accept traditions as having a foundation in fact."
Other Books to Read:
The Drama of the Lost Disciples, George Jowett, former Chariman of the Board of Planning and Development of the St. Lawrence Seaway Project, which was opened by H.M. The Queen of England.
The Coming of the Saints, John Taylor, who writes, "I have not taken upon myself to disentangle history from legend. The modern critic is by no means infallible, and in rooting out the tares, is apt to destroy the wheat also. 'Let both grow together until the harvest'."
Prehistoric London -- Its Mounds and Circles, E.O. Gordon -- details the significance of the Cemetary at Glastonbury Tor
Another interesting link with a remarkable detail about the Washington National Cathedral Thorn Tree is found at the following link: Washington National Cathedral Gardens
And a final interesting experience to view is this YouTube video of the last night of the Proms 2008. Notice the crowds of thousands upon thousands in the Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park as the closing hymns are sung: Jerusalem and God Save The Queen. It is apparent that these two grand songs resonate in the English mind and heart... and notice how it doesn't look as if it matters much that we on-lookers might not believe it.
William Blake, circa 1804
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon Englandís mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On Englandís pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In Englandís green and pleasant land.
I wonder about the history and marvelous Traditions of Glastonbury.In other words, did Jesus grow up as a youth in Glastonbury which is why we know nothing about His early years? Was He taken here under the guardianship of His uncle, Joseph of Arimathea? It this where His mother Mary, lived out her years, also under the care of Joseph? Remember: without this British nation, the Jewish state would not have been regrafted into the Palestine landscape and Jerusalem would not be accessible to all nations.
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