Samhain, the Celtic New Year, when the veil between the Worlds is thin, in Glastonbury it is the time for honouring our departed ancestors and loved ones. This is achieved through a public ritual of dressing up, dancing, drumming, and processing from Glastonbury’s Market Cross led by two huge dragons, one red one white, all the way to the Fairfield on the lower slopes of Glastonbury Tor. It’s a fantastic spectacle which brings lots of visitors to the town. This Samhain Celebration in Glastonbury was on Saturday the 4th of November 2017, the Wild Hunt is coordinated by the Glastonbury Dragons, who also have a procession during the Beltane festivities in the town.
In most of the rest of the Western World, this yearly event is celebrated as Halloween, it’s a trashy commercial affair which sees the supermarket aisles full of orange and green plastic, and children dressed as horror movie characters standing on doorsteps demanding sweets with menaces.
In the morning The Yorkshireman and I went to the Lazy Gecko cafe for an excellent breakfast of Eggs Benedict and coffee. Across the road we spotted a very cute gnome couple hand in hand. Chatting to them later I discovered they were visiting from the Netherlands and although their clothes weren’t traditional Dutch dress they were inspired by the Gnome books by Dutch author Wil Huygen and illustrator Rien Poortvlie (who have claimed that parts of the book were written by a Gnome called David – Normal for the Netherlands I guess). After breakfast we headed over to the Market Cross where the Vikings from Avalon Axes were posing for photos and the Glastonbury Border Morris were gathering. There was a costume competition, some excellent shouting from David our wonderful Town Crier, much greeting of friends and some banging of sticks.
Here are my videos and photos of the day’s events, hover over the photos to learn more or click on them for a larger version. If you enjoy them please share on social media.
Drumming and Dancing on the Market Cross
The Procession Begins
Gathering at the Fairfield on Glastonbury Tor
The more ritual elements of the day took place on the lower slopes of Glastonbury Tor, where a fire was lit and prayers offered to the ancestors. unfortunately, my phone battery died so I have no photos of the rather spectacular sunset that marked the end of a perfect day in Avalon, or the fire spinning that lit up the night sky. Besides, I left soon after sunset for a nice cup of tea and a sit down.
Partying Like Vikings
In the evening we headed to a party with the Vikings, where much mead was consumed and some simple games were played, which all involved the strong possibility of injury. The following pictures were taken with my phone in low light, so please forgive the quality. Check out the video for some wonderful Monty Python style silliness.
Avalon Axes are available for hire for Axe Throwing Workshops at Reenactments, Outdoor Events, Festivals and Parties.
Enjoy this post?
Then you’ll love my books – ‘Normal For Glastonbury: Life in England’s Most Magical Town’ and my ‘Crap Views of the Tor’ Postcard Book.
For more of ‘this sort of thing’ join the We Are Normal For Glastonbury membership site, for exclusive content, a comprehensive guide to making the most of your visit to the town, a personalized membership certificate, discounts from Glastonbury businesses, a members’ forum and blog page where you can post your own writing and photos. You’ll also be supporting me to carry on writing about and photographing Glatonbury Town and its wonderful creative community. Membership is only £20 a year. Click here to find out more: We Are Normal For Glastonbury.
You can also subscribe to Normal For Glastonbury by email, follow the Normal for Glastonbury