nd I will fare to Avalon, to the fairest of all maidens…and she shall make my wounds all sound, make me whole with healing draughts.” – from Layomon’s Brut, translated by F. Madden
In the above quote, the legendary king, Arthur of Britain, addresses the fact that he’s been grievously wounded in battle. His solution: to visit the island of Avalon, renowned for its community of healing sisters, where he will be restored to health. The manuscript goes on to describe how a boat then appears nearby, and several beautiful, mysterious women carry Arthur off with them across the water to the sacred isle. It is believed, even to this day, that Arthur survives in this enchanted place, and he will return when Britain is in its greatest hour of need.
Could there be a more magical story, or a more extraordinary place, than this otherworldly Avalon? If there is, I’ve not yet found it, and it remains the brightest gem in my mind, even though the name Avalon has been usurped by modern companies selling everything from furniture to cars to prescription drugs. Since my teenage years, Avalon represented a mythic place of magic and healing, and no other Valhalla or Atlantis could hold a candle to its glory.
This may be why I chose the name Avalon when I dedicated myself to a solitary Wiccan spiritual path in the early ‘90s. Newly married (and thus liberated from my restrictive Roman Catholic family), I happened upon the book Drawing Down the Moon, Margot Adler’s popular exploration of the Goddess culture and religion in Western society. The revelation and recognition of the Divine Feminine resonated so strongly with me that I did everything possible to learn more and to incorporate it into my life.
Somewhere along the way, though, I lost it. Maybe it was studying mediumship development in a heavily Christianized Spiritualist institution. Maybe it was living in a household dominated by male energy (a husband, identical twin boys, and several male pets). Maybe, in becoming a professional intuitive counselor and healer for other people, I forgot to include that intuitive, healing, feminine energy in my own day-to-day life.
Avalon, that bright beacon of the Goddess, that place of healing that had shone so brilliantly in my mind, was lost in the mists of my mundane world.
And then, I got sick. It started with excruciating chest pains on a Saturday and became three long years of slow recovery. In that first year, I had two invasive procedures, struggles with new medications, and continuing agonizing pain. I endured cardiac rehabilitation, I battled anxiety and depression, and I gained a lot of weight. Three months later, my father passed into Spirit, and that depression started to look more and more like a deep, dark, inescapable hole. I suffered panic attacks, I took more pills, and I gave up my 20-year-old massage therapy practice because the work physically exhausted me. After being a successful business owner, teacher, and writer for most of my adult life, I suddenly felt like I was failing at living.
Dark night of the soul, indeed. Although I never completely lost faith, never totally sank into the confused mire of my mind, I felt as if my purpose had been taken from me. I couldn’t see what I had left to offer to the world, which, I reasoned, somehow made my existence invalid.
If I ever needed the healing magic of Avalon, it was then. And yet it still remained a vague, hazy, undeveloped thought in a corner of my mind.
One day while mindlessly stalking Facebook, I saw a notice about a trip to England. Without thinking, I clicked on it, and I became intrigued by what I found: a tour called A Tarot Trip Through Merlin’s England. My heart, the one that had given me so much trouble over the last several years, sped up in excitement. There were many tantalizing words in that title. Tarot: the divination system I’d been devoted to since age 16. Merlin: a key player in my beloved Arthurian legends, and an enlightened guide that I worked with often in my communications with Spirit. And, England: the country I’d always wanted to visit more than anywhere else on Earth. How could I possibly pass up something like that? The more I read, the more invested I became, and I showed a printout of the trip to my husband that night, worried that he’d think it was too much money to spend on an indulgence like travelling. He surprised me with his interest, and very soon after, we were signed up to go.
On our tour, we saw many sites that are connected to Arthurian legend, including the ruins of Tintagel, where it is believed Arthur was born. We visited Stonehenge and held a deeply meaningful ceremony among the massive, mysterious ring of stones as the full moon set on one side of the sky and the sun rose on the other. That was an amazing experience I know I’ll never forget. But no other place stirred such a resonate feeling of sacred belonging as the town of Glastonbury, specifically the site of the Chalice Well Gardens.
The arbor tunnel at Chalice Well Gardens
Bright and early on a June morning, we visited the Chalice Well Gardens, a beautifully maintained natural area surrounding a free-flowing spring thought to be one of the oldest holy wells in Britain. This spring has many associations with Arthurian legend, one of the reasons I was so excited to see it. It is thought to possibly originate beneath Chalice Hill, an area mentioned in the Arthurian quest for the Holy Grail. According to some stories, Joseph of Arimathea, a follower of Jesus Christ, caught His blood in a chalice during His crucifixion and brought this holy artifact to Britain. Speculation abounds that this chalice is indeed the Holy Grail itself, and Joseph is thought to be buried somewhere under the famous Tor landmark in the Chalice Hill area. Tales also mention Arthur and his most famous knight, Lancelot, resting along the path of a sacred spring, which may be the same one that pours forth at the Chalice Well. Arthur himself and his queen, Guinevere, are honored at nearby Glastonbury Abbey, and many believe he is buried on those holy grounds.
But Chalice Hill and Well have even more ancient associations with the Great Goddess, the Divine Feminine energy connected to the Lady of the Lake in her watery realm of Avalon. At one point in time, Glastonbury was a lake district, some points only accessible by boat or ferry, which makes the legend of Arthur’s death and transport to Avalon even more impressive. If modern-day Glastonbury is indeed the ancient isle of Avalon, is the healing that Arthur sought still available? And how does one access such an extraordinary experience?
Chalice Well Spring Head, where glasses are provided for drinking the healing waters
Water has always been a symbol of healing. Clearly water cleanses, but it’s also believed to bring more than simple physical washing. Many places have been renowned for their curative waters for centuries, the healing energy accessible either by bathing in them or drinking them. Chalice Well Gardens offers both opportunities in different locations along the spring there. Water flows freely and continuously from a spout called the Lion’s Head, where visitors can drink from a provided glass or fill bottles to take away with them. Further along the water’s path, wading is allowed in the Healing Pool. I did both at Chalice Well, but I also took time to meditate and soak in the ambiance near the Chalice Wellhead. This is when something profound happened, something that changed me and set my course for future days ahead.
I’ve been a professional medium and psychic for most of my life, and I’m adept at tuning into the other realms while functioning in this physical one we call home. As I closed my eyes in the Chalice Well Gardens, everything else dropped away—my tour group, my husband, my excitement—and it was just me and my heart, together in the silence.
My heart, the one that had betrayed me, the one that had caused me such pain and grief—I was still so angry with it, for what it had done and for what it had failed to do. But in that moment of stillness, I realized, suddenly and clearly, that my heart hadn’t betrayed me. It had brought me to a new level of understanding, and it was forcing me to continue to change and grow, even if that process was painful and scary. And then, in my mind’s eye, I saw Her. Not clearly, as I see the screen before me while I write this. I saw mist and water and light, and then a silver-white hand that reached out to touch me in the center of my chest. In that moment, I felt peace, deep and true and so resonant my body vibrated with it.
I knew the Goddess had touched me. I knew the stories about Avalon were true. Healing had happened, without fanfare or fireworks, but in a quiet yet resounding moment of insight. The Goddess called me home to Her. I understood then that my path needed to circle back to Her wisdom, to the rich Goddess traditions I’d left behind, to the empowerment of myself and other women who needed to connect with their divine essence. In that flash of thought, my world came alive again. I knew what my work needed to be. I knew what I needed to focus on in my own spiritual path. The rush of passion that followed sealed my conviction. I had come to England, and I had discovered what I needed most: a return to my home, my true self, the Avalon I have always been and always will be.
Avalon is real. It resides both in Glastonbury, England, and in the most intimate part of us, the true soul that yearns for the healing blessings that flow from our connection to the awesome power of the Universe.
May Avalon be yours.