The Sacred Landscape

The Body of the Great Mother

          The Isle of Avalon has existed not in one place, but in many places over time.  Tradition tells us that the first Avalonian Order existed in a Sacred Landscape defined by nine archetypal sites, each of which contained variations on the same archetypal features:  a Tor (a 'hollow hill' representing the World Mountain, Tree, or axis mundi); Cave (or interior of a barrow mound); three sacred Springs (red, white, and black/grey); Ringstones, Menhirs, or Holey-Stones; Processional Ways; Paps or Birthing mound; underground Passageways connecting different parts of the site and leading to a central temple at the root of the axis mundi; an Eternal Flame; Mounds housing the Isle's Sister and Brotherhoods; a Lake or Summer Sea surrounded by Marsh or Level Plain, and a Star Temple or Landscape Zodiac.  These features, which radiate Avalon's signature energy, may be on a modest scale and compressed into a small area, or they may be on a grand scale sprawling dozens of miles across the landscape,  but they are always present, so it is important to learn to recognise them.

"Midsummer Sunset" by Alan McKenzie ​​

Features of Avalon's Sacred Landscape

"Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake)" (2004) by Chris Downer

The Tor: The Spine (Hollow Hill or Axis Mundi)

          The Tor represents the Axis Mundi, often represented as the World Tree or Mountain.  As such, it is always located at or near the centre of the megalithic complex or regional site.  The axis of the hill is a portal between worlds.
"Knowth" (2005) by Przemysław Sakrajda (cropped, textured) {{ GNU}}  
"Peche Merle Grotte, Lot, France  [Reproduction] {{ PD-1923 }]}

The Sacred Stones:  The Crown  (The Summit/The Upperworlds)

          Oral tradition and folklore attest that the ringstones which once crowned the Tor were torn down and incorporated into the foundation of the ruined St. Michael's tower --all but two, that is, which still mark the entrance to the Tor labyrinth.  With the tower still in place, proving such claims is extremely difficult.  However, ringstones usually centre on one or more cairms, and the remains of a cairn are evident atop the Tor.  Though the recent, severe erosion of the summit and parts of the terraces (such as the entrance to the Tor cave) has left its position off-centre, local legend claims this cairn as being the burial place of the last Lady of Avalon.  (It is certainly too old to be the burial place of medieval abbot.)  The cairn of such a powerful adept would have made the ideal ritual centre for Celtic and later Avalonian ritual ceremonies.



The Cave:  The Root  (The Cave of Initiation/The Underworlds)

          The Cave or chamber at the base of the axis mundi corresponds to the Cauldron of Wisdom, which actually occupies the Three Cauldrons (Warming, Motion, and Wisdom), but expresses differently through each.  While it is chiefly associated with the root or foundation, the precise location of the cave in relation to its axis mundi determines the Cauldron with which it is chiefly aligned.  The Tor cave, halfway up the south side of the hill, is marked by an 'egg stone'; it's location near the centre of the axis indicates that it corresponds to the Cauldron of Motion (or 'Vocation'), and would therefore have been used by the ancestors for the vigils associated with Dreams of Calling.


The Sacred Springs:  The Orifices (Red, White & Black/Grey)

          The site at Glastonbury, Somerset ("the Summer Country" or "Land of the Summer Stars") has a total of nine springs, three of which are known to have been considered sacred:  the Red Spring (or "Chalice Well"); the White Spring; and the Ashwell Spring.  Two of these are still regarded as sacred; the third now lies at the centre of a traveller's encampment.  The Red Spring is named for the rust deposits left by its high iron content; the White for its calcium content; and the Black (Ash) Well for a sacred ash tree which once flourished beside it (though it is actually ash coloured where it briefly runs across Ashwell Lane).  These colours, which typically symbolise the Great Goddess, are central to the alchemical symbolism of Avalon.

The Processional Ways:  Songlines & Spirit Ways (East and West)

          There are two Processional Ways in Somerset:  the masculine avenue, which now runs east from Chalice Well up the west side of the Tor, but likely originally began at Bride's Mound or Beckery; and the feminine avenue, which runs west from the two giant oaks, Gog [incinerated in April of 2017 by a carelessly placed tea light] and Magog, up the east side of the hill.  Both are extensions of the Michael and Mary Ley Lines, which coil around the Tor's flanks and summit.  Masculine-aligned oaks once lined the women's avenue, while feminine-aligned yews lined the men's avenue.  This pairing of opposites affirms the use of the site for the highest forms of ritual ceremony, since only accomplished adepts work with the exalted opposite (the polarity or gender opposite their own).  
[See also, 'Trackways', below.]

The Mount(s):  The Paps or Navel

          The pregnant belly of Glastonbury's Chalice Hill and the Paps of Byanu (at left: Mynydd Bodavon, Wales; twin of the Paps of Anu, Cill Airne, Ireland) evoke the fruitful Mother Goddess who dominates all Avalonian landscapes.  The 'belly' represents spiritual evolution, while the 'paps' represent giving and receiving spiritual nourishment.
"Mynydd Bodavon" by Keith Williamson

The Passageways:  The (Re)Birth Canal

          Tunnels or passageways connect the subterranean ritual cells or chambers underlying each feature of an Avalonian megalithic centre. The tunnels converge at a vaulted chamber beneath the site's axis mundi (the World Mountain or Tree).  The resonance created by toning and chanting was a powerful way to activate the site's (and the region's) spiritual power.  Trackways mapped the tunnels above ground, and provided convenient ceremonial paths across an otherwise difficult landscape.

The Lake or Inland Sea & The Marshlands or 'Levels':  The Belly (The Lake Village)

          The ancestors never built dwellings on their ceremonial sites; their settlements skirted the edges of the sacred precincts; clusters of pole-houses, dotting the marshy meadows between the ritual areas and the surrounding woodlands, connected to each other by wooden trackways which ended abruptly at the Summer Sea.  These lake villagers were the Tribes of the local Druids, who poled the Barge and supported the Holy Isle by supplying it with labour and goods in exchange for the Druids' services.  These settlement trackways were cut off from the sacred precincts by the Summer Sea, which receded in winter, leaving behind a treacherous, impenetrable bog.  This liminal area is the physical equivalent to 'the aethers'; the dangerous no-man's land through which one passes when crossing from this plane of existence to the Otherworld during Dreaming (spirit journey).

The Eternal Flame:  ​The Heart (The Fires of Brígantia)

The Triple Flame:  Wisdom, Inspiration, Justice
          Bríga's Flame is located at her Fire Temple in Cill Dara, at Bride's Mound and in the Upper Room of Little St. Michael's at Chalice Well, Somerset.  The Eternal Flame is usually located at or near the Wellspring, as together they represent the Heart and Navel; the Sacred Centre of Avalon's Sacred Landscape.  A Priestesshood of nine (later nineteen) Avalonian Priestesses tend the Flame, with Bríga herself taking the last watch.
          The Eternal Flame is said to be tripartite with different meanings attributed to each flame or aspect by different regions.  In Ireland, the Flames represent the 'cloister' (the centre of the Order), the hearth (the centre of the home), and the community or festival (the centre of ceremony).  In Wales they represent the forge (justice), the hearth (wisdom), and the head (Awen or inspiration).

The Star Temple or Landscape Zodiac  (The Wheel of Ages & Seasons)

The Trackways:  Spirit Ways

          It is not uncommon for trackways (and later roads) to form part of these effigies.  The are created by digging to enhance the outlines of the effigies, and become convenient ways to continue accessing them without having to tread over them.  ​[See also, Processional Ways, above.]
          The purpose of a Star Temple is to create a pilgrimage path through the stars which can be walked on the Earth; reducing a transformational journey of many lifetimes to a size which can be easily incorporated into regular contemplative and ceremonial practice.  Glastonbury, Kingston-upon-Thames, 'The Lizard' (Cornwall), Bodmin Moor, Pumpsaint, Nuthampstead, and Sheffield all boast Star Temples (terrestrial Zodiacs) of varying sizes and configurations. All are places where existing landscape effigies mirroring the constellations of the Zodiac have been recognised and enhanced by generations of locals.

          Even without our lore, there is ample evidence of local knowledge of a Star Temple in the Somerset landscape dating from earliest times. Ancient place names corresponding to its celestial features, and the testimony of occultists such as Dr. John Dee (astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I), who visited and charted the site several times around 1580, all attest to an antiquity long predating the arrival on scene of Katherine Maltwood or Mary Caine.
"Temple of the Stars" (1934) by K. E. Maltwood  {{PD-US-not renewed}}

Summary

          We learn the Sacred Landscape first through our healing studies and work, since these focus on a landscape with which we are already intimately familiar:  that of our own bodies.   Just as different body systems serve different body functions, so different Regional Centres and Sacred Sites serve different ritual functions.   The assignment of these functions is determined by the inherent energies of the location and its interplay with the stars above.  This is as true of the place where you live, as it is of Avalon's Motherland; the only difference is that sacred places amplify these qualities and compress them into a space and time where we can more easily see and understand their influence upon our lives and destinies.  This process of being shaped by the land is called the Landscape Initiation.

          Since every Avalonian site includes all of these archetypal features in some form and configuration, we study them in the simplest form possible.  The landscapes of Somerset and Wiltshire offer us the most compact systems for study. Once we know these systems, we may examine those designed on grander scales; ultimately, engaging in comparative studies of all three ancient Avalonian Orders in the Isles, Western Europe, and North America. Our object in undertaking this work is to apply ancestral wisdom and methodologies authentically and appropriately to the places we now live in order to discover the land's inherent qualities and its hidden potentials, so we may work with them more effectively in the course of our spiritual practices.  Ynys Afallon's three regional centres (Ynys Witrin/SW UK; Ynys Môn/Central UK, including Mona, Wales, and the Gododdin or Lothians, Scotland; and Inis Druideach/N Scotland from Calanais to the Orkneys) have already been re-activated and renewed by Avalonians who are resident to those areas.  Others are working to restore Ynys Afallach (the Order in Western Europe), and we are working to re-activate and renew the Order where we reside, Ynys Afallenia (or 'Avalonia' in North America).  Re-activating the Orders is a way of resanctifying the land, and reaffirming our bond with Sovereignty, while deepening and accelerating our spiritual evolution.



[ NOTE:  Visit the " Avalon in America " page of this website and the Aspirant board of our Member Forum  for evidence which supports oral tradition lore about Ynys Afallenia and information about the Tribes which members have received during Shared Dreaming. While this is by no means all of the evidence, these pages offer clues on where to to find it. Academics and scientists seldom reach consensus quickly when new data and information emerges, especially when it contradicts long-held assumptions and beliefs, and papers upon which professional reputations have been established. Therefore, look beyond the opinions to the actual evidence across a variety of authoritative sources on both sides of the argument, and let the entire body of evidence inform your own judgements.