Gaye Mack’s Blog


Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Gaye's England, Scotland & Wales, Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology 4 Comments

About a year ago, I posted a blog about one of my most favorite places in England, Glastonbury Abbey, the site of Britain’s earliest devotion to Christianity.  In that blog I mentioned Glastonbury’s famous Tor only in passing.  The truth is that in reality, this ‘hill’ (for the translation of ‘tor’ is hill) deserves so much more as witnessed by the fact that Danny Boyle, producer for the opening ceremonies of the summer Olympics, chose it as a very graphic focal point.

 Reaching back into ancient times, the myths surrounding the Tor are extensive in scope.  From a small guide produced by the Gothic Image, THE bookstore in Glastonbury, we’re told that the Tor has been called, “a magic mountain, the fairies’ glass mountain, a spiral castle, a Grail castle, the Land of the Dead, Hades, a Druid initiation center, an Arthurian hill-fort, a magnetic power-point, a ley-line crossroads, a center for Great Goddess fertility rituals and celebrations, and a converging-point for flying saucers.”

Scientific proof of several of these myths eludes…although it has been established that the Tor is a ley-line crossroad.  As for other suggestions, what I can say is that having climbed the Tor on several occasions over the years, there is something very other worldly about its energy and atmosphere…time and space seem to inexplicably dissolve.  My mentor in evolutionary astrology, Steven Forrest, would no doubt say, it’s  positively ‘Neptunian’!

Rising 518 feet through the (often) misty landscape, the Tor suddenly manifests in the distance as you round an eastbound curve on the A361 outside of Glastonbury…not unlike the sudden appearance of Stonehenge, which stands starkly isolated on the Salisbury Plain.  And like Stonehenge, once you see it, it’s difficult to keep your eyes on the road.

 Among more recent speculations regarding the Tor are those ascribed to a British artist, Katharine MaltwoodIn 1935 Maltwood announced her aerial discovery of a ‘vast terrestrial Zodiac’ revealed through the topography of the Tor and surrounding countryside.  While her claims of zodiacal connections are abstract within the framework of what we think of as the traditional Zodiac, there is evidence that Maltwood had company in making such claims by Queen Elizabeth I’s celebrated astrologer, Dr. John Dee.

 So much has been written about this landmark that even if you never have the opportunity to visit it physically, you can read and let your mind cross the barriers of reality which is exactly why I chose it to play a significant part in my book, “A Conspiracy of Ravens” the second of historical mysteries in my “Flight Through Time” series, currently in production.

 As for the closing ceremonies of the Olympics; I wouldn’t be surprised to find that we haven’t seen the last of Glastonbury’s Tor.

         St.  Michael’s Tower, from which Glastonbury’s last Abbot, Richard Whiting was hanged, drawn and quartered

                                  by Henry VIII’s men for refusing to reveal secrets of Glastonbury Abbey at the time of the dissolution

      Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.


Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain Leave a comment

Aside from the better-known places of legend with their struggles between church and crown, I am also very fond of this island’s offerings that are remote, lending themselves to the active imagination.   The Cornish coast is just such a place.  Not exactly a time saver to get to (maps are deceiving!)… it is a bloody long way down the road from London,(think days…so it seems) but well worth the trip!   Having visited Cornwall a few times over the years(first in 1980), it is one of those places where you just can’t get enough of the land, the sea and the myths!  

Cornwall is ancient, very ancient…it’s energy is ancient and like many places around this island, you can easily fall into time traps…a few years ago, a friend and I (we who consider ourselves pretty savvy travelers) got lost…inexplicably lost, on Bodmin Moor within a very small radius….to this day we have NO idea how this happened….fortunately our OS Map came to the rescue or we might still be there with the faries!

 Myths tell us that the north coastal town of Tintagel is the place where Merlin kept his crystal cave, made so famous in the 1970’s fantasy novels of Mary Stuart(hmmm is she a direct descendant of THE Mary Stuart, one wonders?)  And that  is possibly the location of King Arthur’s Camelot, his birthplace, etc.etc….although the Welsh take exception, the local Tintagel merchants apparently ignore this as Arthur and company are very much alive and well in Tintagel.  


What I can tell you is that the climb up the steep slopes to the remaining  foundations of Tintagel Castle is not for the faint of heart, but like the journey to Cornwall, it’s worth the effort!  The views are spectacular on a clear day…and positively spooky when it isn’t.  I kid you not,  as you look out from a high precipice at the endless scope of blue sea before you, with your feet placed in the stone depression on  the very spot where  legend tells us the Cornish kings were crowned a thousand years ago, you are easily transported back in time! It’s hard to come back to the present.

But Tintagel, Merlin and King Arthur are not all that is Cornwall, by far….You could spend weeks exploring this part of Britain….there are smuggler’s coves dotted with lilliputian inns, Pirates in Penzance (particularly at the Admiral Benbow pub!) sacred wells, (and don’t forget the moors!) standing stones, roads so narrow not to mention so steep in some parts that make Filbert street in San Franciso look whimpy. 

All in all Cornwall is a magical place….perhaps that is why they have their own language and have tried to separate from England for hundreds of years!  If you don’t have a great deal of time, one of the easiest ways to get down there is via fast train from London’s Paddington station (first class is very worth the cost).  The trip is about five hours one way and there is an Enterprise car rental location right at the station…just don’t forget your maps!


 Photography: Cave courtesy of English Heritage


Tintagel Castle & Precipice©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.


Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain Leave a comment

Glastonbury and its once powerful Abbey are arguably among the most enigmatic and mystical sites in England.  The place simply exudes legends, mysteries and improbable lore.  One cannot speak about Glastonbury without the mystical King Arthur immediately coming to mind as well as speculative stories about the Holy Grail, Joseph of Arimathea and of course, the Goddess and Avalon.  It happens to be one of my most favorite sacred sites in Great Britain, one I have visited more times than I can count over the years.  As such, it is no accident that Glastonbury is the chosen location of my historical thriller which is presently making the rounds of literary agent review…time will tell regarding this book’s  future.  In the meantime, no question Glastonbury will be one of the  subjects under my ‘Ancient Legends’ postings as this blog goes forward, for it hosts a wealth of legendary myths and historical facts.  One such historical event  mixed with legend  is that of  ‘The Great Fire of 1184.’

 In a nutshell, for several years before the fire, Glastonbury had been without an Abbot following the death of Robert of Winchester in about 1178(exact dates vary slightly depending on historical source!)  With the absence of a strong Abbot at the helm of this mighty abbey, nefarious machinations for political power and personal gain infiltrated the community.  Additional speculation by royal watchers was that King Henry II was reluctant to name a candidate for the Abbot’s chair as to do so would cut off his direct access to the treasury which he needed for his war with France.  However after much pressure by the monks, he did name a ‘Custodian’ by the name of Peter De Marcy who for various reasons was vehemently hated by the Community.

On May 25th, 1184  fire broke out in the most sacred of the Abbey’s buildings, the Ecclesia Vestuta, or ‘old church’ which  housed the ‘Holy of Holies’,  or foundation remnants  from Joseph of Arimathea’s beehive church dating a thousand years previous; it was also the professed burial site of Mary, mother of Jesus.  The fire happened about nine in the morning, just before the prayer office of Terce.  One historical speculation is that within the Ecclesia Vestuta, the curtain or tapestry hanging over the  entrance to Holy of Holies caught fire from a candle .    From the previous night, the May winds had been unusually high, vigorously fueling the flames.  Regardless of the cause, to the horror of Glastonbury’s monks, their beloved great Abbey and nearly all of its buildings were brought to ground within a matter of hours.  

More than 800 years later, the cause behind this event still intrigues.  In addition to the ‘curtain’ theory, legend speculates it might have been a result of  jealous arson or the intervening hand of spirit ; after all, fire does purify.  If you are planning a visit to England and love the mysterious and sacred mystical, be sure to add Glastonbury to your list of ‘must see’s’.  In addition to the Abbey ruins there is the Chalice Well, the enigmatic Tor and numerous other intrigues within Glastonbury’s legends.  Located in Southwest England, the town of Glastonbury is approximately 12 miles to the south of Wells…site of a very famous cathedral!  

Photo©2011 Gaye F. Mack