The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown, asserts that the early Church was involved in a conspiracy to suppress notions of goddess-worship, and the sacred feminine.
Well, loving the town of Glastonbury like I do, I'd already heard quite a bit about the idea of the Goddess.
But I was very keen to find out more about Her. So, I headed over to Glastonbury in September 2005 to meet with Kathy Jones who has spent 28 years living in the town, learning the ways of the Goddess.
You can listen to my interview with Kathy by clicking on this audio link:
BBC Somerset Sound's Vic Morgan spoke to Elliot Frisby from Visit Britain about how the release of The Da Vinci Code film could have a positive effect on tourism to Glastonbury. To listen to the interview, click on this link:
Kathy, being the expert that you are, can you explain who or what the Goddess is?
She is the feminine face of the divine. She is the source of all that is, She is the land, She is the earth, She is the sky, She is the heavens.
How long has the idea of the Goddess been around?
|Goddess expert, Kathy Jones|
About 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, the Goddess was honoured throughout the British Isles, and Europe, and most places in the world.
Wherever you find Neolithic remains (standing stones, stone circles, sacred lands), these were all principally dedicated to an ancient Goddess. So, the Goddess was known worldwide a long time ago.
It was only as patriarchal cultures came into the world, and removed the reverence for the earth and the Goddess, that we lost touch with who She is.
How does the Goddess relate to Glastonbury in particular?
The way we find the Goddess in Glastonbury is through the landscape itself, through the shapes of the hills and valleys.
Glastonbury is a town situated on a small group of hills, composed of Glastonbury Tor, the Chalice Hill, Wearyall Hill, Windmill Hill, and Stone Down.
These hills rise out of the flat lands surrounding Glastonbury, and when you look at the shape of them, you can see different outlines from the contours of the hills.
One of the forms that we see is the shape of a giant woman lying on her back on the land. She is the mother Goddess in the landscape.
Is She only found in Glastonbury, or is She elsewhere?
The Goddess is everywhere. You can see beautiful landscapes anywhere, but some places are more beautiful than others. Glastonbury is one of the places She can be more obviously seen, as She's there in the landscape.
Glastonbury itself has always been a centre of pilgrimage, and people of all faiths come here. So, although the Goddess is here in the land, people come because this is a spiritual centre.
There's something very powerful here in the energy of the place itself that draws people.
Would you put the feeling you get when you're in Glastonbury down to the Goddess' presence?
|A view of the landscape from Glastonbury Tor|
I think so, because She's a very powerful presence. Other people would say they come for other reasons.
When I first came here nearly 30 years ago, there was no mention of the Goddess at all.
All the stories about Glastonbury were about male characters. It was a very male tradition here. The awareness of the Goddess has only arisen in the last 20 years or so.
What changed to cause this rejuvenation of the Goddess?
In my understanding, the awakening came from Her. She calls to us to remember Her. Many people, women in particular, are called to come to Glastonbury, to remember Her, to come and be Her priestesses again.
In practical terms, things happened. A sculptor called Philippa Bowers began to create sculptures of the Goddess. We held an art exhibition, in the Glastonbury Assembly Rooms, of Goddess paintings, which was the first time for hundreds of years that this had happened.
I, and others, wrote books and plays about the Goddess too. It's like a lot of factors came together all at the same time.
Do females have more of a connection with the Goddess than men?
Women, men and children are all equal before the Goddess - She doesn't discriminate.
In some ways, it's easier for women to connect to Her because we identify with Her in our form and bodies. We experience Her cycles of life.
But for men, it's equally as powerful. I do a Priestess of Avalon training course which is open to men too, and they have their own personal relationship to the Goddess - there's no difference before Her.
You've co-founded the Goddess Temple in Glastonbury. How did that come about, and what's the aim of it?
|The Goddess Temple in Glastonbury|
In Glastonbury, every summer, we hold a Goddess conference. All kinds of people come together for it - artists, poets, performers etc.
After this had been going for a while (it's now 11 years old) we thought we'd like to be able to celebrate the Goddess in an ongoing way throughout the year, not just once a year.
I've done a lot of travelling, and almost wherever I've been, there are Goddess temples, but they are all in ruins. And I thought how I'd love to go to a Goddess temple that was actually functioning and alive.
We began by hiring a room, decorating it for three or four days as a Goddess temple, holding ceremonies, and then taking it down.
That went on for about 18 months, and then a space became available in the Glastonbury Experience, which is just off Glastonbury High Street, for a Goddess temple.
In 2002, we became registered as a place of worship as a Goddess temple which is the first formally recognised indigenous British Goddess temple for maybe 1,500 years.