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Tip o' the Week #58 - Mythtory

Dear [firstname]

I am quite certain that I have written about Mythtory before, but I am finding more and more reasons to find this word useful the more I use it.  Mythtory is half myth, one-quarter history and one-quarter herstory.  All of it is true.  All of it is lies.  You make up your own mind.  It is the sum total of what we gnow (a combination of both left brain "facts" and right brain intuitively derived information) about our past.

It is the Glastonbury Mythtory that draws so many people here.  I don't really care if Jesus came here with Joseph of Arimathaea ("And did those feet in ancient times walk upon England's mountains green?" - William Blake), or if Joseph came here again after Jesus' death with his twelve monk/apostles to build the first purpose built above ground church in all of Christendom, or if King Arthur was buried in the Glastonbury Abbey (or even if he existed at all).  All of these are truth, all are lies, all are part of the mythtory that draw seekers here to the Land of Avalon from all over the world.

'In his book "The Past in Prehistoric Societies," Richard Bradley suggests that, 'Monuments lead double lives.  They are built in the present but often they are directed towards the future. For later generations they come to represent the past."  The word "monument" derives from the Latin verb "monere," - to remind.  He investigates the ways in which ancient remains might have been investiged with new meanings long after the original significance has been forgotten.'"1

Glastonbury Maker of Myths Frances Howard-Gordon was my Editor and Publisher of my books Spiritual Dowsing and Labyrinths: Ancient Myths & Modern Uses.  Recently, I have been helping her make a revised version of her wonderful little book Glastonbury, Maker of Myths"2 which she first published in 1982.  Our awareness of our town's past has changed and expanded in many ways since then.             

One example has to do with the path on the side of the Glastonbury Tor that Geoffrey Ashe called a "maze."3  It is now seen as a labyrinth.  (Mazes have high walls, offer many choices, and are left-brain puzzles.  Labyrinths have low walls, have only one choice {Am I going in?}, and are right-brain enhancers used for spiritual awareness or wholistic problem solving devices.)  In 1990, The Year of the Maze, a number of labyrinthophiles gathered together and agreed to differentiate between these two words which there-to-for had been used interchangeably.           
The Glastonbury Tor Maze

In her book, Frances Howard-Gordon writes about Mythtory when she says, "Myths are the backbone of a culture, for are not the reflections on such matters as life and death ultimately more important than chronicles of personalities and events which make up our history books?  And do not these myths, these experiments in ideas, actually influence society and cause events to occur?"4 

Seneca Wolf Clan Mother and Medicine Woman, Grandmother Twylah Nitsch spoke about the "sacred point of view."  As we sit in a circle and look at an object in the centre, we all see it slightly differently.  For example, if it is a book, some will see the front cover, some will see some inside pages, and maybe even some writing, while others will only see the back cover.  Yet we all can agree that we are looking at a book, but will describe it differently.

Mythtory Rewritten

I've always been led to believe that Joseph of Arimathaea was the uncle of Jesus - at least that is the "myth" that had been told here in Glastonbury about their relationship.  Recently, Strode Theatre in Street (the town next to Glastonbury) produced an interesting film that was written and presented by Glastonbury historian Dr. Tim Hopkinson-Ball entitled "Glastonbury - The Untold Story."  At the end of the film, there was a scene of the present rector of St. John the Baptist Church standing next to a scion of Joseph's Holy Thorn tree that is in the St. John's Church yard.  He was asking the assembled children, "What was Joseph of Arimathaea's relationship to Jesus?"  His answer?  "He was his brother." !!

In closing, I was reminded of a quote I heard from Rob Bernheart, a friend of mine who used to live here in Glastonbury:

In general,
I tend to give more credence to myth
than to history.
Myth seems to have less to do with the winning side's propaganda,
and so,
seems more likely closer to reality

Actually, Mythtory is both, but if I had to choose which one was more important to me as a geomancer,

I'd choose myth.
Sig's sig
Sig Lonegren, Geomancer
9 Bove Town
Glastonbury, Somerset BA6 8JE



1. (from: Strong. Commentary. NEARA Journal Vol. 43 Number 2, p 45)  Bradley, Richard. 2002. The Past in Prehistoric Societies. 11 New Fetter Lane, London: Routledge.  ISBN 0-415-27627-6.)

2. Howard-Gordon, Frances. 1982. "Glastonbury Maker of Myths." Glastonbury: Gothic Image Publications.  ISBN 0 906362 42 3

3. Ashe, Geoffrey. 1979. The Glastonbury Tor Maze.  Glastonbury: Gothic Image Publications.

4. Howard-Gordon. p.8