A Tor – a burrow- hill- an Olympic image- all magic?
The 2012 London Olympics and the UK have found my email box and phone ringing with questions and translations which I have tried to explain to the best of my ability. The opening ceremonies were “peculiar” in all definitions of the word in my opinion
1. Unusual or eccentric; odd.
2. Distinct from all others.
3. Belonging distinctively or primarily to one person, group, or kind; special or unique: rights peculiar to the rich; a species peculiar to this area.
1. A privilege or property that is exclusively one’s own.
2. Chiefly British A church or parish under the jurisdiction of a diocese different from that in which it lies.
My mother and I had tears for many reasons – a longing for that we find familiar and comforting , the missing, for me, of shared values and culture- I have found myself, as readers know, “all at sea” lately with the culture of crap and control that surrounds me of late. I feel like I need a translator myself even after living over half my life in Lorain.
But back to the ceremonies- the grassy hill where all the flags fly and was an integral part of the ceremony- some announcers refered to it as a TOR and “peculiar” to Glastonbury Tor in Somerset. Wikipedia has also stated this was the Tor used in the opening ceremonies.
PHOTO Source – Daily Mail
Glastonbury Tor – That Strange Hill
The Tor was an islet for centuries, as the floodwaters took a long time to recede. ‘Somerset’ is short for ‘summer settlement’ because the area was too flooded to inhabit in winter. The Tor was called ‘Ynys Witrin’ or ‘Isle of Glass’ (or Isle of Seeing), connected to the mainland by only a narrow strip of land at low tide. The people who recognise it enhance the power of any sacred place. This long period of semi-isolation may have not only preserved the otherworldly nature of the Tor, but also added to its aura of specialness through the eyes of the people.
In archetypal symbolism, hills and high places are like bridges between earth and sky. They represent a link between material reality and the unseen dimensions. The early Celts thought of high places as gods – powerful beings in a world where all nature was inhabited by conscious entities. Roman influence later modified that idea, saying it’s not the hills that are alive, but the gods who live in them. The combination of these beliefs with the special qualities of the Tor made it almost inevitable that Glastonbury Tor would come to be seen as the home of many strange beings.
The earliest group known to move into the Tor was the fairies. In those days, fairies were nothing like our twee pictures of them. They were described as tall, youthful despite great age, and ‘fair’ – ie. beautiful. At that time they were associated with certain constellations – the Pleiades, Ursa Major, and Sirius. They were said to have brought knowledge to the local people, especially about astrology and healing. Different peoples from all over the world have strikingly similar mythologies.
but it is easy to get confused – the hill and the tree seems to be modelled on a special hill – Burrow Hill , Sommerset which is home to one Alice Temperley
“I was overwhelmed watching the ceremony last night,” Temperley told us on Saturday. “I have grown up under Burrow Hill on my parents’ cider farm – a beautiful hill with one tree [pictured left]. It overlooked our family orchards and the moors towards Glastonbury Tor, which features a chapel on its crest – not a tree.”……”The hill was there the whole way through last night and I thought it was magic, just as our mystical hill has been to us all our lives,”
Magic and mystery- a burrow ( such as Burrow Hill)
In a nutshell: before people came to the archipelago we now call the British Isles, a race of intelligent magical non-humans calling themselves (in Irish, anyway) the Tuatha Dé Danann (“the children of the goddess Danu”) lived there. With the arrival of people and their permanent settlements, the Tuatha Dé Danann continued to muck about in the lives of people, but retreated to the Otherworld, their home world, a world still reachable through places such as fairy forts or fairy burrows. (Interestingly, the “gateways” identified in Celtic stories would not infrequently turn out to be archaeologically significant sites dating to the Neolithic period.)
So now maybe those who viewed the opening ceremonies will have a clearer understanding of why the tree rose and the people emerged- all part of a romantic and magical history of the place I called home.
What a pity my new home Lorain no longer has that sense of magic and history to draw upon because we all need a little magic and wonderment in our lives.