Thursday 20 July 2017

The Island of Glass ~#FolkloreThursday #Myths #Legends #England

Joseph of Arimathea stood on Golgotha Hill and watched, with a broken heart, as Jesus died on a wooden cross. When they finally lowered Jesus from the cross, Joseph felt compelled to offer Jesus' family the use of his tomb, so that they had somewhere to lay Jesus' broken body. It is hard to imagine what was going on in Joseph's mind that day. To give up his grave was no small thing, but his love for Jesus and for what he stood for, meant more to him than his final resting place.

But then a miracle happened, and Jesus rose from the dead. The tomb was again empty, but Joseph's heart was full of wonder. He became a disciple and spent the rest of his life wandering the world and passing on the teachings of Jesus.

Joseph of Arimathea by Pietro Perugino, a detail from his Lamentation over the Dead Christ.

It came to pass that Joseph and a group of friends sailed to a distant land called Albion. They followed the River Severn as they travelled inland and finally they found themselves in The Summer Lands. 
The Somerset Levels ( The Summer Lands)

The Summer Lands were only accessible during the summer months for grazing cattle and sheep. In the winter the water would reclaim the land and all that would be left was a very large hill, seemingly floating in the middle of this great flood. The water reflected the hill and because of this the Celts called this place Ynys Witrin —The Isle of Glass.

Joseph and his friends climbed one of the smaller hills that surrounded the largest hill. Joseph lent heavily upon his thorn-wood staff, as he tried to catch his breath from the climb. He decided to name the hill, Weary-A-Hill. Joseph thrust his staff into the damp earth and then sat down to rest.

The view from Glastonbury Tor

That night an angel visited Joseph in his dreams. The angel told Joseph that this land was his future. It would be his new home.

Joseph awoke, refreshed, as did his friends, but much to their surprise the staff had taken root. New shoots shot out from the once smooth wood. Theses shoots would soon grow into strong branches. The buds of leaves were already forming. This was a miracle. This was a gift from God. There was no doubt in Joseph's mind.

Weary-A-Hill was owned by a rich nobleman who had no time for the stories of this Christian deity. Neither did he have any use for the hill, for it was too steep to farm. In a gesture of goodwill, he told Joseph he could build on the hill if he so desired.

Joseph took the nobleman up on his offer and build he did. But it wasn't a house for himself — it was a house for God. He built a House Of Worship. In fact, it was the first Christian Church ever to be built.

And then people started to come. At first, the odd few stranger turned up, but people were drawn here, answering a silent call. Soon Joseph had a healthy congregation, and yet, still more people came.

A Pilgrim on his way to Glastonbury

The Angel had been right. Joseph had found his home in what was once a strangely foreign place. He had no need for his tomb that he had given up for Jesus all those years ago. It was said that Joseph was buried on the Hill, although the exact location will forever remain a mystery. The church that Joseph built was rebuilt over the centuries. Times changed, but one thing has always remained constant and that is the Thorn tree. As regular as clockwork, the thorn blossoms every year at Easter and Christmas. 

Many traveled to see this miracle tree. Many compared it to Jesus' Crown of Thorns.

The Island of Glass, a forgotten name for a kingdom that inspired many legends. In the years that followed the name would change and it would become known as the Isle of Avalon.

This isn't the end of the story, far from it. Joseph's staff was not the only thing he brought with him from the Holy Lands. It was rumoured that he also brought with him a vessel. A precious cup. A beautiful Grail. But that story is for another day!

Galahad, Bors and Percival achieve the Grail. Tapestry woven by Morris & Co ~ Wikipedia


If you fancy finding out what happened after the death of King Arthur then why not check out my historical fantasy series — The Du Lac Chronicles...

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  1. Wonderful post! I'm enchanted by history and folklore of all kind. This account of Joseph of Arimathea is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    1. My pleasure. I am glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. A beautiful story, Mary Anne! I've climbed the Tor several times--I think we talked about it.
    Would you like to post that on my blog? Diana

    1. Thank you, Diana. I would love to repost this on your blog! Thank you.


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx