a maze of words leading to …?

Posts tagged ‘Avalonia’

Reality with a capital Ah!


“Life in Avalon” is the title of a roughly sketched gift-card to be found in Glastonbury’s shops. It shows children playing against a backdrop of the famous, seven-spiralled Tor, whilst from a nearby house a parent calls: “Merlin, Arthur, Morgana le Fey, Isis, Vishnu, your vegeburgers are ready!”

Browsing visitors, seeing the card, smile fondly at this ‘parody’, or else look baffled. Yet all would be startled to learn that truth, in this place, far outstrips pale fiction. For from the many tribes and clans of Avalonia there looms today, out of the mists and beyond the ken of mortal folk, a greater range of names-fabulous than ever walked abroad in yester-years of myth and legend.

Here, perchance outside St. John’s Church, there is indeed a Merlin.[1] This swaying, red-faced Biker-Prophet harangues passers-by with the fierce, drunk-fired-up wrath of God. Angels of Hell’s variety adorn the denim overlay of his ripped and grimy leather jacket. Suddenly he advances, blue eyes burning, wild hair astray, thrusting his face within inches of a teenage techno-raver who loiters innocently nearby with friends. Merlin, portent with omen, fixes the youth with a penetrating stare, points upwards in dire consequence and booms like a thunder-clap, “You are the truth of all that you fear!”

Judgement pronounced, he stalks off in triumph. The boy-raver, though feigning unconcern to keep his coolth with peers, is greatly disconcerted and may later ponder deeply on these words. But Merlin, the shape-shifter, has shifted to a new location, driven on by …. who can know what?

Vishnudeva also lives here. A nervous, gentle soul, he floats on the sea of life like a jellyfish waiting for the next wave goodbye. A leather amulet with photogenic guru dangles from his neck, perhaps to ward off sharks and other lurking dangers.

And Guinevere was discovered shopping for buns in Jane’s Bakery[2]. A small crowd gathered in the High Street as a pilgrim fell to his knees in homage, clutching at the hem of her dress. “Oh Guinevere, Guinevere,” he declared ardently , “at last I’ve found you!” Being the sister of Henno the Astrologer, she was perhaps more prepared than most for such an encounter, and her native Dutch phlegm flickered but little – it would, after all, make an amusing tale for her boyfriend, a Cornish smuggler.

Jah Glastafari, ever-livin’, thy tribes and clans are legion: Antares of Shambhala, Orion, Burning Spear D’Albion, Jean Morning Star, Odin the Harpist, Moses, Stella Moon, Lizzie Freewoman, Jupiter, Stanley Messenger, Dice George, Pixie, Lol Whitelion, Tree Peacock, Justin Credible and many more besides … all shall make their entrances and exits in this story of the Veil that is Avalon.

These names are not made up for effect – they’re the real names of real people. This is actuality down here: Reality with a capital Ah! So get wise, fools, and wake up to what’s going on in this neck of the woods, lest you want someday to have to deal with an acorn the size of a coconut! And it’s coming your way, watch out. It just happens here first, that’s all.

So don’t say I didn’t warn you. In fact, don’t say anything at all – you’re not equipped for it. And you never will be until you know. And that’s what I’m doing – helping you to know. I don’t expect any thanks for it, but someone’s got to tell the world and I’m the one who’s been stuck with it. Anyhow, you deserve maybe one chance at the truth, I suppose, before it’s too late.

In the Middle East they call it kismet. In Old Norse, the word is wyrd. In the USA they say, “you can’t buck the system”. In India they bow to karma. In England they talk of fate. In Avalonia, on a favoured wall in Silver Street, they have simply spray-painted “Good morning lemmings!”


[1] There are in fact two different Merlins – or three if you count the Welsh variant Taliesin, or four if you include middle names, and five if you count dogs. They have not so far – stay lucky – learned of each other’s existence.

[2] Later re-named, under rather mysterious circumstances, ‘Burns the Bread’.

Grockels – EA Vol. XXII


Encyclopaedia Avalonia, Vol. XXII …

Editor’s note: Grockels are not a tribe of Avalonia. But despite this handicap they have been graciously afforded an entry in the Encyclopaedia Avalonia since they are, on special occasions, allowed to cross the borders of Avalonia for short visits.

According to the department of mytho-linguistics at the University of Avalon, ‘grockels’ is a West Country term derived from the verb “to grok” (as coined by Robert A. Heinlein in his 1961 science-fiction novel, Stranger in a Strange Land) … meaning “to know or understand in a deeply existentialist or quintessential fashion”.

“Grok-less” of course means the opposite: to be without the faintest grok – i.e. pig ignorant. And over the years, “grok-less” has been corrupted – or “etymologically perverted” as they prefer to say at the University – by the peculiarities of Devonian dialect (and spelling) into “grok-els” or “grockels”. It is now applied almost exclusively to tourists and holiday-makers, as these are deemed the epitome of those-who-do-not-grok … otherwise, goes the reasoning, they would actually be living in the West Country and not just wandering around for a piddling couple of weeks like lost Exmoor sheep.

There is a rival explanation, however, and funnily enough this also likens tourists to sheep – sheep whose sole destiny is to be herded together and shorn of their woolly fleeces as quickly as possible. Hence the phrases “fleecing the tourist” and “clip-joint”.

As for the linguistic and semantic processes that have supposedly led from this to the word “grockels”, they rest on a series of labyrinthine arguments involving, for example, the quest of Jason & the Argonauts, ancient Greek alphabets and the alleged arrival of the legendary figure of Brutus the Trojan, after the fall of Troy, in the Devon town of Totnes.

However, the detail of these arguments need not concern us here (nor thankfully anywhere else). We should merely note that critics of this rival theory – who are mostly tenured at the University of Avalon – describe it as “mutton dressed up as lamb”. They admit that the term “fleecy grockels” is used in certain obscure corners of the region, but answer this fact by riposting, “so bloody what!”

Greenlands Farm – Part 3

Greenlands Farm

[See also Greenlands Farm Part 1 and Greenlands Farm  Part 2.]

The Central Somerset Gazette had a belter of a headline: “Gypsy Site ‘Horror’ Could Be Permanent”.

Permanent horror?, I mused, clutching the newspaper as I sheltered inside the shop from the rain, is that metaphysically possible?

My thoughts ran on. Surely it would only be possible sustain a feeling of actual horror for so long? Wouldn’t you eventually fall asleep or something? Or wouldn’t you get that tiny bit used to it in due course, after which it might decay into something less … like semi-revulsion, or maybe quasi-terror. Eventually – I persisted with this – it’d surely just become nothing more than mild panic, and even begin to seem normal after a while, as indeed it would be normal, by definition, if it was there permanently ….

I was interrupted in this entertaining (if pointless) train of thought by the arrival of a delivery van, which screeched to a halt outside the shop. A breathless man came running inside, dumped a pile of newspapers on the counter, ran back to his truck and sped off. It was a rival paper, hot off the press, even hotter these days since a circulation war had erupted, centred on ever more lurid headlines about the ‘traveller’s settlement’ at Greenlands Farm.

Even standing in the shop doorway I could read the block letters, six inches high, of the latest screaming headlines: “New Disease Fear as Vermin Virus Hits Greenlands.”

Nicely ambiguous, I thought. By “vermin” did it mean rats and suchlike, or did it mean the travellers? And did it mean that the travellers had been struck by the virus, or rather that they had brought it with them to the farm?

I bought a copy and read the story’s opening paragraph: “Rats found at Greenlands Farm are to be wiped out by vermin control experts following the discovery of a suspected new killer disease at the controversial camp-site.” … It later turned out that the “vermin virus” was non-existent, but few newspapers let little details like the facts get in the way of a good story.

I awoke the next day to find that this yellow journalism had brought a swift response from the Avalonian People’s Popular Liberation Experience (A.P.P.L.E.) see Avalonian Independence Party. Their “Provisional High Command” (alleged) had nailed a “communiqué” to telegraph poles across the town. This ran as follows:

“Insofar as the government has powers to remove us by social blackmail or force, let it be known that we have several sites lined up in the immediate area to move to. However we cannot let this happen whilst hepatitis, mental derangement and psychotic visionaries are running like wildfire through our midst. Our local Masonic contacts assure us that it is better to leave things as they are.

We insist the authorities approach in a spirit of reconciliation, and we will sort this out together. Otherwise 23 shades of pandemonium will break loose over the heads of honest Glastonburgers. Over the next few years the county’s mental hospitals will be emptying rapidly, and hippies are best equipped to absorb these people, but we cannot do this under the pressure of continual harassment.” [1]


Boris, leader of the Convoy; King Arthur Mix; Swami Bharmi; Wally Hope; Bob Dylan.

The local press printed this message in full, though “hepatitis” was printed as “hippytitis” in one newspaper (later claimed as a proof-reading error).

I glanced at the signatories. Swami Bharmi was a real person actually camped at Greenlands – this much I knew. Bob Dylan was also a real person – depending on your point of view – but unlikely to be camping in the mud (though in Avalonia one never quite knows for sure). Wally Hope sounded normal enough and on that count was probably fictitious (I later stood corrected, though it wasn’t his real name and he was dead in any case). As for Boris, “leader of the Convoy”, it was well known that The Convoy had no leader, though this didn’t stop the police looking for him. That left King Arthur Mix.

Following a hunch, I opened my copy of Glastonspeak – The Essential Guide, turned to the back and scanned through the index. There it was, the entry I’d suspected. Moving to the page listed, I read:

“Half a mix” (colloquially “Arf a mix”, and thence Arthur Mix). This is a shouted public request / invitation, which translates as: “someone please give enough hashish for this next communal joint / pipe / chillum.” Though the origins are somewhat obscure, it is believed to refer to a half-and-half smoking mixture of cannabis sativa and tobacco.

I glanced again at  A.P.P.L.E’s “communiqué, pondering. So, they had nailed their colours to the mast – or telegraph poles in this case – and the battle lines were drawn ….

[1] See http://www.unique-publications.co.uk.

House Christians – EA Vol. IX

House Christians

The Tribes of Christianity – Encyclopaedia Avalonia Vol. IX …

In Avalonia, House Christians are devout agoraphobics who thus rarely, if ever, venture out from their homes.

The only known exception was struck by a falling roof tile as she stepped out from her front door. And although an insurance policy covered such “Acts of God”, this official designation was taken by other House Christians as proof of their wise precautions.

One such other attempted to take things further, by seeking insurance against another possible Act of God, namely not being admitted to heaven come Resurrection Day.

Whilst several companies were eager to offer such a policy, the key issue was how proof of any claim would be provided. Negotiations broke down at this point, mainly because the House Christian concerned stated that, due to said agoraphobia, he would not be willing to leave Hell once there in order to testify regarding this final destination.

He also refused to countenance a post-mortem corroborative visit to hell by any insurance claim-checker … on the grounds that all insurance company employees were going to hell anyway and he didn’t see why they should be favoured over him by a chance to prepare properly via an advance look.

Anabaptists – EA. Vol. XVIII


The Tribes of Christianity – Encyclopaedia Avalonia Vol. XVIII …

Anabaptists are the direct opposite of Baptists … just as anarchy is the opposite of any form of external rule (e.g. monarchy) and analysis is the opposite of synthesis.

Thus, whilst members of both sects are baptised by immersion in a river, Anabaptists are always immersed in proximity to the left river bank and Baptists exclusively favour being close to the opposite right bank.

The ‘left’ or ‘right’ is defined in relation to facing downstream. This approach works well most of the time, but is fatally flawed when spring high tides occur in locations where the river meets the sea and the localised river flow is thus temporarily halted. In such cases, both sects get confused as to which way to face. The result is sometimes that these antagonistic rivals both attempt to stage baptisms near to the same river bank … leading, as we might well imagine, to royal punch-ups and even the odd drowning.

It is therefore no surprise that Anabaptists define ‘heaven’ as meaning the total absence of Baptists (and vice-versa). And it is for this reason that God – in his (or her) infinite wisdom – tossed a coin aeons ago to decide which of these two sects should go to the real heaven and which should be sent to hell … on the entirely reasonable grounds that even those sent to hell would deem it to be heaven due to the absence of the others and thereby be entirely satisfied and happy.

Lutherans – EA Vol. XIII

  Superman1  Kryptonite

The Tribes of Christianity – Encyclopaedia Avalonia Vol. XIII …

Lutherans are followers of Lex Luthor, arch-enemy of Superman. It follows naturally that they equate the Man of Steel to a devil who must be warded off with crucifixes made of kryptonite … or at least what they’ve been led to believe is kryptonite.

The inner circle of Lutherans realise, of course, that Lex Luthor, Superman and kryptonite are all just fictional creations, with almost no scriptural basis in the Bible. But they see no good reason to shatter the illusions of the vast mass of Lutherans, preferring instead to seize upon the many promotional advantages – in terms of ‘spreading the word’ – of basing doctrine on a hugely popular series of comic-books and films.

‘Lex’ is a Latin word that in English means ‘law’ [1]: hence the Laws of Luthor, the key expression of Lutheran beliefs. These laws are too numerous to list here, but they include the following:

  • Travelling faster than a speeding bullet is forbidden. Hence there are no Lutheran jet-fighter pilots or astronauts.
  • Anything more powerful than a locomotive is to be shunned. As a consequence, perhaps unintended, no Lutheran has ever aspired to high office, whether in the public or private sphere.
  • Leaping tall buildings in a single bound, whilst not strictly banned, is strongly discouraged.
  • No-one with the first name of Clark, Lois, Jimmy or Lana may become a Lutheran. Likewise the surnames of Kent, Lane, Olsen and Lang are strictly out of bounds.
  • Kryptonite is made from a secret (and very expensive) formula known only to the Lutheran inner circle.

[1] For example, as in the legal principle of ‘Lex Talionis’ – a law of punishment/retaliation, such as an ‘eye for an eye’. Or, for further instance, ‘Lex Canuleia’, a Roman law permitting marriage between patricians and plebians.

Protestants – EA Vol. III


The Tribes of Christianity – Encyclopaedia Avalonia Vol. III …

Protestantism began with Martin Luther, a 16th century German priest who protested against Papal rule by nailing a list of complaints – especially ecclesiastical tardiness – to a cathedral door in the German town of Worms.

This list is known as the Diet of Worms[1]. Thereafter, German church services always ran on time and parishioners accused of being late couldn’t wriggle out of it.

In pondering this uprising against papal rule, some religiously-inclined entomologists draw an analogy to rare, but well-documented cases of insect rebellions … in particular citing examples in which protest-ants have moved to topple their hive leader.

However, some Protestants object to being likened to insects, insisting that it’s Catholics who most deserve this description since – due to the papal ban on contraceptives – they tend to breed like flies.

[1] Though Catholics call it a can of worms.

The Fumit – EA Vol. X


Encyclopaedia Avalonia Vol. X …

Minted by the Bank of Avalonia (motto: ‘A Unique Fiscal Experience’[1]), the fumit is the currency of choice within Avalonia. The clandestine printing and circulation of these illicit bills began immediately after the declaration of the Free State of Avalonia – see Avalonian Independence Party – at Worthy Farm, Pilton, on June 23rd 1985.

The fumit is named after the droppings of a mythical beast hunted through the forests by King Pellinore (pace the legends of King Arthur and friends) … droppings which were the only physical evidence of the animal that he was ever doomed to see.

Although regarded by most observers as a natural and inevitable consequence of Avalonian statehood, some suspect that the minting of fumits is actually a plot by A.P.P.L.E to bring down the global capitalist system … see the Avalonian Book of the Dead for more details.

When proffered for use outside of Avalonia, fumits are often viewed with suspicion by shop staff and the like. They see the Dragon of Avalon motif and note the Bank of Avalonia imprimatur, yet take pause at the portrait of the Queen wearing what appear to be wire-frame, National Health Service spectacles. The travellers from Avalonia remain calm in the face of such hesitation, assuring the vendor of the currency’s legal status: “It’s a bit different, but really just like the Scottish pound note”.

It should be noted that, in 1994, a new, rival currency began circulating in Avalonia. Named the GEBO, after the runic symbol (X) for giving and receiving, this challenger to the fumit sparked a heated debate, mirroring the arguments then taking place outside Avalonia concerning the pound versus the single European currency (the Euro).

Die-hard Avalonians maintained that their whole sovereign independence would be threatened if the GEBO was allowed to make headway. Others believed that “progress was progress” and that if Avalonia wanted to join the modern world it must bend with the times, knuckle down to reality and embrace the GEBO fulsomely.

This line of argument proved a disaster, however, since few Avalonian Glastafari – if any – had ever expressed the remotest soupçon of desire with regard to joining the modern world.

“Join the modern world?”, said one green-skinned eco-pagan contemptuously, summing up popular feeling, “I’d sooner have dinner with a Hedge Monkey” (see here).

With that pronouncement, all debate fizzled out and the long-term future of the fumit was secured.

[1] See http://www.unique-publications.co.uk

The University of Avalon – EA Vol. XV


Encyclopaedia Avalonia Vol. XV …

Some may think that a University is a large, government-recognised, higher education establishment, such as exists in Oxford or Cambridge. Such people may even be willing to swallow hard and accept into academic sisterhood the grandly-named University of the West of England … even though it was formerly just plain old Bristol Polytechnic. However, even such liberals baulk at extending a similar latitude to the University of Avalon (UoA), whose curricula bears no known resemblance to standard areas of study such as Mathematics, Geography or Chemistry … nor even to the somewhat suspect subject of Botany.

It is therefore all the more gratifying to UoA staff and students alike that their establishment was once the only listing under “Universities” in Thompson’s Directory phone book for the Somerset coastal area. Soon after this public relations coup – and it may be just coincidence – a part-time telephonist from Burnham-on Sea was appointed Professor of Terran Communications in the UoA’s Faculty of Epistemological Phenomenology.

Critics of the UoA, of which there are many, especially in Bristol, are scorned as illiterates by Avalonian academics. And with good reason, for the word “university” comes from the latin universus, meaning “turned into one (with the cosmos or universe)”.

On this basis the University of Avalon has every right to the high status of its name, since becoming one with the cosmos is the great ambition of all its students. Indeed, no one graduates from the University unless they have first achieved a measure a degree of success in this quest.

As to what constitutes the required measure of “oneness”, this is a topic of heated debate across the dreaming spires of Avalonia. The result is that no one so far has actually graduated – or at least no one retaining a sufficient grasp of mundane reality to tell the tale. The effect on the University’s post-graduate programme has been catastrophic. With no post-grads to teach, only the M.Sc. course in Zen & the Art of Fire-Raising has survived the axe, and even this has no tutor as such, but simply a mysterious facilitator known only as “the guiding light”.


Greenlands Farm (2)

Greenlands Farm

In the town of Glastonbury, paranoia about the travellers’ camp at Greenlands Farm – see Greenlands Farm – Part 1 – was reaching fever pitch, for the “Children of the Rainbow Gathering” was now gathering pace.

As far as stout Glastonburgers were concerned, Woodstock II was imminent. As far as the police were concerned, the Monmouth Rebellion had returned to haunt them and nervous reconnaissance patrols fanned out across the Somerset Levels, seeking anything suspicious … such as crowds of peasants waving pitchforks.

The next day, in a muddy Sedgemoor rhyne[1], a police scout found a book by John Michell called Stonehenge, its Druids, Custodians, Festivals and Future. It listed an exotic medley of mysterious groupings that claimed a behind-the-scenes “involvement” with the annual Stonehenge Festival. With this discovery, a frisson of fear tingled through the higher echelons of the local constabulary. Their colleagues in Wiltshire had only recently suppressed the Stonehenge Festival, and the suspicion now was that these hitherto unknown groups might also be coming to Greenlands, bent on revenge. Their anxiety was heightened when forensic examination of the book revealed minute traces of Bronze Age burial-mound.

The orders were hurriedly changed. Smock-wearing peasants were now to be almost ignored. The new search was for any and all of the following: the Magical Earth Dragon Society, Polytantric Circle, the Ancient Order of Pagans, Pendragon Circle, the Union of Ancestor Worshippers, Devotees of the Sun Temple, Mother Earth Circle, the Family, the Tibetan-Ukrainian Mountain Troupe, the Church of Immediate Conception, the Tipi Circle, the Wallies, the Free High Church and the Rainbow Warriors.

Most of the constables griped and grumbled at this. How were they supposed to spot such people? A peasant is easy to recognise, but what might an Ancestor Worshipper look like, or a priest of Immediate Conception? Some muttered darkly that the only “Wallies” to be found were those in the rank of Chief Inspector and upwards.

Trawling books on everything from the Arabian Nights to The Fabulous Legends of Chimera, police artists issued streams of fanciful drawings based on what were called “mytho-type profiles”. Jungian psychologists and professors of anthropology were flown in by helicopter to give advice; and two junior constables went missing, lost on the moors, never to be seen again until much later (in fact several years later, but that’s another story). However, and as history records, it was all to no avail.


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