Whilst many prefer the impressive scale of construction in such sacred mystery sites as the Egyptian pyramids or Machu Picchu or Stonehenge there are very few sites are quite so impressive, mysterious or magickal as Glastonbury Tor.
Residing on the very outskirts of that most bohemian of all spiritual centres, Glastonbury town, United Kingdom – a place know for its famous abbey and sacred well, the Tor stands towers high above the surrounding countryside as a solitary outcrop of hill upon which rests a single traditional church-like tower.
In of itself the Tor is not that spectacular until a visitor climbs to the top and realises its geographical reference to the countryside that surrounds it – an area once known as the famed ‘Isle of Avalon’ and which has formed such a central part of the Arthurian legends and the Western Mystery Tradition.
Visitors to the summit of the Tor will also experience its unique sense of sacred vibration that the hill reflects back to you.
Those who have eyes trained to see such things will notice also, carved into the side of the hill, the remains of a faint pathway – one that spirals up the side of the hill and which was once used as an initiatory journey as pilgrims climbed the hill in ritualistic fashion.
It is against this backdrop of both natural and manmade wonders that writer Nina Milton opens her novel ‘Beneath the Tor’ – a murder mystery that features shamanic elements and themes.
The story begins with the death of a visitor to the Tor during the early hours of a Midsummer festival of chanting and shamanic drumming.
The strange and inexplicable death, quite naturally, put something of a dampener on the festival proceedings!
The death did not stop the deceased’s group of acquaintances from continuing what they had originally embarked upon when visiting the Tor that fateful night which centered around Shamanism at a local study center.
As the group disband following the death and return to their homes the story’s narrator reflects upon the tragedy.
Here the author unfolds a spiritual philosophy regarding life and the experience of living in a modern, urbanised world with its inherent disconnectedness to the sacred mysteries found within the natural landscape.
From that point forwards a magickal current seeped up through the pores in the earth and drifts into the daily life of the book’s main character.
For fear of spoiling the story for the those considering buying this book the rest of the story will remain an undisclosed mystery.
On the face of it Beneath the Tor has the hallmarks of an interesting and absorbing tale.
Described as a Shamanic mystery it potentially bears all of the hallmarks of an interesting foray into occult fiction.
Sadly the book never once even comes close to realizing this potential and splutters on from start to finish in an endless stream of meaningless verbiage.
If you enjoy meandering tales heavy with meaningless conversation then this book holds riches unbound for you.
However if you feel that a good story should set itself into an environment of atmosphere and creditable, imaginative landscapes then it will disappoint.
Although the story does makes brief and occasional reference to shamanic themes it soon becomes evident that the author is not conversant with either the landscape or the various esoteric, spiritual and occult settings around the Glastonbury area.
Later in though the relentless streams of conversation backs off a little and the author reverts to the time-honoured tradition in storytelling of allowing a plot to develop.
Here, the book slowly takes off and starts to re-engage the imagination and attention of its reader. The narrative flows and grows into a decent tale but lasts for too short a period before descending into the interminable clatter and chatter of conversation formed around no particular place or environment.
In parts, the book reads like a collection of Facebook quotes lifted from a million Facebook pages – it has that same sense of valuelessness and disposability.
In short, this book fails to reflect those qualities of mystery and imagination that are tangible forces within the places it draws inspiration from.
A stronger and more plausible cast of characters, a more coherent basis to the story and pruning of the incessant clatter of jaws moving up and down and this might have been quite a different book.