Last week I visited Winchester, the old capital of the country. Winchester is a beautiful city full of romantic old buildings and redolent in medieval history. It has less of a feel of homogenous McDonaldisation than many other towns and cities in the UK and for this reason alone I applaud it. (I don't rate the exorbitant prices charged by the coffee shops...least said soonest mended....) but on balance it is a fine city and well worth travelling to spend a day there.
The Cathedral (building started circa 1100 and much of the Norman architecture is still evident today) dominates the city. It houses the final resting place of notables such as Jane Austin, Isacc Walton and a lot of other people who to be honest I haven't heard of. As we were visiting in November there were also several poppy clad memorials mourning those who had died in the World Wars. It would be hard not to feel moved by the Cathedral's simple but sincere respects to its deceased.
I particularly enjoyed seeing the Cathedral library. I have this feeling that were I to spend a few days there, the dusty serene and scholarly atmosphere would inspire even this procrastinating witch to write something profound and worth while. Though that would be if I ever got round to putting the books down..... It was fascinating seeing first editions of Milton's Paradise Lost and early works by John Donne. The treasured Winchester Cathedral bibles were very interesting as well, the curate pointed out the error notes in the margin and explained how the scribes had to painstakingly scratch off their work in order to write the corrected versions over their original work. And it was good to see that budget problems existed even in the Middle Ages, there were several illustrations in the bible only half completed and the curate explained that the Cathedral at the time had simply run out of money....
Now you might ask - what is a witch doing in a place of Christian worship anyway? Well I'll tell you. To me, it doesn't matter what religion a holy place is dedicated to. Any place that has absorbed the vibes of people going to share their lives with their creator, particularly places like Cathedrals that have been standing so very long, picks up a spirit of its own. Walking through the halls of the Cathedral you can feel the strength and belief of all those who have walked there before you and it's a humbling experience.
Its the same with Mosques and Synagogues, neither Islam nor Judaism is the right path for me but I have a real respect for their holy places. Yes, my particular path may prefer to seek out standing stones rather than the more traditional indoor places of worship but fundamentally the denomination is irrelevant. Religion is just a path to the Gods. Ultimately it doesn't matter how we choose to walk that path, we're all walking it to the same end. And its nice sometimes to stop and take a look at each other's paths and know that although we are not walking together, at least we are walking the same way.
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