Five Very Pagan British Pubs

Five Very Pagan British Pubs September 22, 2014

Druids-Head-Exterior111Jason Mankey is in England and for some inexplicable reason he has turned the reins of “Raise the Horns” over to a few guest bloggers. As a frequent reader of “RtH” I put my hand up and thought to myself, “I’ll have a bash at that!”. But to paraphrase Tolkien and a well-known Facebook meme “One does not simply walk into RtH”.

One can, however, simply walk into a pub. And with that in mind…

The Top Five Pagan pubs in England that Jason should visit – strictly for research purposes, of course.

GreenManThe Green Man – 36 Riding Street, London W1 -One of the most enduring and recognizable images from British Pagandom is the smiling face of the Green Man. The history and supposed history of the Green Man is quite rich and spans many cultures including British, Roman and Indian variants, with links to Pan and Dionysius. Green Man pubs can be found all over England. This particular Green Man pub is known for its selection of hard ciders and is conveniently located in London, close to Regent’s Park and Abbey Road Studios .

The Druid’s Head – 9 Brighton Place, Brighton – Had rock stars existed in Iron Age Britain, they would most certainly have been druids. Philosophers, doctors, lawyers, counsellors, magicians, chieftains and poets, druids were the holders of all Iron Age knowledge. First documented in roughly 200 BCE and most famously chronicled by Julius Caesar in the 50s BCE, druidic thought has permeated British and Irish lore and legend ever since. The 19th and 20th centuries saw a resurgence of Druidism in England, coming out of the occult and Freemasonry traditions. While downing a pint or two of the “Druid’s Fluid” ruby ale this 15th century pub serves, Jason could be researching today’s druids.

the-maypole-inn-1The MayPole – 9 Havant Road, Hayling Island – Outside of pointed black hats and broomsticks, the symbol that most conjures up Pagans dancing around in naked revelry and indulging in all sorts of wickedness and earthly joy is the MayPole. The first citations of the Maypole date to the late 12th century, although Maypoles were probably a well-established tradition predating that my many hundreds of years. The Maypole signified the arrival of spring and the growing season. As with many traditions in modern paganism, it was the 19th century that saw the rise of the “Sacred Rite” and phallic aspects of the Maypole. The Portsmouth area has yielded several important Iron Age archaeological finds such as the Warrior of Portsmouth.

redlionavebury2The Red Lion Inn – Highstreet, Avebury – There’s nothing particularly pagan about the name of this pub or the imagery of a red lion but this pub is the only one in the world that sits right in the middle of a Neolithic stone circle. That’s right! You can sup on a pint of Devizes Real Ale and look out upon a five thousand year old circle of stones that dwarfs Stonehenge (which happens to be nearby). Jason will be able to wander over and touch the stones, sit on a stone slab which is used by the area’s local Pagan community and dream up the 1899 BCE ritual.

The Rifleman’s Arms – Chilkwell street, Glastonbury – This happens to be my favorite pub in Glastonbury. It sits at the foot of Glastonbury Tor and just a few steps away from the Chalice Well. This is Avalon. This is the holiest of holies in the goddess tradition. Gwyn ap Nudd probably drinks at this pub after a night of ferrying the souls to the Otherworld and King Arthur and Morgan Lefae can still be heard arguing about paternity suits at a table near the fire.

Gwion didn’t write a bio for me (Jason) but I can tell you he’s someone I respect, admire, and genuinely consider a friend though I don’t see him all that often. He recently began blogging over at PaganSquare and also teaches at Reclaiming events around the country. You should totally check those links out and follow him on Twitter, even though he only Tweets about four times a year (but when he does . . . profound!)

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