Marking time… a mark in time

2014

I have a tendency to hibernate a bit at the beginning of the new year, write in my  journal, and make lists. I review the goals from the previous year. I write new goals for the current year. I browse the year’s worth of sketches and doodles – taking a walk back in time, and evaluate what ideas are interesting and inspiring to carry over.  So many marks in time, marks reflecting time, marks to allocate time. 

This January I made a different kind of mark. 

Making marks

January 4th was the two year anniversary – to the day – of major surgery. While that wasn’t the inspiration behind this design, it was an appropriate date to select as a celebration of health, happiness and moving forwards. 

The symbol is my adaptation of the Chalice Well lid – at Chalice Well in Glastonbury, UK. The design was adapted by my friend Kimberly of Goblin Bazaar – as she could get in my head, when I was in my own way… to simplify and clarify the design, and make it uniquely my own. 

Here is the actual Chalice Well design – in a painting by another dear friend, Jane Star Weils. 

Jane Star Weils Chalice well

 

 

Chalice Well is a holy well that sits at the base of Glastonbury Tor… ( I am finding it very hard to put words to the intense personal meaning that this site holds for me. Pardon me if I keep this a bit factual for now. ) 

The facts: 

  • Archaeological evidence suggests that the well has been in almost constant use for at least two thousand years. Philip Rahtz found several dozen flints from the upperPaleolithic and Mesolithic, and a sherd of Iron Age pottery nearby. Roman and medieval sherds were also found in more recent layers.
  • Water issues from the spring at a rate of 25,000 gallons per day and has never failed, even during drought. Iron oxide deposits give water a reddish hue, as dissolved ferrous oxide becomes oxidized at the surface and is precipitated. Like the hot springs in nearby Bath, the water is believed to possess healing qualities.
  • In addition to the legends associated with Glastonbury, the Well is often portrayed as a symbol of the female aspect of deity,  As such, it is a popular destination for pilgrims in search of the divine feminine, including Neopagans. The Well is however popular with all faiths and in 2001 became a World Peace Garden.
  • Wells often feature in Welsh and Irish mythology as gateways to the spirit world. The overlapping of the inner and outer worlds is represented by the well cover, designed by the church architect and archaeologist Frederick Bligh Bond and presented as a gift after the Great War in 1919. The two interlocking circles constitute the symbol known as the Vesica Piscis. In the well lid design, a spear or a sword bisects these two circles, a possible reference to Excalibur, the sword of the legendary King Arthur, believed by some to be buried at the nearby Glastonbury Abbey. Foliage represents the Glastonbury Holy Thorn. 

The lore: 

  • Legends link Glastonbury to Ynys Afallon, the Isle of Apples, also known as Avalon. Here resided a sisterhood of priestesses/faerie queens/healers… and it is to Avalon that the fatally wounded King Arthur was spirited away. 
  • Legends also relate tales of the Sidhe, or Fair Folk living in “hollow hills”. Glastonbury has always seemed to be a very fae place, where the veil between the worlds is thin. 
  • Legend says that after Jesus death, Joseph of Arimathea brought the Holy Grail to Glastonbury and that it was biried in Chalice well. The Glastonbury Holy Thorn is said to be Joseph’s staff, taken root. 
  • There are actually 2 wells at the base of the Tor, one red and one white. Symbolically these can represent blood/female and semen/male or, as I prefer – the milk and blood of the Earth/goddess/Gaia…

The symbol ( known as the vesica piscis ) itself appeals to me – as a representation of two worlds overlapping. Artist and teacher. Inner and outer. Personal and private. Body and spirit. Human and fae. England and Avalon. Above and below. And yes – its rather ironic that teachers all over use it as a Venn Diagram to illustrate commonalities between two seperate things. 

The design has elements that repeat in threes – three circles, sets of three dots, three swirls per side. Three is a powerful number in many spiritual traditions. Mind/body/spirit. Maiden/Mother/Crone. Earth/water/air. Youth/maturity/Age. 

Chalice well collage

Chalice well and Glastonbury Tor resonate with me on a deeply personal spiritual level. I was there on a pilgrimage of sorts in 1989, aged 20. I climbed the Tor every day…  Another visit at age 28. It seems I am overdue to return…

More information: 

Chalice Well Trust

Chalice Well wiki

Glastonbury

Avalon

Vesica piscis

 

 

6 thoughts on “Marking time… a mark in time

  1. Erin Prais-Hintz says:

    This. Right here. This is why I look forward to reading your posts when I see them so much that I drop what I am doing and prepare to be amazed! I typically have my fallow season in the deep winter months. Perhaps it is the hibernation effect, the need to cozy up and pull inward, the seeds waiting just below the surface for the warmth of the sun to guide them, the paralyzing effect of this blank canvas of snow covering every surface staring at me every day. But the spring will come and with I love to read what you are thinking about because you do that so thoroughly. I learn something new – about the world, about life, about you – when I visit. This is fascinating. I love the symbol for its sheer beauty (I am all about 3), but also for what it represents. Thank you for sharing this! Enjoy the day. Erin

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    • jenny says:

      Thank you, and thank you again. I have the  same feelings and associations with the winter, but I believe we need the quiet inward time to restore and refresh. Its part of the cycle. I appreciate you taking the time to be here with me – time is a precious commodity, shared among friends! 

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  2. Karen Totten says:

    I love reading about the history of symbols and sacred places. I am not as familiar with european lore, so this was a fascinating dip into it. Thank you.

    The earth opening – or “well” in the Welsh / Irish version you describe- is also known as a portal in the native teachings that I am familiar with. In my hopi studies, we were taught to use this as the way to go into the world below and make contact with our guides and “helpers” (they are not the same entities). This is the place of meeting, where, once we contact them, they come along with us (or show us to a place they want us to go to) for work that we need to do. This is a very truncated description but you get the idea. Moreover, we were taught to seek an opening that is our own personal earth portal. My “portal” is in northern New Mexico, part of an ancient lava tube system that I encountered while visiting the area in the early 90s.

    On our place here down the hill from the cabin, we have a number of active springs. There is supposedly (according to Don) a lot of rich clay there. I hope to excavate some in the future and make pottery. One of the aspects of pottery that i love is the idea of vessel-making. It synergy of well / vessel / portal. Of emptying / filling / flowing as a kind of continuum (not separate states). I’m terrible at trying to explain this LOL. So I’ll stop.

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    • jenny says:

      I so wish we could sit down with a coffee, or wine and get into this topic in person. The portal concept IS the same – I am particularly drawn to the Celtic lore as it is my heritage, and resonates so strongly with me. As to local clay – so fab. You need to get to know the genus loci – the sprits of your new place. And that would be an excellent idea. I had a video when I was teaching – Maria Martinez gathering clay, thanking the spirits, mixing, kneading and coiling. Start to finish – amazing to share her experience and her rapport with the Earth. I like the vessel icon as a portal as you described – and the overlap between a vessel as an object and as a metaphor for the self/soul. 

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