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.
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.
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. )
- 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.
- 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 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…