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In the beautiful realms of Glastonbury lies a garden which is home to the Chalice Well. Glastonbury is a town in the county of Somerset, England. Glastonbury is said to be the original location of Avalon, the resting place of King Arthur and his Queen Guineviere and the place where Joseph of Arimathea hid the Holy Grail. The Chalice Well is the well of an ancient spring which runs rusty red and is said to have great healing properties. Atop the Chalice Well is a beautiful wrought iron and wooden lid which was originally designed by the church architect and archaeologist Frederick Bligh Bond. The symbol on the lid consists of two overlapping circles, vertically crossed by a staff. The circles are surrounded by scrolling leaves and flowers.
The Chalice Well is symbolically connected to many things: The Divine Feminine, The Holy Grail, Sacred Geometry and the Secrets of Creation. Although these things seem separate they are in fact, like the symbol atop the well, all interconnected.
The Holy Grail
It is said that Joseph of Arimathea travelled to Glastonbury numerous times in his life. After the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Joseph returned there and supposedly hid the Holy Grail. Some theories say that the Grail was buried at the foot of the Chalice Well and that the spring runs red because of it. The Holy Grail itself is said to grant everlasting life, giving us the first connection between the Chalice Well and the secret of life and creation.
The Divine Feminine
You can naturally interpret the divine feminine as you wish: The Goddess, the spirit of femininity, the sacredness of womanhood etc. The Divine Feminine is connected to the Chalice Well for a multitude of reasons. As mentioned before the spring of the well runs rusty red and is in fact also known as the Red Spring. This colouring has been associated with the female menstruation, and said to be the blood of the Goddess. The other connection to the Divine Feminine is the shape formed by the overlap of the two circles on the lid. This almond shape can be seen as a fish but also as the female vulva. The almond is an ancient symbol of fertility in many cultures and was also an associated symbol of the Virgin Mary, who is naturally a divine symbol of motherhood. The symbolic imagery representing menstruation, the vulva, fertility and motherhood all lends itself to the Divine Feminine as a symbol and source of creation.
Sacred Geometry and the Secrets of Creation
Sacred Geometry defines the sacred and symbolic meaning hidden in the geometric shapes and patterns in nature. Some belief it to be the geometry created on Earth by God. Plato believed there to be a “Golden Key” hidden within these shapes which would reveal all secrets of life and creation.
The base of the Chalice Well symbol is two interconnecting circles which create an almond shape where they overlap: a symbol known throughout history as Vesica Pisces, Latin for “bladder of the fish”. According to sacred geometry the circles represent two realms: the physical and the spiritual. The overlapping space represents the bridge between these worlds: the bridge between Earth and Heaven, the gateway between the physical realm and the spiritual one, the adjoining of the male and the female, the sacred well from which all is created… The Vesica Pisces is the root of many other sacred geometric shapes/patterns. The Vesica Pisces is repeated geometrical to create new symbols including: the Flower of Life, the Tree of Life and the Fruit of Life. These patterns can be found in nature and have also been built into many sacred structures all over the world and throughout time. They can be interpreted as the building blocks to create the universe.
For me personally, the Chalice Well has always been a symbol of Creation, even before I knew about its symbolic background. For me the circles represent the coming together of two elements to create something new and beautiful out of their own selves. The scrolling foliage springing fourth from the coupling of forms and the fertility of the well enhance the presence of the blessed beauty of unity and creation.
You can visit the Chalice in Well Gardens and Shop at:
85-8 Chilkwell St, Glastonbury BA6 8DD, United Kingdom
“Glastonbury: Isle of Avalon” by George Wingfield
“The Golden Section: Nature’s Greatest Secret” by Scott Olsen
“The Chalice Well”: Visitors’ Information Pamphlet from the Gardens