Chalice Well

Monday we went to Chalice Well, a favourite haunt in Glastonbury, where we are Companions. Whilst I did not initiate the idea of this venture, not that far from where we live, I was enthusiastic. When we stepped into the space I understood the reason it was so important to go there, though that was not known to me until we arrived.

My partner lay in the sun on the hill at the bottom of the precinct near the new gift shop. I, however, had things to do, things to hear and I had to do them alone.

First of all, I went back to the entrance and bought a small bottle to collect water from at the lion head fount. Then walked back up the incline to stand between the two yews that stand sentinel as one prepares to go to the healing pool. They had been staunchly reassuring as I came to stand with them occasionally during the nearly six months I had to await the final decision on my application for Indefinite Leave to Remain. They had assured me that I was rooted here. That my roots were entangled with those of the gods, ancestors and spirits of this land. They made it clear that no one had the power to remove me once I had been thus claimed. And yes I did trust them, but part of me wondered how the Home Office officials would know. Given they were working with documents well prepared and presented I must say by my immigration solicitor, who to be fair also thought I would have no trouble, but you never knew for sure until they said yes.

Moving with deliberation and openness I walked past the pool and instead took of my shoes and socks and walked in the water that flowed into it from above. It was cool and refreshing. There it was clear to me that I was cleansing myself of all the accumulated gunge that had adhered to me in the 15-year process to gain settlement in the UK. That was granted on the Autumnal Equinox, though I did not find out about it until the day after the 15th anniversary of my arrival in the UK. In the flow of that water that had stained the surface of the trough a rusty amber colour over years of mineral exposure I found I was walking into a new life. It was a stunningly simple act, but one with complexly amazing ramifications. For a while I just sat.

When it felt the time was right, I moved on up the steps to the lion’s head where the two glasses sat waters from the spring lemniscating between them. I sat on the bench hidden by the beech bower. I wrote in my journal. I was clear that a bargain had been struck between me and the gods, ancestors and spirits of the land. In that clarity I knew that because they had kept their word to me, I was now free. Freedom, however in this and every other instance entails responsibility. My freedom is granted so that I might be able to fulfil my destiny, in its fullest and broadest, widest and deepest sense. I just sat there staring at the water pouring through the lion’s mouth. Grateful, humble, terrified, cautious and joyful.

In that frame I walked to the fountainhead. I first took a drink out of each glass, then replacing them filled my little official water bottle with some lemniscated water. I washed my hands and with the glass poured water over my forehead and let it run down my face. It was truly a baptism, a cleansing and dedicatory action. I drank some more water then went to sit down before proceeding to the final stop on this impromptu pilgrimage.

Again, waiting until I felt the time was right, I moved on to the Chalice Well herself. I was able to sit with the Vesica Piscis facing me and under another yew. I just sat and listened. The birds sang and I heard sheep bleating.

The Well gave me one message: I am a Well of Wisdom, who partakes of my gifts receives my blessing. For you it is the Awen who flows from my depths. This is a source place for you and so you must come here often. I am for you the Mother of Awen.

What can I say to that?

Except to express my gratitude by honing my gifts and strengthening my creative skills. Write poems. Write stories. And, write more. Learn the art of linocut, become a more proficient calligrapher and accomplished photographer. In all things be humble and live in a state of grateful awareness.

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Autumnal Equinox

I have been away from here most of the summer. I have been reorienting myself. I have been realigning my soul. I have been clearing the clutter of my mind.

Now, on the day of balance before the slow slide to Winter and its deep darkness, I feel more whole than I have for some time.

I set my alarm so I would be awake by 0630 and could watch the sun rise as I sat in bed. Quiet. Contemplating. Reflecting. I not only felt part of the sunrise as an observer, I was aware of participating in it at a profound level. I observed, but I was more than an observer.

At first the whole horizon was awash with soft light, diffuse, gentle. Slowly clouds came into view. Gray like smoke, wispy and fragile. The last light of the night braved the growing light. Refused to be extinguished. Resisted the light that would make it disappear for the length of the day.

The corvids flew from their roosts crawing and scrawking across the sky. A wood pigeon flew, rising and falling in flight like a winged tide moving closer to me. Another called in the distance.

With the clock ticked towards 0700, the traffic on the road below my window increased. The commute began. People in metal boxes with wheels hurled themselves east and west. They did not notice the sky or the growing light of the day’s sun’s return. Now the smokey clouds turned to fire as the angle of the light changed. More clouds in streaks gathered to witness the moment with me. Incrementally, the previously diffuse light on the horizon shrank.

The light consolidated. Brighter and brighter the place where the sun would appear revealed itself.

I sat transfixed before the open window. The cool morning air filled my lungs.

The last few moment seemed to drag out like hours. Then, then from behind an oak tree the great light blazed. A fixed point of intense energy compacted from where before there had been only energy so thinly drawn that it could not possibly have come from our nearest star. Gossamer light transformed to pure energy, fierce and no longer friendly. From light like that of a gentle shower to light like what comes from the mouth of a water canon. Light easy on the eye to that which blinds.

The field of Maize Maidens directly across the road did not dance for this sunrise. They stood still. Reverent in anticipation.

Going down to the kitchen to feed the cats I was treated to the second sunrise over the field. The light glancing off the tops of the Maidens’ headdresses. A different kind of light again. At a different angle energy scattered as it spread over the field.

During all this I kept pondering who was doing the moving, for the first time aware of the spinning of the earth in space. Aware that though I was sitting on my bed I was moving, whirling on this rocky world swathed in cloud and wrapped in oceans. It was a profoundly humbling moment. I sat there aware of everything around me. Aware of my smallness in the vastness, not only of space, but in relation to the earth as well. Infinitesimally small, but member of a species which in aggregate has caused so much damage to each other and the planet we call home.

Joy. Exhilaration. Grief. Gratitude. Regret. Anger. Wonder. Hope. Love.

Each emotion in turn as a thread and woven together in a Celtic knot of awareness in the centre of my being. Simultaneous. Discrete. At once, as one.

The day of balance has called me back to my truest self. To why I am here. To what I have to do. To my call and my purpose. No excuses. No equivocation. Only being and doing. Wholeness for me being oneness with creation. Insights. Words. Images. Not mine to hold. Mine to share. The spiral of time on which I ride through life has come back to this place again of decision and dedication. Being and becoming one now. Merged. Healed enough to begin. Again. For the first time.

The day of balance. Autumn. Harvest. Reaping. Ingathering. Tipping towards winter. The darkness without which there can be no creation, no birth.

May the blessings of the Equinox be yours this day.

Autumnal Equinox

Yesterday’s air different,
today’s breath visible
in the early morning air
with hands stinging
for the first time since
last winter.

Hardly cold
suddenly cooler,
the air having
a faint metallic tang
the one of autumn
full here.

A heavy dew fall
or a light frost unfrozen,
too hard to discern,
though unwellied feet
shoe shod soon soaked.

Blackberries enbrambled
turn to mold and mush
as the thorns still
grab passers by
intent or oblivious
impossible to tell.

Conkers and sweet chestnuts
tumble to the ground,
both encasing treasure
in spiked or prickly shelters
hiding unexpected in downy soft,
velvet smooth nurseries
until time propitious
sets them free,
now.

Beechnuts exposed
in their four sided
hideaways crunch
underfoot
most empty with
little fruit
revealed for all
the tree’s hard work
and hope-filled efforts.

Hazelnuts falling green empty
or emptied quickly
by the tail whipping
harvester or thief,
nearly every oak ravaged
by the tiny wasp
knopper galled trees surrounding,
only hawthorns
abundant and hanging
heavy with haws red and plump
unequivocally inviting feasters.

Equinox upon the horizon
balance between
day and night
then all the energies
tip from creeping
to swifter darkness
leaving only memories
of light as life
and the living
prepare through the
rest of autumn
for the harshest season
once again.