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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Awen and Creativity

Always the challenges for me as a creative person:

Not to resist the Awen’s insistent bidding.
Not to let the inspired thought slip away.
Not to assume if I wait a few moments, hours or days it will still be there.

The Awen’s spark of inspiration is just that, a spark, an ember of an idea flying through the air. If I’m not the tinder waiting, if I’m not the patch of ground so long dry, ready to explode with the intensity of the vision or idea and be engulfed by its wild ferocity then what might have been will never be. I will never know where the journey through the flame of creation would have led. I would have denied the git of Awen its due.

That is what I find hardest in dealing with the Awen, with the flow and fire of creative inspiration. It is a sacred moment and a sacred process. A moment and process I yearn for, one I seek and at times shy away from; but, it is what offers me the opportunity to be my truest self, most fulfilled and most at one with all creation and every creature, all Knowing and the Knowers.

I have too often in the past let the ember die. Not allowed the winds of desire to create something fan the tiny flame into an all consuming, passionate expression of what I felt in the heat of dancing embers all around me. This has left me frustrated and separated from the Divine Energy of Being. I try now harder not to let the ember die, though it is not always easy to do despite my best intentions.

When I wait too long I am left with a burn mark in my being where the ember landed and faded. It feels like the way a fleecy top looks if a spark from a campfire lands on it – a hole with a melted edge. Sometimes if I just stop long enough to make a note, jot the gist, draw a quick sketch, then I can come back and tend the low burning fire in the hearth of my being.

This morning walking to the bus and watching the sky, as I do, the ember flew and caught the tinder. Fanning the words gently to keep them alive until I got where the bus would arrive in its time I hurried on, still gazing at the sky. Rehearsing the words as I walked, getting to the bus stop I tore out the notebook I am never without. And I wrote. What I wrote is not great poetry; it will win no prizes. What it is though is taking something I saw, that I experienced and was able to record to share. The image was clear, the words flashing quickly, no slow burning fire this one. Flaring, searing the mind, and once recorded the fire burns on through the words and images, but it no longer burns me. It was made of the tinder, the small twigs not the giant logs great halls require for warmth and feeding — those are the fires required for longer works, prolonged explorations and creative projects. This small fire has burned and warmed me and here I offer it that it might warm you a bit as well. Even if not, in this poem, as in every creative work, the fire still burns and will never cease.

Sky scrawled oghams
vapour trail gibberish
ephemeral glossolalia
undecipherable
even as the clouds approach.

To discern such is not possible,
lines hither and thither
crisscrossing the pale sky
a bit of Phagos,
perhaps that was Furze
or maybe Ailim,
surely Duir.

There was no real way
to hold the atmospherically drawn
messages whose messengers
do not realise
they send and carry
forth mysterious meanings
thrust before the clouds.

Frustration at insufficient clarity
through my intuitive senses,
or perhaps because the sharing
and the wisdom is meant for another –
straight lines traced
back and forth crisply
only to diffuse,
scattering upon the currents
the earthbound cannot feel,
do not perceive.

Quickly the dispersal begins
lines smudge smearing into patterns
reminiscent of pictures
a child’s chubby crayon
draws but unlike
those images this one
cannot be saved and cherished.

Lasting only moments,
a moving message
written in shifting vapour
upon the sky.