Author: Anthony Thorley
The Glastonbury Zodiac is a circle, some eleven miles in diameter, of twelve giant effigies present in the Somerset landscape each representing one of the signs of the zodiac. This extraordinary representation of a terrestrial zodiac is demarcated in contour lines, tracks, field boundaries and the courses of streams and rivers combining natural and man-made features.
First described by artist and mystic Katharine Maltwood in the 1920s, her work combined visionary experience with detailed research into local history, legend and place-names which seemed to support the idea that the zodiac is more real than imagined. Her specially commissioned aerial photographs made in the 1920s of signs such as Leo the lion, Gemini the twins and the bull’s head of Taurus are extraordinary and have a classic iconic status. However whilst the actual origins of this zodiac, sitting between Mrs Maltwood’s modern imagination and a more ancient historical tradition, continue to be controversial, there is no doubting the rich layering of history and legend which make the whole Glastonbury area a uniquely sacred landscape in modern England if not the world.
Glastonbury, as the famed Isle of Avalon, draws upon pre-Christian myth and legend as well as the presence of the Biblical Joseph of Arimathea, the young Jesus Christ, King Arthur and his Knights of the round table and a procession of Celtic Saints and more recent historical characters making it literally larger than life! Since the 1920s at least three generations of researchers and participants have celebrated the reality of the Glastonbury Zodiac and have experienced its extraordinary power and influence in their lives. Approached in the right kind of way with carefully focussed preparation this landscape zodiac can still be a medium for powerful personal experience, transformation and change.