Reflections on our Cancer Weekend

Our Cancer Altar

Our Cancer Altar - Created by Colette

Our wonderful Cancerian weekend just passed this weekend, and it has delivered so many beautiful, profound moments, as we explored the beauty and subtlety of this all-too-easily underestimated sign. These included our guided visualisation back through the centuries to harvest the gifts of our ancestors and a beautiful process that Lynne led where we offered our deepest feelings to the memory tree. We painted crab shells, did our customary crab walking game (!) and took a remarkable journey through the phases of the moon.

Painting our Crab Shells

Painting our Crab Shells

On Sunday we paid a precious visit to Bradley Spring in Littleton, and walked the Cancer figure in the landscape, where we encountered a herd of stampeding bullocks making its spongy ground bounce for us so as to remind us that we are really walking on the seabed! There were some very funny moments too as we indulged Cancer’s shadow aspects of self-pity, sentimentalism and neediness – Shirley Bassey, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and The Smiths; a medley of suffering and longing never felt so good – very cathartic!!

The Cancer landscape figure in The Glastonbury Zodiac takes the form of a ship in Katharine Maltwood’s imaginal wheel, rather than the more familiar crab, recalling an old legend of a ship that once sailed under the lee of Street, and then disappeared. It hides away on uniformly level ground, just a few feet above sea-level. Crouching low in the shadow of the more charismatic Gemini figure, it seems to be nurturing the divine child, as if it were also a cradle or manger, and it offers safe harbour and sanctuary for some of the deepest mysteries of the Zodiac.

The Ship of Cancer in the Glastonbury Zodiac

The Ship of Cancer in the Glastonbury Zodiac (Gail Cornwell)

The figure is formed by drainage ditches or rhymes created through the draining of the land between 1780 and 1820. This makes it the most recent of the zodiac figures to reveal itself, emerging as it has done, entirely appropriately, out of the sea. As we walked the paths, the ground was soft and slightly bouncy, giving a very slight sinking feeling. Just like last year, my legs felt very heavy and although the ground was dry, it was easy to imagine that I was walking along the seabed. I found it an emotional experience – very inward and reflective – disturbed only by the sound of gunfire coming from the Avalon Gun club up on Walton Hill on the nearby Aries figure (where else!!).  A nice example of an Aries-Cancer clash of mood!

Our Group on the Main Mast of the Ship

Our Group on the Main Mast of the Ship

Katharine Maltwood envisaged three pillars of light, extending in the shape of the Celtic “awen”, also considered to be the secret symbol of God. These rays emanate from what Mrs Maltwood called the “Enclosure of the Sun”, a triangular pattern made up of three roads in the village of Butleigh at the centre of the Zodiac, where she assumed the true mystery of the Grail to lie. These pillars of light extend southwards, enclosing the main Gemini twin and connecting in perfect angular alignment to both the poop mast at North Main Rhyne, and the main mast at Middle Drove, along with another significant point in the middle of the ship. We honoured each of these points through a short meditation and sounded out the vowel sounds that make up the name Je – ho – vah, or ah – wen. The zodiac can be seen as a profound container of esoteric wisdom, and through this revelation, the Cancer figure seems to hold the key to it.

An important aspect of the Cancerian stage of The Alchemical Journey involves a visit to Bradley Spring in Littleton, just south of Compton Dundon, which is the source of the Cancerian canals. Anthony and I came upon this through a beautifully synchronous meeting with a very special lady, herself a landscape zodiac discoverer, on whose land the spring rises. Remarkably it classes as a hot spring, similar in chemical composition to Bath’s springs. The spring was uncapped a couple of years ago and its guardian, Sheila, has since created a beautiful sanctuary garden around it, which we were fortunate enough to be able to honour again this year. The way that we are able to be taken to the source in this sign is so beautifully poignant. In Cancer, we journey back along the river of memory to recover a sense of our origins, the roots of our being, our connection with the ancestors, realising how their life force continues to flow through our veins today.


Through our visit to the Spring and our walk of the Cancer figure we are able to embody this in the land itself. It really is a very moving experience. It really struck home to me again this month how the Glastonbury Zodiac providing a perfect memory theatre for our imaginings.

Our next workshop is Leo: The Alchemy of The Heart on 31st July / 1st Aug.

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