Walking the Aquarius Figure in the Glastonbury Zodiac

Walking the Glastonbury Zodiac – Part 11: Aquarius

It has always seemed entirely appropriate to me that the figures of both Aquarius and Pisces in the Zodiac should be drawn to ground in Glastonbury, placing the Isle of Avalon perfectly on the cusp of the astrological ages. The Pisces figure extends to Avalon’s western boundary, one of its fish shaped by Wearyall Hill, home of the now felled Holy Thorn where the fabled Arimathaean staff was once planted. Knowing its position in the Glastonbury Zodiac, people have remarked that the shocking act of vandalism that robbed us of this precious tree on Wearyall Hill could, at some level, be a symbolic marking of the transition of the ages from Pisces to Aquarius; that we should orient ourselves eastwards toward the Tor, toward an astrological sign whose heliacal rising on the vernal equinox signifies the possibility of a great new dawn.

Aquarius by Katharine Maltwood

Aquarius can give us flight, it can lift us out of the deep water we find ourselves in. The constellation is a representation in the heavens of Ganymede, a beautiful youth plucked from his earthly existence by Zeus, in eagle form, and carried to Mount Olympus, high above the world, to became cup bearer to the gods. Knowing Ganymede’s story offers a way of understanding why an eagle-like bird (perhaps a phoenix) emerges in the landscape as the Aquarius figure, and why an eagle is the very highest symbol represented in the Glastonbury Zodiac, carved in stone high up on St Michael’s Tower.

The sign of Aquarius allows us to glimpse the interconnected web of relationships that underpin manifest existence, the sacred geometry of life, the ideal formulations of number, shape and pattern. It can put us in touch with our highest human potential, our capacity to work cooperatively within a community for the good of the whole. Aquarius also allows us to witness the blueprint for the Zodiac itself, a template for twelve perspectives which can come together in the round and create a whole infinitely more powerful than the sum of its parts. If the Glastonbury Zodiac is indeed a portal or a gateway to a “higher” dimension of experience, then Glastonbury itself is the focalizer (folkalizer) of that transformation.

The Aquarius figure encompasses most of the places that the Glastonbury pilgrim is already familiar with; Glastonbury Abbey, the Tor, Chalice Hill, the white and red springs. The ancient oaks of Gog and Magog lie on one of the bird’s wings, St Edmund’s Hill on the other. As we walk between these hallowed places we help to resurrect the phoenix, as it ascends into the heavens out of its own flaming destruction. Glastonbury has a way of confronting the seeker with some kind of crisis, it searches us out, often putting an unusually intense pressure on relationships, bringing dark shadows to the surface. This experience is commonly recognised and even articulated on a poster at the Pilgrim Centre. It is characteristic of the Zodiac’s capricious charm that it offers both an underworld journey and a template for paradise. So as you stand on the Tor looking around for orientation, remember to contemplate the round table of zodiac signs laid out around you, and take a moment to get that Aquarian overview of where you are in your own journey, as you pour out a little more nectar for the gods.

Our Alchemical Journey workshop for Aquarius – The Alchemy of Fellowship – is on the 27th January 2013.

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