Walking the Glastonbury Zodiac: Part 10 – Capricorn
When one approaches the Capricorn figure, the northernmost point in the landscape temple, it seems important to do so with a particular degree of reverence and respect. Capricorn stands for initiation, correct alignment, and the hard-earned rite of one’s own spiritual authority. As the cardinal earth sign, though, it also manifests as greed, material ambition and corporate hierarchy, often inducing melancholy in its more spiritually inclined candidates, who may sense that their life has a higher purpose, but struggle to accept the integrity of the paths laid before them. As we process through the gateway of Capricorn, embodied through the rising of the Winter Solstice Sun, it is important that we make some kind of stand, in service of a greater destiny, and be willing to sacrifice those egoic attachments that prevent such a stand from manifesting in our lives.
The Capricorn effigy stretches from Havyatt at the head/horn to its hind-quarters at Launcherley in the Pennard Hills, and the image portrayed in it is multi-layered with meaning. Through one mode of seeing, we imagine Pan, the goat-foot god of wild hills and wooded glens, famed for his sexual powers, and who, in his fish-tail form, was placed in the heavens as the constellation of Capricorn. This connects him with the Sumerian Oannes, an amphibian God who rose out of the sea in half-fish form and gave wisdom to mankind. Also known as Ea, Oannes is often linked to Merlin, who takes his place in Glastonbury’s Arthurian Round here in this sign.
We can perceive a unicorn too, her magical horn drawn by the ancient earthwork at Ponters Ball. This cornucopia of life-sustaining energy returns us full circle to goats and to Amalthea, the goat-nymph who nurtures Zeus during his childhood exile, the latter rewarding her with the magical horn of plenty. It emerges out of the landscape at the creature’s pineal gland (a point identified by Serena Roney-Dougal as the figure’s third eye) and stretches to the south-west for about two-thirds of a mile. This raised earthwork delineates the boundary of (and entrance to) the sacred enclosure of Avalon, demarcating it as holy ground. The name Havyatt was originally hagyatt, “hagy” meaning heaven or sacred place, and “yatt” meaning gateway. Thus is, indeed, the gateway to Paradise.
In “The Enchantments of Britain”, Katharine Maltwood takes a local tradition of Ponters Ball being a “golden coffin”, as a clue to the Sagittarian Sun King’s resting place. An experiential layer of this mystery revealed itself through a participant on last year’s Alchemical Journey when she was suddenly awestruck by the dewy sunlit blades of grass glimmering brightly in the setting solstice sun, angled perfectly so as to pave her way with gold. I took this as a powerful reminder of how local zodiacal legends often reveal themselves when we walk the figures at the appropriate time of the year. We also found that the sacred horn is being well guarded by Chronos/Saturn, Capricorn’s ruler, via the local landowner, a curmudgeonly old gatekeeper who prevented us from taking the short cut to rejoin the horn across the A361 (which cuts the horn close to its root) forcing us to take a longer way round. This reminded us that there are no short cuts to enlightenment!
Our next Alchemical Journey workshops is: Capricorn: The Alchemy of Vocation on 5th January 2014.