Walking the Glastonbury Zodiac Part 9: Sagittarius

Sagittarius by Osmond Caine

The ranging figure of Sagittarius in The Glastonbury Zodiac is one of the most impressive and audacious figures that we meet on our round table landscape quest. Whether envisaged as the centaur Chiron (mentor to heroes) or as King Arthur himself, the charismatic presence of this effigy is unmistakable. Hercules too stakes a worthy claim since his stars fall partly across the back of this figure. Whichever mythical hero we choose to represent him, our rider appears as a proud, helmeted knight, his profile drawn by the River Brue at Baltonsborough, with the weir known as the “flights” gushing from his brow. It is at this special point in the Zodiac, where two signs meet, from which the dove of Libra flies free, released through the vision of our Sagittarian shaman.

As the archer takes aim, his arm stretches almost to the centre of the Zodiac at Park Wood, a place of great power and mystery that we honour with a visit each year as part of our Sagittarius workshop on The Alchemical Journey. When we consider that the horse’s tail at Arthur’s Bridge on the Fosseway is a good five miles to the east, we can begin to appreciate the size of this landscape giant. It is a joy to walk this figure, always so full of synchronicity and meaning. On last year’s pilgrimage, we found an arrow-shaped headstone in the churchyard and later, opening our eyes after a meditation at the flights and looking toward the western horizon at sunset, we beheld a sky shot through with flaming arrows, as the fading sun’s light refracted upwards through the clouds.

From Chartres CathedralOn The Alchemical Journey each month, we walk the figure that corresponds to the sign of the zodiac that the Sun is in, each sign offering us to a clue to its meaning through the natural seasonal cycle. This is very obvious with Aries and the enthusiastic budding of Spring, and Leo with its golden wheat fields and long, lazy summer days. In our third fire sign of Sagittarius, though, as winter begins to bite, we have to look more closely within for the correspondences. After crossing the threshold in Scorpio, the season of the dead, Mother Nature now seems to turn her attention away from death and decay and toward the rekindling of an “inner fire”. Within the soil, elements are re-combining to warm and protect the seeds of life as a new cycle of gestation begins. This is marked in the Chinese Taiji wheel, where receptive yin energy is at its most saturated and creative yang energy is simultaneously being re-conceived. Some astrologers, too, consider Sagittarius to symbolise the beginning of the gestation phase in the human life cycle.

I experience the alchemy of Sagittarius re-opening my heart, releasing my spirit and offering me the freedom to dream a new dream, as thoughts turn to the future and to the celebration of that immortal being which survives death and rises again, re-born and re-inspired. Hope is re-conceived in this season of Advent, which remembers three wise astrologers who were inspired to follow a star in the east to that much-fabled manger in Bethlehem, on a chilly Solstice eve. And so perhaps we may hold a similar vision of hope and the possibility of a new dawn for our lives and for the world as we journey into our landscape temple of the stars this month.

Our Sagittarius Workshop, which focuses us on re-visioning our alchemical quest, takes place in Glastonbury and Baltonsborough on 11th/12th December. Then, in the new year, we have our Capricorn Workshop: The Alchemy of Vocation on 8th / 9th January.

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