Walking the Pisces Figure in the Glastonbury Zodiac

Representation of Pisces in The Glastonbury Zodiac (Gail Cornwell)

Our final foray into The Glastonbury Zodiac, on this turn of the wheel, takes us into the deep imaginal waters of a landscape soaked in myth and legend. It is the legacy of Christ as Ichthus the fish, the chief inaugurator and overseer of the Piscean age, who is most obviously represented here. We are led up Fishers Hill to one of two fish identified by Katharine Maltwood, marked out by the contours of Wearyall Hill, renowned as the site where Joseph of Arimathea landed by boat with the grail cup. In Maltwood’s words, he laid “the sacred blood upon the altar of the fish”, before planting the staff that was to grow into the Holy Thorn. Among other things this has served as a calendar peg, marking the Vernal Equinox for the past 2000 years. The fate that has recently befallen the sacred tree could be seen as a symbolic indication that the equinox is preparing to point to a different sign.

The Holy Thorn - still thriving in Feb 2010

Wearyall Hill is said to be the burial place of a gigantic sacred salmon, and this is easy to imagine when viewed from the Tor, and it is not the only salmon in town. On our annual Pisces walk on The Alchemical Journey, we first tread the Beckery Salmon, first mentioned around 1900 before Maltwood ever dreamed the zodiac into being. It is here that we find Bride’s (or Brigid’s) Mound, one of the most meaningful sacred sites in The Glastonbury Zodiac. Walking up Porchestall Road to Cradle Bridge, we meet the River Brue, and following Alice Buckton’s route, we come upon the “tree of sorrows’; once a willow, now a hawthorn, and we leave our cares there as we prepare to honour the sacred feminine. Nearby is Bride’s Well, where Chalice Well’s mysterious blue bowl was discovered in 1905 through the visions of Wellesley Tudor Pole. From here it is a short walk across the field to Bride’s Mound, the site of St Brigid’s Chapel (no longer extant), part of an earlier Saxon monastery dedicated to Mary Magdalene. This hallowed place was once the traditional disembarking place for boats, and is where Magdalene is said to have landed when she came to these isles.

Our own Piscean pilgrimage continues on to Wearyall Hill via Pomparles Bridge on the main A39 road. It is from this bridge, the legend goes, that King Arthur cast Excalibur into the river, before entering Avalon, an act of surrender that is certainly fitting for this sign of Pisces, in which we must relinquish our attachments, let go of our sense of personal distinction and prepare to merge back into the great cosmic ocean.

So our journey has come full circle through the twelve signs of the Zodiac; a hero’s quest from birth to maturity, to the doorway of death and the uncertain passage through the underworld, to rise again, initiated and prepared to serve the kingdom. And only now at the final gateway of Pisces, through realising the wound of the Fisher King and entering the eternal song of Orpheus, might we dissolve back into unity, and the bliss of pure being. It is in this spirit that we conclude our zodiacal round with the final workshop of the series: “Pisces: The Alchemy of Bliss” on Sunday 4th March 2012.

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