In Chilkwell Street, near to Abbey Park and Glastonbury Tor, lies the Chalice Well. The well is thought to originate from the 12th Century, and is fed by a spring from which 25,000 gallons have poured every day, regardless of drought conditions. The waters are renowned for their healing properties; whether elixir or panacea is yours to judge, but the popularity of the spring, and its associated legends pertaining to Joseph of Arimathea and King Arthur, has spawned a wealth of spiritual fervour.
The well head is covered with a wrought iron lid designed by Frederick Bligh Bond. The design is deeply symbolic with an overlapping of Eastern and Western philosophies, to ancient design and Christian belief. The design of two interlocking circles is connected to the Sacred Geometry of Glastonbury Abbey. Early Christians adopted the central oval to symbolise the sacred fish and called it the vesica piscis. This design is based on a 13th Century pattern which represented the Bleeding Lance holding in balance the Visible and Invisible worlds locked together. It can also be interpreted as representing the Yin and Yang, the conscious and unconscious, and the blending of the masculine and feminine natures. Simple and graceful, it captures the essence of many philosophies.
The 2nd symbol on the sculpture is of Glastonbury Tor with the famous tower, which is all that remains from the chapel built by Adam, then Abbot of Glastonbury in 1325.
The terracing has never been fully explained and many theories abound; archaeological excavations reveal that the Tor may have been a sacred place for Iron Age Celts, or even earlier. It may have been part of an elaborate maze or labyrinth indicating, like Stonehenge, that it was a centre of pagan worship, and often these sites were taken over by Christians later, but it may well be simply linked to an agricultural scheme. Its attraction is that the Tor offers fact, probability and speculation, and leaves the choice to us.
At the top of the sculpture is the Sun; at the base, the Moon: both held in high spiritual esteem by virtually every culture, belief and religion, spanning centuries past, and with understandable reason: these 2 heavenly bodies determine our every day existence, with their influence on the length of day, the temperature and the pull of the tides. Their presence (or lack of presence) has an enormous effect on our spiritual and physical well-being; they have been personified in mythology and poetry. Scientific explanations, although initiated by Anaxagoras, a Greek philosopher living 2500 years ago, only became accessible with the advent of astronomical calculations undertaken by Copernicus and Galileo about 500 years ago.