With the advent of spring, we emerge from deep-in-the belly womb-time into the light of day. In New England the drum roll of March pushing against the dark and reclaiming a beachhead for light has come with snow and frigid temperatures awakening the beast of winter rather than maiden crocuses. The wheel of the year seems to have been knocked off its axis by climate change. As I write, snow is falling, and plows roam the streets like ravenous carnivores scraping huge bellies against the pavement devouring the snow and spewing the bones into piles of white along the curb. I want to luxuriate indoors mesmerized by kaleidoscopic shifts of logs licked by tongues of flame.
Greedy winter uses up large stores of sun-generated energy. How can we shift that balance? I dream of days when wind turbines—huge lopsided, three-winged gulls, overlooking the mudflats—will multiply to harness the power of winter’s gales, and solar panels will glint from every roof storing the bright sunshine of cloudless winter days.
On March 20, the sun shines equally on the northern and southern hemispheres—equinox, the mid-point on the see saw of the earth’s gradual tilt on its axis. Here in the north, we pause to sip the almost unbearable sweetness of spring’s elixir distilled through the tribulations of years and years of winters. Now as gladness comes home to roost, our crone hearts crack open to welcome rebirth.
Soon, with the collusion of water and warmth, hidden bulbs will push their green spikes upwards, doughty harbingers of glory to come, as the earth responds to the sun’s fierce passion. Dylan Thomas grapples with growth’s engine both in its revving up and winding down as he writes, “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower/Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees/ Is my destroyer.” We are born to die and must accept the cycle of the year as kin to our own. Never shall we know the innocence of a Demeter whose blooming daughter walks only on earth; always, we are the Demeter of Sorrows, she who has lost and grieved, and greets the return of her daughter with joy, knowing, however, that she must leave again. Is spring a clarion call to the soul, a promise of immortality? That is the eternal question beyond our ken.
On a happy note of synchronicity, I will be in Glastonbury, England on the vernal equinox. On this ancient ground the sacred is made visible. Christian legends give the Chalice Well and St. Michael’s tower on Glastonbury Tor their current names. The mineral laden waters of the well, red with ferrous oxide, maintain a constant warmth and rate of flow. Water with a high iron content, like blood itself, increases human sensitivity to the earth’s magnetic field and enhances the connection between the spiritual and physical. These are healing waters and must have been as precious to our prehistoric ancestors as they are to us today.
Religious beliefs encoded in sacred stories connect us to the living water of the land. According to Christian legend Joseph of Arimathea washed the chalice used at the Last Supper in the waters of this well turning them red, thus claiming the vitality of this place for a new religion. Once, these waters surely were worshiped as a manifestation of the Goddess of the Land. Here is the source of life, the living womb of the goddess, and the blood of Christ. The nearby hill, Glastonbury Tor, upon whose summit stands a tower dedicated to St. Michael, in earlier times would have been sacred to the shining one, the sun god, Belenos whose name survives in Beltane (May 1). The tower marks the position on the horizon of the rising May Day sun. Today’s trustees of the Chalice Well embrace the theme ‘Many Paths | One Source’ and invite all people to find peace and nourishment from these healing waters and the surrounding gardens.
A new season is upon us, a time of growth, surprise, and wonder, as well as surrender to necessity as we grapple with the needs of the day. We need energy and commitment to live, to hold on, to keep fighting. We are all struggling, learning, slipping, falling, and rising again. As one crone put it, she has learned to expect nothing, and to be grateful for everything.
In this moment of balance at equinox, may we take time to pause, reflect, and find joy in living. Let us come to the waters of the well, to the deep inner source of our being. As the silky warm water glides across our fingers, perhaps arthritic and wrinkled now, a charge of hope regenerates us. The luminous vitality of love can shine through our bodies at any age.
Burgeoning springtime blessings,
The cover of the Chalice Well, Glastonbury, England.
Blessing the Waters
To get your blood flowing take a vigorous walk. Along your way, notice signs of spring. Carry a glass container with you and fill it with water from a pond, stream, ocean, drips from melting icicles, or if necessity warrants, your kitchen tap. Place the filled container on a flat surface and light a candle next to it—a red one would be nice. Sit quietly, alone or with others, and reflect on the blessings of water. “Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath, fire my spirit.” Feel a sense of warmth suffusing your body and with it a gentle thaw occurring about your heart. Feel the flow of life and love connecting us all.