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Somerset, England

The Chalice Well - Vesica PiscisThe Chalice Well Garden - Well Cover, The Vesica Piscis

The vesica piscis consists of two same sized circles intersecting each other. Vesica piscis is Latin meaning "fish bladder".  It has been used since ancient times by many different peoples and cultures to represent such things as:

1) The joining of God and Goddess to create an offspring - circles have often been used to represent those without beginning or end (gods/goddesses), the overlapping of the two has been used to represent them and their offspring,

2) A symbol for Jesus Christ - where the overlapped area became a symbol of fishes used to represent early Christians,

3) In art a pointed oval used as an aureole in medieval sculpture and painting - many of the medieval churches in Europe display this symbol, often those most associated with Mary (or the Goddess),

4) The vagina of the female goddess - representing life or rebirth,

5) The basic motif in the Flower of Life or part of the Tree of Life - more of the life/rebirth symbolism,

6) To represent a source of power or energy - the
Hourglass Nebula, which looks very much like the vesica pisics shape is used by many these days as living proof of the suitability of the symbol being used in this way



7) Representing the joining of the physical and spiritual - one circle represents heaven/spirit/conscious/masculine and the other earth/matter/the unconscious/feminine, and the place where they meet and join.

Today this symbol is most closely associated with Glastonbury and the Chalice Well. That association only came about in recent times however, specifically since 1919 when the archaeologist Frederick Bligh Bond designed and donated the cover for the wellhead.

Frederick Bond spent years as the resident archaeologist at Glastonbury Abbey and had a personal interest in sacred geometry.

Bond chose the vesica piscis perhaps for many of the reasons listed above: to show the spring as a source of power and energy, and symbolize the meeting of spiritual and earthy things. It's said he used the 'lance' through the center (running top to bottom) to represent Excalibur in the Arthurian legends so closely connected to this area (Avalon), and the leaves around the sides in reference to the Holy Thorn tree supposedly planted by Joseph of Arimathea.

In his own words (Bond wrote), "Typical of many early diagrams, all having the same object – the rendering of spiritual truth by means of the purest, most intellectual system of imagery conceived by the mind, namely, truth which is ‘aeonial’ or eternal, of which geometry is the best interpreter, since it can figure for us with remarkable suggestiveness those formative principles upon which the Father has built his Creation, principles which shall endure when heaven and earth have died ."

Coventry Patmore wrote in his book The Unknown Eros a poem entitled Vesica Piscis where the Christian associations of the symbol are easy to see...

In strenuous hope I wrought,
And hope seem’d still betray’d;
Lastly I said,
‘I have labour’d through the Night, nor yet
Have taken aught;
But at Thy word I will again cast forth the net!’
And, lo, I caught
(Oh, quite unlike and quite beyond my thought,)
Not the quick, shining harvest of the Sea,
For food, my wish,
But Thee!
Then, hiding even in me,
As hid was Simon’s coin within the fish,
Vesica Piscis pool in the Chalice Well Garden, Glastonbury, EnglandThou sigh’d’st, with joy, ‘Be dumb'.

As you follow the spring water in in meandering way through the Chalice Well Garden you'll come to the Cesica Piscis Pool. It sits in a lovely open area with the Holy Thorn tree just beside it.

Larger photos of the Garden can be seen in our Photo Gallery section.

You can visit the Travel is Awesome Zazzle shop for souvenirs if you missed getting yours while visiting the Garden yourself. If you've not been to the Chalice Well yet I hope our wee creations inspire you to change that soon!

 

   

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