The waters of Avalon flow forth dripping of red and white over the physical landscape in Glastonbury. The two well-known sacred water sources in Glastonbury have become synonymous with Avalon and much of the lore that flows across the landscape. Avalon, the Otherworld, the Summerlands, the place beyond the mist holds with in it the deep mysteries of blood, bone and the unconscious. The White Well and Chalice Well are both popular sacred water sources that are visited by numerous pilgrims of many faiths and spiritual practices.
Within Celtic and Witchcraft lore we often see a recurring color theme of red white and black; often having specific meaning for each coven, path and group. Some work with it through ancestral correspondences, others see these colors representative of land, sea and sky. It is also reflected in Avalonian traditions in the apple, the Red and White Well, Merlin’s red and white dragons and in Brythonic folklore animals of the Otherworld are often seen as white with red eyes and red tipped ears and others are often seen as just black. In Scotland they use threads in black white and red coloring to create healing charms and rites. And many modern witches of pagans used these colors in their ritual cords, it is because these are well known colors from the Otherworld.
The Red Well, also known as the Chalice well, flows from the base of the Tor and into a beautiful flower covered garden, guarded by two majestic Yew trees. Wherever the water runs, it leaves an Iron rich red stain reminiscent of the women’s mysteries, blood and the cycles of womanhood. If you stay still long enough and listen you can hear the lady of Avalon (The white lady) walking through the gardens, and she reveals herself to those that need to believe, that need to hear her message. The red of the well is mirrored in the red of the skin of the apple, the apple trees that reside at the base of the Tor. The Red Well is decorated with the Vesica Pisces, a symbol of femininity, and now a symbol of Avalon. The well is said by the Christians to hold the “Holy Grail” Maybe! However, perhaps it holds a deeper secret, the secret of the divine feminine, the strength of the woman, and her mysteries.
The Chalice well has so much history, both Christian and Pagan in nature. It is called the Chalice well due to the mythology of the Holy Grail being hidden in its depths. Though it has never been found, the Chalice well has become a place of healing and of transformation. The waters which originate a few miles away bubble up in this sacred Glastonbury landscape. The waters flow red, rich with iron deposits and speak of the womb, the goddess, and birth. No wonder the sign of the Vesica Pisces has been placed on the well cover. It is a sacred symbol, which is associated with the Flower of Life and other Sacred Geometric formations. Strangely, the Chalice Well flows just feet from the White Well, bringing another curious mystery to the Avalonian Waters. These waters flow in both the mundane and Otherworld landscapes.
The White Well
Many people know of the magic of Glastonbury and the magic of the Chalice Well located there, but not as many know that just a few feet away is another sacred water source. It is mysterious, very magical, and very different from the Chalice Well. Hundreds of people come to Glastonbury to marinate in the many magical and healing energies that surround and intersect there. The White Well, which today is found paralleling the Chalice Well gardens is located just on the other side of Well House Lane and is saturated with limestone, which leaves white calcium deposits everywhere the water runs, giving it the name the White Spring or White Well.
Deep below the Glastonbury Tor, is the Realm of the Faery King Gwn Ap Nudd, from the base of this Tor is where the sacred white spring bubbles up. Strengthened by the mysteries of the Fae and Avalon, the white limestone waters bubble up through the base of the tor, and trickling down over the land paralleling the path of the Chalice Well. It is very fitting that the White well bubbles up in the location. The phallic structure of the Tor in combination with the masculine seed-bearing flow of the calcium covered waters brings a balance to the very feminine Chalice Well.
The colors of the White Well and Chalice Well’s energies combine and can be seen reflecting the colors of the Faery Realm, White and Red. These colors and themes are also mirrored in the energies of the sacred apple orchard on the hills surrounding the Tor and sacred springs. The red apple skin symbolizes the life force and blood and the energies of the Chalice Well, while the white of the apple symbolizes the White Well, calcium, masculine fluids, milk and bone, which is often seen as the structure and foundation. Both of these energies of the land continue to rely on each other’s energy for balance and completion. But there is another body of water that cannot be located within the mundane world, it is dark and flows invisibly across the landscape of Glastonbury as well as our own souls and the underworld.
The Black Well
The Black Well is the name I have personally given to the 3rd body of flowing water, it runs through the underworld landscapes, and over through the mundane world. It is a body of water that is spiritual and metaphorical but all too real. It is the place where the spirits dwell, where they ride the waves through the underworld and through it into this world. It is where the voices whisper, it is where we connect to the unknown. It is the undercurrent, the Underworld Rivers, the River Styx, the water upon which Arthur’s body was carried to Avalon. It is the water that Barinthus rides to the shores and it is the water upon which we part the mists and cross into the unknown realms of Avalon and Annwn. It is the unconscious and subconscious thought that leads us to spirit connection.
Like many sacred wells which bubble up from the dark and mysterious underworld the Black Well bubbles up from our subconscious unlike the White and Red Wells this water is dark and mysterious. Dreaming wells also reflect this dark water. Dreaming wells like St. Madron’s Well are where one goes to dream, to receive messages from the other side and to reach deep in to the depths of our subconscious, speaking of shadow and healing, here is where inner change takes place and connecting with the deities and spirits of the underworld. It is through this Black Well that the waters of prophecy, divination and divine messages are poured out from the Otherworld and into our own souls. These waters are not exclusive to Glastonbury but rather flows through this world and the Otherworld intermingling with the magical and mundane worlds. It’s an invisible current but it is strong.
The Red, White and metaphorical Black Well flow in and out of the Avalonian landscape, touching the physical landscape as well as our subconscious. The colors are reflected in the apple. The red skin being like the Chalice Well, it covers the white meat of the apple. It is what attracts us to both the apple and the Glastonbury landscape. The White Well like the meat of the apple, it is the nutritious fruit, covered and slightly secretive but it’s meant to be bitten and enjoyed, like the dark well house that covers the flow of the White Well, the white meat of the apple brings nutrition, healing and balance.
But within the juicy white meat lies something deeper and dark. 5 little seeds, small and black, obscured to all who gaze upon the apple, often discarded as useless, and only those that will dig deep within the mysterious white meat of the apple will reap the rewards of the dark mysteries of birth, renewal and life.