Two streams flow out of Glastonbury Tor (the sacred hill I wrote about in my previous post)—the Red and White Spring. They rise closely together and share the same source under the Tor Hill, yet their mineral content is entirely different. The White Spring contains calcium, while the Red or Blood Spring is rich in iron.
The Red Spring (in the picture) flows through the beautiful gardens of Chalice Well Trust, an esoteric organization created by a businessman and an extraordinary visionary and psychic, Wellesley Tudor Pole, to preserve the sacredness of the spring and surrounding land. The healing properties of the waters have been known since the remote past.
But there is much more to these springs than just their mineral content which promotes healing. The springs flow out together from one of the most sacred hills in Britain—the Tor—which has most unusual energetic properties: two earth currents weave around the slopes to make a three-dimensional maze (see my previous post). As a result, the underground water is subjected to an energetic spiral vortex at all times. And water, it has been shown, reaches its highest level of ionization when in a rapidly moving vortex.
Furthermore, the distillation of these springs from the subterranean aquifer has been compared to the alchemical process conducted within the retort (the Tor serving as an alchemical retort or alembic). The red and white colors of the two springs symbolize the interplay of red and white substances in alchemical work. In medieval and Renaissance European alchemy, red and white fluids represented two opposing principles: fire and water, sun and moon, or blood and milk (or sexual fluids). Their interplay, transmutation, and eventual “marriage” (alchemical wedding or coniunctio) produces the Philosophers’ Stone—the process that transmutes the base metal of matter/body into the refined gold of spirit.
When I made the pilgrimage to Glastonbury and stayed at Chalice Well, I didn’t know all of this. I usually prefer to have the experience first, then to read about the site I visited afterwards. This is why when I strolled the lush gardens at dusk, alone under the darkening canopy of leaves, I could open to the energy of the place without any expectations. I sat by the source of the Blood Spring in complete darkness and felt the forces of nature all around me. It wasn’t exactly pleasant; in truth, it was almost frightening. But then again, the powerful sacred places that stimulate inner transformations are not supposed to feel pleasant. Their function is to stir, break down, trigger crises, awaken, or purge.
Because in all the ancient mystery traditions, the first requirement of an initiatory journey is a visit to the underworld—the symbolic descent into the cavernous depths of the earth. Sitting by the dark opening of the Blood Spring at night reminded me of that stage of the journey, the journey I went through several years ago, the journey I’m writing about in my spiritual travelogue Meet Me in the Underworld.