One of the most incredible aspects of Glastonbury's mystique is the monumental CIRCLE OF THE ZODIAC engraved upon the countryside around the town. It can be seen only from about five miles high in the sky. Why? For whom were these gigantic figures created? And by whom? Was the whole countryside laid out as a mystical path of initiation by Ancient Sumerians or forgotten travellers of Elder Days? Or could it be that at the intersections of the strange lines of psychic power, which appear to criss-cross our planet, certain forces accumulate and cause the landscape to arrange itself into meaningful designs, in much the same way as snowflakes and all other natural phenomena geometrically construct themselves? Such a cosmic concentration of energies could also have the property of subconsciously moulding the minds of the men who worked the land, causing them to create the Zodiac without being aware of it, since life on this earth is, in general, controlled by the subtle influence of the planets. Could the Zodiac be an immense symbolic landing stage marked out for the guidance of unearthly airborne objects, which even today still appear to use Glastonbury as a landmark? Was its existence known to the enlightened Sage Merlin, and its hidden meaning the esoteric answer to the real significance of King Arthur's Round Table?
Mary Caine's recent findings and symbology state the fascinating case for the existence of the GLASTONBURY ZODIAC - the discovery of its Origins is left open to you...
The source of Glastonbury's mystique - the bubbling fount of all its legends - the magnet which attracted so many saints, heroes, kings, pilgrims - is all the more mysterious for being invisible. This is the Zodiac, or Giants of Avalon, claimed by its discoverer, Katherine Maltwood, as at once the oldest and biggest of all Britain's antiquities. It's still largely unknown; ignored by archaeologists. Too Good to be True and Too Big to be Seen.
What! Twelve great signs of the Zodiac laid out in a huge circle from Glastonbury to Somerton, ten miles across? Impossible! Some of the signs five miles from tip to tail? Nonsense! Outlined by roads, paths and waterways, all done by Sumerians in search of metals about 2,800 BC? Crazy! Or by Atlantians in search of dry land and a change of clothing? Rubbish! Helped at nodal points by tumuli, lynchets and other prehistoric earthworks? Coincidence! Hinted at by innumerable place-names? Pure chance! Known to Homer and Hesiod, visited by Hercules, Odysseus, Jason, Perseus, Joseph of Arimathea? You must be joking!
Archaeologists will argue; historians hiss; but why not try believing in the impossible for a change? The Red Queen in "Alice" practised until she could believe at least six impossible things before breakfast. It's exhilarating. Anyway, it's a marvellous idea, and if it's not there, it ought to be. The Grey People will get you certified, but the map at least will be on your side, for these figures can plainly be seen on the 2½" Ordnance sheets. The roads which draw them are ancient, whatever they may say (and they will, believe me, they will) - for all were prehistoric paths leading to prehistoric camps and holy places in prehistoric times when people were more beautiful than they are now, and did beautiful crazy corporate things like Stonehenge and Silbury Hill and huge White Horses on hillsides. And the Lord must have loved them because they didn't lack bread and they got better weather than we do now.
Katherine Maltwood, like Schliemann who discovered Troy, must have been laughed at by all the very best universities. She died in 1961, but she won't lie down. Here, she said, is the Original Round Table, with Arthur, Guinevere and his chief knights still seated majestically round it as the twelve Zodiac figures. The Grail was said to be hidden in Glastonbury Tor's famous Chalice Well by Joseph of Arimathea.
Sir Percival, who found it, is Aquarius; here symbolised as an eagle or phoenix, enfolding Tor and town in great pinions like a guardian angel. The old monks knew this, carving an eagle (one of the four "Gospel-makers") for a clue. But why an eagle for the January Water-Carrier? This Zodiac has only three human figures; Father, Mother and Son. Did the Water-man gate-crash later Zodiacs when its Trinity was forgotten? Crested eagle and phoenix in myth denote rebirth, and here the initiate in the solar Mysteries threaded the Tor's tunnel and maze to be "reborn" with the spring sun. Aquarian Ganymede takes off from Ida's summit on eagle's wings - already cup-bearer to the gods, for Chalice Well and its Grail are in his beak. Winged Daedalus escapes the Maze of earthly reincarnation.
Next to him lies Merlin - Capricorn, bearded goat of aged Saturn. Project his single straight horn across to Leo and you have the summer and winter signs of our Zodiac supporting the Royal Coat of Arms!
Here is the original White Hart, hunted by every prince of folk-lore; cooling his weary feet in Glastonbury's Hartlake - his heart still pounding from the chase at Hearty Moor. Ponter's Ball, his horn, is a huge earthwork over half a mile long; once locally called the Golden Coffin - though only the Zodiac can now remember why. Projected north-west, it pointed out the winter solstice sunrise in 2,800 BC... Arthur of Avalon, the dying sun of Sagittarius, has one foot in this December grave. Older by far than the Arthur of history, he was Ausar (Osiris) and Arueris (Horus), sun-god of Egypt; Ahura, Asser, to the Chaldeans who put him in the sky as Sagittarius. The Pennard Hills modelling his horse echo his name - Arddur, and Breech Lane and Canter's Green occur - just where you'd expect! He is not a centaur, but looks like one, being dragged over his horse's neck by a great whale, a monster whose crocodile jaws and snake's head horribly mangle his arm - at Wallyer's Bridge. The name Plunging remembers the battle raging here between Light and Darkness, Good and Evil. Who wins? Well - a trophy of whale's jaws hangs on Glastonbury's Abbey Gate... Here in Brittania's Zodiac Wheel is St George of England, arms out-flung in the patronal cross; Cornish St Michael, complete with horse and dragon; even Scottish St Andrew, who, as dragon-quelling Indara of the Indo-Eryans, left diagonal crosses on pre-Christian stones all over Scotland. Andrew is a dragon-slayer in Syrian legend too - odd larks for a Galilean fisherman!
Scorpio, the death-sign, is Mordred, gunning for Arthur with his claws. There are no Scales, as these only evolved from his claws in Roman times; but a dove here improves on Libra's peaceable, communicative air-sign. The Holy Spirit (Logos), it flies from dying Arthur's head, announcing to Virgo the new sun's Virgin Birth. The village on his head, Barton St David, makes him the inspiration of Wales. Dove and David have a Welsh root in common - Dovydd, Divine Messenger. Here, too, is Davey Jones in person, homing to his old love Mother Carey at Virgo. Gosling Street on his back makes him her favourite chicken. Sad how the gods of the old faith become the devils of the new.
Drawn by the river Cary, complete with tall hat and broomstick (or wheatsheaf), Britain's first Witch has her baby at Babcary already on the way, shown in her pregnant bulge. Her breast has a tumulus-nipple, known as Wimble Toot. (Toot, tot, teat! Or so Tot as a suckling child and the sailor's bawdy tot of rum seem to shew.) Her cauldron became the Holy Grail. Kore, Ceres, goddess of harvest - is at once Virgin, Mother and Black Witch - the three-phased Moon. As fickle Guinevere she abandons Arthur's winter sun for lusty Lancelot at Leo. The Earth-Goddess prefers her sun-gods hot! Queen Camel village here reminds us of Camelot's Queen; Cadbury Castle, traditional Camelot, guards her still. Even the rigid Fosse Way makes an unaccustomed bow to kiss her hand.
Lying dangerously close to her is Leo; Lleu Llaw, the blazing summer sun-god from whom Lancelot derived. This lover was something of a father-figure, for Guinevere's father was Leo-degrance! One paw of this superb heraldic lion flattens Somerton, once Somerset's capital. Sumer-town? (Arthur, upside-down on the Zodiac Wheel, performs the first Somersault. His dream at the end of Malory's Morte D'Arthur, where he hangs inverted on Fortune's Wheel, gnawed by wild beasts, secretly remembers our Sagittarian sacrifice.)
What, no crab at Cancer? Does the ship cradling a baby mark this watery maternal sign? (Argo Navis occupies this quarter of the sky.) Womb or crescent-moon of Isis and Mary, it holds Gemini, the sun's unborn son, ready to sail beneath the earth to his eastern rising. All heads turn west to adore him. Lohot was Arthur's son; here is Galehot (Galahad) in his Galley. The high (haut) sun brought low; the hot sun-set. He and Percival (who also sailed from mortal sight in the sun's, or Solomon's, ship) are identical Heavenly Twins; they alone were found worthy of the Grail. Gemini's double shows up in aerial photographs; within the foetal outline appears a bearded youth, astonishingly Christ-like; a prefiguring that makes us wonder with William Blake "And did those feet in ancient time...?" Ox and ass protect him, for ass and foal were old signs for Cancer, and Taurus hovers above him. Only the bull's head and foot are shown. His horns are lynchets curved round Hatch Hill (someone has stuck a third horn on his head - the Hood obelisk!)
Place a star-map to scale on the Somerset circle - all the Zodiac stars fall on their earthly counterparts. The equinoctial stars Aldebaran (on Taurus' foot) and Antares (on Scorpio at Stone) were due east-west in 2,800 BC. Sumerian temples were so aligned. Arthur's finger stabbing the circle's centre, his eye and that of the Bull all lie on this line. The Archer, aiming at the Bull's-eye, dates this Temple of the Stars! Chance? My foot, says Taurus.
Aries, his head reverted at Street, is Gawain; the spring sun, rash, impulsive, promiscuous. He had to win his battles before mid-day, for then, sun-like, his strength began to wane. They still tan sheepskins on his Golden Fleece. One of the Fishes springs from his head. Charming to find Street famous for its shoes, for in Astrology Pisces rules the feet. Fisher's Hill leads to Weary-All Hill, the northern fish, the only sign recognisable from the Tor. On the back of this Celtic Salmon of Wisdom Joseph of Arimathea planted his staff, the Holy Thorn, which has flowered at Christmas and Easter ever since. He chose his spot well, for Christianity's earliest symbol was the Fishes. Did he know what he was doing? Did he ever come at all? He may well have done, if Cornish tradition is true; it claims him as a wealthy Phoenician tin-trader, brother-in-law to St Anne, who is claimed as a Cornish princess taken by Joseph to Palestine and married to his brother. As her daughter was the Virgin Mary, this made Joseph of Arimathea the great-uncle of Jesus. This ancient belief is echoed oddly enough by Coptic legend. Those feet it seems may well have trodden England's metal track from Cornwall through the Zodiac to the Mendip lead mines; and at Priddy in the Mendips they still say "As sure as the Lord was at Priddy", while Looe Island, Falmouth, and other ports cherish sacred memories of His coming. Or do we take these Celtic myths (or reject them) too literally? Is our Christ-like Gemini their origin? Esus, Hesus, was the third person of the Druidic Trinity long before Christianity; Taliesin in his coracle, Jason in his Argo, Odysseus the sailor, are but variants on the name of Jesus.
King Arviragus, the Arthur of the time, gave Joseph twelve hides of land round Glastonbury to maintain his mission. What were these but our twelve Hidden Figures? Old genealogies moreover give Joseph as ancestor of Arthur and his chief knights!
We have now come full circle back to Glastonbury, where we came in. Its abbey, the greatest in England, was said to be built around Joseph's humble wattle church - the "Secret of the Lord". Some said this round church was built by our Lord Himself, others that it wasn't built by human hands. Are these rumours dim memories of an earlier Secret still?
There is one more effigy - that of its guardian dog; its Cerberus - lying (all five miles of him) just south-west of the circle. He is Arthur's dog Cabal - "The Mysteries". The Somerset Wassail Song says of him "The Girt Dog of Langport has burnt his long tail..." - a reference perhaps to the sacking of Langport by the Danes. All in all, a hot time for the dog, with Alfred burning his nose at the other end with his famous cakes. Alfred's Castle, a three-tiered mini-tor at Athelney, makes his nostril. Burnt barley cakes used to be thrown into the river Tone, his tongue. Was Alfred seeking admission to the Mysteries? Were his cakes a "sop to Cerberus"? If so, he would take his vow of secrecy at Oath Hill, descend into Hades at Hellard and Hellyar, emerging with a sigh of relief at Paradise, east of the tail. He would sail up the river Parret (which draws the Dog's underside from nose to back leg at Langport), much as Sumerian Gilgamesh did long before him when he travelled to the far west and "sailed up the river Parutti to the place where the star-gods dwell" in search of eternal life. You just can't miss this Dog, with his eye a double prehistoric circle on the air photographs, his head at Head Drove, his ear at Earlake Moor, and his tail - wait for it - at Wagg!
If Arthur beckons - if, that is, you need to find the meaning of life, your place and purpose in it - walk boldly past this Cerberus; his tail wags welcome to true-hearted pilgrims. Feast on the ancient wisdom of the Round Table; drink the Water of Life from Chalice Well; join the Quest for the illumination - the inspiration - of its Hidden Grail.
Editor's Note: We tend to assume that a photograph is something without life, yet recent radiaetheric research has shown that the negative emulsion absorbs something of the psychic energy of whatever is photographed. This can be detected by sensitive instruments, or the sensitive eye. Get hold of any air shots of the Glastonbury area (or anywhere else, as an experiment), and lay them out on the floor. Stand above them without trying to see something in them. Keep the mind clear of thought and wait. If there is something there it will soon manifest and leap out to your consciousness.
Copyright © Mary Caine 1969. Reprinted with permission.
Mary Caine's books The Kingston Zodiac and Celtic Saints and the Glastonbury Zodiac are available from Capall Bann Publishing.
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