Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The View over Atlantis – John Michell
The local gods are not merely the picturesque fantasies of poetic imagination, but have an important function in civilised life: to orientate the people in relation to their surroundings and to establish the cosmic law in human society.
This was the object of the ancient science of which Stonehenge and the temple at Glastonbury were the instruments. In the landscape round Glastonbury Abbey, the visionary plains where Mrs Maltwood experienced her transcendental insight into the giant terrestrial zodiac which is the pictorial expression of the cycle of King Arthur and the Grail Quest, can be found the clearest exposition of the former practice of sacred geometry.
660 was the cabalistic number conventionally taken to represent the diameter of the earth, for 666 feet is 7920 inches and 7920 miles is the terrestrial diameter. A circle with radius 660 feet (one furlong), struck from the centre of the rectangle of Bligh Bond's 74-foot squares, passes through the site of the old Market Cross, the Abbey fish pond and the town's Catholic church and defines with its circumference the outer limits of St John's Church and the old Abbey House.
Another similar circle centred on the Catholic church, which is on a site of ancient sanctity, encloses the church of St Benedict and passes also through the Market Cross and the fish pond. The two parish churches, 1000 feet apart, are now placed symmetrically within the two circles. The centre of the vesica formed by these two circles falls on the Abbey's Almonry, the centre of charity, and one of its sides can clearly be seen to mark the building line of the houses in Magdalene Street.
Thus the town of Glastonbury can be seen to lie below the interlinked circles of the vesica piscis, the mystic symbol of the early Christians, the foundation of sacred edifices since Stonehenge and the basic figure of sacred geometry. Other features, numerical, geometrical and geographical link Glastonbury unmistakably with Stonehenge and with the Sun. For instance, the two circles, each with radius 66o feet, forming the great vesica on the Glastonbury plan have a combined area of 37,000 square MY. Moreover the whole of the Glastonbury geometry falls into units of 10 acres, for the radius of each of the large circles forms the side of a square whose area is 48,400 square yards or 10 acres. Since, as we have seen, the acre is one myriad millionth of the square on the earth's radius, and since its numbers are here clearly related to those of the square of the Sun, it is evident that the traditional reputation of this magic square for uniting and systematising the principal cosmic ratios is by no means fanciful"
The Alignment of Glastonbury Abbey with Stonehenge
The final proof that Glastonbury Abbey was conceived as the spiritual successor of Stonehenge can be found on the large-scale Glastonbury map. The main axis of the Abbey runs nearly due east and west and St Benedict's Church lies upon its westward extension. From the tower of St Benedict's one can look along the ridge of the church, straight down the length of the Abbey to Abbey House which blocks the view further. Yet beyond this house the line continues in a very obvious way along Dod Lane, an old path, partly causewayed, which extends past the Tor in isolated stretches of modern road. As Watkins noted, the word 'dod’ appears invariably to indicate a ley. If this line is carried further, it will be found to pass over St Michael's, Gare Hill, evidently an important ley centre and still clearly recognisable as the sighted landmark for a number of ancient roads. The present hilltop church stands in direct line with Witham Friary, Wells Cathedral and the earthwork on Brent Knoll, an alignment which also includes the site marked as Roman Temple above Brixton Deverill. Another line from a tumulus on Salisbury Plain passes over several old tracks to Tilshead Church, and crossroads, continuing along the edge of a long barrow, across the centre of Scratchbury Hill Camp and over the churches of Bishopstrow, Crockerton, Horningsham to Gare Hill. It is tempting to quote other examples of remarkable alignments in this and other areas, but unless the author has, like Mr Watkins, personal experience in walking their course, lists of leys taken from the map make dull reading. The point to be made is this. The axis of Glastonbury Abbey, extended past Gare Hill, points over an old priory site directly to Stonehenge. It can hardly have been by chance that the sacred geography of Glastonbury was arranged to indicate Stonehenge with such precision. The Abbey itself must lie along an old processional path of which Dod Lane and the path past Chalice Hill are fragmentary survivals.
'Dod', like the German Tod, means death, and Dod Lane is a spirit path, leading to Avalon, the western isle of the dead. In China the lung-mei, lines of the dragon current, passed over land that was held sacred and reserved for the burial mounds of kings. It is not therefore surprising to learn that in 1278 the monks of Glastonbury discovered in the centre of their Abbey the tomb of King Arthur, the heir to the Pendragon throne, buried, just as he would have been in China, on the sacred line of the dragon's path,
Glastonbury, the New Jerusalem
The whole area around Glastonbury is laid out to a sacred plan, the key to which is to be found within the hidden geometry of the Abbey church. It is no longer known for what purpose the masons who built the mediaeval Gothic churches followed, in drawing up the groundplan, the old magic patterns handed down within their guild from times of remote antiquity. Yet, as the work of Lesser, Bond, Critchlow and others has revealed, this was undoubtedly their practice. In fact it appears that the unseen geometry, inherent in the proportions of the church fabric, as also in that of the preceding stone circle, reflects in microcosm the astrological geography of the surrounding countryside, the magical lie of the land. Evidently, from the record of William of Malmesbury's Glastonbury, there was once an actual plan of the Glastonbury scheme laid out as a This church, then, is certainly the oldest I know in England, and from this circumstance derives its name (vetusta ecclesia)... . . In the pavement may be seen on every side stones designedly inlaid in triangles and squares, and figured with lead, under which, if I believe some sacred enigma to be contained, I do no injustice to religion'
The source of the experienceCeltic
Concepts, symbols and science items
Science ItemsSacred geography
Sacred geography - altars
Sacred geography - ancient trees
Sacred geography - artificial hills
Sacred geography - beacons
Sacred geography - bridges
Sacred geography - castle
Sacred geography - citadel
Sacred geography - cities
Sacred geography - cliffs
Sacred geography - crack or crevice
Sacred geography - cross
Sacred geography - crossroads
Sacred geography - cursus
Sacred geography - enclosures and camps
Sacred geography - gardens
Sacred geography - henges
Sacred geography - hollow roads
Sacred geography - islands
Sacred geography - isthmus
Sacred geography - ley lines
Sacred geography - mark stones
Sacred geography - Megalithic inches, feet, yards and miles
Sacred geography - natural hills
Sacred geography - physical caves
Sacred geography - rivers and streams
Sacred geography - tower
Sacred geography - water sites