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Finding Contentment in the Star Temple of Body & Land

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

Temple of the Stars Britain is full of esoteric mysteries and one which has revealed itself to me over recent times has been about the landscape surrounding Glastonbury – the living temple – which I would like to share about in this newsletter. The story begins with a lady called Katharine Maltwood, who was an esoteric writer, artist and sculptor, interested in the subject matters of goddess spirituality, Buddhism, Egyptian religion, theosophy, Masonic knowledge and mythology. Maltwood owned Chilton Priory, (now known as Avalon Priory) in Somerset for 20 years and while being commissioned to create a map detailing the mythology of King Arthur, she received a vision which formed part of her greatest work, the Glastonbury’s Temple of the Stars – a zodiac found in the landscape: Vision of a Lion

“In 1925 Katharine Emma Maltwood, working in Chilton Priory, her strange, towered abode, looked over the landscape near Glastonbury, Somerset. She was getting a feel for the map she had been commissioned to produce for a new edition of Sebastian Evans’ translation of The High History of the Holy Grail. As she pondered the curious appearance of a lion in the story, she had a flash of vision and saw the figure of a great feline shaped in the hills and hollows of the countryside before her. She later associated this figure with the ancient constellation of Leo. Wandering the landscape and referring to topographical maps she quickly outlined other figures. Among them were a great bird, a mounted king, a giant fish, the head of a cow or bull, a mighty hound, a queen or goddess, a child, and a triad of bird, dragon and triangle at the centre. Thus did she first discern the great Dreamers of “this Giant Fairyland...wrapped in profound sleep.”” From ‘Secrets of a Faery Landscape’ by Coleston Brown.

Katharine Maltwood's Glastonbury's Temple of the Stars

Giants in the Land Maltwood continued to be fascinated by this temple of the stars for the remainder of her life and drew upon her vast astrological and mythological knowledge in order to gain further insights into the visions of the landscape which she had received:

“These giant figures one of them is five miles across – lie stretched over the Vale of Avalon in a great circle ten miles in diameter. Glastonbury Tor is its northern sighting point; Somerton and Lyte’s Cary bound it on the south. The effigies are formed and outlined by hills, contours, earthworks, roads, paths, ancient field boundaries, and by natural and artificial waterways. They consist of the twelve signs of the Zodiac in their correct order, with a thirteenth figure, the largest of all, lying outside the circle to the south-west. This is the great dog of Langport, who guards the sacred abode of Annwn, just as Cerberus guarded the gates of Hades.” From ‘Secrets of a Faery Landscape’ by Coleston Brown. Receiving from the Land

Maltwood received this knowledge through active participation in developing a relationship with the land and walking along its contours during her time at the priory – an old, large house built in 1836, with its own chapel and tower. The land can speak to us if we are open and accept its invitation and allow ourselves to expand in awareness and consciousness. When we do so, we can find deeper contentment and peace as we find ourselves more embedded in great cosmic processes:

“The land spoke to her and revealed the secrets of the stars and the meaning of sacred lore. This is not a result of stories having been being consciously “mapped” on the landscape, but of the land revealing its mysteries through sacred lore, including its interrelationships with stellar and chthonic or UnderRealm powers.” From ‘Secrets of a Faery Landscape’ by Coleston Brown. Arthurian Mysteries and Astrology

With her vast mythological knowledge, Maltwood was able to spot the astrological influences in the local stories of the land, including the Arthurian and holy grail tales with its round table, representing the zodiac. She was able to see in the land, the stars mapped out as a mirror reflection.

“To realise at all the size of the prehistoric ‘Round Table’ of the Grail’, one must think in miles not inches, in millennia instead of centuries; for the Temple is ten miles in diameter, it is about 5,000 years old, and this counterpart of the heavens corresponds with the constellation figures recognized by astronomers today. It is interesting to note that it was once customary to personify the heavenly bodies and elements in religious drama and dance...That is exactly what the pre-Christian Grail ‘Mystery’ appears to have been – three knights and King Arthur representing the sun in the four quarters of the year, within the ‘Golden Round’, each having his own ‘house’ or constellation Giant.” ‘Glastonbury’s Temple of the Stars’ by Katharine Maltwood. The Round Table as Zodiac

The Winchester Round Table, hanging in Winchester Castle, bearing the names of the Arthurian knights. It is 5.5 metres in diameter.

The following was a quote included by Maltwood in her writings which reflected this relationship very clearly and was taken from the most famous French text on Arthurian literature, composed between 1220 and 1240:

“The round table was constructed, not without great significance, upon the advice of Merlin. By its name the Round Table is meant to signify the round world and round canopy of the planets and the elements in the firmament, where are to be seen the stars and many other things.” From La Queste del Saint Graal.

Wisdom Evolves Yet it is important to remember the times in which Maltwood was writing and the cultural or limiting influences of her day. We can take an organic approach and allow our understanding of the zodiac to resonate with modern-day wisdom. With a non-dual understanding of the nature of reality, we realise that everything is consciousness – the vibrating quantum field where nothing is fixed or truly separate – everything is alive and imbued with consciousness and energy, including the land and the stars. Keeping this in mind, we can understand that consciousness is always evolving into more intelligent forms.

“Unfortunately, most commentators following her published works have viewed the complex as a rather static thing, with stars and constellations rigidly fitted to land forms at a particular time in history...Moreover, it seems the Enclosure is less a fixed map or representation of the zodiac and other stars than it is an expression of faery presences that, being faery, morph and change their boundaries and images if not their power and influence.” From ‘Secrets of a Faery Landscape’ by Coleston Brown.

Mary Caine's Alterations

Mary Caine's Glastonbury Zodiac

Mary Caine felt called to work with the zodiac and published her book ‘The Glastonbury Zodiac’ in 1978 in which she felt called to make some alterations to Maltwood’s zodiac, reflecting a more up-to-date understanding of these energies for her time:

“The second question “When was it made?” must then take us back to the geological ages when the hills were first formed and the streams first began to flow. But this was only the beginning; its continuous development embraces all the ages of man down to the present day; and if this is so there is no reason to suppose that its evolution should not continue into the future. On the contrary, now the Zodiac is more openly known, this defining process is likely to accelerate. The Dove Centre recently founded on Libra’s Dove is only one example. Such developments are also indicative of the way awareness increases the speed of evolution.” ‘The Glastonbury Zodiac’ by Mary Caine.

Like Maltwood, Caine also received a zodiac of the land around Kingston in Surrey and similarly also first saw a vision of the lion, or Leo, which may have significance. Caine also saw the profundity of the stars and how they influence the psychology and physiology not only of humans but also the land and the stories we weave:

“Here then at Glastonbury is the star-lore of all the ages; the source of all religious teachings. The Trinity is common to all...The first Garden of Eden is here, with Sagittarius as Adam, Eve as Virgo, Cain and Abe as the Gemini twins.” ‘The Glastonbury Zodiac’ by Mary Caine. Faery Dreamers

Writer Coleston Brown also felt connected to work with the zodiac to help with understanding its evolution and spent time walking the land, visiting sacred sites, doing vision quests and visiting Katharine Maltwood’s Vancouver Island home (where she had moved after leaving the UK.) Brown saw these thirteen presences as faery dreamers in the landscape – spirits of place, with a consciousness and with their own energies mirrored by celestial powers.

“All over the world, imposing or important landforms are commonly associated with deities, heroes, and other sacred presences who are also connected to constellations, stars, planets, moon, sunrise, sunset, and so on. The effect of these presences and landforms on the health and harmony of the people and creatures that live in the surrounding landscape is undeniable.” From ‘Secrets of a Faery Landscape’ by Coleston Brown.

Jesus as the sun and Mary Magdalene as the moon can also clearly be seen in a mosaic from the 6th century Monastery of Lady Mary in Beit She’an, Israel, which also contained the Greek names of the twelve months - another zodiac.

Spirit of Place

By connecting with the spirit of the place, we can deepen and expand our consciousness and feel more interconnected. We can feel a greater sense of peace, contentment and joy knowing that we are part of something truly profound. The genius loci was the Roman name for the spirit of place and many altars throughout the Roman Empire were dedicated to a genius loci. In Asia, spirits of place have been worshipped in pillar shrines, spirit houses and in Bali, pura temples on the mountainside have been dedicated to the hyang spirits in the realm of the gods. Similar energies are likewise seen as the faery presences – the dreamers which called to Coleston Brown in his interpretation of the energies weaving through the landscape. Zodiac Man

The zodiac has also been depicted in human form as well as in landscapes. The concept of the zodiac in the human body can be seen in the ‘Zodiac Man’ which first appeared in the Roman poem, Astronomica in AD 30–40. It appeared consistently throughout the medieval era, and was particularly used in medieval medicine to determine the most optimal times to perform procedures. Its primary associations included Aries as the head, Taurus as the neck, Gemini as the shoulders and arms, Cancer as the chest, Leo as the sides and heart, Virgo as the belly, Libra as the lower back and kidneys, Scorpio as the genitalia, Sagittarius as the thighs, Capricorn as the knees and bones, Aquarius as the lower legs and ankles and Pisces as the feet.

'The Zodiac Man' depicting the astrological signs in various human body parts, from a 15th-century Welsh manuscript.

Writer George Carey in his book ‘God-Man: the Word Made Flesh’ spoke about the symbolism of bodily processes in the biblical stories and saw these stories as pointers leading us back to our own bodies as sacred temples. In this way, we are invited to see ourselves and our bodies as part of the great cosmic web rather than feeling separate and outside of it. His books provide beautiful and simple frameworks to interpret and read these old stories and mythologies.

“A little earnest, patient study will open the understanding of any one possessed of ordinary intelligence and make plain the great truth that the UNIverse is what the word implies, I.e., one verse. It logically follows that all parts of one thing are susceptible to the operation of any part. The human body is an epitome of the cosmos. Each sign of the Zodiac is represented by the twelve functions of the body and the position of the Sun at birth....In ancient lore Aries was known as the “Lamb of God,” or God, which represents the head or brain. The brain controls and directs the body and mind of man.” From ‘God-Man: the Word Made Flesh.’ The Human Body as Living Temple

For example, Carey described the processes of the pineal gland depicted in the biblical stories with Christ representing the oil secreted in the body along the spinal cord - this secretion moves along the spinal cord, symbolised by the “River of Jordan” with the Dead Sea signifying the base of the spinal column. Carey described the process of this oil moving up the spinal cord and contacting the cerebellum where it remains for two and a half days (the moon’s period in an astrological sign) in the tomb of the cerebellum before moving into the Pineal Gland on the third day – the Pineal Gland being the “Temple of the Living God.” Carey believed that this seed of oil, was also called Jesus from ichthys (Greek for fish) and nun (Hebrew for fish) and that this seed or fish would be born every month for a person according to when the moon moved into their astrological sign. The ichthys symbol (two intersecting arches forming the shape of a fish) was used as a secret symbol by the early Christians.

“It is very evident that the “Old” Testament referred more especially to the cosmic processes; the “New” Testament to those same processes within man, since “as above, so below.” There is nothing in the universe that is not within man.” From ‘God-Man: the Word Made Flesh.’ Landscape as the Macrocosm

Pointing back to the temple of the body, rather than an ethereal, philosophical complexity outside of us enables us to come back to the body and be in tune with the great cosmos and feel one with these processes, rather than separate. We can feel the sacredness within us, rather than seeing it as something outside of us. Carey also saw these processes playing out in the landscape in macrocosm form:

“The geography of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt resembles the anatomy of man’s body. The solar plexus is the dividing line between the lower, ani-mal (Latin for bad life) or Adam-earthly man and the spiritual Ego residing in the heart-shaped cerebellum.” From ‘God-Man: the Word Made Flesh.’

Heart Chakra of the World Glastonbury is often referred to as being the heart chakra of the world and many visit this ancient pilgrimage centre and its sacred sites due to its potent and healing earth energy including sites such as Chalice Well, the Tor and the abbey where ley lines run through. “The spiritual power flows through a weaving or net of interconnected paths, which are commonly referred to as leys or dragon lines.” From ‘Secrets of a Faery Landscape’ by Coleston Brown.

These leys are like the energy channels of the human body (the nadi channels from yogic philosophy) which allow prana energy to flow up the spine through the chakras. When they are freely flowing and healthy, the body and land can be at peace – yet when they are blocked, disharmony can arise.

Different Energies in the Land We can begin to see the enormity of the power and magnitude of this sacred temple of the stars in the land. It is constantly changing and evolving, just as the energy moves and shifts through it and just as human (and animal) consciousness changes and evolves. We may find ourselves drawn to different areas of the land in order to connect with its differing energies. The bird-like giant or phoenix can be found with its outstretched wings in Glastonbury, with its beak drinking from the waters at the Chalice Well. It can represent our own personal resurrection – our ability to transform and rise from the ashes and it is also associated with Aquarius – signifying the Aquarian, new age we are now navigating through. We may feel drawn to these waters at Chalice Well during times of transformation and healing as an example. Interestingly, further astrological pointers can be found on these grounds – the wellhead contains the symbol of the vesica piscis which means bladder or vessel of the fish (symbol of Pisces) in Latin and the water fountain has a lion-head which could be connected to Leo.

The wellhead at Chalice Well with Vesica Piscis symbol - another astrological connection - the word literally means bladder or vessel of the fish.

Because this map of the Glastonbury Zodiac has already been drawn out and strength has been added to it through the accumulation of knowledge, texts and vision quests, it carries a lot of weight and significance – yet I do not believe that such a temple is unique to Glastonbury. I believe that the spiritual energies of place in any area of the land can be evoked and connected with, just as Mary Caine did with Kingston in Surrey.

Have you found a connection with the landscape around you? What secrets has it revealed or do you feel is holding, waiting to be unearthed? I wish you many beautiful adventures with the temple of stars surrounding your very home.

The healing waters at Chalice Well with a lion-head fountain.

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1 Comment

Thank you, Tess, for that fascinating and thoroughly researched article. Lots to ponder here. And yes, I love to make deep connections with the landscape around me, an endless souce of wisdom and joy.

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