How times change. Before I lost James, I would never have recognised in myself a need for spiritual nourishment …. But since learning Reiki healing, and touching on other complementary and spiritual healing modalities, there are times when I find that nothing else will do.
Thus it was that my healer friend Linda Sewell and I set off on a mini pilgrimage to one of the most sacred and ancient places in England. Chalice Well nestles in the historically mystical Vale of Avalon near Glastonbury in Somerset. Surrounded by beautiful gardens it is a living sanctuary with a great sense of peace and healing that is felt from the moment one steps through the gate.
This is a place where people of all faiths and denominations gather to drink the waters and find solace, peace and inspiration.
I am fortunate enough to have taken my Reiki Master course with Master Teacher Celia Marchisio, with our whole weekend course being based at Chalice Well. This includes access to the gardens early in the morning before they open to the public which makes for a truly moving and sacred experience. In fact I enjoyed the course so much I repeated it twice!
With Linda being an NFSH spiritual healer and myself a Reiki master, we have some lively discussions – but as Linda says, “we are all climbing the same mountain”, and we recognise in one another a shared sense of optimism and positivity as we work through the grief for our sons, supported by our spiritual learning.
I’ve often told Linda about the beauty of Chalice Well and she was keen to experience the place for herself. When we arrived I suggested that I lead her through the gardens on the same route that I have previously followed, which incorporates all the key sacred areas.
The well is at the top of the garden and the stream runs down through the land to open out into the pool below, with its symbolic male/female sculpture adding to its beauty and the overlapping circles an oft repeated theme.
An apothecary’s garden filled with medicinal plants and herbs has been recreated close to the pool.
A pair of ancient yew trees stands sentry on the lawn. Between them the space itself feels sacred, as though this is a gateway to another world. The sound of traffic dies away and you truly feel as though you are in another time and place as you step forward. Passing through the gate brings you to a pool where you can wash your feet if you wish, or as I prefer to do, cleanse some crystals under the flowing water.
After this I introduced Linda to the taste of the spring water at the lion’s head fountain. The water tastes quite metallic due to its high iron content.
The well tended gardens are full of the sound of birdsong and the sight of beautiful flowers. It is impossible not to take time out to meditate and contemplate in such tranquil surroundings, and know that you are following in the footsteps of many others who have come here for healing and sustenance.
The well itself feels mysterious and ancient. It is possible to hear the water far beneath the ground, and looking into it provides a myriad shapes and stories. Here is where Linda and I sat lost in our own thoughts. I sent out healing far and wide as I took in the atmosphere of my surroundings.
Onward and upward – no resting yet – off we went up the sloping path to the top of the gardens. I wouldn’t let Linda turn round until we reached the far point of the summit of the garden, which is the point at which one is directly in line with Glastonbury Tor, high up on its hill. The feeling of being atop this hill and glancing still higher upwards evokes strong emotion and a profound sense of being in the most sacred of places.
We walked slowly back down through the gardens. “I am glad we got here early”, said Linda, “Now I understand your impatience to get on the road at an unearthly hour to get here before it became too busy”. In truth the gardens never feel crowded but if you wish to have some time to yourself, particularly at the well head, it is probably best to arrive in the morning.
There is a retreat house at Chalice Well as well as the amazing Upper Room – a place of silent meditation which is only open to Companions – those paying a small subscription to support the charity. I joined the Chalice Well Trust to experience this on my Reiki course and it was well worth it. The Upper Room is a very special environment.
After our spiritual sustenance it was time to nurture our shopping goddesses and we went into the town of Glastonbury to trawl the fascinating esoteric shops before enjoying a healthy organic lunch at one of Glastonbury’s many restaurants.
One purpose of our meeting was to discuss our next bereavement workshop which we are planning to hold at Harry Edwards Healing Sanctuary in April 2015. We talked much of this on our journey home and were debating the theme for our programme. Linda’s spiritual sign from her son Tom is the rainbow and somehow we were not surprised when a small smudge of rainbow grew and grew as we travelled onward. We finalised our theme – which is the use of colour in healing grief. By this I mean we will explore ways in which colour therapies can help when we are moving forward from the monochrome world of early loss back into living in our colourful world again.
As we chatted, the rainbow finally arched across the sky ahead of us above the motorway and formed itself into a double. “There you go”, said Linda, “Of course! – that’s not only Tom but James too, it’s no surprise that both our boys are coming by to say hello…”
This was the icing on the cake of our spiritual nourishment. What a special day we shared! Addendum…. I thought it would be good to end this piece with a photo of both our boys :)…. James on the left and Tom on the right, saying “Cheers!”
Celia (Seeliana) www.spiritualvoice.co.uk
Chalice Well www.chalicewell.org.uk
Harry Edwards Healing Sanctuary www.harryedwardshealingsanctuary.org.uk