Friday, 22 January 2010
The Blue Bowl of Glastonbury
Because of Mara Freeman's connections to the Chalice Well Trust, our tour group was able to enjoy a rather unique experience. In the beautiful meditation room of Little St. Michael's Retreat House, we had the opportunity to sit in silent meditation with the Blue Bowl of Glastonbury.
The Blue Bowl is a small antique dish purchased in Italy in 1885 by Dr. Goodchild of Bath, England. A vision convinced him that it was the Holy Grail. Another vision instructed him to bury the bowl at Bride's Mound in Glastonbury. This was reputed to be the site of an ancient chapel honouring the Goddess/Saint Brigid. In 1906, three women (!) found the bowl and gave it to their spiritual mentor, Wellesley Tudor Pole. Many years of archaeological examination ensued in an unsuccessful effort to date the bowl back to Biblical times. In the 1960s, Wellesley Tudor Pole entrusted the Blue Bowl to the care of the Chalice Well Trust.
The Blue Bowl has become quite the sacred object in Glastonbury. Silent meditation in its presence is a discretionary honour conferred by the trustees of the Chalice Well Trust. Meditation with the Blue Bowl sometimes yields profound visions, it is said . . . or at the very least, a sense of profound peace.
I must admit that I was a bit bemused by all this hoopla about a little dish. But silent meditation is a nice, pleasant activity and besides, what the hell, eh? When in Rome . . . .
I'm actually quite surprised by the impact that the experience had on me. The Blue Bowl meditation has become one of my favourite memories from Glastonbury. Being in the presence of the Blue Bowl truly did impart an abiding sense of peace and beauty. I think of it often.
[The top picture represents the Blue Bowl as the Ace of Chalices in the Glastonbury Tarot, copyright 1999 by Lisa Tenzin-Dolma. The bottom picture is a photo taken by my Rare One of a lovely watercolour of the Blue Bowl. The original painting hangs in Little St. Michael's Retreat Centre.]