The well itself is thought to have been built by those of the Old Religion, the Druids, and that the water the gushes from it, reddish in colour and tasting of iron, has been claimed to have magical powers. The colour of the water and the taste according to legend is said to symbolise the iron nails that were used at the Crucifixion. Visitors can still drink the water which is today believed to possess healing properties. This belief can be traced back to the sixteenth-century. Another legend tells that Joseph hid the Holy Chalice or Holy Grail in a spring near to the Tor that feeds the Chalice Well.
In recent years it has been found to be naturally radioactive. The water flows from this well a rate of 25,000 (UK) gallons per day even in a drought. There is an entry fee to the Chalice Well, which is set in a beautiful secluded garden and is a popular place for meditation. Joseph of Arimathea is also connected to the 'Holy Thorn Tree' (See Mystical-WWW Glastonbury Thorn) which can be found in Glastonbury.
Belief in the various healing properties of sacred springs, wells, and water itself are of ancient origin in the early Celtic Church, having a great significance also for the Old Religion/Druid. It is quite natural then that a sacred vessel should have given rise to a spring or to be contained within it. The significance of a well or spring depends on why it arose, and here there are central irrefutable points which should be considered, one being the belief that the water will possess the qualities of the person who gave rise to it or caused it to appear.
If we consider the Chalice Well, from a Christian Arthurian perspective the Holy Chalice is believed to have been the cause of its birth. If this is so, then the blood of Christ will have mixed with the waters, bringing enlightenment and possibly resurrection and life everlasting. These same gifts can be seen to be presented to Arthur in Taliesin's poem 'The Spoils of Annwn' (See Taliesin).
If we consider the prospect of the Chalice Well being older, pre-Christian in origin, then the early writings of the Celtic Church and the knowledge of the arcane mysticism practised in Britain indicates the possibility that this was a well that was believed to provide a bridge to eternal life, perhaps the Underworld from Upper Earth. This may be associated with the knowledge of the 'magic cauldron' from which waters were believed to provide the drinker with life after death. If the body of a dead person was immersed in the water from the cauldron, life was believed to be restored.
Whether you dispute any claims as merely fantasy or believe that such places do possess extraordinary powers, the Chalice Well, like others is a place of pilgrimage. We cannot deny that water has appeared in most if not all Creation myths, and that its force, depth and beauty hold mystery for us yet to discover. Knowing that we are of water is perhaps what draws us to such places, perhaps because water is essential in our daily life for drinking and bathing, as something to obtain food from, to allow us to explore, or simply as a substance that encourages contemplation whether by a lake or the sea. Whether we come to be charged or to be cleansed by such places is immaterial to others, but why we are drawn to a particular place, perhaps at a particular time in our lives is of significance.
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