The White Well is still closed. But the Red is flowing from the lion’s head in Chalice Well Gardens. Both of these ancient springs are running freely from the taps on the roadside as well, so White water is available. Helen and I pay to go into the gardens, which I’ve never done before. Yew trees and a very old thornbush stand out. Fresh cut soft lush grass. Beautifully arranged – enough to justify the price tag. The gift shop isn’t even hugely overpriced, although nothing speaks to me and I shouldn’t have paid the entrance fee.

We are in Glastonbury. Just for one night. Helen is running a retreat in the woods in a few weeks time and she wanted to get some water from the wells to work with. It’s been a while since I’ve been down here. There’s undeniable power here in the omphalos. And it’s packed to the rafters with socially unusual people in natural fabrics.

Two people are taking their time in the red well ahead of me. One turns to silently apologise as his companion goes into full wash mode. I’m not bothered.

“I’m in no hurry. I’ve got all the time in the world,” I say to him. He looks at me for a moment too long and his face tics with something. He’s in a blazing pink and red tie dye T-shirt from Florida. His pupils are dilated.

“Oooh I just got a big hit of satchmo,” he eventually says. “Of what?” I ask, thinking I’ve misheard. Did he say “San Pedro” and just fluff it. “Satchmo,” he reiterates, and I realise I’ve just said “All the time in the world” and it’s a music reference. Ugh.

“Oh… Louie Armstong. Satchmo. Of course. I just assumed you were riding waves of some obscure plant based substance… Um…” Oops. But I think he probably was. Lots of people are, around here.

A few minutes later I’m washing bits of myself in the red flow of mother earth, filling my flask and covering myself in this sharp tart mineral water. It’s early enough in the day. I’ll dry out, I hope. If I’m going to come here with the White Spring closed, I’m going to get myself soaked in the Red spring instead.


Then it’s up the Tor still damp, and into a cloud of flying ants. I’m chanting, I’m reading tarot and I’m doing both amidst a barrage of tiny horny little flying dots. They assemble in my hair, my throat, my shoes. As I’m sitting there in this living soot at the heart of things, my bank tells me by text that – (for unknown reasons) – they have refused my request for a payment holiday on my loan “but they can still help”. The only way they can help is by getting Kitcat to pay her rent before my credit rating is even further damaged or by giving me the holiday I’m apparently entitled to.

I am reading this disastrous information covered in ants. And, as one should at such times, I consider the symbology. “Pull more than your weight,” says the ant. “Collaborate but do it really hard and really well!” “Work hard. No, harder.”

If I came to the omphalos for a reason outside of the water, it’s to remember that I’m the only true way out of this. I have the means at my disposal with ant-like work.

No more navel gazing. Once I’ve finished gazing at this navel.


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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