This is a photo of the cover of the Chalice Well in Glastonbury England. Now the ruins of GlastonburyAbbey stand there, but it is also thought to have been a sacred site during pre-Christian times. Some people claim that it’s a “thin place,” where the distance between the material and the spiritual worlds becomes narrow. The pattern of circles is an ancient one, too, often called the Vesica Pisces (literally: fish bladder!) and I’m intrigued by the meanings associated with this archetypal image of overlapping worlds.
I had the Vesica Pisces in mind as I was writing The Lake of Dreams, and it was the inspiration for the pattern that Lucy finds woven into a baby blanket and illuminated as a border in a series of stained glass windows. These objects contain clues to the past, but as Lucy discovers, the past is not contained in a separate sphere, but overlaps with the present, and sometimes overshadows it. Here’s Lucy’s description of the border in one of the windows she finds:
“The interwoven spheres and vines ran along the bottom of the window. I’d done some research, and I’d found this motif everywhere. These overlapping circles were ancient, tracing ack to Pythagorean geometry–geometry, a measure of the world. In more mystical terms, the shape had always evokded the place where worlds overlap: dreaming with waking, death with life, the visible with the unseen.”
The Lake of Dreams, p. 362
When The Lake of Dreams was finished, the wonderful book designers at Viking/Penguin created a motif that echoes this ancient image, and that incorporates imagery from the novel, too. It’s beautifully done, and the border opens every chapter, giving readers a bit of the experience Lucy has as she uncovers this pattern and its meaning for her life.