Notes to Poem:
Mountain & The Well

Preface: After the last line of the poem "Happy Monday!" (1-21-2019)— "drinking from the old sacred well", and writing Notes to the poem (1-24-2019), I consulted through 10 books in my Library & wrote "Well Symbolism". Since I composed "Mountain Symbolism" earlier (6-19-2018), used those pages as a template, with no need to scan the book covers. All I had to do was change page numbers where "Well" symbolism appears in the book, and type the relevant texts. In my poem "Shi-Tao's Vision" (5-21-2018), I adopted the 17th century artist's viewpoint that "mountain and the sea are the same". Reading the symbolisms of Mountain and The Well, it is apparent that they are quite opposite of each other— Yang, Masculine, Day versus Yin, Feminine, Night. The 36 lines poem in 18 couplets were written in two hours. It was fun finding the images and web links in composing these Notes.

Commentary on Poem: "Mountain & The Well"

Mountain is masculine—
thrusting up to Father Sky
The Well is feminine—
diving deep to Mother Earth

Switzerland 479: Mt. Finsteraarhorn
10 centimes (issued 9-26-1968)

Great Britain 1359: Wishing Well
(issued May 2, 1991)
In A Dictionary of Symbols, Cirlot writes "The vertical axis of the mountain drawn from its peak down to its base links
it with the world-axis, and, anatomically, with the spinal column. For the Chinese, it symbolises the greatness and generosity of the Emperor... it is an expression of being, with the idea of verticality [masculinity]". In An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols, J.C. Cooper writes "The well is the feminine principle: The Womb or the Great Mother." Hence the images of Mountain ascending to Father Sky while The Well descending to Mother Earth.
Photo Sources: Swizerland 479 (; Great Britain 1359 (

Mountain is visible—
towering the landscape
The Well is invisible—
dark and mysterious

Mount Ladakhi near
India-Pakistan border

Matterhorn from
Train Tracks, Switzerland

Well with Bucket
Photo: Macci Glass
It's obvious that mountains are visible and wells invisible. Mount Ladakhi towers the India-Pakistan border
(photo from Smithsonian magazine). Matterhorn (14,692 ft) is one of the highest summits in the Alps and
Europe. The mountain overlooks the Swiss town of Zermatt, in the canton of Valais. Since wells are
underground, they are invisible. While mountains tower the landscape, the well is dark & mysterious.
Photo Sources: Mount Ladadakhi (; Matterhorn (; Well with Bucket (

Mountain is like the day
basking in the sunlight
The Well is like the night
telescoping the stars

Sunlight over Mountain
Mountain: Masculine, Yang, Day

Japan 478: Telescope
(issued 10-24-1949)

Telescoping Stars at Night
Well: Feminine, Yin, Night
Continuing with the metaphor of Mountain as masculine (Yang & Day), the Well as feminine
(Yin & Night). In Penguin Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier writes "Looked at from
bottom to top, a well is like some giant astronomical telescope pointed from bowels of the
Earth at the celestial pole. This image of Well as a telescope reminded me of a Japanese
stamp (Scott #478) showing a telescope. Found stamp on the web (centered with even
perforations in Photoshop), along with image of "Telescoping Stars at Night".
Photo Sources: Sun over the mountain (; Japan 478 Telescope (;
Telescoping Stars (

Mountain is home of Zeus
where nine Muses are dancing
The Well is home of Hades
Underworld King of the dead

Zeus with Lightning Bolt
from Mount Olympus

Nine Muses Dancing with Apollo playing
the Lyre on Mount Parnassus

Hades & Persephone
Lord of the Underworld

Hades: King
of the Underworld
Mount Olympus is notable in Greek mythology as the home of the Greek gods. Zeus was the King of the gods,
ruling the Sky and hurling thunderbolts. On Mount Parnassus, Nine Muses are dancing with Sun God Apollo
playing the Lyre. Since Hades is King of the Underworld, and the Well is beneath the ground, and the dead
are buried underground, The Well as the home of Hades, King of the dead, have been linked together.
Photo Sources: Zeus (; Nine Muses Dancing (; Hades & Persephone Marble
at Calabria, Italy (; Hades Vase at Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich (

Gods inhabit mountain tops
closest point to heaven
Demons dwell inside wells
some say is the place of hell

Greek Gods Gathering
on Mt. Olympus

Moses Met God
on Mount Sinai

Entrance of Well to Hell
Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra, Portugal
In An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols, J.C. Cooper notes that the mountain is the
"abode of the gods" and place of "communion with the gods" (p. 109) as Moses met God on Mt. Sinai
to receive the Ten Commandments. In The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier writes
"Mountains are places where Heaven and Earth meet, where the gods have their home." (p. 680).
Mt. Meru is the sacred five-peaked mountain of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist cosmology. A Bhutanese
shows several Buddhist gods on mountain tops. In Woman's Dictionary of Symbols (p. 163),
Barbara Walker writes "Martin of Braga said female devils called nymph lived in wells." British wells
are sacred to underground Goddess Hel, & her Celtic counterparts Morgan & Brigit. "Entrance of Well
to Hell" photo above shows an initiation well, which provides access to a portal, that's guarded by two
stone demons/dragons/lizards and leads to a labyrinth of underground galleries. Access to the well is
gained by a hidden revolving door in the rocks.
Photo Sources: Gods on Mt. Olympus (; Moses Receiving Ten Commandments
(; Entrance of Well to Hell (

Climb every mountain...
Till you find your dream

Snow White at Wishing Well
found the Prince of her dream

Mother Abbess singing
"Climb Every Mountain"

Snow White Singing
to the Wishing Well

Snow White's Dream
Prince Shows Up at the Well
Mother Abbess sings to Maria (Julie Andrews) to "climb every mountain till you find your dream" in The Sound of Music (1965). But Snow White sang to the Wishing Well, and found her Dream Prince, in Walt Disney's Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs (1937). It's interesting that both films broke the highest grossing film record— Snow White made $418 million, while The Sound of Music made $286 million.
Rodgers & Hammerstein:
"Climb Every Mountain"
from The Sound of Music (1965).

Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
Till you find your dream
"I'm Wishing/One Song"
by Frank Churchill & Larry Morey—
Want to know a secret?
Promise not to tell?
When you're standing by a wishing well
Make a wish into the well
That's all you have to do
And if you hear it echoing
Your wish will soon come true
Photo Sources: Mother Abbess Singing (; Snow White Singing to Wishing Well (;
Prince of Her Dream Comes (

Birds fly to the mountain
where the air is pure & fresh
Fairies go to ancient wells
for living water that heals

Bird on Table Mountain
Cape Town, South Africa

Eagle on Mountain-top
Barrow, Alaska

Wishing Well Fairy
by David Weston

Fairy Scattering Herbs
by Ida R. Outhwaite
In Notes to poem "Chinese Ideogram Shan for Mountain", Michael Maier's 1617 alchemical work shows
birds on mountaintops (Emblema VII & Emblema XLIII). Found 7 photos of birds on mountain tops,
two of them shown above (Cape Town, South Africa & Barrow, Alaska). Harold Bayley writes in
The Language of Lost Symbolism, "Fairies dipped children in the Fountain of Youth ("Living Water")
in order to free them from mortality (p. 241).
Photo Sources: Bird on Table Mountain (; Eagle on Mountain (;
Wishing Well Fairy (; Fairy Scattering Herbs (

Contemplate up the Mountain—
found the light of my childhood
Trees are Wells above ground
lifting water out of the earth

Peter Contemplating on Mt. Lao peak (9600 ft)
Cortina d'Ampesso, Italy (August 4, 1972)

Transport of Water Upward
in Trees from Roots to Leaves

Water Transport in Plants
via the Xylem Sap
On August 4, 1972, on my first trip to Europe, went up to Mt. Lao via cable car, and climbed to the peak.
The view was majestic & breathtaking. Sat down to meditate while my brother-in-law David snapped
the above photo. Upon closing my eyes, saw a sky-blue circle with a golden circumference
with a green dot in the center (Sun Logo). This image came to me spontaneously without
effort. Suddenly, I remembered seeing this golden-blue circle before falling asleep when
I was 6-years-old in Shanghai. But I've never seen it during my four years of meditation
(1968-1972). Later this circle reappeared when meditating in Ausburg Cathedral, Germany,
where Leopold Mozart was born, and young Wolfgang von Mozart had performed. Hexagram 48 of the
I Ching is "Ching/The Well" with commentary (p. 185) "The wood goes down into the earth to bring up
water... The image also refers to world of plants, which lift water out of the earth by means of their fibers
(sap) through osmosis. A Scientific American article (Feb. 1, 1999), explains that "Loss of water during
transpiration creates more negative water potential in the leaf, which in turn pulls more water up the tree.
So water loss from leaf is the engine driving water upward. Biofluid & Biomimic Research Center
(BBRC) is focusing on plant hydraulics.on how plants transport water from the roots to the leaves.
Photo Sources: Peter contemplating on Mt. Lao (; Water Transport in Trees (;
Water Transport via Xylem Sap (; Blue Circle with Gold Ring (

Praying to trees on my walks
communing to Wishing Wells
Well is Yin, Mountain is Yang
The Tao embraces them both

Eucalyptus Tree
"Three Graces" Trunks

Redwood to Sky
Montebello Ave

Pepper Tree
"Lion of Courage" Face

Pepper Tree
"Platonic Lambda Λ"

Yin-Yang Symbol
Embraced by The Tao
In my page on "Walk to Jane Lane", I've listed the prayers of blessings to the trees on Montebello Ave, during
my daily walks to catch Bus #40 at Rengstorff Ave to Foothill College. With insights from the I Ching, I now
realize that trees are wells above the ground, so when I pray to them for blessings, am I not communing with
Wishing Wells? The Yin symbol is a black tear-drop with a white dot in the middle. The Yang symbol is a
white tear-drop with black dot in the middle. They nestle together in a circle "The Tao" embracing them both.
Photo Sources: Eucalyptus (; Redwood to Sky (; "Lion" Pepper Tree;
"Platonic Lambda" Pepper Tree; Yon-Yang Symbol (

— Peter Y. Chou
    Mountain View, 1-29-2019

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