Sacred And Holy Wells: Contemplating The Original Intent

healing arts irish traditions Feb 02, 2023

Before the offerings, relics and elaborate walls and structures, the spring well represented, in it's profound simplicity, the vital source of life itself. Was the origin of the sacred well an expression of deep gratitude for the life giving support the earth provides us with? 

On the journey to simplicity, stepping away from much of the elaborate forms of ceremony and allowing instead for more presence and contemplation, I took the time to visit an old sacred well in honour of the Goddess Brigid and this time of year.

Observing the clean, spring water continuously flow through the well, I was taken briefly back to a time when this was first used. A place where fresh water could be sourced.

We can speculate, but from the comfort of modern conveniences, we can’t  fully understand what it was like hundreds of years ago to forage and continuously carry clean water home each day, the uncertainty of always having enough nourishment to sustain the family.

We sit today in reverence of the symbolic presence of the vital water of life that flows through the land, and honour the goddess and saints associated with the wells. They are often donned with relics, rags and items of remembrance and bring comfort to locals and those who visit. Many are associated with a particular cure that has been confirmed through local experience through the generations.

Today, I recognise and respect the traditions that seep through the land. But I also am reminded to reflect upon the original reason these places were considered sacred in the first place.

Before the elaborate walls and statues. When it was a simple space in the ground for water to flow through.

It was a source of life. It provided safe, clean water to the people. It helped cure people of their ailments, cook their food, nourish their families. Many a life was lived to its full thanks to access to clean water. It was an indication of fertile land, which in itself brought the potential of healthy crops and animals. It was prophetic of blessings and prosperity to come.

There is deep meaning in the gratitude the people showed for this life giving source. In the reverence they held for the natural world and a deep belief that they were indeed blessed by something greater than themselves, which sustained them and help them thrive.

It is a deep acknowledgment of the union between the people and the land, a child and it’s mother and the interwoven path that runs between our life journey here in this time and space, and the divine source, represented in the simplicity of the flowing water of a sacred spring, that has continued to flow since time began.