Sunday, 1 September 2013

Water thresholds1: Holy Wells

Ladywell: Glasgow

At the foot of the imposing mound on which sits the City of the Dead, we finally discovered Glasgow’s Ladywell. Nestled between the lower reaches of the Necropolis and the modern equivalent of a dark satanic mill, seemingly cast out by its location, but yet most obviously significant by its presence/ atmosphere. We had fruitlessly tried to locate it during one of our previous visits; this time armed with information gleaned from Google Earth, we would not be denied. The clouds, which just moments previously had threatened a significant level of precipitation, were cast aside by the Sunny boy keen to get into the act.

It is no accident that the well is located at the end of one of the oldest streets in Glasgow; that is the reason why the street is one of the earliest to be trodden by our ancestors  when it was no more than a track – and so, no doubt, the story goes in all of the oldest settlements on these islands. The head of the well has been capped for years, but there is no mistaking the feeling of power emanating from the depths; biding its time – Nature will return to all such places, to restore the essential flow and to re-set the balance.

Water – one of the four alchemical elements, from which primordial ooze our ancestors spilled forth onto the Earth: making an elemental connection overwhelming in its significance. And yet an arching back to the water, a short circuit of evolution, producing Undines, Mermaids, Mermen. 

Come away, O human child!/ To the waters and the wild/ With a faery hand in hand/ For the world’s more full of weeping/ Than you can understand.
                                   W.B. Yeats: The Stolen Child

[As an aside - check out The Waterboys version of Yeats's poem here: The Waterboys: The Stolen Child

Yes! The Waterboys (no accidental name) with chief diviner Mike Scott channelling W.B.Yeats and dowsing deep into the heart spring to which we are all connected; linking to the fixed stars which govern all our lives; focussed on the Water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces.] 

By our very dependence on alchemical H2O, we are unwittingly ruled by the Early European Bird and Snake Goddess who rules over the life giving force of water; symbolically everywhere on ancient pot and wall, her eyes burn forth from the deep centre of the world: the perfect sphere with a mythical stream of water issuing from its heart spring.   The bicameral minds of our Celtic forbearers not only venerating the water of river, spring and well, but in direct and literal holy communion with them. The Thames a holy river – a Celtic Ganges given the name of the holy Egyptian goddess, our beloved Isis; clogged with votive offerings: swords, brooches and bodies. 

Once we danced naked on the banks of our rivers, by our wells and springs all holy, all connected, all one – no separation, the dead and the living alike. Celebrating our ancestors at holy head wells; the head, the temple of the soul, placed in the holiest of locations, in close proximity with life giving water. Life-giving and protecting, a deep source of healing and a connection to the underworld; but also, paradoxically separating the land of the living from the land of the dead by way of the River Styx.

Glasgow's City of the Dead

And then the rebranding of pagan holy sites ordered by Pope Gregory in 601 CE, leading to the “blessing” of pagan springs and wells and the  sprinkling of  droplets of “holy” water on the relatively vast oceanic springs and wells, on their deep holiness in homeopathic ritual and a re-wiring of the circuit to connect to the Christian Goddess, Earth Mother Mary. But the holiness remains, unmoved by the changing nomenclature, unchanged by the moving away from the three worlds by the majority. They have survived, they are maintained and they await any pilgrim shaman who wishes to re-connect to the past and the future. Seek them out, tread the pathways of your ancestors, re-vitalise both yourself and this world. Blessed be.

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