Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wells: The Waters of Life
Some interesting information on wells, sacred springs, etc. from Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets." Affirmation of the extremely ancient association of sacred springs and other water sources with the Goddess. The Goddess' ancient and extremely potent symbolism of water/life was expropriated by the worshippers of the Hebrew storm god Yahweh (modeled after the Canaanite storm god Baal) and, later, by the followers of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, who was the son of Joseph (Yahweh) and Mary (Mother Goddess Mari, the consort of Yahweh). The Bible has many references to the "waters of life" and similar analogies: Isaiah 12:3: With exultation YOU people will be certain to draw water out of the springs of salvation. John 7:37-38: Now on the last day, the great day of the festival, Jesus was standing up and he cried out, saying "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He that puts faith in me, just as the Scripture has said 'Out from his inmost part streams of living water will flow.'" Revelation 7:16-17: They will hunger no more nor thirst anymore, neither will the sun beat down upon them nor any scorching heat, (17) because the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life. And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes. Wells Springs, fountains, ponds, wells were always female symbols in archaic religions, often considered water-passages to the underground womb, in northern Europe asosciated with Mother Hel, whose name also gave rise to "holy" and "healing." Many pagan sacred springs throughout England received the name of Helen's Well during Christian times, and chruchmen claimed all these wells were named after Empress Helena, Constantine's sainted mother. But the real "Helen" was Hel, or Dame Holle, whose water-womb was called the source of all the children on earth.(1) There were also many wells named after the Goddesses Morgan and Brigit. Coventina, "Mother of the Covens," was associated with healing wells. Margaret, a traditional witch name, also designated wells and springs. Lancashire legend speaks of a statue called Peg o' the Well beside a formerly holy spring in Ribblesdale, said to claim a human sacrifice every seven years.(2) Ecclesiastical canons of the 10th century expressly forbade "well-worshipings," but they continued nonetheless.(3) The Danish poem Water of Life drew on the pagan tradition of resurrection through the Mother-symbol of a sacred well called Hileva (Hel-Eve). With this magic water, a divine queen put her dismembered lover back together and made him live again, as Isis did for Osiris.(4) [I believe this speaks to the extremely ancient tradition of king sacrifice in many cultures, the king being sacrificed by the sacred priestess/queen, in order to bring the world back to life again]. The grotto and fountain of Lourdes once had a similar pagan tradition, now revamped to the service of the church. In 1770 a curate of Bromfield forbade pagan ceremonies, wakes, and fairs at a spring called Hellywell (Hel's Well), to which site the ceremonies had been moved after they were evicted from the churchyard at a still earlier date.(5) The ceremonies had been going on for a very long time. A medieval Life of St. Columba mentioned them in connection with a fountain-shrine "famous among this heathen people, which foolish men, blinded by the devil, worshipped as a divinity."(6) Notes: (1) Rank, 73. (2) Phillips, 112, 160. (3) M. Harrison, 143. (4) Steenstrup, 186. (5) Hazlitt, 78. (6) Joyce, 1, 366.