In Celtic traditions, the Sacred Spring is an iconic image, containing and conveying blessings both seen and unseen, both tangible and intangible.
It’s primary blessing is that of nourishing the landscape and all life with its quenching waters, supporting all growing life where its waters emerge and flow. River origins are ritually visited on sacred days, dressed and feasted, in thanks for their blessings to the land and people. The rivers flowing from them are the bloodlines of the land, engaged with as life-giving goddesses, even if the stories of the women becoming river goddesses are less than numinous themselves. For the spring and the river to nourish the land and people as they do, they need not provide any more magnanimous blessings than these.
Some springs and wells though have been renowned as places of special healing, their waters said to cure certain ailments or diseases, unique to different wells. These wells too are honored, feted with flowers and offerings on sacred days, their ‘cream,’ of first dipping eagerly sought out on the early mornings of those sacred days for its special power. Goddesses and saints of healing are associated with these wells, said to bless them with their numinous, healing qualities.
Springs and wells are understood to be living persons themselves, requiring respect. They must be approached ritually with circumambulation, prayers requesting their blessings, and offerings given to honor its powers. Tradition has repeatedly told of wells which were disrespected and fouled, which then disappeared from their known sites, mysteriously re-appearing in new locations. A sacred spring will not tolerate being abused, like any other self-respecting being, and leaves the presence of abuse directly, removing its blessings and gifts from people and place.
These associations engage with the seen sacred spring and its various blessings and powers. Through myth, we meet and engage with the unseen sacred spring, that of the Well of Wisdom formed by the magical upwelling of the underground waters, treated with the utmost reverence. Poets sat vigil with these wells and their rivers, to seek out visions from the otherworld and the goddess of the place.
While sitting before the spring that is seen, one engages with the spring that is not seen, the magical well of wisdom. The unseen well sits in the same space in which the seen well does; but it is seen through inner vision. This could be called apple-branch seeing, the magical ticket allowing access to the Otherworld. In this unseen realm, we touch the spring’s deepest power, flowing from the Underworld realm of the gods.
Sitting with this sacred spring is a balm for the spirit, returning the soul to the Great Source, effecting renewal and refreshment, gifting visions and wisdoms. When we sit with the Well of Wisdom, we sit directly with the Source, and we are perfectly centered. So powerful is this unseen spring that it can be respectfully approached and visited even through the representation of a living spring.
I keep just such a representation on my Brìde altar, as She is a goddess associated with many sacred healing springs and wells. I have learned that I can sit in this place and connect with the unseen spring. I find a deep, calm centering when I do so, and have found this to serve well as a centering exercise, to focus myself before prayer and meditation. To accompany this visit, I have written a centering prayer which calls on Brìde’s fires to bless my inner cauldrons, and Her mantle to enfold me, to further the centering effect. This not only centers me for prayer and meditation, it builds an internal nemeton in which to do so, which both compliments the physical spaces in which I pray and meditate when those spaces are conducive, and allows them to recede in favor of the inner nemeton when they are not. The inner cauldrons are annointed on the body with the waters in the well, which are blessed with a prayer when filled. Brìde fills me, blesses my space inside and out, and Her Sacred Spring grounds and centers me.
Brighid, Shining One of the Sacred Spring,
May You be a Guiding Star within my Cauldron of Knowledge, and may I know Your Illumination.
May You be a Flame of Truth within my Cauldron of Vocation, and may I hear Your Inspiration.
May You be a Vital Spark within my Cauldron of Warming, and may I feel Your Restoration.
May You be a Mantle of Blessing around my Nemeton of Devotion, and may I rest in Your Consecration.
Moran taing agus slainte mhath.