The sacred spring of Delphi lies in the ravine of the Phaedriades. The preserved remains of two monumental fountains that received the water from the spring date to the Archaic period and the Roman era. The later one is cut in the rock and has niches cut high in the cliff, which probably held the offerings to the Nymph Castalia.

 

 

 

 

The Castalian Waters and Sacred Mythological Wells

Mimir was the name of an ancient and wise giant who guarded a well and who allowed Odin to drink from it to acquire primordial knowledge. World mythology makes repeated reference to sacred springs and wells whose fluid affords access to the otherworld and to hidden knowledge. Many great poets believed that the Castalian waters at Delphi had qualities, which could induce creativity.

John Milton, for example, ascribed the waters as having the power to inspire poetic inspiration. He wrote "he (Thomas Young) led the way for me, when I first traversed Aonia's retreats and the holy greensward of the twice-cleft ridge, he led the way for me when I drank Pieria's waters, and, favoured by Clio, I thrice sprinkled my happy lips with Castalia's wine."

Castalia is a spring on Mount Parnassus, near Delphi. It is said to have been created when the winged-horse Pegasus struck the ground with his hoof, and to be frequented by the Muses and Apollo and has thus come to be known as a fount of poetical inspiration.

The sacred spring of Delphi lies in the ravine of the Phaedriades. The preserved remains of two monumental fountains that received the water from the spring date to the Archaic period and the Roman era. The later one is cut in the rock and has niches cut high in the cliff, which probably held the offerings to the Nymph Castalia.

Castalia, a daughter of the river-god Achelous was pursued by Apollo. She threw herself into a spring on Mt Parnassus, which was henceforth called by her name. The spring was sacred to Apollo and the Muses and pilgrims of Delphi bathed in its stream. Its waters were supposed to impart poetic inspiration. It is situated a little to the NE of Delphi, and may still be seen, 'a pool of clear, cold water, lying in its rock-cut basin at the foot of the sheer cliff. The pool is 36 feet by 10 feet wide and is fed by subterranean sources.' From: 'The Oxford Companion To Classical Literature' Harvey P.S.

In 2001 we stopped to drink from many famous wells but, my defining moment came when I finally reached Delphi, cupped my hands and drank the Castalian waters.

Sacred Wells of Wales

They wait in silence,
those Wells of Wales,
those Sacred Wells.
They wait in stony, earthy, watery silence.

I hear snippets of stories told
by those silent stones of old,
stones that protected well
those Ancient Wells,
some clearly defined as in the light of
of a sunny, summer's day,
some crumbling until there's only gravel
scattered in that moist and blessed soil,
some have vanished,
hidden in the mists of time.
Look you then, for guardian trees,
sacred trees, Hawthornes perhaps, inhabited by faeries
and if you're still, very still,
you may yet see the well that was --
you may even feel the dragon's breath.

Will they welcome me,
those sacred wells,
when I am old and my journey's nearly done?
Will the oldest of the ancients
share their secrets?
For even though their stones have crumbled
and the seep is almost dry,
the Goddess dwells, I know, in that moist and scared soil?

Vi Jones İMay 18, 2004

More on Wells and Water

The Chalice Well at Glastonbury
According to Christian tradition, the Essene Joseph of Arimathea settled near Chalice Well having brought the chalice or Holy Grail there in CE 37. There is a thorn tree in chalice well gardens where Joseph of Arimathea placed his staff- there grew a Hawthorne tree. Glastonbury itself has quite a tradition - Glastonbury Tor has on top a church from the 13th century and it is said that there have been settlements on the Tor since the 4th century. The waters of the Chalice Well have never been known to fail. It was the only source that kept on working through a drought in 1921 -22. Under the well lid (The lid had some interesting symbolism itself, click HERE to find out more about the design on the lid), 25,000 gallons of water gush upwards to the surface of the Earth every day filing several human-built small-room-sized subterranean chambers. Red or Blood Spring, a constant supply of red, iron bearing waters considered by many to have healing properties. The waters of the Well became widely known in the 18th century for their curative powers and for many years Glastonbury was famous as a Spa town. Pilgrims came from far and wide to drink and bathe in the healing waters as they do this day. Since anemia was often a problem for women in the 18th and 19th century, the rich iron in the water was a sure cure.
from Sacred Water Essay

Bath
Bath was a spa called Aquae Sulis and legend says that the early British thought that it was the work of Giants or wizards. It was dedicated to the Romano-British cult of Sulis Minerva. Sulis was a local Celtic deity while Minerva was a Roman deity. Bath is a mineral spring beside the River Avon. Water gushes from the ground at a rate of a quarter of a million gallons per day. Celts more than likely thought that they were miraculous - the sheer amount of water bubbling to the surface as well as the heat involved made this a very special site. At Bath, the god is Sulis (Either meaning either Solar or according to R.J. Stewart in his book "Waters Of The Gap" translated as "gap".) was equated with Minerva by the Romans but the Celtic Sulis remained a dominant partner. Sometime in the 1st century Roman engineers converted the shrine at the springs into a great ornamental pool, enclosed within a building which was done in the style of a Graeco-Roman temple, theatre and bath suite.
from Sacred Water Essay


A Holy Well Meditation to use as a guided imagery.
Sacred Springs and Other Water Lore by Terri Windling
Sacred Waters around the world by Martin Gray
Veneration of Water Reflects Celtic Soul
Orkneyjar Sacred Wells and Magical Waters


House of the Muse
Soul Food Cafe


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Heather Blakey asserts the right to be identified as the author of this work