Pilgrimages to Holy Wells have been a feature of Irish spirituality for millennia. Holy wells can be found in countries all over the world, however Ireland has a particularly high number of them.
There are many written examples of cures that have occurred at one such well. Tobar na nGealt (Well of the Mad) in Kilgobbin parish, Co. Kerry. It has been written that those suffering mental illness have been relieved of their symptoms from drinking the waters of this well. Intriguingly, in July 2012, a chemical analysis of the water at this well was conducted and it was discovered that the water contained quite a high level of the chemical lithium. Lithium, nowadays is used in psychiatric medication to treat major depressive disorders. It is on the World Health Organisations List of Essential Medicines.
Here we have an example of scientific research, appearing to support the intelligence, wisdom, knowledge and understanding of our ancestors in regards to the curative powers of a special well. As I have researched other examples, it became clear to me that the well-being, balance and health of our forebears was taken care of by their ‘earth based’ spiritual practices.
Their practices could possibly maintain the chemical balance of their bodies and maybe even prevent the onset of certain illnesses. It is therefore no surprise that our ancestors had such respect for the sacred waters, giving offerings, honouring the ‘deity of place’ for the invisible benefits they were receiving.
We could do worse than to keep ourselves open to the spiritual – and possibly physical and medical – benefits to be gained from deeply respecting the sacredness of our Holy Wells and the esoteric folk knowledge and medicine of our ancestors. By following in their path, and listening to their wisdom, we keep ourselves open to the mysteries and healings of an ancient spirituality.