Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cross Quarter Waters

Tobernault Holy Well grotto in Sligo Co, Ireland. Photo by BA_Banks
During the cross quarters {to many neo pagans these are called the high sabbats} there are traditions of collecting water, whether it be from dew on a leaf, a holy well, or by leaving a bowl out to collect rain. Below you will see some of these traditions found in Ireland, Scotland & the Isle of Man, and I will share some of the ways that I collect water and what I use it for. If I am able to collect enough water, I will keep it in clean corked bottles {I usually re-use old whiskey bottles}.

There are a couple traditions that I have come across involving water for Imbolc. Sometimes water would be left outdoors or by the hearth on the Eve of Imbolc for Brigid to bless, which would be used for healing and fertility. Water was also collected from holy wells associated with Brigid which would be used to bless the household and livestock.
Since I do not live by a holy well, I will collect clean snow and leave it in a bowl for Brigid to bless. I use this water for house blessings and clearings {or saining}, as well as in purification rituals and for workings involving women's sexual healing and fertility.


Many folks would visit holy wells and sacred water sites around the beginning of May to drink and bathe in the waters for healing or to take some home with them for luck and protection. The first "cream" of the well or spring collected for Bealtaine was thought to be the most potent. Dew was also collected and used by women and girls to bring beauty; both dew and the first cream was also used for blessing the milk cows and butter churns.
On Bealtaine morning before sunrise, I will collect dew {especially from lady's mantle} and bring in the bowls I left out to collect dew and/or rainwater. Some years I am also lucky enough to share some of the first "cream" of a friend's well. I use this water for consecrating seed, blessing livestock and farm buildings, as well as other agriculture rituals. The water is also useful for lust and romance workings.

It seems that people would generally go to sacred water sites and take care of business there, instead of bringing the water home with them. Sometimes horses and other livestock were put in the water for blessings, or people would immerse themselves and drink the water to heal all sorts of ailments.
I will collect rainwater {or river water if there is no rain} which is mainly used for harvest/reaping blessings; since Lughnasadh was historically a time for making contracts and paying taxes, I will also use it in workings involving engagements, marriage, oaths, business and finances, as well as other commitments. 


I haven't come across many traditions involving water for Samhain, although the Tairis site mentions that water from a wise woman was sometimes used to bless folks for protection from the evil eye. If you happen to know of any traditions, please feel free to share them in the comment section!

On the Eve of Samhain I will leave out bowls to collect rainwater {there is no shortage at this time of year!}, which is used for workings involving divination, death and working with ancestors, protection against malignant forces and magic, and for hexing.



1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of collecting rainwater on Samhain, I am going to do that this year (provided it actually rains). Depending on how much I collect, I think I will wash the doors to my house with it, to cleanse and protect them for the new year. I collected ocean water on my birthday this year to use for blessing and purification, but I like the notion of using different water collected at different times throughout the year for specific purposes.