THE WELL MAIDENS
THE WELL MAIDENS
Many people are aware of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and of their quest for the Holy Grail. Not many people are aware of why the Grail was needed, that it was to restore the Wasteland. Fewer people know of why there was a Wasteland; of how the land became barren because the Well Maidens were abused - they left never to return and without them the land perished.
Restoring the Wasteland has always been the reason for seeking the Grail and, esoterically speaking, 'the land' is both within you and around you.
By perceiving the land around you as sacred and by working with the spirits of the land, you may actively call the Well Maidens back; there by restoring the Wasteland both within and without.
If the land is well then so are the people and vice versa.
The image above is a detail from a map of Somerset, taken from Drayton's Poly-Olbion; which was published in 1622. This map shows that as late as the early 17th Century, sacred waters were still personified as River Nymphs. A Nymph is the immortal spirit of a sacred spring, well, waterfall, fountain, or river. In this map the River Brue is spelt 'Bry' and the River Cary is spelt 'Car'. These two rivers form the most part of the Glastonbury Zodiac and you'll see above the River Brue, the Isle of Avalon, Glastonbury.
first story about the Holy Grail was,
le Conte du Graal
written by Chretien de Troyes in the 12
century. In the very early 13th
century, a lengthy poem now known as, The
was written by an unknown author, as a prologue to Chretien’s Grail
explained that originally, throughout the land, there were many
Maidens of the Wells. These enchanting, faerie-like, women were the
site guardians of all of the sacred springs and wells. Across the
land, any traveller, pilgrim or knight, could visit the local Well
Maiden and be refreshed with food and drink from the sacred spring of
that location. All was idyllic until one dark day, a bad king, King
Amangon, raped one of the Maidens of the Wells and encouraged his men
to do likewise with all the other Well Maidens. Because of this crime
the Well Maidens took away their golden cups and left the land –
thus the land died and became the barren wasteland of the Grail
many of the seemingly human maidens that King Arthur’s knights
encountered, upon their many adventures seeking the Holy Grail, were
actually the living descendants of the original Maidens of the Wells.
Knights, rescuing and defending maidens, thus has a deeper and more
profound meaning than simple romantic chivalry and gallantry. The
actual quest was always to restore the land, and the knights, by
giving service to the maidens that they encountered, were actively
calling the divine feminine back to the land; so that the land
could live and be fertile again.
This Arthurian perspective is very important as it was The High History of the Holy Graal that led Katharine Maltwood to discover the sacred landscape of the Temple of the Stars. A modern-day knight, pilgrim, quester or country-side rambler would be wise to likewise give service to the maidens by acknowledging them as the divine spirits of each and every water feature of the Glastonbury Zodiac.
The Well Maiden tradition is truly ancient and can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia. The Glastonbury Zodiac has a great many springs, wells, weirs, rhynes, waterfalls, and rivers. Honour the Well Maidens, call them back, clean up the land.
The modern world is so detached from the sanctity of Nature. Most people think of water as something that comes out of a tap; it wasn't always that way of course. In ancient days, water and the clean source of it, was absolutely necessary; without it, quite simply, there is only death - therefore water is life.
The Well Maidens are a personification of the life-giving Spirits of the Land; the Genius Loci, or 'spirits of place'. Where fresh clean drinking water flows are the most sacred spirits of all.
"... for those who laid out this Temple of the Stars were water lovers, water was their Queen... Tree and Snake worship is too big a subject to follow up here, but it is worth remembering that in Arthurian literature women sitting under trees haunt the springs of water..."
(Katharine Maltwood, Temple of the Stars, 1935)