I began my trek to my destination. Heavy, grey clouds were gathering overhead as if to accentuate the importance of my visit by preventing the rays of sunlight detracting from my purpose. Through muddy fields and over rickety stiles I walked, the only hint that this path had been used for hundreds of years being a well worn path and the sense of joining the spirits of the many others who had also took part in the short journey from the small village over the millennia.
Soon the route ( as is often the case when visiting ancient sacred sites) narrows and I am surrounded on either side by overhanging bushes and tree branches creating a natural aisle for reverential processions to proceed. Light birdsong and the soft, gentle trickling of water are the only sounds to be heard, creating a kind of Natures choir as I move closer to my goal .
The path widens a little but I am still enclosed in the seemingly welcoming and protective undergrowth flourishing around the well, as if to provide privacy and promote a secular spiritual intimacy to the occasion.
The Cloutie tree in front of the well is festooned with colourful adornments, mostly ragged pieces of cloth left by visitors who await their degradation in order to relieve whatsoever malaise afflicts them. I can almost hear silent and sometime desperate prayers from those who have sought relief here. Many, many tears over the years have fallen from many cheeks upon this spot, their sorrow and entreaties forever mixed with the sparkling translucent waters of the spring.
Direct access to the well is seemingly complicated by a mixture of deep bog and gnarled branches as if put there to deter only the most determined soul.
Following the spring water further alongside the path, the stream enters a roofless ancient chapel. It’s grey corbelled walls forming a rough square with an entrance from the north. On entering the chapel I can feel the reverence and the sanctity that the site has been endowed with over the years. The barely tangible energies of the souls of previous supplicants frequent here, forever paying homage to this most holy of Nature’s shrines. The lack of a roof means anyone knelt in prayer in front of the altar offers up their beseechments and adoration to the blossoming flora and the barely visible sky amongst the treetops. As I stand, head bowed in front of the rough hewn granite altar littered with offerings of flowers and coins, I hear the soft, gentle waters of the spring empty into a crude font behind me. This accentuates further the feelings of ambience and serenity that epitomises my visit.
Kneeling in supplication in front of the altar it seems apparent that the stone and earth beneath me have witnessed much worship here, mostly to Mother Nature in her various guises as the sanctum has almost become as one with the scrub of the grove. An overwhelming sense of peace and oneness with nature penetrates my core, merging seamlessly with my physical self. If this were to become my final resting place, this sancta of Gaia, there would no need for belief in an afterlife or thought to what happens at life’s end. For I am sure I would rest blissfully for eternity in this very spot.