I’m over half way with the telling of this tale of retrieving my ancestor energies. Only three posts to go. Up until now Kal and I have visited our first rath (or ringfort) – Rathcroghan. Feeling a bit peckish we retreated to the visitor centre to get some delicious food, and to obtain some directions to the holy well that we had heard speak of. Indeed Ogulla’s Well was only a short drive away from the town of Tulsk, and so we headed off refreshed.
For me, the purpose of visiting the holy well was straightforward – I had been informed that I needed to wash the slimy stick that I had recovered from Lough Key – the so-called Eel Sword. The sword needed to be washed in sacred water. Initially I had thought this was the River Boyle, and we had stopped off in Boyle town in a vain attempt to find a suitable and inconspicuous place to do this ritual, but it had been sheer folly to even attempt it. It felt all wrong and to carry the stick would have drawn the wrong kind of attention. It just wasn’t right. When we heard that there was a holy well near to Tulsk then this promised to be a much more receptive place for such a ritual.
We had the usual Irish style of directions. “A mile down to the left there, you’ll see a sign pointing to it and then it’s just there, sure.” Sounded simple. In fact it was much trickier than we imagined. The “mile” turned out to be more like two, and the sign was so hand-made and small that we almost missed it and had to stop in the middle of the road to squint at it to make sure it said “Ogulla’s Well”. Even when we were on the right road the place itself was not signed. There was nothing indicating that we were in the right place. We had become accustomed to this by now and took a chance, parking alongside a large conservatory building with some running water beside it, and the occasional Christian statue. This must be it, we decided. It was.
The Well of Ogulla
The history of the well is more colourful than the modern-day reality, and yet again there was a druidic connection:
“The Ogulla Well is believed by many to be the Cliabach Well, site of the famous baptism of Eithne and Fidelma, daughters of King Laoghaire of Tara. They were attending the great school of Cashelmanannáin at Rathcroghan. St. Patrick christened the two princesses, together with Mael and Coplait, druids with whom the royal sisters had been fostered. This is a good example of how Christianity adopted a ritual centre, and smoothly replaced the ancient order of things.” (source: Geological Survey of Ireland)
It couldn’t have been less…inspiring. The conservatory looked dilapidated and was festooned with plastic flowers. The grounds were shabby and unkempt. The peaceful garden trail was tiny and lined with the remains of offerings that had become unstuck and washed out by the weather. The well itself was a combination of tiny canal and agglomerate concrete. If you find beauty in the housing estates of the 1970s then you too may find inspiration in Ogulla’s Well.
Once, in the far distant past, the site had been worshipped by the indigenous pagans and such modern tat would have been absent. Then it may have been a place of tranquility. On this day, despite the lowing of cows and the hum of winged insects the sad thoughtless design of the accoutrements alongside the well were a gaudy distraction from the true beauty of the site – the flowing clear waters that rippled then gurgled away from the monuments.
Forging The Eel Sword
I’m not sure if forging is the correct word. Initially there was the cleansing of the stick. I took it out of its paper wrapping and placed it into the flowing part of the stream where I began to scrape away the slime that covered it with my fingernails. As it got cleaner it seemed to throb with activity beneath my fingers – a most unusual experience, but not unwelcome. I paid attention to what I was doing, mindfully cleaning the stick until my “sword” was clean and dark again with a watery glint in the sunlight. The day was so warm that the sword almost dried instantly.
I carried the sword to the small well area – an enclosed section with a cross atop it that looked like a Roman bath. I propped the stick up against the well’s cross and then placed my elemental crystals around the walls in a cross formation, each element in it’s correct location according to the cardinal points. Then I placed the clear quartz crystal that represented the “fifth element” or spirit in my hand. I touched the Eel Sword and the quartz crystal simultaneously, and waited to see what would happen, if anything.
Soundless moments passed with just the birds, the cattle and the bees crooning a quiet symphony of background noise, then … something stirred in my hand – the hand that was touching the stick. My hand tingled and I took this as a sign that I needed to do something. Off the cuff I began to intend that the energies within the sword be transferred into the crystal in my hand. In a flash that took me by surprise – a flash that occurred with me as the conduit for the movement – a bolt of energy pulsed from the sword into the crystal. In a second I knew what had happened – subtle energy had been re-housed. My hand holding the crystal now began to feel very warm, and it wasn’t just because it was a warm day.
I put the crystal into its pouch along with the other elemental crystals. The work was done, the energy transferred. The Eel Sword was now inside the quartz crystal, and there was nothing left in the stick, I felt. I did some quick checks with the dowsing rods which confirmed the absence of energy in the clean brown stick that lay across the well. OK – time to place this back where I found it, almost! I put the stick gently into the lower flowing waters of the stream of Ogulla, and I said my thanks to it for being the carrier of such an important energy for me.
With the work done it was time to move on to the other raths nearby. I couldn’t put the encounter off any longer. I had my weapons – my sword and my shield – and now I would have to face whatever might come in The Fort of the Bulls.