Ancient Sites

The Well of Saint Lassair

June 1, 2012

Kal and I are still just outside the village of Ballyfarnon on the shores of Lough Melagh. It is our first day in Ireland on my ancestor energies quest. We have just looked around Kilronan Abbey and found some interesting and significant graves. Now we’ve crossed the road to St Lassair’s Well.

Saint Lassair is an interesting lady. There is very little historical information online about this woman, except that the well dedicated to her is associated with Brigit. Now, isn’t that significant considering that there is a small megalithic site right next to the well too? Seems like this may have been a site originally dedicated to Brigit and later appropriated in the name of Lassair? One account says that Lassair was Ronans daughter – Ronan being the founder of the ‘modern’ abbey. Maybe. Here’s another consideration of her origins:

It is with Sanas Cormaic that we find the first explicit link made between this goddess and the element of fire, in the word ‘bri’. McCone has convincingly shown that the three arts it claims Brigit supervised— healing, smithcraft, and poetry—were in early Ireland all associated with fire. The authors of the saints’ Lives of Brigit seem to have been aware of the same-named goddess, though they never say so explicitly: all of her Lives give Brigit a druid father figure, so she is made into a member of the druid class, the same class as poets and judges….

…McCone has pointed out that another saint, the virgin Lassair, also has a fire name, from lassar, flame. In his view Brigit, like Lassair, was a goddess who became a saint in Christian times; both succeeded in the new religions because their attributes could be harmonized with those of the Christian God, for the Bible is filled with light and fire imagery.”

(source: p.64 – ‘Women in a Celtic Church‘ by Christina Harrington)

Hot Spots in a Cool Place

Of course, our first task is always to find out whether a place has any energy worth investigating. It almost went without saying, yet still we both dowsed for it in our own separate ways. We both asked the same initial questions and ended up standing next to each other underneath a tall but closely-cropped yew tree growing nearby to the well. We laughed and confirmed that we had both asked for the most energetic and beneficial places for ourselves and we had ended up at the same location.

From our evergreen vantage point we scanned the site. It is a curious mixture of modern Christian tacky monumental-ism, of rehashed re-interpretations of vestal virgin figures and sad-looking never-be brides combined with a plaque commemorating the visitation of the Polish octogenarian Pope John Paul II. Lurking politely to one side like a faithful pet is a small table of stone – an ancient monument of diminutive proportions whose first sight evokes a small smile and even so far as a smirk. What the heck is THAT? And what is it doing here?

Where The Druids Live (and they do live well)

Remembering the information I had been shown at Kilronan Abbey over the way there I began to feel around for my starting point for the ritual. Also, what guidance could I obtain to tell me the purpose of this ritual? I don’t go around doing things without having a purpose. Oh wait – yes I do. OK, but still – it would be nice to know? To have a framework? I decided to sit on the edge of the “megalithic” table very gently and respectfully and see if it would take my weight. It did. Good. This was a place to contemplate the purpose of any forthcoming shenanigans.

I sat on the corner gingerly and it felt solid. Also strangely warm for a cold stone seat. Still. I tried to be still. The quiet road helped, as did the softly singing birds, the idyllic trinkle of burbling water running in ragged rivulets. Soon I was peacefully slipping into trance and so began to ensure that I was energetically prepared. In all the usual ways (see plethora of previous posts on this – you know the way it works by now). Instead of visions this time I opened my eyes and was shown around the site, each place corresponding to a part of the ritual that I had been shown minutes before in the abbey’s power centre:-

  • sit on the table to feel the drawing down of the worldly energies
  • move next around the well in a clockwise motion to gather a spiritual form of energy
  • finally, kneel before the well and be cleansed of all foul energies through its waters
Clear and simple. I waited until I felt it was time to move then enacted the motions in a very deliberate series of movements, with focused intent and mindfulness. Each step held purpose, each outcome was now pre-determined. According to some reports my ritual was nothing at all like the remains of the rituals that some followers of St Lassair still perform at this place. That ritual goes like this:

“The supported slab opposite the well is reputed to be a cure for backache. ‘Stations’, or traditional devotions, are performed every year on the first Sunday of September. In days gone by, it was customary for pilgrims to crawl under the stone table, but today’s clergy frown on the practice.” (source: Visit Roscommon)

I felt no compunction to crawl under the small table. Frankly I might not have fitted! Some damage to monument and druid may have resulted. Best left undone, I feel. I walked around the well’s modern accoutrements until I reached a basined rock with a stone ball in it.

With no foreknowledge of the “traditional devotions”” I knelt here and thanked the four elements and all spirits that assist me. Then I reached into the flow of the water, drawing the water across my face in an elemental cross. With the remaining water I washed the stone in the bowl, returning the remainder back to the natural flow, and feeling the water on my forehead evaporate in the warmth of the evening sun.

I was now cleansed and ready to be prepared for the next phase, whatever that may be. For now, it was time to head off to the hotel in Roscommon Town where we would spend a lovely evening walking down to Roscommon Castle to see it silhouetted in the setting sun. A perfect end to an interesting day. One more full day to go in this magical part of Ireland – my ancestral and spiritual home.

Gwas.

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  1. Gosh – I can see from your pics Gwas, why they call Ireland ‘the emerald isle’ – its so green! I did visit just outside Dublin, many, many years ago when my cousin’s daughter was christened (his wife is Irish). I remember being completely entranced with the place and found the people so friendly and tender-hearted unlike the English, who so often can’t express any finer emotions on or off a football pitch! (Sorry, even if I am English, some of the flaws in our national character grate with me!) I was thinking about your comment in your previous post about connecting with this Irish ancestral energy and yes, I do really want to explore it to the level you have by going right back. My partner is of close Irish descent, as was my first husband, both are the fathers of my children, so something in me wanted Irish genes! He and I both want to visit Ireland very much, but finances have been tight, so we shall see.

    I visited one of these holy wells in Cornwall recently, I’d never seen one before, although I’ve enjoyed the well dressings in Derbyshire. It was absolutely beautiful and looked much the same as this one, but unfortunately our revelries were disturbed by tourists. I’m going back in August, can’t wait!! If we could see Ireland too this summer, I’d be over the moon! 🙂

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