Holy Wells and Sacred Springs

Surrey 3- The Well of Anu

December 8, 2016
Overlooking the ever-expanding amusement theme park that is Thorpe Park is a beautiful hill which is inhabited largely by dog walkers. I pulled off the B388 and headed up the hill, parking at the lower car park on the side facing the theme park. I had a choice of paths – top, middle or bottom. As I was in search of a St. Anne’s Well I made an educated guess at the bottom path. Experience now tells me that I should have taken the middle path.
 The mid-afternoon sun was glinting dreamily through the beech branches as I kicked leaves all the way down the hill and dodged small brown piles that may have been mud but probably weren’t. Some of the small brown piles had been conveniently tied in small black plastic bags and then left hanging from low branches, or conveniently put to one side of the path so as not to inconvenience passers by. They had a distinct aroma which contrasted starkly with the clear bright autumn air. Ah, I was far from Cheshire, that was certain.
These things occupied my mind as I atteempted to ignore the sentence on the Megalithic Portal which had said that the well was hard to find. Yet the phrase kept poking at me like a rude inquisitive child. I turned my thoughts to St Ann. What did I know about her? Well, nothing as a Christian saint. Turns out she may have been the mother of Mary. I knew she was probably Anu – the dark and ancient goddess linked with The Morrigan, and from my experience linked with Cailleach, whose territory is connected with the County Kerry area in Ireland. Anu is associated with darkness, death, rebirth.
I reached the bottom of the hill with no sign of the well. The path became flat and muddy. There were hints of marshy land on either side and I began to think I had gone too far in the wrong direction. I turned off my rational map-reading sense, and switched instead to my intuitive sense. Where did I FEEL that the well was. Behind me, back up the hill. I had passed by it, but not next to it.
As I re-traced my steps, and dodged small yappy dogs, I reached a point where my intuition made me stop. I felt around for a direction. Straight up a steep section. Follow the nicest trees. I followed my intuition, and as I crested the steep section the well was there in front of me. How far I have come. Dowsing not required! I allowed myself a complimentary moment.
I moved around the well. Sometimes I stood atop it, other times behind it, in front, to one side. Ah, by the side I began to see something. There was a small presence associated with the well, but it needed me to do something before it would appear.
Then something odd happened. I felt like I should recite this poem:
“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying.” (“To The Virgins to Make The Most of Time”, by John Donne)

The water spirit at the well made itself known to me. There was something not right. It felt oppressed by the dedication to Saint Ann. This was the wrong dedication and it was dwindling the spirit, which was struggling to survive in the stagnancy of the water and the inattentiveness of the people passing by. What could I do, I wondered? Then I knew. I needed to re-dedicate the well to Anu, not Anne.


I scanned around for something appropriate to represent the darkness of The Dark Lady, and spotted a beautiful brown chestnut amid the light green shells on the floor. Perfect! I threw a chestnut in the water as an offering, and while I did that I re-dedicated the well to Anu. There was almost an audible relief of pressure in the air around the well. Even though the sun was descending the air got lighter!

To finalise the work I used two found black feathers and an incense stick to re-originate the site. It felt right. I was also pleased that I had been invited here to do something which had no personal reward. It seemed to finish off the day just right. Now I had one more day to visit a few other sites in the Surrey countryside. Their stories are coming soon.


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