The Maidens of the Well are a type of water spirit that appear in Celtic myth and legend and are most notably associated with the Grail mysteries. They first appear in a 13th century poem titled The Elucidation. Whilst the author of the poem is unknown it is believed to have been written as a prologue to Chretien de Troyes' Perceval, le Conte du Graal.
In this poem the Maidens of the Well would appear out of wells to give food to travellers, and offer them drink from their golden cups. They were described as joyous, beautiful women who would make sure that travellers were well look after on the road, giving them a place to rest until the were full enough to carry on their journey.
However, when King Amangon happened upon one of the maidens he abused the hospitality offered to him by raping the maiden and stealing her golden cup. When the King's men saw what their king was doing, instead of stopping him they followed suit and forced themselves on the maidens. As such, the maidens retreated, never to be seen or to offer their hospitality again. The land that they once occupied became a barren wasteland, and all those who had participated in the abuse of the maidens met a dreadful end.
Then along came King Arthur and a band of knights under his charge decided that they wanted to restore the wells and their maidens, and protect the maidens from anyone else who may wish harm upon them. They searched the land and eventually came across a group of maidens, but it transpired that these were not the well maidens the knights had been searching for. The knights promised to protect these women as they had aimed to do the maidens of the wells, and soon a battle ensued between them and a group of those who had come looking for the maidens. The knights of King Arthur won, and it transpired that these maidens were in fact descendants of the well maidens, and as such the knights of Arthur had fulfilled their promise.
There is a lot more to the tale than this, especially in regards to it forming part of the Grail mysteries, but I have to be honest - the Grail mysteries have never really been something I have been too interested in. However, there tends to be a wealth of information and other water spirits woven in with the Grail mysteries, and that I do find fascinating.
The well maidens are not completely lost. They represent hope, hospitality, generosity, abundance, the element of water, the land, and sovereignty. Leave offerings of food and drink at wells to show the maidens that there are still those out there who honour their spirit and appreciate their hospitality, or gifts of fresh flowers and other such offerings . Unfortunately there aren't too many natural wells left in this country, so you can always use a little statuette of a well to leave offerings at if you wish to work with the maidens of the well.
The Weekly Witch:
Once I week I talk about something 'witchcraft' related I have done with my week. How we incorporate witchcraft into our every day lives is always a topic that has interested me, so I wanted to start this blog to explore it further!