The practice of making pilgrimages to holy wells is so ancient it is probably pre-Celtic in origin, but many of the traditional holy wells in the British Isles are now dedicated to St. Brighid. Central to the concept of the healing well is the image of sunlight reflected in water- the power of heaven and the power of the underworld combined in one, Sea and Sky united in the Land.
Many of the healing wells have traditional rituals associated with them, which often involve walking sunwise around the well a number of times while making certain prayers. The fiery water ritual is a visualization based on this practice.
To perform the ritual, begin by closing your eyes and breathing slowly and deeply. Raise the circle of fire as described in the previous column. Once you have a clear and vibrant mental image of the circle of fire and a distinct feeling of being surrounded and blessed by Brighid’s flame, visualize a holy well directly in front of you in the center of the circle.
On the front of the holy well is a carving of a Brighid’s cross. There is a bucket hanging above the well, filled with the clearest, coldest and purest water you have ever seen. The light from the circle of fire flickers in the water so that it shimmers like gold.
Walk to the boundary of the circle of fire and slowly circumambulate the well in total silence. You can silently recite a prayer of your own choosing, or simply contemplate the brilliance of the holy fire, the clarity and purity of the water and the beauty of the two in combination.
Walk up to the well after you have circled it nine times. Cup your hands and take up a mouthful of the water. Silently recite a prayer in your mind such as the Genealogy of Brighid or any other appropriate prayer.
Splash the water over your face and feel it purify you on the deepest level. Repeat this three times and then drink a mouthful of the holy water. Feel it transforming you from head to toes, cleansing your spirit and healing your body.
Once this is done, you can either repeat the ritual — as many times as you like — or finish by slowly expanding the circle of fire until it encompasses the entire universe.