Our next meeting (on Zoom):
An illustrated talk by Mike Farnworth
on Wednesday 26th January at 7.30pm

This talk traces the tradition of sacred wells from Roman and pre-Roman times to the present day, showing how Celtic pagan sites were taken over by the church and dedicated to saints, but how at the same time the folk traditions at these wells continued largely unchanged.

Most people will be familiar with the idea of "taking the waters" to seek a cure for various ailments, but they might not be aware of some of the superstitious rituals surrounding this practice, such as drinking out of a skull or carrying a rooster. As recently as Victorian times, some sacred wells were also used for the ritual cursing of enemies.

Mike Farnworth is Liverpool born and bred, but describes his ancestry as "approximately half English and half Welsh". He learned Welsh as a retirement project a few years ago, which led to an interest in Welsh culture. This talk on the pagan origins of sacred wells, inspired by the story of Ffynnon Elian, the notorious cursing well, was originally prepared (in Welsh) for the 2020 National Eisteddfod, but that version has been postponed twice due to the pandemic.

Above: A pen-and-ink scale drawing of St Ffraid's Well in Ceredigion

Below: The head from a bronze image of the pagan goddess Sulis Minerva at a sacred spring in Caerfaddon (the town nowadays known as Bath)

This is a 'members only' meeting. If you attended any of our previous Zoom events, you'll automatically be sent a link for this one a couple of days beforehand. Otherwise, if you're a Wavertree Society member with internet access and you wish to attend the talk, please send an email to this address and we'll add you to the list (and send you guidance notes, in case you're new to Zoom).

You can JOIN the Wavertree Society and pay your membership subscription online

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Page created 10 Jan 2022 by MRC, last updated 14 Jan 2022