As well as being associated with the Celtic deity Annis, goddess of waters, wells and wisdom, St. Anne's well is also said to be the haunt of fairies, who come out each midsummer's eve to dance around the well and drink from harebell cups.
I arrived on a dull, wet, overcast Samhain, cursing the foul weather. Having just arrived back from the hot deserts of Arizona I gave thanks for the rain anyway, remembering the life and vitality it brings to our land, but wondering if we really need so much of it!
The well lies just by the road and is easily accessed. I could immediately see the clootie rags tied to the trees and the stone outline of the well.
I stepped inside and saw many more offerings lying in alcoves and around the well.
I approached the alcove containing the well and peered down into the murky water, it looked stagnant and not a trickle could be heard.
I left an offering in a scallop shell and tied a silk clootie rag to the tree. It was not an inspiring day, but the drizzle was easing off so I got my dowsing rods out to try to get some inspiration. The only message I got was that this water carried a vibration I needed and I should drink it!
Putting off the idea of dipping my cup into the murky water I sat down under the trees to meditate instead.
As I did so I noticed a small frog in the grass.
"I bet you like the rain!" I said.
It made me realise that while I was cursing the rain, others were thriving in it and needed it for their very survival. That made me feel a bit more humble.
"Are you the guardian of this place?" I asked.
I picked up Mr. Frog and held him in my hands. He didn't like it and leaped off, but as he did so it felt like he was leaping down my throat!
I could hear my voice speaking with the voice of the frog, I literally had a frog in my throat!
"Drink the water!" he said in his froggy voice.
"Not that again," I thought.
As the frog sat there in front of me I closed my eyes and meditated. I followed him into the otherworld and he showed me the fairies dancing in a circle around the well. They looked like children wearing white shifts with flowers in their hair. I wanted to see more, I wanted to know why I was here, but he had nothing more to show me, so I bade him farewell and returned to the well, drinking cup in hand...
I peered down into the water. It was dark, deep and still, but I could just make out the bottom, which meant that the water couldn't be that murky, could it?
I scooped up some water and pondweed. It looked surprisingly clear, so I took a sip, and then another and another. It went down nicely, as did the small pieces of pondweed! After the third sip I opened my eyes and was astonished to see a big frog looking back up at me from the depths of the pool! I didn't even question it, it was magic! The guardian of the pool like the salmon that guards magic pools in Irish legends.
He was swimming around helplessly against the side of the well, but how could he possibly get out? The well was over a foot deep from the rim to the waterline and there was absolutely no way to jump out! A magic frog indeed!
I thought I would give him a hand so I placed my hand under him, fully expecting him to struggle and squirm, but he just lay there contentedly as I picked him up and placed him gently in front of the well opening.
I sat and looked at him, and he sat and looked at me.
"Do you mind if I take your photo?" I said. He didn't object so I went to fetch my camera.
What did he want me to do now? Was he a messenger from the fairies? Did he have a task for me? Did he want me to follow him?
I took some crystals and other items from my bag to try to get a clue, but he showed his disapproval by crawling back inside the well-house and sitting in a crevice in there.
"You take a lot of photos," he said.
"I like to show people what I've been doing," I replied.
"Release that need," he said.
He was right, I worry too much about keeping records and informing people, I was getting distracted. I had been away from my homeland too long and was focusing on the wrong things.
"Switch off your mind," he said.
I knelt down in front of the well and meditated deeply. I pushed my head through the entrance and seemed to pass through a veil into another world. Sounds echoed around and oscillated within the chamber in a strange way. Soon I was in a world of huge gnarled old oaks, black and damp from the rain. The frog was ahead of me leaping through the wet twisted roots as I jumped onto his back. We were in the underworld, the old world of nature and spirits where I came from before I entered this world.
"Use your intuition," he said.
I opened my eyes and then noticed the half-burned joss stick sticking in the earth right in front of him.
I got a lighter out and lit it, fully expecting him to reel from the flames, but he just sat there impassively, staring.
First I placed the joss stick outside the well, but a tiny frog appeared from nowhere, jumping out of the well and past the joss stick! Now I'd seen three sizes of frogs; medium frog, big frog and now tiny frog!
I placed the burning joss stick back in the well and knelt down to meditate some more. I was immediately carried away on the heady scent, to the spicy land of India with visions of deserts, towering dunes, mystical cities,intricately carved temples and exotic robes. I could feel myself back there and I was loving it! Did I have to return again? The idea had been in the back of my mind for some time now. Is this what it took to bring it to the front of my mind?
I opened my eyes again. Big frog was still sitting there impassively in his crevice, throat oscillating with a regular rhythm.
"Thanks Mr. Frog," I said.
I sat down on the stone bench inside the well and took out my glittering purple stone which I use for releasements.
I called upon archangel Zadkiel and felt the whole chamber fill with a violet light from the heavens. I released the need to record my discoveries, my need to share my findings with others, the need to convince others, and anything else that was holding me back from getting into the flow of my own true path, all the fears and pressures of this physical world.
I could see my path unfolding before me and the freedom was exhilarating! The freedom to pursue my destiny! 'The Virtuous Well' was showing me the virtuous path!
And now that I'd released the 'need' to record all this information I could actually enjoy doing it again! ;)
As dusk fell I went to visit the nearby standing stones. The waters of the spring are said to run under the stones and be linked with druidic rites. I could just make out the stones in the twilight and could hear the loud screeching and hooting of a pair of owls nearby.
I saw a fluttering near the top of the right hand stone. One of the owls? I walked around them in the darkness and placed my hands around the central one. They seemed to be pointing up towards the stars. Ancient reminders of a long lost technology and civilization. A monument to the vanity of mankind. Maybe this was why I was never too keen on standing stones, mankind's earlier attempts to manipulate the forces of nature. Springs were entirely natural, the creation of the goddess, standing stones were not, they were planted there by mankind, linking earth and sky, as above so below.
It was Samhain, a magical night when the veil between the worlds was thinner, but now it was cold, dark and wet. The frogs had nothing more to show me this evening, it was time to seek shelter and warmth.
Rob Wildwood (Aurvandil) has now released a book containing hundreds of his own stunning full colour photos of many of the magical places he has visited in his travels. The images capture the magic and mystery of each place and are enhanced by extracts of local folklore that reveal the magical lore of each place and tempt deeper investigation. Every site listed has full directions and map grid references that can be checked online, so join Rob Wildwood as you discover Britain's magical places at www.themagicalplaces.com