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By Witchipedia, Festivals

What is Well Dressing: a Tradition of Decorating Wells

Updated on:

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

Well dressing is a tradition of decorating wells for summer celebrations. It is an ancient Celtic custom that continues in the remote regions of England, particularly Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

It may be that the remoteness of these regions helped preserve these traditions by making it difficult for invaders to reach them.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Well dressing is an ancient tradition rooted in pagan rituals, now embraced by some modern witches as a form of nature-based spirituality.

It involves creating intricate and temporary artworks on wooden frames, adorned with flower petals, leaves, and other natural materials, which are placed atop wells or water sources.

This practice is believed to bring blessings, protection, and healing to the community, as well as to foster a deeper connection with the natural world.

Well dressing festivals are celebrated in various regions, with one of the most famous events taking place in Tissington, England, attracting thousands of visitors each year.

The Tradition

The tradition of well dressing likely began as a sacrificial act to thank the spirit of the well or perhaps a God or Gods for providing the community with water throughout the year, or perhaps to celebrate the fact that it was there.

Well dressing generally takes place in the month of June though it can take place throughout the summer into early autumn.

The wells are dressed with flowers and greenery in their simplest form, but in Derbyshire, the dressings can be very elaborate pictures made of flower buds, leaves, pine needles and other plant parts carefully arranged and pressed into clay to create beautiful mosaics.

Many Pagans will bring flowers to their well or another water source, reminiscent of this custom.

External Links

http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Well-Dressing/

About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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