W.Y. Evans-Wentz - The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries - Sacred springs
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, 
Well-worship in the Isle of Man, not yet quite extinct, was no doubt once very general. As A. W. Moore has shown, the sacred wells in the Isle of Man were visited and offerings made to them to secure immunity from witches and fairies, to cure maladies, to raise a wind, and for various kinds of divination. And no doubt the offerings of rags on bushes over sacred wells, and the casting of pins, coins, buttons, pebbles, and other small objects into their waters, a common practice yet in Ireland and Wales, as in non-Celtic countries, are to be referred to as survivals of a time when regular sacrifices were offered in divination, or in seeking cures from maladies, and equally from obsessing demons who were thought to cause the maladies.
One of the most beautiful passages in The Tripartite Life of Patrick describes the holy man at the holy well called Cliabach:--
'Thereafter Patrick went at sunrise to the well, namely Cliabach on the sides of Cruachan. The clerics sat down by the well. Two daughters of Loegaire son of Niall went early to the well to wash their hands, as was a custom of theirs, namely, Ethne the Fair, and Fedelm the Ruddy. The maidens found beside the well the assembly of the clerics in white garments, with their books before them. And they wondered at the shape of the clerics, and thought that they were men of the elves or apparitions. They asked tidings of Patrick:
"Whence are ye, and whence have ye come? Are ye of the elves or of the gods?"
And Patrick said to them: "It were better for you to believe in God than to inquire about our race."
Said the girl who was elder: "Who is your god? and where is he? Is he in heaven, or in earth, or under earth, or on earth? Is he in seas or in streams, or in mountains or in glens? Hath he sons and daughters? Is there gold and silver, is there abundance of every good thing in his kingdom? Tell us about him, how he is seen, how he is loved, how he is found? if he is in youth, or if he is in age? if he is ever-living; if he is beautiful? if many have fostered his son? if his daughters are dear and beautiful to the men of the world?"'
And in another place it is recorded that 'Patrick went to the well of Findmag. Slán is its name. They told Patrick that the heathen honoured the well as if it were a god.'
And of the same well it is said, 'that the magi, i. e. wizards or Druids, used to reverence the well Slán and "offer gifts to it as if it were a god"'
As Whitley Stokes pointed out, this is the only passage connecting the Druids with well-worship; and it is very important, because it establishes the relation between the Druids as magicians and their control of spirits like fairies.