Sacred Wells & Rag-Tied Trees

A special & secret ritual passed down in our coven concerns blessing of a sacred well for water obtained at the time of the Full Moon, so that water drawn from it will be blessed when taken from it each full moon. This is a very special practice, but it only has one problem: in our neck of the woods where our coven is located, we are a little short on sacred wells in Pennsylvania. 

Witch ancestors and elders who were once across the pond were said to have had access to sacred wells that have been honored and dressed for many generations, and maybe they still do, they also were said to have access to a particular sacred tree or bush that grows alongside the area near the sacred well I was told. While I can’t reveal the ritual I was given to you here, I can tell you about what it is for and give you a little glimpse into the lore of our passed down traditions in our religious practice, which is in particular a healing ritual for incanting for healing and improved health for areas of the body or organs that need healing. 

According to the passed down ritual, the sacred well is blessed to give healing waters when drawn from. When needed at the Full Moon, a sacred offering is given to the well and water is withdrawn. With a healing invocation to the Great Mother and a request to the Elemental that rules over the well and a brief and summarized incantation, the part affected would be bathed with that water. The most popular reason for use of this water in this way was for petitions related to relieving rheumatism amongst other conditions to be prayed and incanted for. Lastly, a piece of a rag torn from clothing is tied to the tree or bush near the well for luck. This petitions the Tree Spirit that works in connection with the Water Elemental of the Well. 

Another little hint related to the spells of sacred wells that has been told to me in the passing of this lore: in silence must you go from them when finished, and you should not turn back once you leave the site in respect for the fairies who weave their delicate magic there. 

The idea of the use of “silence” is a part of magic lore passed down through the ages: such as practices where nails or pegs would be driven into trees for petitions of healing, in silence, and without shoes on so that as the nail is grown over, it is said in folklore so will the tree take the illness. It wasn’t just nails, but even pins placed in trees and statues as well. Pins were put into trees as part of petitioning the tree spirit for both blessings and curses as well. These spells and how to make them are still taught, mentor to student in our coven to those who want to learn old magic, as they are still relevant in our modern day. 

While this practice is all about healing, there is also old lore related to “cursed wells” too — and while we don’t have any of those in our neck of the woods either, we certainly have heard about them. 

While we lack sacred wells in Pennsylvania, we do have other methods though in which we can incant for healing and send our prayers in other ways. As a wise deceased elder of our coven once said, “Witches make do!” 

A strong note of caution: While I have never had the opportunity to petition at a sacred well like the elders may have, and I have not been fortunate enough to have been around one myself, some things I would definitely follow if I had the chance: respect the land and space that you are on if it is not your own. Safety is always important in all things, and also respect for the rules of what is permitted or allowed at these sites. So many people liter and leave things at sacred sites but I don’t like that practice. I would strongly recommend to find out the rules of the space that is not your own and leave only behind what is permitted by landowners and/or what the law or local ordinances say. Sacred sites are sacred for a reason: they are rare and we want those precious resources to be around for many generations to come. Respect the earth on which we walk, ravage Her not, nor make her barren. 

Blessed Be!


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