Holy Well Meditation – Delphi – A Pivotal Memory

In 2001 my late husband and I visited Delphi. For me, reaching Delphi was the climactic moment of our six month trip throughout the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and Western Europe. It was my opportunity to all but swim in the famed waters of Castalia, waters said to be a source of inspiration for so many poets and writers. My husband suggested we bottle some of this magical water and I decanted it into small bottles and gave it to those who worked closely with me and believed in its power. Not all of us can reach creative springs like the waters of Castalia but we can take the time to undertake a holy well meditaton. 

The Castalian spring, located in the ravine between the Phaedriades at Delphi, is a sacred spring where many Pythian Games contestants and supplicant pilgrims stopped to bathe and wash their hair. The spring is considered sacred because it is mentioned Delphi’s founding myth as the place where Apollo slew the serpent Python, son of Gaia. It contains two fountains which were fed by the water of the sacred spring which were dated back to the 6th century BC. The fountain houses were made of marble, each house had a basin and benches lining the walls. The spring, in this case, predates the classical Pan-Hellenic sanctuary at Delphi, as it was the resting place of the serpent before Delphi become the home of Apollo.

The first thing I want you to do is to get into a comfortable position. Make sure you are as comfortable as you can be and that your clothing is loose and not binding. Some people like to lie down when meditating, but I often find that it’s easier to fall asleep (which in itself isn’t a bad thing and the dreams you can have is amazing) but I prefer to prop myself up so that I am neither lying down or sitting upright. Also, if you do keep on falling asleep during meditation perhaps it would be better if you change to another position like comfortably sitting in a chair or in the lotus position. I do believe, however, that you should find a position that is comfortable for YOU! Also, if you do fall asleep you should not worry about it as that was meant to happen and perhaps you should try the meditation again sometime.

Take three deep breaths and on the third deep breath close your eyes.

I want you to feel totally relaxed starting with your head. Feel the muscles in your face start to relax, especially with your jaw area. Do not clench your teeth and feel the stiffness fade away. Continue to feel the relaxation in your neck area. Feel it relax and all the day’s tensions leave your body. You are now relaxing your shoulder and arm muscles. Feel them go slack and become as light as air. Feel your torso relax and your heartbeat slow. Breathe deeply and slowly. Do not think of things that have happened today only think of the here and now. Let your back relax and all stress leave your body. Let your legs relax and feel weightless.

Breathe slowly and relax your whole body…

Think of yourself walking on a path on a warm summer day. The path is well worn and you already seem to know the way, and you feel as if you have walked here so many times before. You see before you lush green rolling hills and in the distance a large wooden bridge. As you continue to walk to notice that the path becomes a bit steeper and rocky, first going up and then going down the rolling hills. You exert yourself to walk the path but it feels good and you are enjoying the pace. As you continue to walk you notice that it is late afternoon and there is a slight breeze. It is quiet, except for the bleating of the sheep grazing nearby and the songs of the corncrake and other small birds.

(One Minute Pause)

You walk a bit faster now and the bridge is so close that you can see the wooden moss-covered beams covering the bridge in a green and brown canopy. The bridge spans a small stream and hazel trees grow near the bridge. The gurgling and bubbling of the water feels relaxing. You stop on the bank to pick up, crack and taste the nuts and scoop up the cool clear water to drink. As you pause you see salmon and other fish swimming in the crystal clear stream. The sunlight glints on the water and catches your eyes. Take some time to rest from your long walk and enjoy the cool stillness of the bridge. Refreshed from your break you continue over the bridge into a dense forest filled with huge trees.

(Slight Pause)

You are not afraid as your feet move steadily along the thick carpet of leaves and moss. The vegetation is thick and sometimes the underbrush is thorny and scratches your legs. It is dark and hard to walk but your feet always seem to know the way. The smell is very earthy and very fresh and you breathe deeply. As you continue to move through the forest you hear people talking and laughing in the distance, the more you walk, the closer the sound gets.

(Slight Pause)

You soon start to see a light through the trees and the trees and undergrowth start to get thinner. As you walk on the path through the forest, you suddenly come into a clearing surrounded on one side by cliffs. You see men, women and children dressed in colourful clothing – the women have colourful wreaths of different types of flowers on their heads while the men are carrying flowering branches of apple, pear and other types of flowering plants.

(Slight Pause)

In front of you, at the base of the cliffs, you see running water flowing into a round stone well and you are drawn towards it. One of the women walks up to you, gently takes your hand, leads you toward the well and says with a soft smile, “Welcome, we have been expecting you”. As you get closer to the well, you notice that it has been decorated with beautiful flowers, seeds, branches leaves and shells. Much care has been taken in making the design with the natural materials…..

(Slight Pause)

“Go ahead”, says the mysterious woman, “Look deep into the well…the well guardians have much to tell you”. You walk around the well sunwise three times and then you gaze deeply into the inky black depths of the well and the well reveals a vision for only you to see…

(3 to 5 Minute Pause)

Near the well you notice a silver chalice. You take the chalice, dip it into the well and drink deeply. The water is cool, refreshing and healing. You drink until your thirst is sated.

(Slight Pause)

Looking into the well you take a personal item of jewellery or a coin or another item and toss it gently into the deep water. As you do so you thank the divine presence that revealed its message to you. When you are done, you turn from the well and notice that all of the villagers are gone, including your otherworldly companion.

(Slight Pause)

You walk back toward the forest and into the deep canopy of trees retracing your steps. The path seems easier now somehow and you make it easily through the forest. As you walk and retrace your steps you start to become aware of your physical feet. Listen to my voice. Even though you may not want to return to the here and now, you must. You feel your feet and legs now and you are starting to become aware of things around you. You start to feel your physical body- you are aware of your own breathing. Your arms are feeling heavy and you can move them around if you want…wiggle your fingers and stretch. You feel the floor beneath you and when you feel that you are ready you can open your eyes…

 

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