‘At a Sprynge Wel’ Walsingham Easter 2018

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At the wells in Walsingham this is an example of the galdr I will be performing in my show Creation Song the Norse Mythology Show. The booklet ‘The Walsingham Story Through 950 Years’ by Arthur Bond suggests that the wells had pre-Christian origins ‘These wells probably survive from the pre-Christian cult of “Odinism” in which were venerated Mimir’s Well which watered the root of the Ash Tree Yggdrasil and the Urd Fountain which yielded the daily supply of pure water with which the stately tree was sprinkled. Similar twin wells are known to have existed at Brent, Middlesex and in Derbyshire. Pope St. Gregory in his instructions to St. Melitus permitted the conversion of Heathen temples to Christian use and the translation of pagan customs into religious solemnities. This undoubtably took place in Rome itself and it is most likely that the pagan twin wells at Walsingham eventually received their Christian “Hallowing”. pp 19-20. (copyright P.T. Sterry, Pilgrim Shop eds. 2011)
‘At a Sprynge Wel’ is from Kathleen Herberts ‘Looking for the Lost Gods of England’ and describes it as a ‘Post-Norman pop song’. Here is the translation
“At the source of a spring under a Hawthorn tree
There was a cure for sorrow (or, a remedy against harm) a little while ago.
Beside them (the well and the tree) stands a young girl (or a virgin-maiden)
Full of love, held fast by love
Whoever wants to seek for true love will find it in her.”
The text of the verse are in middle English and it is (as Kathleen Herbert states) clearly older than the Norman period. The words are like a spell or magical incantation. This is what is known as galdr the musical incantation of spells and charms which was a practise of Anglo-Saxon and Norse pre-Christian religion as described in Arthur Bond’s booklet. Tune composed by Alison Williams-Bailey March 2018.

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