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   Lundy, Isle of Avalon         Mythology

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What makes a place holy? 

"For a culture to whom the timing of seasonal events was particularly important, the culture which produced Stonehenge, for example, the observation of heavenly bodies was a central part of their religious ceremonies. Any place which possessed such alignments was holy. The movements of heavenly bodies is regular and can be calculated and thus predicted. Throughout time the coincidence of a sunrise or sunset with a natural feature such as a mountain or an island has always been, and indeed still is, awe inspiring. Any site which possessed such an alignment was a natural indicator of a heavenly event and thus sacred. Other markers could be erected, if necessary, at the site, stones , trees etc., to indicate other alignments from the site. However, A place with two or perhaps even three natural features all providing significant alignments would be very much rarer, and so more holy." Henry Lincoln  ( my emphasis )

Sometimes the sanctity of a place apparently comes from some special event which occurred at that particular place in the past. A temple or shrine is erected in honour of some unique and venerated past event. This is as true of early pre-Christian sites as it is of later Christian ones. ( Samothrace, Delphi, Lourdes, etc.)

Lundy island is a holy place, a special place, one of those places where somehow we can feel closer to god, to the spiritual world, the Otherworld. Different cultures and generations use dissimilar words but all mean the same - somewhere where we can feel peace, contentment; at one with the world. Somehow this is bigger than just me but I am part of it.

Celtic Sacred Sites

"We know that wells in certain instances did serve as the focal point in a temple building, and this tradition has been carried on into Christian contexts. 'With, or without associated structures, the evidence suggests that springs, pools, wells and the sources of rivers (extended into the actual river in some cases) were the loci of veneration, the 'worshipful' places.." Pagan Celtic Britain

'Springs, wells and rivers are of first and enduring importance as a focal point of Celtic cult practice and ritual. Rivers are important in themselves, being associated in Celtic tradition. with fertility and with deities such as the divine mothers ....There is a great deal of folklore extant about river worship and water deities... Pagan Celtic Britain

"nor shall I enumerate those diabolical idols of my country, which almost surpassed in number those of Egypt, and of which we still see some mouldering away within or without the deserted temples, with stiff and deformed features as was customary. Nor will I call out upon the mountains, fountains, or hills, or upon the rivers, which now are subservient to the use of men, but once were an abomination and destruction to them, and to which the blind people paid divine honour."  Gildas

'In Britain positive arch. evidence for temples situated at the sources of rivers is lacking... but. ..can no doubt be inferred.'.. Pagan Celtic Britain

'There is considerably more direct evidence for the cult of wells, pools and lakes in the British Isles.... As in the case of the cult of the head, worship of wells and springs is attested by the three main sources of evidence for native religion, classical, archaeological and literary.'. Pagan Celtic Britain

The Celts not only made votive offering in pools and lakes, they also put similar offerings into wells and springs (called fountains in the later romances) and also into pits and shafts. From the evidence both of archaeology and from the literature of the Celtic world there is no doubt that all such places were regarded by the Celts as gateways to the Otherworld.

"The Celtic word 'Nemeton' denoting a 'sacred grove' can be traced in derivative form in Celtic place-names from Britain ( Aquae Arnemetiae at Buxton in Derbyshire ) and Spain to Galatia in Asia Minor (Drunemeton). 'Later commentaries on 'Lucan' say that the druids worshipped gods in woods without the use of temples.' Miranda Green

'We can then visualise many of the 'temenoi', the sacred precincts of the pagan Celts as consisting of a sacred tree, no doubt frequently associated with a venerated well, over or beside which a shrine may have been in some instances constructed.'. Pagan Celtic Britain.

'As with many other peoples, certain trees and groves of trees were sacred to the Celts and treated with veneration. the druids appear to have been especially concerned with the oak tree.'  Pagan Celtic Britain.

The tale of 'Owain and the Lady of the Fountain' appears in the Mabinogion a collection of welsh prose tales put together between the latter part of the 11th and the end of the 13th centuries.  The Lady, Alundyne, is a manifestation of Sovereignty, with a champion to guard her well. Owain must beat the champion and becomes the new consort  of the Lady / Goddess.

 

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