What is Well Dressing: a Tradition of Decorating Wells

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By Morningbird

Well dressing is a tradition of decorating wells for summer celebrations. It is an ancient Celtic custom that continues in the remote regions of England, particularly Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

It may be that the remoteness of these regions helped preserve these traditions by making it difficult for invaders to reach them.

The Tradition

The tradition of well dressing likely began as a sacrificial act to thank the spirit of the well or perhaps a God or Gods for providing the community with water throughout the year, or perhaps to celebrate the fact that it was there.

Well dressing generally takes place in the month of June though it can take place throughout the summer into early autumn.

The wells are dressed with flowers and greenery in their simplest form, but in Derbyshire, the dressings can be very elaborate pictures made of flower buds, leaves, pine needles and other plant parts carefully arranged and pressed into clay to create beautiful mosaics.

Many Pagans will bring flowers to their well or another water source, reminiscent of this custom.

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Written by Morningbird & Witchipedia Team

I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years. As a founder and lead writer on Witchipedia, I’ve been publishing articles since 2006.

It is our mission to provide the most accurate Pagan, occult and magical information.