St. Werburgh and the Goose

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The Legend of St. Werburgh

A Mercian princess who converted over at an early age to become a Benedictine nun, through her life became the Patroness of Chester, Abbess of Weedon, Trentham, Hanbury, Minster in Sheppey, and Ely. Even though she was born a princess with royal blood, she cared not for the easy life that came with royalty, otherwise dedicating her life to only do good and make others happy, growing good and wise herself. Although her life fluctuated in various positions and titles in her religious orders, she never changed her humility that had always characterized her and in her devotion to all those in her care that she was more servant to the people than mistress. All felt God had rewarded her for her childlike trust by many miracles making her one of the best known and loved of the Saxon Saints.

Villagers and animals alike were said to have come to St. Werburgh to be healed or given advice. She was rumored to have a magical connection with all animals as well, being able to communicate with them just as she could with humans. St. Werburgh became quite taken by a flock of geese that frequented the convent meadows and swam in the pond. There was one goose that became her favorite that she had named Gray king, he had a black ring around his neck and was quite fat, seemingly the happiest within the flock. Unfortunately, Gray King and his flock would often get into the cornfields, infuriating Hugh, the convent steward. Hugh asked Werburgh to handle this trouble. Werburgh called forth the geese and told Gray King how bad it was to steal the corn and spoil the harvest and left them with simply a scolding, a shake, and a light whipping. She ended the scolding with kissing Gray King before imprisoning them in a pen overnight with intent to gift them convent porridge the next morn before their release. This infuriated Hugh and he felt she didn’t do what he expected to punish them harshly is what they deserved. He hated birds except to feast on. Werburgh told Hugh to serve the geese porridge in the morning before releasing them. He was shocked of this task. A plump goose as his reward, Hugh ate Gray King as a meal to make up for the lost corn. Werburgh was furious when she learned of this and commanded Hugh to bring her the bones. She punished Hugh to dedicate his life’s study to animals and how to care for them, and forbid him to ever eat of bird or beast again, confining him for two nights in the pen where the geese were imprisoned. She took the bones of Gray king and ordered him to rise back to life. She then commanded the flock of geese to leave Weedon, never to return, to which day it is believed that a goose has never entered the village since.

Because of her miracles, her corpse was coveted by many. St. Werburgh instructed that her remains stay in Hanbury, but the nuns of Trentham refused to release them until those of Hanbury took her body to the tomb there – and in 708 C.E. her remains were exhumed when she was declared a Saint, in the presence of King Coelred of Mercia and his council. Her second miracle, was that her body was found to be incorrupt and in the exact state it was when she was laid to rest. 875 C.E. she was moved to the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Chester, which was renamed and rededicated to her, into a shrine of her honor, where she rests reconstructed today (after being destroyed by Henry VIII). During Henry VIII most of the Cathedrals were ransacked and relics scattered, although St. Werburgh’s were eventually returned. Most of the figures in the Cathedral were mutilated. The female heads were accidentally placed on male shoulders, and vice versa by the workmen attempting to reconstruct them, and only 30 original figures remain. Today there is a statue of Saint Werburgh with a goose by her side at the Our Lady and St. Werburgh’s Church.

    References:
  • Bridgett, Ronald W. 1985 The Life of St. Werburgh: Princess of Mercia.
  • Brown, Abbie Farwell 2004 The Book of Saints and Friendly Beasts.
  • Our Lady and St. Werburgh 2003 The Legend of St. Werburgh. Websited referenced 12/23/15 at http://www.ourladyandstwerburgh.co.uk/the-legend-of-st-werburgh.html
  • Robert Appleton Co. 1912 The Catholic Encylopaedia, Vol. XV.
  • Seomraranga.com n.d. “Holy Wells of Ireland”. Website referenced 12/25/15 at http://www.holywell.seomraranga.com/holywellsireland.htm
  • Wikipedia n.d. “St. Werburgh”. Website referenced 12/26/15 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werburgh.
  • Youtube n.d. “St. Werburgh’s Well, Swords, Dublin”. Website refrenced 12/25/15 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gdqude7t14M.

St Werburth's Well (Swords/Dublin, Ireland) http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=24191. 4 January 2014. Clongriffin to Swords. Chronicles 3: Walking with the Ancestors -  http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=15579. Winter 2013/2014: Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Cian - the Prince of Endurance.  Photography (c) 2014, 2015: Thomas Baurley, Eadaoin Bineid, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions. www.technogypsie.com/photography/.  To follow the stories and tales visit http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/ and http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/. Swords: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=24171. Dublin: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2754. Malahide: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=24123. Clongriffin: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=24119.

St Werburth’s Well (Swords/Dublin, Ireland)
http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=24191. 4 January 2014. Clongriffin to Swords. Chronicles 3: Walking with the Ancestors – http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=15579. Winter 2013/2014: Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Cian – the Prince of Endurance. Photography (c) 2014, 2015: Thomas Baurley, Eadaoin Bineid, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions. www.technogypsie.com/photography/. To follow the stories and tales visit http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/ and http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/. Swords: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=24171. Dublin: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2754. Malahide: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=24123. Clongriffin: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=24119.

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Naiads

Naiad1-johnwaterhouse-copyrightfree
Naiad John William Waterhouse (1849-1917):
”A Naiad” or ”Hylas with a Nymph”. 1893
(first exhibited at the New Gallery, London 1893)

This work is in the public domain in those countries with a
copyright term of life of the author plus 90 years or less.

Naiads
http://www.naiads.org/well/?p=857

A Fresh water nymph that lives along springs, holy wells, rivers, waterfalls, and fountains known to be a guardian of the waters in her domain. Depicted as an attractive nude bathing woman, they are known to entice and lure men to their waters. Sometimes this is to seductive folly, a love affair, or a dangerous end. Derived from the Greek word ?????, or Naiás, meaning “to flow” or “running water”. The Naiad is a female water nymph or spirit that guard over wells, springs, streams, brooks, fountains, and fresh water pools or lakes. Some say the Undine is the salt water variant while the Naiad is the fresh water variant. They are not to be confused with River God/desses who embody rivers or inhabit still waters of ponds, lagoons, lakes, and marshes such as the pre-Mycenaean Lerna described in the Argolid.
They belong to Greek mythology but have spread throughout the European world-view. Although they are most believed to be associated with fresh water, since the Greeks believed that all of the world’s waters were one, flowing through a cavernous aquifer and inter-connected, they could be in more than one place at the same time. This is also their explanation in relation to Oceanids, Nereids, Undines, and Mer-folk. In the Greek myths about Arethusa, a water nymph of a spring, that could make her way from Peloponnesus to surface on the island of Sicily. They were worshiped by water cults who often made offerings into the waters or along its edges with such things as bins, coins, cloth, clothes, sandals, jewelry, treasures, figurines, flowers, and/or sacrificed animals to the waters in hopes the Naiads would bring them healing, inspiration, gifts, magic, blessings, or passage. In some practices, boys and girls that werre coming-of-age would dedicate their childish locks to the local Naiad of the spring. In Lerna, ritual cleansings utilized the magical waters from the Naiad’s spring or well that were believed to possess certain healing or medicinal properties. In ancient Mythology, Hylas of the Argo’s crew was lost when he was captivated by Naiads who were in awe of his beauty. They are known to be jealous fae folk – as in Theocritus’ tale of a Naiad’s jealousy when the Naiad Nomia or Echenais who was in love with Daphnis, the Shepherd. He was unfaithful to her on numerous accounts and she blinded him out of revenge. Hermaphroditus was forced into sex with the Naiad Salmacis, and when he sought to escape her, she fused with him, giving birth to hermaphrodites. In the mytho of Aristaeus, The Naiad Chlidanope marries Hypseus, the King of the Lapiths and giving birth to Cyrene. Aristaeus also consulted the Naiads when his bees died and his aunt Arethusa invited him below the water’s surface where he was washed with the waters from a perpetual spring and given his advice. Throughout Europe, magical springs and holy wells were at first attributed to various Deities and/or water nymphs before they were converted to wells and springs associated with Saints. It was a very common practice in Celtic cultures.

Related to Undines, Oceanids (salt water), Nereids (Mediterranean), Water Nymphs, and Mermaids and Mermen.

Written, researched, and Copyrighted (© 2013) by Leaf McGowan, Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions: www.technogypsie.com ~ http://www.naiads.org/well/?p=857.

    Bibliography, References, and Recommended Reading:
  • Burkert, Walter 1985 “Greek Religion”. Harvard University Press.
  • Graves, Robert 1955 “The Greek Myths”.
  • Homer “Odyssey” and “Iliad”
  • Poe, Edgar Allen 1829 “Sonnet to Science”.
  • Silver, Carole B. Silver “Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness”. ISBN 0-19-512199-6.
  • Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. undated “Naiads”, “Undines”. Web site referenced on March 8, 2014.

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Undines

Arthur_Rackham_Undine_by_De_la_Motte_Fougue_1909
Arthur Rackham ~ Undine by De la Motte Fougue ~ 1909 Soon she was lost to sight in the Danube.

Undines
http://www.naiads.org/well/?p=853

Ondines or Undines is the modern English term for Water elementals, spirits or nymphs. The term is derived from the Latin term “Unda” meaning “a wave”. Undines are seen as the true essence or spirit manifestation of waves in water. It is believed to first have derived from the Greek alchemical works of Paracelsus as the elemental spirits of water. It also is descriptive in some meanings and works for the focus of attention for water magic, whose course and function the undines control. They are believed to exist within the waters themselves and not usually able to be seen with normal human vision, unless the human has an artifact, charm, or spell to allow them to see faerie folk or unless blessed by the undine to be revealed. Some believe that they live in the coral caves along lakes or on the banks of rivers. Smaller Victorian imagery of the undines depict them living under lily pads. When seen, they resemble human beings, except for those of Victorian description living in smaller streams and ponds fit more with the “Disney”-esque Tinker bell humanoid forms. Their clothing is usually described as being shimmery and green in color though reflective of all the shades and colors found in water. Undines are also centered in European folklore, as a type of water nymphs that become human when they fall in love with a human male and is doomed to die if he is unfaithful to her. Her essence is believed to have come from the Nereids, the attendants of Poseidon, the Sea god. Paracelsus first wrote about them, calling them spirits who inhabit the element of water. They are believed to dwell within every body of water in existence from streams, ponds, rocky pools, marshes, rivers, lakes, rivers, and ocean waves. Every waterfall, fountain, or well is believed to have an undine living within its waters. These also describe the Naiad, a female water nymph or spirit that guard over wells, springs, streams, brooks, fountains, and fresh water pools or lakes. Some say the Undine is the salt water variant while the Naiad is the fresh water variant. Sometimes they are confused with Mermaids and Mermen. They are also sometimes confused or entwined with Oceanids. Most mythology places Undines in salt water environments like the Oceanids and these creatures overlap and combine in folk tales around the world as either Nereids, Mermaids, Oceanids, Naiads, Undines, Ondines, or Water Nymphs. Some say they have interbred and there exists combinations, half-breeds, and mutations of these in watery realms. Since the Greeks thought of all the world’s waters as one biological system (blood stream and veins of Gaia, the Earth mother – Gaia Hypothesis) which perculates in from the sea through the cavernous aquifers within the earth, the waters would mix and inter-lap. They explain this in tales of such nymphs like Arethusa, the spring nymph, that could make her way from her spring through the subterranean flows from Peloponnesus to surface on the island of Sicily. It is through this manner that Undines and Naiads often get confused. They became objects of local water cults and worshiped in various ways with requests for healing, blessings, magic, or passage. Sometimes people would offer them pins, charms, cloth, clouties, flowers, plants, or ritually drowned animals into their waters. In hopes that they might communicate prophesy, oracles were situated by ancient springs or wells. As they were seen to be a jealous lot, they could endanger seamen, explorers, or boats passing within their realms.

Related to Naiads.

Written, researched, and Copyrighted (© 2013) by Leaf McGowan, Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions: www.technogypsie.com ~ http://www.naiads.org/well/?p=853.

    Bibliography, References, and Recommended Reading:
  • Burkert, Walter 1985 “Greek Religion”. Harvard University Press.
  • Graves, Robert 1955 “The Greek Myths”.
  • Homer “Odyssey” and “Iliad”
  • Poe, Edgar Allen 1829 “Sonnet to Science”.
  • Silver, Carole B. Silver “Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness”. ISBN 0-19-512199-6.
  • Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. undated “naiads”, “undines”. Website referenced 3/8/2014.

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