Water Dumbbells Exercises
All running water, not just spring water, can prove to be the haunt of fairies, for crossing over (or through) running water is one of the ways to enter their realm Here in Devon and Cornwall, one still finds country folk who avoid running water by dusk or dark, for the spirits who inhabit water can be troublesome, even deadly. The water spirit of the River Dart, for instance, is believed to demand sacrificial drownings, leading to the well-known local rhyme: “Dart, Dart, cruel Dart, every year she claims a heart.”
The water wraith of Scotland thin, ragged, and invariably dressed in green haunts riversides by night to lead travelers to a watery death. In the border country between Scotland and England, the Washer by the Ford wails as she washes the grave clothes of those who are about to die. This frightening apparition is similar to the dreaded Bean-Sidhe (Banshee) of Irish legends. The Bean-nighe is a similar creature found in both Highland and Irish lore, a dangerous little fairy with ragged green clothes and webbed red feet. (Yet if one can get between the Bean-nighe and her water source, she’s obliged to grant three wishes and refrain from doing harm)
Jenny Greenteeth specializes in dragging children down in stagnant pools. The Welsh water leaper (Llamhigyn YDwr) is a toadlike creature who delights in tangling fishing lines and devouring any sheep who fall into the river. The fideal is a fairy who haunts lonely pools and hides herself in the grasses by the water; the glaistig, half woman and half goat, tends to lurk in the dark of caves behind waterfalls. The loireag of the Hebrides is a gentler breed of water fairy, although as a connoisseur of music even she can prove dangerous to those who dare to sing out of tune.
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In Ireland, a fairy woman known as the Lady of the Lake bestows blessings and good weather to those who seek her favor; in some towns she’s still celebrated (or propitiated) at midsummer festivals. Her name recalls the Welsh Lady of the Lake who gave King Arthur his sword and now guards his body as he sleeps in Avalon.
Brittany, on the west coast of France, also claims to be the home of the Lady of the Lake. The Chateau de Comper, where she’s said to have lived and raised Sir Lancelot, still stands near the old Forest of Paimpont (called Broceliande in Arthurian lore), a magnificent manor house of golden stone, crumbling romantically at the edges. Nearby is a lake whose origin is attributed to Morgan Le Fay, located in the mysterious Val sans Retour (Valley of No Return).
Chalice Well in Glastonbury is one of several sites where the Holy Grail is reputed to be hidden. At the foot of ancient Glastonbury Tor is a lovely garden where one can drink the red-tinged water of the well colored, according to legend, by the blood of Christ carried in the Grail [see Chapters 8 and 17].
Although the well’s association with Arthur may be, as some Arthurian scholars suggest, a legend of recent vintage, archaeological excavations in the 1960s established the site’s antiquity and the place manages to retain a tranquil, mystical atmosphere despite its transformation from sacred site to tourist attraction. One often finds small offerings in the circle around the well’s heavy lid: flowers, feathers, stones, small bits of cloth tied to a nearby tree remnants of ancient pagan practice carried down through the centuries.