I first visited on 30th April 2016 and was at once taken by its aura of beauty yet sadness, as well as a strange tension pervading its structure and footprint. I hadn’t clocked it at the time but this was the Eve of (the calendar version, Church then) Beltane.
Over the following three months (and a bit), I was drawn to the lonely little well that’s tears now ceased to puddle in its dry chamber; they had been almost all there was for wetting and to throw a few coins into; that and hard rains that regularly flushed through except for when they didn’t. (1)
Now, it’s none of my business what your beliefs are, but I’m going to lay this out up front because it is integral to what I am going to impart here: I am psychic, and I have had encounters and communications with Otherworlds and denizens of said, throughout my life.
So, onward then:
In the beginning I was aware of a sobbing fair-haired feminine figure, dressed in a long white dress or gown. I’d seen her before, when she mist-manifested into my view on my first trip to St. Non’s well, near St. David’s, in Pembrokeshire. That was in 2011, there too she had been in distress. (2)
The maiden wore a floral circlet in her hair both times, at St. Non’s she held a white spiral wand. I saw or just sensed her every time I went to the well for a long while…and then I couldn’t.
I watched the summer solstice sunrise on 21st June, she was still there then but I came upon disturbing evidence inside and outside that morning too. A pile of black feathers outside and white ones inside.
On 6th August I saw them…small entities, no more than 6” tall, over in the far left corner. Immediately they noticed me they melted into the rock of the wall and stayed stock-still.
This activity now prompted me to look closely at all of the rocks of the chamber’s wall and led to me discovering things that nobody else had seen or noticed before, including locals and archaeologists – and I asked around immediately, and for years. On a flat stone is the silhouette of a gowned and hooded female figure who is carrying an arrow and a bunch of rushes. I knew immediately it is of Sant Ffraed (St. Bride), a depiction of her unique Welsh story, whereupon she turned rushes into fish to feed starving people.
Under the fading silhouette are faint inscriptions of spirals, perhaps concentric circles, and a horse’s head. Beneath this stone and at the front is another stone which carries a multitude of scribed marks, which may be witches’ marks. (3)
On every visit, from the beginning, I took flowers and other gifts from the Goddess and my garden, and I meditated and prayed for healing.
Faster than I dared hope amazing and heartening things began to happen; Martins nested on the back wall, and shrews too, in one of the holes where the water from storms still creeps in. When there was water inside rare glimpses of healing potential, as strings of bubbles would percolate to the surface, especially in the centre of the chamber, next to the ‘Ffraed Stone’. Astonishingly, no flowers in the well wilted or died in the same way one would expect. They flourished for weeks and weeks, 6 weeks I counted once. Every now and again I would leave an apple, though they would be nibbled until eventually gone, never once did their flesh turn brown. ‘Have I discovered a fountain of youth?’ I wondered.
Encounters with lighter beings soon began to occur, the dark ones decamped, and on two occasions (at least) it felt like I was an active participant in a Mabinogi episode. Gwyn ap Nudd showed up on another Beltane dawn twilight, on horse and with dogs, along with a mighty winged creature that was far too big to be Blodeuwedd, but still could have been, by magic, or perhaps her erstwhile husband, Lleu Llaw Gyffes in his eagle form, who knows?…but it happened. (4)
Mary made an appearance there too, on 1st May 2017. (5)
Standing on a stone at the well’s entrance I closed my eyes and meditated. It was raining quite hard yet very soon I was aware of a presence standing beside me, on my left side and tight against me. I was tingling all over. The figure was female but I could not see her features because she was dressed in a cloak with its large hood covering her head. Her clothing was of the most beautiful vibrant and ethereal blue. She was no more than 5′ tall and stood with her head bowed, facing the well, as I was. I could see, by the folds of her cloak that she had her hands clasped together underneath it. Her mood seemed one of sadness, and I did feel she was shedding a tear. I tried to converse with her but in a very short while she vanished from my sight. I took 3 pictures in quick succession though, hoping to catch a glimpse of her.
– an excerpt from, The Lady in blue, an article
on the Song of Ffraed, by Ellis.
Events unfolded very early the next morning to indicate precisely who the lady was.
As the healing progressed, I began to notice evidence of more and more people calling at the well: floral gifts, coloured ribbons and string, pebbles, painted wood and stones, bits of quartz, coins and tealight candle cases. The latter, though well-meant, are not really welcome, being paraffin based, the aluminium casings too are problematic and do not return to nature. I prayed for visitors to realise this and left a gentle ‘psychic nudge’. There’s only been one occasion I’ve had to clear the metal shells since, in over 3 years, not bad.
Something else happened for me on that 6th day of August, in 2016. As I rested on my heels, examining the flat stone and realising that this was a portrait of Saint Ffraed, the Christianised great Goddess of the same name, I felt it…the stirring of a powerful force of nature, throbbing like the rousing heart of a great beast, a Dragon!
I knew now, at long last, what the Otherworld ceremony on the Mountain of Cares/Caers had been for (I’ll spare you the long story); a circuit of 22, with two epic related incidents, completed that very day, and I had been formally introduced to Y Ddraig Ffraed. The task set me was to walk with this sacred feminine presence, for every yard possible. She had been long forsaken by humanity but together we would re-member Her.
For the past 3 years, I have walked along Her weaving presence, on land, following the directions of my divining rods, from the southern cliffs of St. Bride’s Bay at St. Bride’s, through the old kingdom of Deheubarth, to the northern cliffs of Her bay, near St. David’s. From St. Bride’s Abbey, in Pembrokeshire, to mid-Ceredigion, across the Cambrian Mountains and then turning southwards through the three counties once more to the environs of St. David’s cathedral.
Undoubtedly the Ancients and early Christianity were savvy enough to revere Her, and purposely sought Her good will. (The patterns they have woven with Her energy are extraordinary.) The privileged (but seemingly less adept) of more recent times, in Church (and secret societies probably) however, have been more clandestine in demonstrating their knowledge of Y Ddraig Ffraed and Her course; they mostly leave only token clues for briefed initiates – or a bloke whose divining rods show them to him.
She has taken me through 100s of sacred sites, prehistoric and Christian, churches, chapels, priories, clas’s, abbeys, a cathedral, sanctuaries, and holy wells, springs; numerous smithies, mills, courthouses, schools, hospitals, and inns; rivers flow along Her; towns, paths and roads are built upon Her.
Ffraed is the Goddess and Saint of healing, eyes, children and childbirth, of sacred waters, of fire, inspiration and poetry, of weaving, of smiths, of cattle and much more.
It seems right to me that the correct dedication for Llanllawer Well is Ffraed’s Well, or Ffynnon Ffraed.
I’ve kept a daily photographic and written record of everywhere Y Ddraig Ffraed has taken me, and everything that has happened, from the beginning. Some of this I have related in a dedicated blog, ‘The Song of Ffraed’. A book, a calendar, and a documentary are in the wind and I am happy to report that She is now healed.
Besides my Otherworldly companions, guides and guardians, I have many people to thank for their support, encouragement, interest and invaluable assistance in this epic healing project.
- I learned later that Francis Jones, in his 1954 book, The Holy Wells of Wales (with a photo of “Llanllawer Well” on its 1992 edition’s cover – because he had family links close by) writes, ‘It also seems to have been called Ff. Gapan’. Jones, a former Herald of Wales, cites Life of St. David (1923), by A.W. Wade-Evans as his source.
As ‘gapan’ means ‘cap’, rather than it being an alternative name as such, this may instead refer to the well as having been capped – explaining the absence of ‘healing’ waters and its fall into disuse. I have a suspicion that this capping is responsible for the spring that has erupted at the northwest corner of the abandoned and now ruined church of St. David at the top of the well field. – Ellis
- I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back at the photos while writing this article the date I saw Ffraed on that first visit to St. Non’s was Imbolc, the natural one, Her feast day, when the sun attains 15° Aquarius, 4th February that year.
- Referencing Pembrokeshire Archaeological Survey (1896) as his source, Francis Jones says the well was renowned as a healing well, especially for eyes, famous for its ‘most miraculous efficacy’. From this same publication he reports, as well, that when ill was wished upon someone a bent pin was thrown in. – Perhaps it was this ungodly practice that precipitated the capping of the well.Llanllawer Well on Coflein
- Gwyn and his Wild Hunt appeared in a mist by the remaining standing stone. The National Monuments Record of Wales reports there was a c.600m diameter stone circle that enclosed the well and the church. Y Ddraig flowed through it, and possibly was energeered to weave and circle there, by the builders. She does this at other circle sites.
- I’ve long thought that Non could be Mary; Dewi you know who. Recently I discovered that the maverick historian Alan Wilson says he knows he is, and that he is buried in a tumulus not far from here. In this instance Wilson is repeating whispered secrets he heard as a boy from generations of locals, some of whom were family members. (I wrote an article on this matter recently, ‘A Green Hill Far Away…Without a City Wall’
7th June 2020