Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Foley R.
Culture and Religion
Small health pilgrimages: Place and practice at the holy well
Optional Fields
holy wells pilgrimage therapeutic landscapes
While established pilgrimage sites have extensive literatures, holy wells are less well documented, yet remain significant sites of pilgrimage with healing associations within more localised settings (Rattue 1995). Health geographers describe such settings as therapeutic landscapes where established reputations for healing are central to the production of place (Gesler 2003). Drawing from a sample of holy wells in Ireland, the operation of holy wells as markers of mind/body/spirit health is explored through a deep mapping of place. Taking account of material, symbolic and inhabited dimensions of wells, they are explored under three parallel themes. Retreat is identified as a core aspect of the well visits informed by phenomenological engagements and material spaces of the well where stillness forms the basis of a spiritual health practice (Conradson 2007). The histories of the wells also contain surprisingly liminal and carnivalesque recreational elements wherein the sacred mingled regularly with the profane. Finally, well pilgrimages connect to a range of scale issues around their position as between special-and-everyday spaces within which heterogeneous healing practices emerge. In the sustenance and revival of holy well visits, the notion of the small pilgrimage as a performance of health emerges to broaden our understanding of the wider pilgrimage process. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Grant Details