I’m sure you have heard of the Sea Witch Ursula thanks to pop culture. But what else do you know about water witches? In this post, let’s explore some different kinds of water witches.
Please note that you absolutely do not have to label yourself as any type of witch. This is just to demonstrate that there are different types of water witches. If you feel strongly drawn to a particular water magick path, then by all means define yourself as such. On the other hand, if you feel pulled to multiple types, feel free to move fluidly from one to another.
1. WELL WITCHES
The first kind of water witch communes with water wells. Rooted deeply in folklore, wells have long been considered sacred dwelling places of the Fae Folk and portals to the Otherworld. Magickal wells are also associated with wish making and healing.
Famous wells still exist to this day. A well dedicated to a Romano-British goddess of wells and springs called Coventina was excavated in 1876 by British archaeologist John Clayton. He found dedications to Coventina inside of a walled section that was built to house the outflow from a spring which is now referred to as ‘Coventina’s Well.’
Besides the two dedication slabs to Coventina, there were other things found in the well. 13,487 coins, a male statue head, 10 altars to Coventina and Minerva, two incense burners made from clay, various votive offerings, and a carving of three water nymphs made up the contents of the well.
Also known as the Red Spring, another famous well, the Chalice Well, can be found at the foot of Glastonbury Tor in Somerset County, England. For at least the last 2,000 years, the Chalice Well’s history suggests that it has been in nearly constant use. It has never failed to issue water from the spring, even during a drought. It is also reputed to hold healing properties.
There are also myths of the sword belonging to legendary King Arthur, Excalibur, the Holy Grail chalice, and rusty iron nails used for the Crucifixion being connected with the Chalice Well. Obviously, this is where its name comes from.
Yet another famous well can be found in Madron, Cornwell, UK. Named for its location, Madron Well is a Cornish Celtic sacred site. This natural, ground-level spring is said to have healing qualities. One account from “before 1641, John Trelille, a poor cripple, was cured here when he bathed in the water, then slept on a grassy hillock.” The mound was redone every year and named St. Maderne’s bed.
Another tradition that came from Madron Well was performed by young people on May Day. The ceremony was performed to learn how many years they would have to wait before they were to be wed. They would take two stems of straw or grass measuring roughly an inch long and fasten them together using a pin. Then they would drop the combination into the water and count the rising bubbles. Each bubble equaled one year they would have to wait before they got married. Over time the ceremony was held on a Sunday instead of May Day because the young folks would work during the week.
If you are looking to explore becoming a water witch and wish to work with well deities, start doing research on Saint Hilda, Fontus, and Brigid. If you have access to well water, it is important to be respectful and ask permission before collecting any water for your use.
2. RIVER WITCHES
A lot of folklore beliefs about river water ties to the claim that it’s not possible for spirits to cross. As such, rivers are viewed as a hallowed barrier between our realm and the next. From this, it is no wonder why rivers have long since been thought of as holy and sacred. Other beliefs about river water tied into direction. It was thought that flowing waters that made their way towards the Sun had healing qualities.
If you find yourself drawn to flowing river waters, it would do you well to familiarize yourself with your own local watercourses. Get to know the dwelling spirits through gentle interaction, like sitting quietly on the banks. You could also help clean the area through collecting litter. This demonstrates your willingness to honor the river and your interest in fostering a connection.
Just as with well water deities, exploring the beings associated with river water can benefit your practice greatly. Check out Sabrina the Welsh nymph, Boanne, and Danu to see if you would like to open a possible connection with them.
As with all elements, collecting river water should be approached with humble gratitude. Asking for permission is best practice. Do some research on different times of the day and moon phases for collecting from natural resources and what it could offer your practice.
3. BOG, MARSH, AND SWAMP WITCHES
I think there are definite negative connotations that have been perpetuated about swamps and marsh witches throughout history. Growing up in the South myself, I’ve seen both sides of the coin. This path could beckon you if you enjoy working with the light AND the dark side of magick. It is also appealing to those who gravitate towards non-conformity and traditional societal expectations.
Swamps, bogs, and marshes as they are portrayed on film and TV emit feeling of dank hopelessness. Elements like fog, Spanish moss, and bald cypress trees mixed with murky waters, gators and other things that “go bump in the night” paint a picture of dark magicks.
In all reality, swamps and marshes are abundantly fertile. Witches on this path typically combine the elements of green witchcraft through their knowledge and use of botanica with the properties of swamp water. As always, be respectful when collecting water for your own practice.
Another type of water to collect is swamp dew that gathers on bog botanicals over the course of an evening. Dewdrops hold magickal properties connected to healing and beauty. In order to store the dew, you must awaken before the sun comes up as the heat will cause evaporation. Have a few vials with toppers to make sure you have a way of holding your bounty.
As far as deities go, you may wish to research the Matronae Aufaniae. These are said to be goddesses most likely stemming from Germanic roots. They are thought to have been worshipped in the region of Rhineland ruled over by the the Roman Empire – including Roman soldiers and road police. It is thought that their name means ‘Goddesses of the Swampy Place.’
4. LAKE WITCHES
I like to associate the phrase ‘still waters run deep’ with the energies of lakes. Calm and peaceful, witches who work with lake water and the spirits who dwell within tend to be drawn to tranquility. If you feel magnetized to the magicks of lakes, a couple of great ways to explore this is to take a dip or walk the perimeter, noting the flora and fauna that blooms there.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the ghostly connection with lakes. It is thought by quite a few paranormal investigators that water is a strong draw for ghosts due to its quality as an energy conductor. It is thought by said investigators that ghosts gain their energy from wherever they can, so a body of water – like a lake – can provide them with copious amounts of it.
For instance, at White Rock Lake, Texas there is the Lady of the Lake. From Scandinavia, Fosse Grim the water spirit was said to play songs on the violin in order to lure victims to drown in lakes. Kappas from Japanese mythology tell stories of monkey-like beings that pull children under water and feast on their blood. Slavic mythology offers up tales of the Rusalka, female ghosts who were thought to be the souls of young women who drowned in lakes.
While there are countless legends and accounts of haunted lakes, this should not deter you from working with them if you are inclined to do so. As always, ask for permission to take water for your use and give thanks after doing so.
As far as deities go, look into Cerridwen, a Celtic goddess believed to be both a witch and a lady of the lake. You may wish to call on her while performing rituals or your casting. Perhaps the Gwragedd Annwn, also known as Lake Maidens in Welsh folklore, could aid you in your water magick.
5. SEA WITCHES
I was born in a beachside hospital and grew up on an island. The ocean has constantly been there, in the background of my youth into my adulthood. It has always called to me, even more so now that I’m living in a landlocked state.
While I do not label myself exclusively as a Sea Witch, my eclectic path utilizes many elements from the ocean. Moon phases play a big part in my practice, as well as centering collected seashells and sand on my altar. My power grows from working with aspects of the sea.
Sea Witches of folklore tend to focus on the image of a woman traipsing the shores, selling charms and curios made of flotsam gifted to them by the ocean. Other takes on the Sea Witch is one who uses her magick to conjure storms and sink ships.
Modern witches who work with the sea gravitate towards the power of the moon, its tides and its phases. Collecting shells, beach sand, crab claws, sea glass, driftwood, stones, cockles, cowries, clam and oyster shells, and of course sea water, all have their own special energies. I recommend learning how to read your local tide tables. Visit the beach as often as possible. Let her guide you on your path.
I hope this post has shed some light on what kinds of water witches there are and if you align with being one. As always, take my posts as crash courses. Do your own research. Experiment and feel out different paths. Find what resonates with you and leave the rest behind. Bright Blessings and Happy Casting!