Cloth and water: instructions for a Celtic pilgrimage

Driving my way to Skye with my travel companions, we were taken to a nice spot between trees, rocks and… cloths, or as I should say… clooties.

Now your question should be: what are these clooties you’ve just mentioned? Well, a clootie or cloot is a strip of cloth or rag which can be found in wells: actually the place where we’ve been is called Clootie Well and you can find it just a few miles away from Inverness.

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Clootie wells belonged originally to the Celtic culture but were still present during Christianity: they w wells or springs, almost always with a tree growing beside them and garments or rags tied to the branches of the trees surrounding the well.

It’s said that if you are ill you need to tie a piece of cloth that belongs to you to the tree near the well after it has been dipped in the water of the well so that the goddess or local nature spirit can heal your ailment. The sickness is supposed to fade away as the rag disintegrates.

But beware: do not remove anyone of those rags, or you will succumb to the burdens of the former owner.

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