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St Michael's Holy Well, Kirkmichael


St Michael's Holy Well in Kirkmichael had a tradition of having magical healing powers and was said to have been protected by a guardian spirit in the form of a fly. According to The Statistical Account of Scotland (1794), "Near the kirk of this parish there is a fountain, once highly celebrated, and anciently dedicated to St Michael. Many a patient have its waters restored to health, and many more have attested the efficacy of their virtues. But, as the presiding power is sometimes capricious, and apt to desert his charge, it now lies neglected, choked with weeds, unhonoured and unfrequented. In better days, it was not so; for the winged guardian, under the semblance of a fly, was never absent from his duty. If the sober matron wished to know the issue of her husband's ailment, or the love-sick nymph that of her languishing swain, they visited the well of St Michael. Every movement of the sympathetic fly was regarded in silent awe; and as he appeared cheerful or dejected, the anxious votaries drew their presages their breasts vibrated with correspondent emotions. Like the Delai Lama of Thibet, or the King of Great Britain, whom a fiction of the English law supposes never to die, the guardian fly of the well of St Michael was believed to be exempted from the laws of mortality. To the eye of ignorance he might sometimes appear dead, but, agreeably to the Druidic system, it was only a transmigration into a similar form, which made little alteration on the real identity." "Not later than a fortnight ago" (it is added) "the writer of this account was much entertained to hear an old man lamenting with regret the degeneracy of the times, particularly the contempt in which objects of former veneration were held by the unthinking crowd. If the infirmities of years and the distance of his residence did not prevent him, he would still pay his devotional visits to the well of St Michael. He would clear the bed of its ooze, open a passage for the streamlet, plant the borders with fragrant flowers, and once more, as in the days of youth, enjoy the pleasure of seeing the guardian fly skim in sportive circles over the bubbling wave, and with its little proboscis imbibe the panacean dews."

Unfortunately there is no trace of the well or the fly existing today.


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