The well

Our world is dominated by rationality and superficiality, resulting in loneliness and meaninglessness, but by restoring the relationship between ego and Self, one may draw from the wellsprings of Life.

All over the world, wells have been dug by hand since the ninth millennium BCE (1). Human settlements have always been dependent for survival on a well with a fresh clear spring, so that social structures developed around it.

In mythology Demeter is often depicted next to a well (2); Mother Holle is found at the bottom of a well. (3) Christ as symbol of the Self standing next to a well, described himself as the source of the Living Waters. (4)

The well resembles a tree, for water can be drawn up to serve life and growth similar to how a tree draws up water through its roots and fibers. It conveys the idea of a dispensing of nourishment, available to all. Life is inexhaustible. It grows neither less nor more; it exists for one and all. Generations come and go, and all may enjoy life in its inexhaustible abundance. (5)

Wells have been associated with sacred ceremonial descent, ritually lived, for millennia. Like the holes in the ground, hand-dug by men and women over time, it resembles the development of consciousness over time. Archetypal patterns of descent, linking above and below, ego and Self, became more fully known by humanity and potentially available to anyone who would ‘go down all the way’ to the roots, who ‘does not neglect the work’ (5).

A well needs to be maintained, cleaned, lined. Through Jung’s psychology the existence and mechanisms of this psychic structure was made conscious and accessible to any individual who felt called upon to undertake the journey, perhaps a first step in the collective ‘restoration of the well’. No longer only the property of the shaman or priestess, it is freely available to any individual who would take it up in all earnestness. By undertaking the night sea journey, the individual relationship between ego and Self may be restored and the individual replenished by the waters of Life to find connectedness and meaningful nourishment.


1., well

2. JE Cirlot, 2002. Dover Publications Inc, NY.

3. A dictionary of symbols, p. 3693. Grimm’s Fairy tale of Mother Holle.

4. John 4: 4 – 26

5. I Ching, p. 185 – 6