Throughout the world, on sacred days, ponds, lakes, wells and waterways are dressed with flowers. In some places in South America, vibrant colored threads and streamers hang above wells and springs, beside rivers, lakes, ponds, pools, and water tanks. Along Lake Titicaca shamans practice their rituals in the old ways. Lake Titicaca has been found to contain precious objects sacrificed by the Inca to the holy waters. In Mesoamerica, the cenotes—lagoons—contain the remnants of sacrificial humans, as well as gold, pottery, and effigies of the gods. Pre- and post-conquest customs work together, for there also are shrines on shores, where statues of the Virgin Mary or random patron saints are adorned with the campesinos’ most precious possessions. Would these be better used in some practical way to defray poverty? Or do the poor believe that faith is their best and only hope?
The River Po, which begins in Northern Italy and flows to the Adriatic Sea, contains all manner of offerings and human and dog sacrifices along its route. Some of these sacrifices were made far into the Christian era.
In Tissingham, England, the custom of well dressing continues to be an annual event on Ascension Day, forty days past Easter. Processions, bands, dancers, and television personalities convene to dress the well with pictures of Biblical themes, wet clay tablets “painted” by everyone in the community with wildflowers, seeds, leaves and mosses.