Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Sussex Farisees

In Suffolk and Sussex the name for faeries is Farisees or Pharisees.
A sussex farmer called James Meppom who owned a small farm in a very lonely spot deep in the countryside had a close encounter with the sussex farisees. His barn stood some way off from his farmhouse so each evening he would have to trudge some way  back down the track for his supper in the house. One evening after a long day threshing he closed the barn door and left a the pile of threshed corn on the floor to go home for his supper, The next morning when he returned to his surprise the pile of corn was much larger than when he had left the previous night. This went on for several days until James being quite a bold fellow was determined to see what was happening in his barn every night. So the next night he his himself amongst the straw and waited. Just as he was beginning to doze, for it was getting late and he had been working hard all day,he was roused by the steady thump of the flails. James peeped out and there steadily threshing the corn were two little figures no more than eighteen inches high.
When he saw the two little figures he started to laugh and shouted to them asking what they were doing in his barn. The two little men rushed for the barn door carrying their tiny little flails with them and as they passed James clouted him about the side of the head. It was such a savage blow that it laid him out until the next morning. He managed to struggle home and his wife seeing what a dreadful state he was in sent for the doctor. Although the doctor considered it to be  a slight fit James would have none of it and told the good man that he had the curse of the Farisees upon him. As far as James was concerned he was doomed and sure enough within the year he was dead.

Faeries and Folklore of the British Isles

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Mound of Hostages, Tara

The Mound of Hostages in Ireland is a ancient burial site famous as the capital of the High Kings of Ireland and a holy site for thousands of years. Originally named Temair after a Princess Tea married an Irish King, she brought with her as a gift to the King the  Tiatha de Danann's legendary Stone of Destiny, the Lia-Fail.
Much spiritual power and strength dwells in this stone and it is on this that the King would sit at his coronation. If he is the rightful heir the stone would roar beneath him. It was removed from Tara by Prince Fergus and taken to Iona and from there the Scottish King Kenneth MacAlpine carried it off to Scone. But this was not the end of it's travels; Edward the first then had it carried to Westminster Abbey in 1296 and had it built into the throne used for English coronations. It has since been returned to Scone.
Back to the site... near the centre of the main part of the mound is the Fort of Kings and on top of the high mound stands a stone that although is called the Lai-Fail is not the original gift from the Tuatha de Dananns.

Faeries and Folklore of the British Isles

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

witches and ill wishing

The Falmouth police in 1845 arrested three women from the De Freez family for 
assaulting a woman called Warne. They could have exonerated themselves 
during the trial but the witnesses who had seen the assault would not appear 
in court as they were afraid of the woman Warne saying that she was a witch
 and would ill wish them. In another case in Cornwall a man was brought before
 the court accused of beating his wife and of keeping her on rations of bread and water. 
His defence was that his wife's sister had ill wished his pigs and he had beaten his 
wife so that she would ask her to remove the curse!
A common way to remove a curse cast by a witch is to draw blood from her, 
this will diminish her life force and her magical power would be destroyed. 
The blood of the cursed person can also be used by placing it along with their urine,
 hair, nails in a bottle; this is then heated over the fire making the witch writhe in agony 
until she lifts the curse. Urine is a very good deterant against the evil eye, by sprinkling
 it over the threshold to prevent the witch from entering or sprinkle it over the afflicted person.
If you were unable to lift the curse yourself then a 'pellar' would be consulted. 
These people would roam the country offering love philtres, finding lost property and 
countering the curses of witches. These pellars where also known as wise women or men, 
conjurors or white wizards.
One of the objects that aided them in this was a ring made from a blue stone with 
a yellow twisted line running through it; 'adder stone' or 'millpreve'. It was believed to 
a remedy for snake bite, the stone was created from a hundred adders that gathered
 to create the stone by hissing and spitting on a hazel wand. 
Writen charms were also provided, written on parchment and worn around the neck.
The magic charm is made up of five words, each appearing four times as the rows were
 read from top to bottom:

T E N E T 

A  sheeps head would be stuck all over with nails and roasted before a fire while the affected persons family would gather around it and chant:
It is not this heart I wish to burn
But the persons heart I wish to turn
Wishing them neither rest nor peace
Till they are dead and gone

Sunday, 10 February 2013

There is an old tale in Cornwall of a failed faerie snatch, it happened in a remote 
moorland cottage near Towednack. The mother's name was Betty Stogs; she lived 
there with her husband and six month old baby. She was a slovenly neglectful mother 
and would leave the baby alone all day in the cottage with just a cat for company. 
Her neighbours angrily asked her why she didn't look after the baby better as the  
child was getting so dirty but she just replied that  the moor was a cold place and a 
good layer of dirt kept it warm. One night after being away all day Betty returned 
home to find the baby and the cat gone, she and her husband searched the cottage
 and then started to search the cold moor but they could find no sign of the child
 or the cat. Betty resumed her search the next morning and as she was walking over a 
nearby tor spotted the cat in the  distance. She hurried after the animal and followed 
it into a furze bush where she discovered a bundle of old fashioned chintz, inside was 
the baby fast asleep. It was dressed in beautiful silk clothes and scented with sweet
 herbs, it's own rags were nowhere to be seen and for the first time it was clean. 
When her neighbours heard this declared that the baby had been taken by the faeries
 to take back to the faerie realm. However it must have taken them so long to clean it's 
filthy little body that they ran out of time before the sun rose and left it hidden in 
the furze bush, meaning to come back for it later.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Art Exhibition

First exhibition of original work  for quite a while! 
It's a joint  showing between myself and a friend Steven Shipp. 
He specialises in acrylics and oils  and exhibits throughout the west country, 
while I paint in watercolours.  
We are holding it at the Holyrood Lace Mill in Chard,  Somerset for two weeks 
from the 18th Feb to the 2nd of March. 
Hope to see you there!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Stonehenge and Woodhenge

I was lucky enough to visit these two ancient sites last weekend, I should have
 gone before having driven past many times. It had stopped raining so we 
decided to venture out of the car. Even tho it was freezing and blowing a gale the 
Stonehenge site was packed with bus loads of tourist , like us!. 
The stones are magnificent but unfortunately I didn't get a feeling of connection 
with them at all. I think it was because we weren't allowed close enough and
 surrounded with clicking cameras didn't help.
 However it was a different matter at 
Woodhenge, we had the place to ourselves. I think this site isn't as well visited as 
it's bigger and more imposing cousin! I stood in the middle of this circle and could 
feel the power of the ley line running through it, amazing! of course it might 
have just been hypothermia setting in! To one side of the middle marker is a tiny grave, 
inside was found a small crouching body of a child, apparently a sacrifice. 
( I didn't find this out until I got home, thank goodness, there is also another grave of a teenager to one side that had also been sacrificed)
 Not much is known about these bodies as the skeletons were taken to London and 
destroyed during the Blitz. 
These two sites are on the main ley line that runs across the country from East Anglia 
down to the south west.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

St Brides' Day; Imbolc, the Celtic feast of Springs awakening 1st Jan

St Brigid is said to have helped the virgin Mary give birth to Jesus and so is now the protector of pregnant women and midwives.
The saint's pagan namesake is the celtic goddess Brigit who is also associated with fertility and childbirth, on her feast day which is also Imbolc, images of her are made from the last sheaf of the previous years harvest and laid in a cradle called the 'Brides Bed'
This is the day of the Bride
The Queen will come from the mound
This is the day of the Bride
The serpent shall come from the hole

On this day adders venture forth from their winter lairs bringing spring with them