Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Music for Halloween...

This story is from the Shetland Islands
A fiddler from the village of Yell was carried off by Trows to perform for their Halloween celebrations.
After playing for what seemed to him the whole night he was allowed to depart and immediately proceeded homewards. When he came to his house in the village he saw with surprise that the roof had collapsed and that everything was in a bad state of disrepair. He banged on the door of his neighbours but complete strangers answered his knock. They knew nothing of the situation and did not know the man, telling him that the house had been in that state for many years. He sought out the oldest inhabitant of the village but even he, though but being of great age, knew of nobody ever staying in the house. But however did remember hearing a tale to the effect that at one time the owner of the house had mysteriously disappeared. This had happened before he was born and it was commonly supposed that the hill folk had taken him.
The poor fiddler was completely devastated and had nowhere to go so the old man offered him a bed for the night. The following day which was Sacrament Sunday they both went to church. The fiddler asked to be permitted to communicate. This request was granted but no sooner did he touch the' elements' bread and wine of the Eucharist than the fiddler crumbled into dust.

A strange story from Scotland

A variation of this strange tale is told around the north of the country.
A man lost his way in the mist and after wandering lost for some time saw a light and headed for it, stumbling through the dark he found his way to a huge oak tree. As soon as he touched the trunk the light was extinguished. He climbed up the trunk of the tree into the canopy to see if he could see any more lights in the distance. As he reached the top he discovered that the trunk was hollow, he looked down and seemed to be gazing down into a church where a funeral was taking place. A coffin surrounded by torches was being carried into the church, borne aloft by cats!
The man hurriedly scrambled down the tree and set off, he hoped, in the right direction of his friend's house.
He stumbled into the house and immediately started to tell of his strange experience. His friend listened intently, surrounded by his sleeping dogs, but the man's cat was sat up and seemed to be listening to every word. When the man exclaimed that the torches and the coffin was carried by cats and that there was a crown and sceptre laid upon the coffin, the cat yelled and said 'Then old Peter's dead and I'm the King of the Cat's. Whereupon the cat sprang up the chimney and was seen no more.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013



From earliest Celtic records Halloween, Samhain, was originally celebrated on Nov 1st and on the following day. At this time the Celts believed the human world would be open to the gods and spirits of the Otherworld. Originally a Druidic festival which involved human sacrifice and other offerings, these celebrations have continued but with many of the original rituals and significance forgotten.
In early Celtic traditions Samhain was closely associated with burial mounds which were believed to be the entrance to the Otherworld.
In some parts of the highlands of Scotland the festival was traditionally held on the 11th of Nov. Part of the celebrations was the creation of a bonfire, samhnag, on a mound 'The Mound of the Dead'
One such mound was at Fortingall in Perthshire. This mound it was believed held the victims of a terrible plague, the corpses being carried there by an old woman driving a cart pulled by a white horse. The mound is topped by a plague stone.
When the bonfire is lit the locals would take hands and dance around the blaze. When the fire wanes young boys would take burning faggots and run around the boundaries of the farms in order to protect their homes against faeries and other evil beings.

In Cornwall Halloween was called Allantide especially around the village of St Allan. Allantide being a corruption of the middle english Alhalwen-tyd, All Hallows Tide.
It was usually celebrated on the nearest Sunday to All Hallows Eve.
Here children were instructed to take apples to bed with them, then in the morning to eat them; this was thought to bring good luck. Adults would also do this to dream of their future partners.
Other charms to try at this time to divine names of future partners;
Write names on pieces of paper, screw up small and press into balls of mud. Then immerse in a bowl of water. The first to open would reveal the name of your future partner.
A wedding ring suspended between thumb and forefinger by a length of cotton accompanied by 
'If my husbands name is to be......
let this ring swing'

Monday, 28 October 2013

Mandrake, a powerful herb

As it is getting close to Halloween I  thought I would concentrate on a few witchy and spooky things!
First of all mandrake, every good witch needs this herb...
It is a poisonous perennial and is a member of the nightshade family and it has powerful magical properties.
The root which resembles the figure of a man or woman has a strong unpleasant odour and is used in philtres as an aphrodisiac. 
In medieval times it was believed that the mandrake grew best beneath a gallows tree as the roots would spring up from the semen and other body drippings of the hanged corpse. The gallows were traditionally placed at crossroads, a place long associated with magic and evil. Animals would be sacrificed here in honour of Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft. It was here that witches would call up devils and demons, as some spells were considered to be more effective if cast at a crossroads. The corpses of the condemned would be cut down and buried there as it was believed that their ghosts would be confused by the choice of roads and be unable to find their way home.
Local witches would gather the roots at night for use in their spells. The plant would be washed in wine and wrapped in silk and velvet and fed on sacraments stolen from a church.
Witches would also take the right of a murderer from the gallows and using mandrake make a 'Hand of Glory'. This would be used when the witch was making a potion as it was believed it intensified the potency of the spell.
Further info on mandrake and its uses can be found in 'Faerie Flora'

Sunday, 27 October 2013

28th is St Simon and St Judes Day so expect rain!

Judging by the weather forecast for the coming 24 hours I think this will prove to be correct!
Simon and Jude were among Christ's twelve Apostles and some say that they were among the shepherds to whom the angels announced the birth of Jesus.
Simon was martyred because he was sawn in half and is now the patron saint of woodcutters and Jude is the patron saint of lost causes.
It is supposed to rain heavily on this day, oh dear!

Also on this day peel an apple in one strip and turn around three times holding it in your right hand and repeat:
'St Simon and Jude, on you I intrude
By this paring I hold to discover
Without any delay, to tell me this day
The first letter of my own true love'
Then drop the peel over your left shoulder and it will form the initial of of your future partner; if however it breaks you will never marry!
This sort of game is also carried out on Halloween, so you get two goes at it!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Making a magic wand...

What woman wants to be without her wand? 
So if you leave your favourite magical tool on the bus here's how to make another..
Wands are traditionally made from wood but can also consist of metal or crystal.
In Wiccan and ceremonial magic the wand is used for channeling energy, other magical tools can be used as well including athames. These are used to command while wands are a more gentle tool and used to invite and encourage energies.
In Wicca the wand represents the element of air,  and sometimes fire.
There are many woods that can be used but here are a few favourite ones.
This has been considered a magical tree  for years and is known as The Sacred Tree of Knowledge, its powers recognised by Pagans and Christians alike. It was with a hazel wand that St Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland.
Great care has to be taken to cut the hazel at the correct time; Midsummer Eve is best as the tree is at it's most powerful then.
A powerful wood, used by Celts in their Samhain festivals. A wand made of this wood can be used to summon faeries and is good for using in faerie magic.
This tree is the essence of magic and is strong in the cycles of life, dealing with death and rebirth. Burning willow wood will help guide the spirits of the recently departed.
According to the Celts this tree is the Father of the Trees and is worshiped by them.
It contains powerful magic and is used in many celebrations and rituals.
This is greatly prized by the faeries so makes a good wand to have when using faerie magic.

You can take the wood from a fallen tree if it is fresh do not use rotten wood. Wood that has just fallen during a storm is a great choice as it will be imbued with the force and energy of the storm that caused it to fall.
Only use wood from a tree that has been hit by lightening if you are a very experienced practitioner as this wood will be very powerful!
The best time to cut the wood is during the night of a waxing moon.
Ask permission of the tree before cutting the wood then leave a small offering to the tree spirits in the roots; not copper as this could kill the tree.
'Oh great tree, oh stronge tree
I ask thee to give me of your wood to 
further me in the art of spellcraft
Accept my gift and grow strong
Oh great tree'
Prepare the wood by sanding it down and annointing with frankincense.
Wrap it in a cloth and put it away for seven days.
After this period take it outside in the moonlight and raise the wand aloft, calling upon the spirits of the earth to help and guide you in your work.

Monday, 21 October 2013

The magic of Poppies

The common poppy was, as legend tells it, born from the blood of a dragon, but they have been long used as symbols of sleep and death. Sleep of course from the opium found in the flower, in Greek and Roman myths the flowers were used as offerings to the dead. The image of the flower was used on tombstones to denote everlasting sleep
This symbolism was evoked in the children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in which a magical poppy field threatened to make the protagonists sleep forever.
The most well known use of the poppy is of course of Remembrance Day, the use of the bright red flower is a symbol of rebirth and everlasting life.

The poppy was also a favourite ingredient in Black Magic according to Ben Johnson in his 'Witches Song'.
'Yes, I have brought to help our vows,
Horned poppy, Cypress bough,
The fig tree wild that grows on tombs,
And juice which from the larch tree comes'

The poppy,which is ruled by the moon, possesses the magical ability of prophecy. Cut a hole in a dried pod and remove the seeds. Write on a small piece of yellow paper the question to which you desire an answer and place inside the pod. Put the pod beside the bed when you retire at night and the answer will be revealed to you in a dream during the night.
Poppy leaves can also be used for love divination charms, one use was  determining from which direction one's true love would appear by tossing a piece of Poppy cake out of the door and sending a dog out to fetch it. From the direction the dog would reappear provided the answer to the question. One could also use Poppies to obtain prophetic dreams about one's future husband - on St. Andrews night young girls would scatter Poppy seeds behind them to dream about their future husbands. 
Eating bread using the poppy seed on New Years Eve would instill the magical power of the  plant and bring blessings of abundance for the forthcoming year. You can also wear a necklace of poppy heads which will act as a charm for fertility and abundance although strangely if poppy seeds are placed inside a new brides shoes this will make her infertile.
The poppy was also used in invisibility potions; by steeping poppy seeds in wine for 15 days, then drink a glassful every day for five days while fasting.
  This was said to make the person invisible at will.
Poppy seeds were also considered a magical aid against Daemons. If being pursued by a demon throw a handful of poppy seeds in its path, this will distract the beast as it it will be compelled to stop and count every one  the seeds. This charm was even believed to ward off vampires who were sometimes thought to violate fresh graves. If Poppy seeds were put into the coffin with the dead person's body any preying vampires also lost their purpose for the same reason.

Friday, 18 October 2013

A tale of ghosts from Dorchester

The county town of Dorset is Dorchester; a beautiful old town with an ancient 
history. Famously Thomas Hardy lived near here and based one of his novels
 in this town, the infamous Judge Jeffries, the hanging judge. And before that 
of course the Roman occupation, many artifacts of which are in the museum. 
For a medium sized town there are a large amount of churches, and it is in one of 
these this story is set....

It was Christmas Eve 1814 when the church of St Peter's was being decorated 
by the clerk and the sexton for the Christmas service on the following day. Clerk 
Hardy and Sexton Ambrose Hunt had locked themselves in while carrying out their 
work and were at length cold and tired. They sat down on a settle and from there they 
could see right down the north aisle of the church. While they rested an unlucky 
thought came to them; the Holy Communion wine stored in a cupboard close by. 
The two men took the bottle and went back to the settle and sat down. They had hardly
 taken the first sip when they became aware of a figure sitting between them. 
It was their late Rector, the Rev Nathanial Templeman. The two men said afterwards 
that he had risen up before them, looked at them with a very angry countenance and
 shook his head just as he had done when alive when displeased. Then the spectre has 
slowly floated up the north aisle and disappeared from their sight. 
Clerk Hardy fainted away while the sexton tried to recite the Lords Prayer.
They were both very frightened but always affirmed their story when asked later. 
They said they could not mistake their old master, looking as he did in life and 
wearing the same clothes.
Here are details of a few more  ghostly figures seen around the town

Condemned Man
Location: Dorchester - Judge Jeffrey's Restaurant Type: Haunting Manifestation Date / Time: Unknown Further Comments: Used as a court room by Judge Jeffreys, the ghost that reputedly haunts this building is one of many that the Judge had hanged.


The Only Way is Up
Location: Dorchester - Old Malthouse, High East Street
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Mid twentieth century?
Further Comments: The sounds of someone climbing the stairs and opening a door were heard several times
by a former occupant of the building, though they never heard anyone come back down. Upon investigation, the upper part of the building was always found empty.


Location: Dorchester - Pond along towpath
Type: Haunting Manifestation

Date / Time: Nineteenth century onwards?
Further Comments: A escaping prisoner tripped and drowned in this pond, weighed down by his chains. The sound of rattling is still said to haunt the area.


Location: Dorchester - Shopping arcade along Antelope Way
Type: Haunting Manifestation

Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: The Hanging Judge is said to walk in this area, following a path that he took during life.


Grey Lady
Location: Dorchester - Site of gibbet
Type: Haunting Manifestation

Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: This phantom figure seen around the site where the gibbet was stood is thought to be either a Tudor woman or the ghost of Martha Brown, the last woman to be hanged for murder in Dorset.


Water Fairies
Location: Dorchester - Thorncombe Wood - Rushy Pond
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: While some say this pond is home to fairies, others maintain it is home to a more spectral entity (though who or what is unclear).


Location: Dorchester - Unnamed Park
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: March 2013

Further Comments: A teenager photographed a strange creature close to her home in parkland, before it ran up a tree and disappeared. The teenager said the creature resembled and moved like a small gorilla, although the nearby Monkey World attraction denied they were missing any of their animals.


Woman in Bonnet
Location: Dorchester - Wessex Royal Hotel
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Wearing a bonnet and a long dark dress, this phantom woman has been seen from outside the hotel, gazing from a window on the ground floor.


Coach in the House
Location: Dorchester - Wolfeton (aka Wolveton) House
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: One owner of the property won a large amount of money when he drove a horse and coach up the stairs inside the house - his victorious ghost reportedly re-enacts the antic. A separate entity is that of a headless grey woman, a member of the Trenchard family who slit her own throat, while a priest is said to haunt the gatehouse (where he was held prisoner).


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Saturday, 12 October 2013

Faerie Changelings...

A small cottage in Trefeglwys was the place
of much trouble between the husband and wife.
They were constantly arguing about their twins,
who the mother was convinced had been
swapped for faerie changelings.
A local Wizard was called in to  advise them.
An eggshell was to be boiled and made into a
stew which then had to given to the farm workers
for dinner.
If the twins said or did anything unusual then it
was certain that they were faerie changelings, and
then should be thrown into the Llyn Ebyr Lake.
As soon as the shell began to boil they started to
“Acorns before Oak I saw,
An Egg before a Hen,
But never one hen’s egg stew
Enough for harvest men.

With this the mother took them straight to the lake
and threw them in.
A group of faeries immediately appeared to
save them from drowning.
They handed back the stolen children and then
disappeared back into the hills.

Faeries and Folklore of the British Isles

Monday, 7 October 2013

Stepping into Faerie Rings

Faerie rings, where faeries and witches gather to dance and sing which makes it a very dangerous place to step in unaware.
If you are drawn inside you can only escape the dancing faeries if a human chain pulls you out of the ring. You will lose all sense of time and what might seem like minutes could have been hours.
But this is the down side of faerie rings...if you run around a faerie ring nine times under a full moon this will enable you to see and hear the faerie but do not do it on All Hallow's Eve or May Eve as these are very important faerie festivals. They would be very offended and carry you off to faerie land.

If you would like a wish granted, stand in the middle of the ring under a full moon and it will come true.
It is said that beneath the faerie rings gold lays buried and if you dig deep enough it can be retrieved; however I am pretty sure that the faeries would be a bit peeved and goodness knows what would happen!
Faeries and Folklore of the British Isles

Friday, 4 October 2013

New Faerie Dolls, perfect for Christmas!

Perfect for Christmas Pressies,
 yes, it is that time of year again!
Handmade in Somerset and available from my website
please contact for overseas shipping costs

 Beatrice the Faerie Bookworm
 The Green Man

Thursday, 3 October 2013

The Faeries of Weardale..

 The locals all know that the Weardale  have more than their fair share of Faeries and that they can be anything but friendly at times. So when a local Farmer found  that his young daughter had strayed into a Faerie cave, he was terrified that they would take the little girl in revenge. He quickly consulted the wise women of the village, following her advice, he silenced everything in the house that night, the clock, the fire in case it crackled, the dogs were fed and put outside, in fact he did everything to have complete silence for when the Faeries arrived, for they cannot work their magic in silence.
At the stroke of midnight he heard them ride into the farmyard  and stop, obviously puzzled by the lack of noise, until upstairs the little girl’s dog started barking; t he one thing that he had forgotten.
By the time he had reached her room the little girl was gone.
The next morning as soon as it was light he visited the wise women again. The only way to get his daughter back was to give the King of the Faeries three gifts which he could not refuse and would be forced to hand back the little girl.
The three things were a real puzzle to the Farmer, he did not know what they meant or how to get them. Something that gave light without burning, a live chicken without a bone in it’s body and he had to collect a limb from a living animal without spilling any blood.
The Farmer walked slowly home trying to work out this riddle when he was distracted by a commotion in the trees, a kestrel had hold of a lizard by the tail, which  promptly shed it and disappeared into the  grass. So he had one of the gifts and by the time he had got home he had worked out another part of the riddle; one of his hens had been sitting on a clutch of eggs for 15 days and he knew that although alive the chick’s bones would not yet have formed. So now he had two gifts safely collected. As for the third he puzzled all day until the night began to draw in, so he made up his mind to go to the cave and hope that he would find the third gift on the way. It was quite dark by the time that he reached the hills and he could clearly see a green glow in the grass. A glow worm was the third gift. The farmer called to the Faerie King to release his daughter and as the he was just about to refuse, the three gifts were laid in front of him, the Faeries disappeared and the little girl came running out of the cave.
After that she stayed close to home, knowing better than to meddle with the Faeries that live in the Dale.

Faeries and Folklore of the British Isles

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

A ghostly funeral

There is a long tradition of ghostly going-ons around the village of Todber in Dorset, which the locals believe is the result of huge battles taking place in the area. Close to the site is a deep water filled quarry in which many human remains were found in 1870.
One of the hauntings seen regularly, on a certain date, is the funeral procession. This appears on the stroke of midnight crossing Sackmore Lane from Fillymead to Dunfords.
A line of ghostly mourners follow the coffin, the faces of which cannot be seen. This also applies to the pall bearers, their faces being covered by the pall that covers the coffin.
This ghostly procession follows the line of the fighting until it disappears into a dank mist that appears at this time.
While researching the battle I came across this..I think this demonstrates well the independant  nature of the people of the west country!

The English Civil war was fought between King and Parliament, but the largest battle in Dorset was not fought between Cavaliers and Roundheads.

SoldierEvery one knows that the English Civil war was fought between King and Parliament, but the largest battle in Dorset, (some of the sieges involved more men), was not fought between Cavaliers and Roundheads. It occurred in 1645 when a force from Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army, numerically outnumbered by some 4 to 1, did battle with the Dorset Clubmen a little known third force which owed no allegiance to either side.
The Clubmen were countryfolk who resented the 'un-natural' Civil War and had grown weary of the battles between Cavaliers and Roundheads, and the depredations of the soldiers of both sides which damaged their lands and ruined the crops. Few of them knew the merits of the quarrel between King and Parliament but, armed with clubs, (from which came their name), pitchforks and scythe blades, this motley collection of yeomen and farmers took issue with both sides. Often generalled by clergy, they took a battering wherever they defended their land. Their only uniform was a white cockcade and their banners were inscribed with the motto
'If you offer to plunder or take our cattle,
be assured we will bid you battle'.
Although they came from all the surrounding counties the Clubmen were particularly strong in Dorset and after having been harried by Oliver Cromwell some 2-4000 of them became entrenched on Hambledon Hill in August 1645. It was here that they made their last stand led by the Rev. Bravel of Compton Abbas. Against them was Cromwells army of about 1000 men, fresh from the siege of Sherborne Castle and which had earlier surrounded the town of Shaftesbury and capture about 50 of the clubmens leaders who were holding a meeting there. Cromwell attacked from the rear and the clubmen were routed. Most fled, and some it is said, escaped by sliding down the hill on their bottoms, amongst them 4 clergy.
At the end of the battle when Cromwell sent 50 dragoons to drag the remaining Clubmen from the hill, it was probably as comic a battle as the reenactment by villagers carried out when Princess Marie Louise visited Shroton in 1951. Cromwell's dragoons easily overcame them and chased some 400 of them down the slopes to be locked up overnight in the village church of St. Mary's. Next day Oliver Cromwell decided that they were 'poor silly creatures' and after lecturing them allowed their release.
Other than this final stand, very little detail is known about the Clubmen or their leaders. It is known that prior to the battle on Hambledon Hill they had gathered at Badbury Rings. and that one of their leaders was Richard Newman , a member of the Newman family of Fifehead Magdalen.