Thursday of October is closely linked with Samhain. The Punkey lantern
is similar to the Halloween pumpkin although punkeys are usually made
from hollowed out mangel wurzels or turnips. The communities that still observe
this custom around Hinton St George and Lopen believe that it originated
when the local men visited Chiselborough Fair and drank too much cider then had
difficulty finding their way home. The women scooped out the mangel wurzels,
placed candles inside and went out in the dark lanes to find their inebriated husbands
and take them home.
The children now make them and traditionally proceed around the villages
begging for money and singing the punkey song
'It's Punkey Night tonight
It's Punkey Night tonight
Give us a candle, give us a light
It's Punkey Night tonight'
Apparently in the old days any mean householder would get a banger through his letterbox!
This is all very similar to the Halloween festivities, although during punkey
night there is no fear of the witches that are abroad during Halloween.
Lanterns are made to keep away the evil spirits.
There is another macabre custom that is practised on this night.
It is believed that all the images of people that are going to die in the forthcoming
year will pass through the church yard and into the church. If you are brave enough to
wait in the porch you may see them but beware many people have seen their own
spectre and have died in the following months.
There are other ways to stop witches entering your house, coloured glass witch
balls will deflect an evil glance, glass rolling pins filled with salt and charmwands
will delay a witch while she counts the decorative seeds and spirals.
Bottles stuffed with red thread will do the trick, place them up the chimney, under
hearths or above the door to stop the witch from gaining entrance.
If the witch gains some of her intended victims hair or nail cuttings or urine, these
can be used in a counter spell. The heating of the urine with pubic hair, pins and
broken glass will cause the witch pain and will make her reveal herself.
To house the Hag, you must doe this,
Commix with meale a little pisse
Of him bewitch; then forthwith make
A little wafer or cake;
And this rawly bake't will bring
The old Hag in. No surer thing.
If you are bothered by vampires place a handful of blackberries on your window sill, they will be kept busy obsessively counting the seeds in the fruit until sunrise!