Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Midsummer Eve- old style

 bs ew Robin Goodfellow [Daniel Maclise]




The 4th July is Midsummer Eve, old style and is a good time to make prognostications according to 18thC wise women. At this time three or four of you must take your shifts and dip them in the water, then turn them inside out and hang over a chair before the fire. On another chair lay some salt, speak not a word while doing so. During the night an image of your future partners will appear and turn your shifts, drinking a toast to you at the same time.

You must be wary during Midsummer Day that you are not misled by Robin Goodfellow.

In English folklore, Puck is a mythological Fairy or mischievous nature sprite. Puck is also a generalised personification of land spirits. In more recent times, the figure of Robin Goodfellow is identified as a puck.
The Old English puca is a kind of half-tamed woodland sprite, leading folk astray with echoes and lights in nighttime woodlands or coming into the farmstead and souring milk in the churn.
Puck's euphemistic "disguised" name is "Robin Goodfellow" or "Hobgoblin",[1] in which "Hob" may substitute for "Rob" or may simply refer to the "goblin of the hearth" or hob. 
If you had the knack, Puck might do minor housework for you, quick fine needlework or butter-churning, which could be undone in a moment by his knavish tricks if you fell out of favour with him. He may also do work for you if you leave him small gifts, such as a glass of milk or other such treats, otherwise he may do the opposite by "make[ing] the drink[beer] to bear no barm" and other such fiendish acts. Pucks are also known to be inherently lonely creatures, and often share the goal of acquiring friends. "Those that Hob-goblin call you, and sweet Puck, / You do their work, and they shall have good luck" said one of William Shakespeare's fairies. Shakespeare's characterization of "shrewd and knavish" Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream may have revived flagging interest in Puck.[2]
According to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898):
[Robin Goodfellow is a] "drudging fiend", and merry domestic fairy, famous for mischievous pranks and practical jokes. At night-time he will sometimes do little services for the family over which he presides. The Scots call this domestic spirit a brownie; the Germans, kobold or Knecht Ruprecht. Scandinavians called it Nissë God-dreng. Puck, the jester of Fairy-court, is the same.
When'er such wanderers I meet
As from their night sports they trudge home
With counterfeiting voice I greet
And call on them, with me to roam
Or else, unseen, with them I go
And frolic it, with ho! ho! ho!

If you do meet him or any other misleading and mischevious faeries, turn your coat or cloak inside out.
Whilst in this mill we labour and turn around
As in a conjuror's circle, William
A means for deliverance; turn your cloaks
Qouth he, for Puck is busy in these oaks.

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