Friday, 21 February 2014

water, water, water every where!

My thoughts are running on water at the moment, I am in the middle of my new book ' The folklore of Mermaids', 90 pages in and still going full steam. It is usually about the 150 page mark that I start to flag!
With all this water about you would have thought somebody would have seen a mermaid but no.. the nearest is the crocodile that was reported near Bristol by a bus driver, he still maintains he saw it and who is to say he was wrong. Strange things get flushed down the drains!

Water has always been venerated, except when it's coming in the front door, take well dressing for example. This is a survival of well worship, the waters were either considered to be prophetic or a cure for ills. Well dressing usually occurs at Ascension tide, this has survived in several places. panels of elaborate pictures of saints were erected around the well. Now it is more common to find the wells decorated with ribbons and flowers asking for wishes to be granted or for cures for illnesses. The association of well worship and tree worship was very close, it was common to find single trees close to the wells and it was upon these that the offering were often placed.
A well worship ceremony was held in Tissington as far back as 1350 in thanksgiving for the peoples' escape from the Black Death. Half of Derbyshire died from this disease but Tissington escaped; this was ascribed to the purity of the water in its five wells.
Near Brampton in Northampton shire, Marvel - sike Springs was considered to be able to predict death or trouble by running in great gluts of water. This spring only ran at times of trouble or evil.
The Drumming Well situated in the same county, gave out a loud drumming noise before any important happening, it was heard before the Scots came to England in the Civil War and again just before Charles II  died.
It is still common practice to drop coins into wells and make a wish, crooked pins are dropped into some wells as offering to the lady of the well. The pin was considered to be a very appropriate offering, as it was connected to the donors clothes but it was also made of iron.
Sometimes the guardian of these wells takes on the form of a mermaid or meremaid, yes I have got back to the subject of mermaids! These are often more malicious than the sea going creatures and can cause a lot of trouble in their pools and surrounding areas.
At Childs Ercall some workmen were enticed into the water when a meremaid offered them gold, they only escaped when one of the men used an oath when he saw the size of the lump of gold the meremaid was holding. Lucky for them for undoubtedly they would have met a nasty end!

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