Friday, 21 December 2018

How leeches fortell the weather...

I have just been reading the most delightful book
'Sweet Thames Run Softly' by Robert Gibbings first published in 1940.
It's an account of his journey down the Thames in a punt in 1939 armed with a 
sketchpad and microscope.
It's within these beautifully written pages that I found this little gem regarding 
how leeches are used to foretell the weather...

" Mr Taylor writing in 1813 suggests that we should put a leech into a large phial 
three parts full of rainwater, regularly change thrice a week and let it stand on a window frame fronting the north. In fair and frosty weather it will be motionless and rolled onto a spiral at the bottom of the glass; but prior to  rain or snow it will creep to the top where, if the rain be heavy, and of some continuance,it will remain some considerable time; if trifling it will descend.
Should the rain or snow be accompanied with the wind, it will dart about its habitation with amazing celerity and seldom ceases until it begins to blow hard. If a storm of thunder or lightning be approaching, it will become exceedingly agitated and express its feelings in violent convulsive starts at the top of the glass."

So I have a suggestion to the Met Office that they purchase some leeches and try this method of weather forecasting, it sounds that it would be more accurate than theirs!

Monday, 19 November 2018

Witches Salt

I am constantly being asked about  the Witches Salt mentioned in my recent book 
The Haunting of Stoke Water. (Queenie uses it repel the evil spirits in 
Rosemarys flat.) 
So I thought I would just quickly explain how to make and use it.

    “Queenie suddenly smiled with relief as she pulled a small glass phial from 
a piece of silk cloth. ‘There it is! I was worried I had left it at home.’ 
She looked at their anxious faces. ‘Shall we get started?’ Clutching the phial 
in one hand and a bundle of sage in the other Queenie headed out into the hall. 
 ‘What is that?’ Joseph whispered to Sybil.She pointed to the jar in Queenie’s hand.
 ‘That’s Witches Salt and we are going to use the sage to smudge the flat and 
drive out this evil spirit.’They gathered around the waiting woman and watched 
as she pulled the stopper from the jar and opened the front door. As she poured a t
hin line of black salt across the threshold she muttered quietly, ‘I seal this place 
with a shield of protection and so we are safe within this home.”

Although I am sure knowing Queenie as well as I do she has tweeked the original 
recipe handed down by her witchy ancestor Hannah, she just can’t resist meddling
 as Sybil would point out.

Witches salt or black salt is used as a protection against evil and negative entities, it 
can even be used in the footprints of some one who you dislike to make them leave
 you alone.
There are of course many ways of making black salt but here is a basic 

Two parts of sea salt mixed with one part of the scrapings from the bottom of your 
cast iron cauldron or if you do not use a cauldron ( shame on you what would 
Queenie say!) one part fine ash from your fire pit.
You can also add the burnt ashes of some protective herbs to add to efficacy of
 the salt such as Lavender, Rosemary, Cinnamon, Clove, Caraway, Mug-wort, Sage
 and a touch of Verbena to bring success in your spell.

Just the thing to do on a dark winters night with friends!

Saturday, 17 November 2018

The faeries of Lincolnshire

The tiny faeries of Lincolnshire are referred to as ‘Strangers’, small 
creatures with arms and legs that are as thin as threads, and on the ends of these,
enormous hands and feet.
They can be seen scampering about the flat lands of the Fens wearing their 
distinctive yellow hats in the shape of toadstools, the rest of their clothing
is just the normal green jacket and breeches. Apart from this, their appearance is 
quite odd; they have long noses, great wide mouths out of which their tongues 
have a tendency to loll.
Up until quite recently, offerings were left for these people on flat stones around 
the Fens, usually the first ears of corn and the first new potatoes of the crop.
Bread and milk and also Beer  would be left upon the fireplaces of the locals' homes
 to ensure a good harvest for the following year, for the ‘Strangers’ were believed to
 help the corn ripen and all things to grow.

If neglected, these faeries can be vindictive, affecting harvests, and even the birth rate!

 from Faeries and Folklore of the British Isles