Friday, 26 October 2012

Halloween and Hunky Punk

 In Somerset the punkey night celebrations which take place on the last 
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!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Rollright Stones

These stones date back to the neolithic times and are made up of the King stone 
which stands slightly to one side of the seventy seven stones called the 
whispering knights. These lean together looking as though they are plotting 
against the King. He was leading his army towards the Cotswold Ridgeway 
in his campaign to become High King of England. On his way up the hill 
the King met a witch, she addressed him

'Seven long strides thou shalt take
And if Long Compton  thou can see
King of England thou shalt be'

not to be outdone the King quipped back

'Stick, stock, stone
As King of England I shall be known'

Saying that he began to walk up the hill but a hillock reared up suddenly
before him and blocked his view of the distant village.
The witch sang out

'Rise up stick and stand still stone
For King of England thou shall be none
Thou and thy men hoar stones shall be
And I myself an eldern tree'

The King and all his men instantly turned to stone and the witch turned
 into a elder tree close to the stones to guard against the spell being broken.
For many years it was the custom for people to gather at the stones on 
Midsummer Eve to cut the elder tree, if it bled it would bring fertility to the land. 
Some believed that the King stone would move its head if the tree bled. 
The stones are also believed to confirm fertility upon woman who touch
 their bare breasts to the stones at midnight. 
The King and his knights are said to be asleep in a cavern under the stones
 ready to be awoken in time of need, very much like the Arthurian legend.

Monday, 22 October 2012


The faerie gold on Cadbury Hill in Somerset is guarded by a huge green 
dragon; every day it flies from it's lair on Castle Neroche to Cadbury 
and then back again.
Many years ago the hill fort was inhabited by faeries, here they lived in 
underground homes along the sides of the hill and in their caves they stored 
their treasures and grain from the surrounding plain. They were driven from 
the hill by the sound of the newly erected bells from a nearby church. 
The sound of the iron bells hurt their ears so much that they left without 
all their possessions, leaving the gold still in it's underground cave.
The faerie treasure can not be found by mortals, for the harder you dig for it the 
deeper it will sink the earth of Cadbury Hill. The dragon has been guarding it ever since.

It was a beautiful  day when we visited the hill, I didn't bother looking for the 
treasure as I didn't want to anger the dragon!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

A charm to find who has bewitched your cow!

Talking of bewitchment..
Is your cow acting strangely?
 Is she moody and depressed?
 If so she may be bewitched.
To find who has bewitched her put a pair of breeches upon 
the cow's head and beat her out of the pasture with a good 
cudgel upon a Friday, and she will run right to the 
witch's door and strike thereat with her horns.

Reginald Scott The discovery of Witchcraft 1584

As well as guarding your cattle against witches Reginald also gives advice on how to guard your children from witchcraft.
He (the devil) teacheth witches to make ointments of the bowels and members of children, whereby they ride in the air and accomplish all their desires. So as, if there be any children unbaptized or not guarded with the sign of the cross or orisons (uh?) then the witches may and do catch them from their mothers sides at night or out of their cradles... and after burial steal them out of graves and seethe them in a cauldron until their flesh be made potable.
So to guard against this a crust of salted bread under the baby's pillow will keep off witches but to be sure  hang garlic among the bedclothes. Though efficacious against baby stealers a knife jammed point upwards near the cradle is perhaps not to be recommended for babies ( also used to deter faeries) but the best way is to get the child christened as soon as possible.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Wonderful mirrors by Steven Shipp

These beautiful mirrors are handmade by west country artist Steven Shipp.
He is well known around the area for his artwork and accepts 
commisions for his paintings and mirrors.

Are you bewitched?

 In the 16th century girdle measuring was a common practice for 
wise women to see if evil spirits or faeries have invaded a persons body. 
Any unexplained weight gain especially after an illness was considered 
very suspicious. Their girdle or belt would be measured and if  the wise 
woman believed it to have increased in size charms and incantations 
would be said over it. Then the belt would be measured again and if it did
not show a reduction in size it would be chopped into bits and buried. 
This was supposed to be a sure fire way of getting rid of unwanted possesions.

Faeries and Folklore of the British Isles

I have found another remedy for those bewitched dating from 1683- Doctor Lilly's Last Legacy
Take two horseshoes, heat them red hot and nail one on the threshold of the 
door but quench the other in the urine of the party bewitched; then set the 
urine over the fire in a pot or pipkin and put the horseshoe into it. Make the 
urine boil, with a little salt unto it., and three horseshoe nails until it is 
almost consumed: what is not boiled away cast into the fire. Keep then your 
horseshoes and nails in a clean cloth or paper and use the same manner three times.
 It will be the more effectual if it be done at the change of full of the moon.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Hairy Meg the Brownie from Scotland

A hundred years ago Hairy Meg lived in the farmhouse at Achnarrow near Glenlivet Scotland. As per usual she did all the work and was regularly rewarded with a bowl of milk and a piece of oat cake.
After a particularly bad year on the farm, the crops failed and the animals died, the farmer decided he couldn't afford to keep the rest of the servants so he sacked them all much to Hairy Meg's disgust. She was so upset that she went on strike refusing to do any of the chores and throwing pots and pans around the farmhouse.
Hairy Meg made such a nuisance of herself that the farmer had to relent and give all the servants back their jobs and immediately Hairy Meg regained her temper.
You can tell she was happy!
( she reminds me of my old history teacher!!)

Aberdeen Brownies have no separate toes of fingers while in the Scottish lowlands they have a hole instead of a nose while others have no mouths just huge noses.
Faeries and Folklore of the British Isles 2006

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

New improved website is up and running!

It's official!... 

my website has been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
New and improved.. we hope!


Pics from the Wytch Market Glastonbury Oct 2012

This was first thing in the morning before the doors were open, after that it wasn't possible to see the tables for the crowds of people. Another enjoyable day in Glastonbury and usual we had a really fun day meeting lots of great people.

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Lavender Witch is now available in paperback

Now available in paperback from Amazon or

While I was researching my book Faerie Flora I came across the strange but true tale of Hannah Henley, a well known witch from Devon whose bruised and bloody body was found hanging over a branch of a tree near her home. It was believed by the villagers that she had been taken by the devil even tho there was glass and blood inside the cottage. It was the strangest tale and started me thinking how this could have happened so I stopped FF ms for a while and wrote The Lavender Witch.

The Lavender Witch is a chilling ghost story based on the strange but true events surrounding the death of Hannah Beamish, accused of being a witch by a wealthy farmer in a small remote village where she lived in the early 1800’s.
One hundred and seventy years later these strange events, only now remembered by a few, come to light when Kitty and Gordon move back to the Devon village where they were born, they buy an old orchard from a farmer and build a small house. All is fine until they move in and Kitty spends her first day alone in their new home.
Over the course of their first week in the house chilling apparitions appear and events spiral out of their control bringing the past and present together until the truth emerges as to what really happened on Castle Hill.  Was Kitty and Gordon’s return to the village a coincidence? And what secrets are the elderly sisters Sybil and Queenie keeping?  To save their home and their sanity they must finally put the ghosts to rest

And yes this strange tale is based on fact!!

This is a good one for Scorpios!!

The man born under scorpio, shall have good fortune.
He shall be a great fornicator, and the first wife he shall have in marriage shall become too religious. He shall suffer pain in his privy parts at fifteen years old. He shall be hardy as a lion, he shall be merry and love good company of merry folk. He shall be in danger of enemies at twenty four and if he escapes he shall live to eighty four.
The woman shall be amiable and fair, she will not be long with her first husband and afterward shall enjoy with another by her good and true service. She shall suffer pain in her stomach and wounds in her shoulder and ought to fear her latter days which shall be doubtful by reason of venom. She shall live seventy years after nature.

Kalender of Shepheardes 1604

All you Scorpios out there exchange notes and see how accurate this horoscope is!!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Gnomes, a lucky symbol

 Gnomes are more than an ornament found in gardens around the world; 
they are earth spirits found beneath old trees in woods and in caves. 
They spend their time caring for the trees and animals and guarding the 
treasures of the earth. The average gnome has a very long life span and
 can live for up to a thousand years. Expert at working with metal 
especially wonderful sword makers.
Placing a gnome statue in the garden is a good way to bring luck to 
the house it will also give protection.

There was gnome family that lived in a mill alongside the miller and his family. 
In exchange for milk and cornmeal the gnomes kept watch over the mill and 
helped alongside the miller when he was busy. 
With the gnomes help the miller became  very prosperous causing the 
neighbours to become very resentful, they spread rumours that the miller 
was dabbling in the dark arts to gain his riches. One of the children of the village 
knew better however as she had seen the little gnomes scurrying around the mill 
working hard with the miller. So she made a small statue of a gnome, painted
 it and set it in the garden of her home. The gnomes heard about the statue and 
visited the little girl's garden. They were so touched that the little girl wanted to 
have a statue of them that they decided to reward her. Every month a small 
gold coin was placed beneath the statue and as time went on her family became 
so wealthy that their neighbours decided to put a small gnome statue in their 
gardens as well as it obviously brought good luck.

I have a gnome statue sat on my desk and I look every morning for my gold coin.
But it hasn't appeared yet but here's hoping!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Today 9th Oct is St Denis's Day

St Denis's Day according to 'Five hundred points of Good Husbandry 1573'
is the day that hogs should be let loose to fatten on fallen 
beech-mast and acorns, but ring their noses first to prevent 
them rooting up pasture land.

October good blast
To blow the hog mast.

According to 'The Gentleman's Magazine 1819' in Herefordshire 
it is the custom to enter the chamber pots into the hog wash; 
and it is asserted that the use of this waste to feed pigs with 
occasions them to refuse no kind of sustenance , 
possibly because nothing can be worse!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Wytches Market Glastonbury 2012

Off to the Wytches Market on Sat, my doesn't the year move on! 
I will be taking my usual artwork and print plus Faerie Dolls etc.
This year I will have a selection of beautiful mirrors created 
by artist Steven Shipp.
Great event and one we look forward to all year.
Hope to see you there.
All goods are available on my website.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

No... swallows do not hibernate in the mud

For years the disappearance of swallows in the autumn  was a great mystery. 
Many years ago country people believed that they hibernated in the mud at 
the bottom of lakes and ponds or that they hid in holes and bushes and 
remained torpid until the spring.

Olaus Magnus in 1550 wrote 'In the northern waters, fishermen oftentimes
 by chance draw up in their nets an abundance of swallows, hanging together 
like a conglomerated mass. In the beginning of autumn, they assemble 
themselves together among the reeds by ponds, where allowing themselves 
to sink into the water, they join bill to bill, wing to wing and foot to foot.'

A worried naturalist wrote in 1776 'But if swallows hide in rocks and caverns, 
how do they, while torpid, avoid being eaten by weasels and other vermin?

The swallows are seen dashing low over lakes and ponds catching insects 
which I suppose is why they believed this.
The vast majority of British breeding sparrows leave during September, 
they flock together and start to fly south at a leisurely pace. 
It is different during the spring migration however, experienced birds can travel from 
South Africa in about five weeks at a speed of about 300k per day!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Apples and Samhain

The magical properties of the apple have been recognised by the Celts 
for years who use them in their Samhain festivals. 
Great care is taken of the tree, wassailing them at the turn of every 
season to ensure good crops for they believed that the 
apple was the fruit of the gods. 
Blessings and prayers were said in the orchards and hot spiced cider 
drunk in toasts to the trees.
Anything left over in the wassailing bowl is poured over the roots as a 
tribute to the spirit of the trees.

'Old apple tree we wassail thee and happily thou wilt
bear, for the lord knows where we shall be, till apples another year...'

Two customs that are left over from the Samhain festival and 
are still in practice today are the dunking for apples in a barrel 
and peeling a apple in front of a mirror to see an image of your future partner.

The Apple Tree Man is the guardian spirit of orchards in Somerset; 
he will be found in the oldest tree. 
The last apples must be left for him and the pixies to ensure a good 
harvest for the next year. 
If these are taken or stolen by naughty children 
(and lets face it we have all done it!!) this is called pisking, 
col-pixying, griggling, pixywarding or pixyhunting.

taken from 'Faeries and Folklore of the British Isles' 
Any pictures on this site can be purchased as a print or card on my website

Monday, 1 October 2012

October is fruit time and fall of leaf

October is the month of autumn and of deer rutting.
 I t is also Wintirfyllith (Anglo Saxon) the month of the winter moon.  
Folklore tradition says that if the October moon comes without a frost 
we can expect no frost until the full moon of November

This month hot drinks and meals be good
To keep thy health and nourish thy blood
Provide warm clothes, and go foot dry
Thou shalt escape much danger therby.
Neve's Almanack 1633

October has always been believed to be
the correct month to make potions for curing wounds.

Take 2ozs of moss from a strangled mans skull
11/2 ozs of blood from the corpse
11/2 ozs of earthworm washed in wine
Two drams of fat each from a boar and sow
Two drams of turpentine
Pound them all together and keep in a narrow pot, 
and make this cure when the sun is in Libra
Dip into the potion  a sallow stick made wet with blood into the wound.
Then let the patient wash his wound in the morning 
with his own urine and then bind with a clean cloth.

Professor Rodolphus Goclorus, Wittenberg. 1608