Monday, 30 September 2013

I am lucky enough to have a huge buddlia bush in my garden, it has been glorious all summer, offering loads of pollen to all the bees and butterflies.
I have kept a watchful eye on the butterflies as according to countryside folklore 
these beautiful insects are actually faeries in disguise.  
I have not spotted one in its true form yet and as the blooms are fast fading I think I 
will have to wait for next year's blossoms.

People used to think butterflies were witches or fairies in disguise stealing butter, 
cream and milk. This could also be the reason for the name butterfly. 
They also thought that the insects would fly into cowsheds in the middle of the 
night to steal milk from the cows udders.

While in other countries the butterfly was considered to be a human soul and will 
bring luck. 
In Slavic countries they will open the windows so that the soul can leave leave the body, 
often seen in the form of the butterfly.

In Finland a sleeping person, if dreaming is thought to have his or hers soul fluttering 
above the bed in the form of a butterfly.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Seeing the new moon through glass...!

It is supposed to very bad luck to see a new moon through glass. One old lady that I have heard of became very ill after after seeing it through a window, ever since then to avoid a re occurance of this illness she has her sister lead her out blindfold into the garden where her eyes are uncovered and she can view the moon safely. To guard against ill luck turn over any silver that you may have in your pocket.
If you look closely, with one eye shut and looking the other way there is supposed to be the image of a rabbit on the moons surface. The Moon Rabbit lives on the moon and spends his time pounding with a pestle and mortar to create the elixir of life.
In a  Buddhist   tale a monkey, an otter, a jackal, and a rabbit resolved to practice charity on the day of the full moon, believing a demonstration of great virtue would bring them great rewards.
When an old man begged for food, the monkey gathered fruits from the trees and the otter collected fish, while the jackal wrongfully pilfered a lizard and a pot of milk-curd. The rabbit, who knew only how to gather grass, instead offered its own body, throwing itself into a fire the man had built. The rabbit, however, was not burnt. The old man revealed himself to be Sakra and, touched by the rabbit's virtue, drew the likeness of the rabbit on the moon for all to see. It is said the lunar image is still draped in the smoke that rose when the rabbit cast itself into the fire.
your pockets or handbag, and thus ensure prosperity for a month.
Bad Luck: To see the new moon for the first time through glass. Upon seeing the new moon you should turn whatever silver you have in your pockets or handbag, and thus ensure prosperity for a month.

your pockets or handbag, and thus ensure prosperity for a month.
Bad Luck: To see the new moon for the first time through glass. Upon seeing the new moon you should turn whatever silver you have in your pockets or handbag, and thus ensure prosperity for a month.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

The time of apples and blackberries..

Autumn is upon us again, this year has gone so quickly! My apples have been picked and now I am getting ready to pick blackberries from the hedge row. Yesterday I picked a small bag of sloes to make sloe gin for Christmas, that was a great success last year, I just wish I could drink! Never mind at least I don't get any awful pictures of  me being taken while under the influence!

 Somerset is a county full of apple orchards and produces great cider so there are 
many folk tales surrounding the orchards in this county.
One popular tale is that of Lazy Lawrence, a wild colt that inhabits the orchards 
of the west country and protects the crops from apple thieves.
The story goes that an ageing widow had reason to be grateful for his protection. 
She lived in a small village in Somerset and owned a fine orchard, from which she 
made a good living. But one year she fell from one of the apple trees whilst pruning
 and was unable to leave her cottage for quite some time.  So she called upon her 
neighbour for help but he was a mean spirited man and refused. But although 
he would not aid the widow he decided that he would help himself to the apples anyway 
and perhaps sell them at the local market. The neighbour waited until dark then 
crept down the lane carrying a wicker basket. He was so busy picking the apples 
that he did  not notice Lazy Lawrence leap the fence and make straight for the thief! 
The colt nipped the man in the backside and then chased him round and round the
 orchard until he collapsed exhausted on the grass under the trees. The colt pranced
 up to the man and as he gazed up at the frisking pony, it's green eyes froze the 
man to the spot. He was still there the next morning unable to move and next to 
him was the basket full of stolen apples.

Faerie Flora 2013

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Great review from Fae Nation

Faerie Flora by Elizabeth Andrews

August 16th, 2013
Faerie Flora
Faerie Flora is the newest book created by illustrator and author Elizabeth Andrews. A delightful follow up to Faeries and Folklore of the British Isles, Faerie Flora collects a wealth of lore, legend and traditional herbal uses of numerous native plants. Organised season by season Faerie Flora also contains recipes for food and remedies and some spells for those who’d like to include these magical plants in their work. Each plant is lovingly rendered with detailed botanical illustrations and accented with charming faerie paintings which bring the tales to life.
Faerie Flora (paperback, 162 pages)  is £9.99 and available to buy direct from Elizabeth’s website, A World of Myth, Magic & Legend.

A very strange frog indeed...

 We have found a very strange frog in amongst our lettuces, it has been living in the raised beds all summer hiding under the lettuce plants. The strange thing is the colour; it is bright yellow! I was thinking that perhaps it was just camouflaging itself but it is such a lurid colour that it is quite a puzzle.

This is what it is supposed to look like..
So I have googled it and found that it might be an albino, these have yellow skin and red eyes. So I am off to the veggie patch to see if I can catch him and look into his eyes! and perhaps get a pic as well.

Frogs and toads feature prominently in magical folklore in many societies. These amphibious creatures are known for a variety of magical properties, from their ability to help predict the weather, to curing warts to bringing good luck.
In parts of Appalachia, it is believed that if you hear a frog croaking exactly at midnight, it means rain is on the way. However, in some societies it’s just the opposite - frogs croaking during the day indicate coming storms.

  • There’s an old British legend that carrying a dried frog in a pouch around your neck will prevent epileptic seizures. In some rural areas, it’s just the frog’s liver that gets dried and worn.
  • Live frogs appear in a number of folk cures. It is believed that putting a live frog in your mouth will cure thrush, and that swallowing live frogs - presumably small ones - can cure whooping cough and tuberculosis. Rubbing a live frog or toad on a wart will cure the wart, but only if you impale the frog on a tree and let him die.
  • Some cultures believe that a frog coming into your house brings good luck - others say it’s bad luck - the Xhosa tribe says that a frog in your house might be carrying a spell or a curse. Either way, it’s usually considered a bad idea to kill a frog. The Maori people believe that killing a frog can bring floods and heavy rains, but some African tribes say that the death of a frog will bring drought.
  • For the ancient Egyptians, the frog-headed goddess Hekt was a symbol of fertility and birth. If you wish to conceive, touch a frog. The association of the frog with fertility has its root in science - each year, when the Nile river flooded its banks, frogs were everywhere. The annual flooding of the delta meant rich soil and strong crops - so the croaking of millions of frogs may well have been an indicator that farmers would have an abundant season.
  • Frogs have only been in Ireland for a few hundred years, since students from Trinity College released them into the wild. However, there are still some frog folktales in Ireland, including that you can tell the weather by the color of a frog. ( I wonder what bright yellow means?)
  • Ranidaphobia is the fear of frogs and toads.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

A ghostly horde

Eggardon Hill Fort is considered to be one of the best hill forts in Dorset, dating  from 
around 300 BC, the hill fort is an Iron Age construction, although it has never been 
excavated by archaeologists  and is in an excellent position for defence, with its 
steep sloping sides giving wide visibility over the surrounding countryside.
The hill fort was constructed in a series of banks and ditches dug around a central 
defensive compound, similar in construction to Maiden Castle close by. Within its 
boundaries are two Bronze Age barrows as well as more modern remains including 
an octagonal arboretum or coppice thought to have been used to help ships 
navigate and by smugglers!

During certain phases of the moon a ghostly horde of faeries, demons and witches hunt 
across the hill, they scour the ancient hill fort looking for the souls of the long dead.
Their eerie cries can be heard across the hill and anybody who ventures out when the 
hunt is abroad is in certain peril.
Faeries and Folklore of the British Isles

 This account was described by Edward Waring in his 1977 'Ghosts and Legends of 
the Dorset Countryside'.
A farmer was out on the hill late one night, when he heard in the distance the sound of a 
huntsman's horn, and the baying of a pack of hounds. Looking across he saw 'the form 
of a man running for dear life' through a hedge and ditch. The hounds appeared next,
 'urged on by a tall black figure striding at an unearthly pace, with sparks of fire 
 flashing from his boots'. They seized their quarry before he got down into the valley 
and the farmer realized that what he had seen 'must be the Devil tormenting 
a lost soul'.

Many visitors to the hill describe an eerie feeling while walking the hill, and cars have reported to have lost power while driving past and coming to a complete standstill.
I have visited the hill many times and have not freaked out, in fact it was a beautiful 
day and I felt very peaceful up there. We were too busy flying kites to notice any demons!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Ghost stories abound..


There are many ghost stories told in Dorset, one is of the vast spectral army that marches across the hills from Flowers Barrow to Grange Hill.The thud of the trampling horses and the men with their clashing armour can be plainly heard and their indistinct forms  be seen in the swirling mist. On these nights no creature can be induced to go near these phantom roads. This ghostly army is usually seen at times of national crisis. Last reported sightings was just before the second world war.

Legions of the Downs In his book 'History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset'. The Dorset historian, Rev. John Hutchins writes an account of an phantom army seen in the parish of Creech.Rev. John HutchinsHe writes "On the top of the hill, south of and opposite to Mr. Bond's house, a very remarkable phenomenon was pretended to have appeared in 1678. One evening in December was imagined to be seen a vast number of armed men, several thousands, marching from Flower's Barrow over Grange Hill; and a great noise and clashing of arms was supposed to have been heard. Nothing appeared on the south side of the hill. They were pretended to have been seen by Captain John Laurence, then owner of Grange, who lived there, and his brother, and 100 more, particularly by four clay-cutters just going to leave off work and by all the people in the cottages and hamlets thereabout, who left their supper and houses, and came to Wareham, and alarmed the town, on which the boats were all drawn to the north side of the river, and the bridge barricaded. Three hundred of the militia were marched to Wareham; Captain Laurence and his brother went post to London, and deposed the particulars on oath before the Council; and, had not he and his family been of known affection to the government, he would have been severely punished, the nation being in a ferment about Oates's plot. This account I had from one Thomas Bolt, a native of Wareham, who then lived there, and perfectly remembered the particulars; he died in 1758, aged 59.

This is the time to observe the weather..

 The weather  on the 20th.21st and 22nd of September will fortell what to expect for the coming October November and December. If there is a south wind the following months will be fair, but if these days be wet then expect a gloomy and cold early winter.
To guard against the cold of the forthcoming months, according to William Turner writing in 1568, a cap made of lavender flowers and worn daily  will protect against any diseases that come from cold weather and that they comfort the brain very well, namely if it have any distemperature that cometh of moistness.
Lavender has been used for hundreds of years in many ways, medicinally as well as in the sue of love spells and rituals. By carrying lavender flowers you can attract spirits as well as bringing peace love and good health, but it will also give protection against the evil eye.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

teenage excorcists...
Well it's Saturday morning and I have been catching up on programmes that I have missed this week, one of which was The Teenage Exorcists. I have must admit I started watching in the hope of mild amusement then  went to astonishment quickly followed by horror. This is the first time I have come across these young girls, apparently they are on YouTube demonstrating an exorcism.
They came to London as it this most evil capital in the world due to the publication of the Harry Potter novels,'they are real spells'. Somebody should point out to this really young and naive trio that the novels are fiction and not a tool for the would be witch!
And due to the presence of some images of the signs of the zodiac on a medieval church they declared that this church was evil

 The Signs of the Zodiac, which are not usually found in christian churches and more often associated with fortune telling; nevertheless they do symbolise some aspects of the Christian faith.
The constellations have intrigued mankind since antiquity. The early astronomers noticed that 12 of the constellations seemed to form a band or zodiac round the sky, and that the sunrise appeared to follow that path, rising month by month in each of the 12 constellations in turn. It begins at the spring equinox in the constellation of Aries; hence each sign became a symbol of its month.   
The Christian Church used the symbols of the Zodiac, giving them a deeper theological and Christian meaning, in order to give good pictorial reminders to the masses.

The Zodiac signs, with their Christian meaning, are:
Aries the Ram represents the Creative Force, i.e. God himself. The accompanying labour is pruning, representing the cutting away of evil to bring new life to the soul.
Taurus the Bull represents the Creation of Heaven and Earth. It would be easy for people who live by farming to visualise a ram and a bull as symbols of creative energy. The Labour is spinning, a creative occupation, and also an old symbol of the tuning Universe.
Gemini the Twins symbolise Christ in His dual natures as God and man, one wearing green for eternal life and the other grey, symbolising death and resurrection. The Labour is picking flowers, symbolic of the flowering of God’s plan, and also of the Virgin, for the Sun enters Gemini at the end of May, i.e. her month.
Cancer the Crab symbolises the creation of the moon and sea-life. The Labour is weeding, removing evil from our lives and from the world.
Leo the Lion represents the creation of the sun and of life on the land. The Labour is harvesting, cutting the corn, a symbol of dying in order to be reborn, and gathering the ‘good seed’ to make the Bread which represents the body of Christ. 
Virgo the Virgin symbolises the creation of Mankind. As she is also the Mother of Christ (Theotokos), she reminds us of His humanity, holding the symbol of Justice, since she is our mediator. The labour is the grape harvest, from which comes wine, symbolising the Blood of Christ. 
Libra the Scales symbolises the essence of Mankind, balanced between good and evil, the natural and the spiritual and able to tip either way. The piper in the Labour represents mankind’s creative abilities.
Scorpio the Scorpion is symbolic of death and resurrection, since the creature habitually buries itself in the sand. It is also, according to medieval belief, the only creature other than Mankind which sometimes chooses to destroy itself, and so is a symbol of mankind’s freedom of choice between good and evil, life and death. The Labour drawing wine, reminds us of our hope of redemption through the shedding of Christ’s Blood.
Sagittarius the Archer represents the whole man with his animal and spiritual natures. The arrow symbolises his control over his own direction. The Labour of cutting wood is another symbol of dying to be born again.
Capricorn the Goat is half animal, half fish. It symbolises the nature of mankind, weighed down by sin, yet able to be redeemed, for the fish is a symbol of Christ. The Labour shows a man sitting by a fire, resting in the dead of winter, representing the dead awaiting resurrection. There is usually a loaf on the table in the depictions of the Labour, representing the Bread of the Eucharist.
Aquarius the Water-carrier shows the symbol of rebirth to a new life through baptism and the washing away of sin. The Labour is ploughing, preparing the soil to receive the seed of the Knowledge of God.
Pisces the Fishes. The fish is one of the oldest Christian symbols, representing Christ. The two fish remind us of his two natures. He is the way and the life, the successful conclusion of Mankind’s journey back to God, standing in the Zodiac at the end of the year and the beginning of another. The Labour is sowing, setting the seed that will bring the harvest. 
According to them 50% of women in England consult their horoscopes and  are being led by demons. Well I always read mine and they are usually accurate and as for the demon I haven't seen one yet!
They say ignorance is bliss but I just think it can be very dangerous, more worrying was the peddling of the books videos and cds, oh and of course if you need a one to one excorcism they won't charge you, just a donation must be given. I felt sorry for one girl in the programme she was convinced that she was under a black magic spell, she had a one to one but came away very disappointed and troubled that it hadn't worked, luckily she had enough sense not to 'give' a donation.
If you get a chance try and see it, and let me know what you think!

Friday, 13 September 2013

The nutting season..

According to the 'York Courant' 1794, it is wise to be cautious at this season, 
when nuts are so abundant, we state that the sudden death of 
Mr Nunn of Cley, Norfolk is generally attributed to eating a great quantity 
of filberts and drinking port wine therewith.'

There is a well in Ireland known as the well of wisdom, overhanging the water 
is the sacred hazel tree which produces the nine nuts of poetic art and wisdom. 
These nuts fall into the water and are eaten by Fintan the salmon of knowledge. 
When the nuts fall into the water, bubbles of inspiration rise to the surface, which 
with the husks then float down the five streams that flow from this well spreading
 wisdom to the rest of the world.
Apart from the nuts, belief in the power of the hazel was and is still widespread 
throughout Britain; in the more remote parts of the country it is still a custom 
for brides to be presented with bags of nuts upon leaving the church to encourage 
fertility in their marriage.
Hazel wands and dowsing rods must be cut on midsummer's eve as the hazel tree 
is at its most powerful then. The smaller more flexible branches of the tree are
 woven into hats, placed upon the head they can then be used to make wishes.
 Sailors also use these hats as protection against storms.
Faeries and Folklore of the British Isles.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Raise your cups...

Harvests are nearly all done and the merriment begins...

'I've bin to Plymouth and I've bin to Dover
I've bin a-rambling over, boys, all the world over
Over and over and over and over
Drink up yur liquor and turn yur cup over
over and over and over and over
The liquor's drunk'd up and the cup is turned over.'

This was popular song for the harvest festivities in the south of England.
 During the song a cup of beer is placed on the flat crown of a hat. Holding it by 
the brim with both hands, the player has to raise the cup to his mouth and drink 
all the beer before the fourth line of the song. Then he has to flick up the cup and
 catch it in the hat. If he fails or spills any beer he has to try again.
I suspect that there would have been a lot of spilled beer by the end of the evening!

We didn't drink beer at the end of our harvest, we had scrumpy, which is a very 
rough cider, and believe me it was very rough! I remember my dad sat on a bale 
of hay getting very drunk with this stuff, he wasn't a drinker!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Weird nuts..

Excuse my silence for a week but I have been on holiday! I left the laptop, manuscripts and artwork all behind on my desk and flew off to Amsterdam.
What a great place for a short visit, the weather was fantastic and the city was beautiful, it's so small that everything was in walking distance. We stayed on a houseboat on one of the smaller canals and the views out of the big windows up and down the canal was wonderful. It only rocked slightly when a boat chugged past, which is just as well as I am not the greatest sailor!
One of the highlights of the trip was the visit to the Rijke Museum, this has just been reopened after ten years of renovation. Considering the problems that they has with the water level under the buildings I am surprised they didn't put in a swimming pool as well. I got to see 'The Night Watch' by Rembrandt, well just, so many people had flocked to see after it has been tucked away for so long .
The flower market was great as well, I bought a very interesting seed, it was labelled as a Buddha Palm with instructions to soak in water until it sprouts.

It's the size of a large orange.I googled it when I got home and it is actually called the suicide tree (because the seed is really poisonous) or pong pong tree, I think I prefer the latter. So it will be interesting to see what happens

Friday, 6 September 2013

Don't chop down the trees!

Luckily I persuaded him not to chop down the trees that were growing around the walls of the garden, bless him, he is not a gardener and was going to nuke everything! My first visit was in early spring so of course all the trees were only just budding. Apparently had some advice from an 'expert' who recommended that he took all the fruit trees away!
Luckily he thought again and while some are past it, a few are doing well and will be even better now they have been cleared. This time I could point out a heavily laden plum tree that he hadn't noticed so that was worth saving, I am sure there are some old varieties left in the garden and these need to be saved.
I think he got carried away by the thought of all the boys toys he could use i.e diggers!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The secret garden

A friend of ours moved into a large mansion house, Badgworthy Court in the north of Somerset, not the whole house but just part of it. It has been occupied in this way for many years. As it is an enormous building the upkeep must have been too much and the owners decided to sell it off. So our friend decided that he would do some work on the neglected garden to the side of the house, the area surrounding the house was manicured lawns etc but to the side running along the stream was completely overgrown.
So he cleared all the way up this deep gully which is about half a mile long until he came to a mound of ivy, so he decided to clear that as well. Buried deep inside the tangle of vines was a door! On either side was a huge stone wall so he began to clear that as well. At this point he did have to get in some help, I think it was a digger, so anyway all the ivy was pulled off and he eventually managed to push his way through the door.
Inside was an enormous walled garden. head high in brambles and nettles. He began to clear this as well! to one side he found a long victorian greenhouse against the wall which obviously had once been a heated one, as behind that was the potting shed and the room where a fire had heated pipes which then led into the greenhouse to warm it.
The greenhouse is to the left under all the green stuff! A path goes all the  way round the garden and in the middle is a deep well for water which is fed by the stream and in the middle of all this he has just found the remains of another huge greenhouse. Wow! but that is not all, he got to the other side of the walled garden and found another door in the wall and beyond that another huge walled garden. There are more buildings here, possibly a gardeners cottage and workshops, all in  a very ruined state, there are even a few abandoned tools laying about. This part is going to be levelled by another digger as so many saplings have sprung up and it is too large to clear by hand.
The other residents at the court had no idea all of this was there!
All this has been abandoned and empty for so long but our friend has seen somebody up there, he believes it was the spirit of a young girl. When we first visited the garden in May I was aware of somebody there, but I got the impression it was of a man, I felt him most strongly around the potting shed behind the green house so I think it was an old gardener wondering what we were up to!

This is what the greenhouse would have looked like, but now it is completely rotten with all the glass gone. It is so far gone it cannot be saved, such a shame.
We visited last week and I am looking forward to our next visit to see what he has done!
It makes me quite envious, I wish it had been my garden!