Friday, 16 January 2015

Faerie rings:- Ring of fungus which grows in grass or turf.
This is where faeries and witches gather to dance and sing so it can be a very dangerous place to step in unaware.
If you are drawn inside you can only escape the dancing faeries if a human chain pulls you out of the ring. You will lose all sense of time and what might have seemed like minutes could have been hours.
But this is the down side of faerie rings, there are some advantages.
If you run around a faerie ring nine times under a full moon this will enable you to see and hear the faeries, but do not do it on All Hallows Eve or May Eve as these  are very important faerie festivals. They would be very offended and carry you off to faerie land.
If you would like a wish granted you have to stand in the middle of the ring under a full moon and it will come true. How you are supposed to do this without getting caught up in the dancing I don’t know, but give it a go, just remember to take back-up.

There are many mushrooms that form Faerie  Rings, some are edible 
but there are quite a few that are extremely dangerous to eat.
Mostly found in grass but can also be seen in 
Faerie courts, Faerie dances, Faerie walks, and 
Hag tracks are just a few of the names these 
rings have been known as over the years.
Some of the Faerie Rings can grow for many
years and reach enormous sizes, the largest was 
supposed  to have been 650 metres 
across and it was believed to be over 
700 years old.

St Georges Mushroom.
This one forms one of the largest 
Faerie Rings, found in fields on
chalky soil.

Fairy Ring Champignon.
One of the most 
common, forms 
large rings 
especially on lawns.
Appears in early
summer after rain.
In Victorian times it was known
as Scotch Bonnet.

Cream Clot.
Appears later in the Summer
but often grows in the 
same Ring as the above.

Meadow Puffball.
This is found in grassland 
including lawns.

Buff Meadow Cap.
Found in grasslands sometimes 
in open woodlands.

Young girls would often bathe their face in early morning dew to improve their looks, 
but the dew from inside a Faerie Ring would have the opposite effect. 
Their skin would erupt in warts and spots.

Monday, 12 January 2015

How to protect against faeries.....

There are times when you will need to protect yourself against faeries as not all the 
fae are pleasant!
If you are walking at night in places inhabited by faeries carry a cross, especially 
one made of iron. Making the sign of the cross is also effective; carry holy water, 
chant hymns and say prayers as you walk. Carrying or throwing churchyard mould 
in their path will deter them. Alternatively carry bread or salt; something that is 
readily available to all of us; they are both regarded as sacred symbols.

‘For that holy piece of bread
Charms the danger and the dread’

Green moss taken from a mill stream, pouring salt onto the table and saying the 
Lords Prayer three times is also an effective protection.
The ringing of bells will drive away faeries and witches. They cannot abide the
 sound of church bells, it was with the hanging of the first bells in the church on 
Portland, Dorset that caused the large population of faeries to leave the isle. At 
the first peal they were seen fleeing along Chesil Beach.
They were also driven away from Cadbury Castle in Somerset, an old hill fort, by
 the sound of the newly erected church bells nearby. They left so quickly that they
 did not stop to retrieve their horde of faerie gold hidden deep in the hillside.

If you come across faeries on All Hallows Eve, Halloween,, make 
sure you throw some of the dirt from your own footprint after the faeries, it will 
protect you and any mortals that the faeries have stolen  will be surrendered as well.

There are many plants that can be effective as protection against the fae.
Planting bindweed and honeysuckle by your garden gate will keep the more 
malicious faeries out of your garden.
Hanging a garland of marigolds over your doorway will stop evil from entering
 your home.
Lavender will protect against the evil eye.
St Johns Wort is very powerful against faerie spells and will protect against 
demons, witches and evil spirits hence its ancient name of Fuga Daemonum.

‘St Johns Wort doth charm all the witches away
If gathered at midnight on the Saints Holy day
And devils and witches have no power to harm
Those that do gather the plant for a charm
Rub the lintels and the post with that red juicy
No thunder, no tempest will then have the power
To hurt or hinder your house; and bind
Round your neck a charm of similar kind’

To keep off evil spirits pick bramble at the full moon and make a wreath, 
including rowan and ivy. Then hang over the doors to your house; this will 
protect the inhabitants against evil spells.
Hang mistletoe on beams for protection and it was customary to place it inside
 cribs to prevent babies from being stolen by the fae.
Placing daisy chains around your child’s neck will also prevent it being snatched.
Faeries will not hesitate to steal unbaptized children, especially popular are the 
fair haired babies; replacing them with changelings.

Faerie births are becoming rarer and the faerie children are not as healthy as they 
once were, so mortal babies are taken to replenish their stock.
The stealing of children has a more sinister motive in the lowlands of Scotland. Mortal 
babies are used to pay the Devils Tithe which is due every seven years.
I t was traditional to hang an open pair of scissors over the cot or stick an iron
 pin into the baby's clothes, also you could try laying the fathers trousers across the cot.

If being chased by faeries try jumping over running water, especially if it is south flowing.
This will hinder the evil fae and give you time to escape.

Jeanie, the Bogle of Mulgrave Wood, near Whitby. Many years ago one farmer for 
some unknown reason wished to make the acquaintance of Jeanie, who was the 
chief of their family. Once into the wood he found her cave which was set into a 
rocky slope. Calling out to her from the back of his horse”Jeanie! Jeanie! Art a 
theer? Coom out lass, I want a word wi’ thee!” With that there was an awful 
screeching noise from within the cave and Jeanie, Chief of the Bogles rushed out. 
She was the usual size for a bogle, old, wizened and incredibly ugly, her lips pulled 
back from yellowing teeth in a terrible snarl. Jeanie rushed at the farmer brandishing 
her magic wand and was such a fiercesome sight that both farmer and horse turned
 and fled for their lives.
They sped through the trees with Jeanie hard on their heels all the way. In front of them
 lay the stream and the farmer remembered that Bogles could not cross water, so he 
put his heels to the side of his mount and urged the frightened horse to leap the stream.
 But it was not soon enough, just as its hooves left the ground Jeanie’s wand touched
 the horses rump and it was sliced cleanly in two. The farmer fell to safety on the other 
side of the water.
Needless to say he did not bother Jeanie, Chief of the Bogles again.

One of the most annoying traits of faeries is their delight in leading humans astray,
 this is usually called being ‘pixy led’ or ‘pouk-ledden’ in the midlands.

‘This Puck seemes but a dreaming dolt
Still walking like a ragged colt
And oft out of a bush doth bolt
Of purpose to deceive us.
And leading us makes us to stray,
Long winter nights out of the way
And when we stick in mire and clay,
Hob doth with laughter leave us.’

Most faeries are known for doing this but the best known tricksters are the west country
 pixies. One account collected by Ruth Tongue in 1961 from the 
Nettlecombe Women’s Institute tells of an encounter near Budleigh Salterton.
“ I were pixy-led once in a wood near Budleigh Salterton. I couldn’t find my way out, 
though ‘twas there, plain to see. I went all around the wood three times , it was getting 
dark and I had been gone from home for hours. Then somebody coom along to find me, 
and I thought how could I miss the path. They said others were pixy-led there too.”

Turning an item of clothing inside out will break the spell, and you will be able to
 travel safely on your way.

Avoid travelling along the banks of streams and rivers by yourself as there are 
many water fae that will try and drag you beneath the water such as 
Jenny Greenteeth, Peg Powler and the Bean Fionn of Ireland.

There is an old doggerel to warn children of the dangers of straying too near 
to the side of river banks;

‘Make haste and do your errand. Go not nigh
The river’s brink, for there the mermaids lie
Be home at five’

I hope this advice for protecting yourself from faeries will of be use to you, 
although of course I also hope that you do not have to use them too much!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

How to attract faeries.....

‘If thou wouldst see faeries’
Take a pint of sallot oyle and put
It in a glasse, first washing it with rose water.
Then put thereto the budds of hollyhocke, 
of marigolds, of young hazle and the tops of
wild thyme. Take the grasse of a faerie throne, 
then all these put into the glasse....
Dissolve three days in the sunne, and 
keep it for thy use.

The best time to see faeries is at dawn, dusk and midnight, but
beware the dawn as the crowing of a cock will drive them away.
Traditionally the best days to see the little folk are 31st Oct Halloween,
May Day, 24th June Midsummer Day, 25th March Lady Day and 
Christmas Day.

Even if you cannot see them you may see unexplained movements of branches 
or leaves, rippling of water when near a stream or lake. Small clouds of dust 
near your feet and feelings of chill fingers on your skin. You may also see 
sudden movements out of the corner of your eye, this can all mean that a
 faerie is near.

The fae are drawn to music and dancing, and to people with a sunny disposition.
 They cannot abide meanness, rudeness and selfishness and avoid gloomy people.
Leaving a small gift of food out for them will be appreciated, grain, barley, milk or
 honey. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look as though the food has been touched as
 faeries extract the essence without physically eating it. The ‘foyson’ as Kirk called
 it or the ‘toradh’ in gaelic. They can take  all the goodness out of cheese, 
butter, bread and bannocks so that it floats in water like a cork!

Keep your house neat and clean if you wish to attract faerie visitors as they 
hate mess. So sweep the hearth for them to dance on and remember to leave
 out fresh water for the faerie mothers to wash their babies with. Forgetting 
this often brings a punishment of some sort, as in the tale of the milkmaid who 
forgot to do so be-fore she went  to bed. She refused to get up when reminded
 so her companion set the water out instead and was rewarded with a silver 
sixpence but she was punished with seven years painful lameness.

One disadvantage of encouraging faeries into your home is their eagerness 
for ‘borrowing’ from humans although it is fair to say they are usually generous
 in repaying the favour. 

Faeries hold to the saying:

All that is yours is mine,
All that is mine is my own.

They will take grain, borrow implements and they will make use of mills and
 fires and the fae are always keen to share their faerie skills with a few chosen 
few mortals that they take a shine to! Their skill in weaving and spinning is
 legendary but in the Isle of Man the  mortals looms  and spinning wheels are 
guarded from the fae at night as they are likely to tangle the skeins and spoil the webs. 
On great gift given to a lucky few was that of music, one family, the MacCrimmons
 a famous family of Scotch pipers, was given the gift of music.

But do not expect to be given anything in return for your welcome into your house
 as you may get more than you bargain for! And it is best not to refer to them directly,
 if you must about them call them the wee folk, good folk, or the gentry. They also
 dislike being spied on, so watching any of their faerie revels or boasting of faerie
 favours will not be appreciated and will often be punished.

Whatever you do, do not give them the gift of clothing, as they will be very offended
 and disappear. This has been well documented over the years, for example a hob 
who was attached to Sturfit Hall near Reeth in Yorkshire worked very hard 
churning milk, making up fires and performing many chores until the mistress of 
the hall took pity on his nakedness and laid out a gift of a cloak and hood. 
On seeing this the hob exclaimed 
‘Ha! A cloak and a hood
Hob’ll never do mair good’
And he vanished for ever.

So good luck, keep an open and welcoming heart and the faeries will come!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Greet the first new moon of the New Year

The next full moon is Jan 5th so greet it when it appears
 (weather permitting of course!) 

'May the light be fair to me
May the course be smooth to me
If good to me is the beginning
Seven times better be thine end
Thou fair moon of the seasons
Thou great lamp of grace
Bring blessings on me and my house'

The new moon is considered to be the most important of its phases,
 especially in Ireland. And its appearance was greeted with a ceremony 
which was believed if not carried out would bring misfortune.
The women of Cork would bless themselves and offer a short prayer,
 'May she leave us in good health.'
Marriage divination was also carried out in the light of the full moon.
In England it was customary to  stand astride the bars of a gate or stile
 ( in Yorkshire they would kneel on a ground fast stone) and say aloud:

'All Hail to the moon, all hail to thee,
I prithee good moon reveal to me
This night who my husband or wife must be'

I believe the idea was that you would dream of your future partner that night.

And to finish an Irish blessing for you!

'May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.'

And for more information about the new moon

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Bringing in the New Year

Welcome to the New Year, 2015 already! but it also the seventh day of Christmas
 and everything you do today will influence  your luck in the coming year.

'Take out, then take in
Bad luck will begin
Take in, then take out
Good luck comes about.'

Traditionally the first person to enter a household on Jan 1st must have certain 
characteristics. dark hair, and usually male. He must also bring gifts, usually
 coal and whiskey which will bring luck for the coming year. This tradition in 
Scotland is known as first footing while in the Isle of Man it is known as Quaaltagh.

It is good to give neighbours and friends gifts, a lucky present is an apple stuck
 all over with cloves and holly. In Wales the new year apple is studded with wheat, 
oats and evergreen plants. The usual gift in Scotland for Hogmanay is a three 
cornered oatcake or shortbread with a slice of Yulekebbuck (cheese)
New Years Day is also associated with the making of resolutions as this time
 is ideal for renewal and fresh starts and many of us start the new year with a 
list of good intentions whether they make it past the end of the year or not!
Nothing should be taken out of the home today, not even the rubbish. Do not lend
 fuel or matches or pay any bills otherwise you will lack fire and money during
 the coming year. Doing the household chores were also frowned upon especially
 doing the laundry as it was believed that you would run the risk of washing away 
one of your nearest and dearest.
One of the strangest tradition connected with New Year comes from Wales, it is
 still seen in some of the towns and villages. It is the Mari Lwyd, the grey mare,
a decorated horses skull which is carried about the streets on a pole.

 It is carried to the door of the various houses and pubs where they  engage in
 a series of exchanges in rhyme or song with those inside before being admitted. 
This practice has its origins in the pagan celebrations surrounding the Winter Solstice 
and the cycle of death and rebirth.
However you celebrate today I wish you all the best for the coming year.

'Welcome and merry meet this bright new year
welcome and merry meet to 
happiness, joy, health, and prosperity'