Category Archives: Folklore Thursday

Arbella Stuart & Divination

In Tudor times, divination and astrology were common practices and the casting of #horoscopes was taken very seriously. In a letter to her grandmother, Arbella Stuart (1575-1615), a claimant to Elizabeth I’s throne, mentions that she has enclosed her hair, which was cut on the “sixth day of the Moon”. This lunar precision was necessary as the hair was going to be used astrologically to cast a horoscope to foretell Arbella’s chances of becoming Queen of England.

Home Protection Sacrifice

Our ancestors left behind numerous clues in the buildings we continue to live in today of how they attempted to protect their homes and families over the last 500yrs. Like the human body, a house was believed to have vulnerable points where witches 🧙🏻‍♀️ faeries 🧚🏻‍♀️ and evil spirits 👹 could enter more easily. In Scandinavia and the Alps 🗻 venomous adders 🐍 were buried alive under thresholds to ward off unwelcome visitors, such as witches & thieves. Poor snakes!

Merry Maidens of Cornwall

1804 postcard of the Merry Maidens Stone Circle in Cornwall—legend has it that these stones were once a group of young girls who, while walking in the fields on a Sunday, began to dance to the music of two pipers— who were of course evil spirits in disguise 😈—and the young dancing girls were turned to stone in a flash of lightning.⚡This stone circle is one of many examples of a common theme of revellers being turned to stone for having fun on a Sunday when they should be at church!

Horseshoes

Today, people hang horseshoes for  good luck without realising that a century or more a go they were considered powerful  apotropaics—or ‘warding away’ objects against witches. Here we have a representation of two separate traditions: because iron weapons aided the Iron Age Celts to vanquish the bronze-using peoples who proceeded them, the belief arose that iron was a powerful protection against earlier inhabitants & their gods, which in time became represented by faeries, goblins, witches ect.—therefore iron was a protection against witches. 🧙🏻‍♀️ The second tradition is connected with the  moon goddess—the horseshoe resembles a  crescent moon so a house with this talisman was under the protection of the moon goddess. 🌚🍀🤞

Moonlight Lore

In some parts of Northern England it was thought that sleeping in moonlight could make you blind, cause birth defects or alter mental health. Many thatched cottages have extra thatch extensions projecting over upstairs windows to protect moonshine from falling on sleeping inhabitants. 🌚🌜

Hag-ridden

In previous centuries nightmares were believed by some to be caused by supernatural beings. The medical condition sleep paralysis was blamed on witches It was described as being witch-ridden or hagridden – a term referenced by J.K. Rowling for the beloved character Hagrid in Harry Potter The experience is accompanied by a feeling of weight on the chest and hallucinations, which gave rise to the notion of pressing demons such as the incubus and succubus.