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Folk Traditions and Oddities


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Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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There may little folk traditions throughout the world and the British Isles and I would like to start gathering a few together to discuss and maybe add to the main gazetteer at some point.

To start with:

Orkney
According to the Golden Bough by Fraser, there  was a tradition in Orkney concerning curing an illness. The sick person would be thoroughly washed down and all the water used for this would then be collected together. The water would then be thrown into a gateway and the illness would then transfer to the next person to pass through the gate, curing the original patient. At first this sounded like nonsense, but is there not a lesson here about health hygiene and a basic understanding that some illnesses can be contagious?

Urisk's picture
Urisk
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Re: Folk Traditions and Oddities

What sort of traditions are you looking for?

I know that if a child was lame then an ash tree would be hewn, and the child passed through the hole, which was then bound up. If the ash healed then so too would the child.

A similar practice was usedfor animals where a hole was bored into hte tree and a live shrew sealed inside. As the shrew died the animal would heal. In practical terms, quite how this would work is totally beyond me.

Willow was used as a healing wood. Willow of course contains salicyclic acid (sp??) which is a key ingredient in asprin.

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Columbine
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Re: Folk Traditions and Oddities

Here's a gloucester one: "Where rosemary blooms large aside the door the Mistress is the master". 

And for toothache you were suppose to take a section of hazel wood bound in red thread and hammer it into a stone wall with three blows. I can't recall if there was anything else though. 

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Folk Traditions and Oddities
Urisk wrote:

I know that if a child was lame then an ash tree would be hewn, and the child passed through the hole, which was then bound up. If the ash healed then so too would the child.

This very similar to Men-an Tol in Cornwall.  I wonder if specific ash trees were used and became important ritual sites, much like these stonesn did.

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
User offline. Last seen 11 hours 51 min ago. Offline
Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Re: Folk Traditions and Oddities
Urisk wrote:

I know that if a child was lame then an ash tree would be hewn, and the child passed through the hole, which was then bound up. If the ash healed then so too would the child.

This very similar to Men-an Tol in Cornwall.  I wonder if specific ash trees were used and became important traditional sites, much like these stones did.

Mauro
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Joined: 15 Oct 2008
Re: Folk Traditions and Oddities

In parts of Scotland it was customary to warn the Good People before emptying a dirty water container out of the door, even during the day.
In Brittany up to the close of the XIX century it was customary to prepare a light meal for the souls of departed relatives on Halloween. (I should definitely write a few lines about the Cult of the Dead in Celtic areas...)
In the harbor cities that once made up the mighty Hanseatic League the souls of drowned sailors were called Gongers and were believed to visit their relatives at home to tell their tale. They always left wet footprints behind them. In Schleswig and Holstein the Gongers were forbidden to enter the houses of Christians so they wandered around their home town until they could find a living relative to tell their tragic fate.

In Distortion We Trust

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"Louhi spoke in riddled tones of three things to achieve: find and catch the Devil's Moose and bring it here to me. Seize the Stallion born of Fire, harness the Golden Horse. He captured and bound the Moose, he tamed the Golden Horse. Still there remained one final task: hunt for the Bird from the Stream of Death"

-Kalevala, Rune XIII-


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Agricola
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Re: Folk Traditions and Oddities

There are the usual Scottish traditions about not walking on or in Fairy Rings or you'll upset the little people.

Another one I grew up with in Cumbria is not crossing over a grave or you'd die within a year

I'm sure there are plenty more. I'll have a think, having grown up in a wee Scottish village, I should know them. 

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Daniel Parkinson
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Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Re: Folk Traditions and Oddities

My Gran had a cure for warts which was to rub the wart with a bit of meat then bury it in the garden as the meat rotted the wart was supposed to do the same, a bit of sympathetic magic.

I did try it once and coincidentally it worked - I did wonder what would happen if I had rubbed it anywhere else? Might be worth looking if there was anything in meat that would have an effect, but I would probably put it down to an old wives tale. I am sure there are loads of similar 'cures' but I can't think of any off hand.

sacreddiscoveries
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Joined: 19 Aug 2009
Re: Folk Traditions and Oddities

Every May first, my mum would hustle my sister and I out to wash our faces in the morning dew.  This was supposed to make us 'beautiful'.  Mostly  it just made the neighbours laugh as we were living in NY City at the time....

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Folk Traditions and Oddities

I was always told to urinate on warts.  Dan was brought up half a mile away from me, they must have been posher up that way.

My aunt had a medical condition that froze half her face.  I was always told that if I pulled my face and the wind changed I'd end up like her. 

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Daniel Parkinson
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Re: Folk Traditions and Oddities
Ian Topham wrote:

I was always told to urinate on warts.  Dan was brought up half a mile away from me, they must have been posher up that way.

My aunt had a medical condition that froze half her face.  I was always told that if I pulled my face and the wind changed I'd end up like her. 

Ian

Two points here: 1) I will never ask you to cure my warts 2) Your family were always a sensitive lot, tact was never in the vocabulary. I did laugh out loud though (I have met the usual suspects).



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