Friday, March 20, 2009

Sage advice for young ladies

A few samples from English Folk Rhymes 1892 by G. F. Northall
under the heading Superstitions, sub-heading Divinations:

A very singular divination, practised at the period of the harvest-moon, is thus described in an old chapbook. When you go to bed, place under your pillow a prayer-book, open at the part of the matrimonial service, "With this ring I thee wed;" place on it a key, a ring, a flower, and a sprig of willow, a small heartcake, a crust of bread, and the following cards: the ten of clubs, nine of hearts, ace of spades, and the ace of diamonds. Wrap all these in a thin handkerchief of gauze or muslin, and on getting into bed, cross your hands and say--

"Luna, every woman's friend,
To me thy goodness condescend;
Let me this night in visions see
Emblems of my destiny."

If you dream of storms, trouble will betide you; if the storm ends in a fine calm so will your fate; if on a ring, or the ace of diamonds, marriage; bread, an industrious life; cake, a prosperous life; flowers, joy; willow, treachery in love; spades, death; diamonds, money; clubs, a foreign land; hearts, illegitimate children; keys, that you will rise to great trust and power, and never know want; birds, that you will have many children; and geese, that you will marry more than once.

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On Valentines Day, take two bay-leaves, sprinkle them with rose water, and lay them across your pillow in the evening. When you go to bed, put on a clean night-gown, turned wrong side outwards, and, lying down, say these words softly to yourself--
"Good Valentine, be kind to me,
In dreams let my true love see."

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A young unmarried woman must sow the seeds of butterdock on the grass, gradually, and on a Friday morning, in a lonesome place, half an hour before sunrise, saying--
"I sow, I sow!
Then, my own dear,
Come here, come here,
And mow, and mow!"
The seed being scattered, she will see her future husband mowing with a scythe at a short distance from her. She must not be frightened, for if she says, "Have mercy on me!" he will immediately vanish. This method is said to be infallible, but it is looked upon as a bold, desperate, and presumptuous undertaking.

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The late Venerable W. Brocklehurst Stonehouse, Archdeacon of Stowe, and Vicar of Owston in the Isle of Axholme, furnished the author with the following piece of folklore which he had picked up in his own parish. Repair to the nearest churchyard as the clock strikes twelve, and take from a grave on the south side of the church three tufts of grass, the longer and ranker the better, and on going to bed place them under your pillow, repeating earnestly three several times--

"The eve of St. Mark (April 24th) by prediction is blest,
Set therefore my hopes and my fears to rest,
Let me know my fate, whether weal or woe,
Whether my rank is to be high or low;
Whether to live singly or to be a bride,
And destiny my star doth provide."

Should you have no dream that night, you will be single and miserable all your life. If you dream of thunder and lightening, your life will be one of great difficulty and sorrow.
 

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