A day/evening of divination, disguises, ducking for apples. People were really fearful of this time of the year. On this night of enchantment, journeys were completed before sunset, bread was crossed with salt and kept in pockets as a witch repellent and a rowan cross tied on bridles. Lighted candles were kept in windows all night to guide travellers safely and keep evil at bay. Candles were also placed in barns to protect the stock. All doors were shut tightly as a door that was ajar would allow an unwanted supernatural visitor to enter and never leave.

Apples were the fruit of the day used in games such as apple bobbing, for divination and given as gifts to ‘Soulers’. It was traditional for groups of children or the needy to go to wealthier houses and sing a Souling song to pray for deceased members of the family whose door they knocked on. In return a gift was given. ‘Soul, Soul! For a soul cake, I pray, good missus, a soul cake, an apple, or pear, a plum or a cherry, any good thing to make us merry.’

As time went by a more mischievous side developed to this tradition if people didn’t answer doors or give generously pans were clattered, the song sung louder and louder and even peeping through Key Holes!!! Precursor to trick or treat? Very probable I guess.

In Shropshire, our home county, All Hallows’ Eve was known as All Halontid’ or Hallantide depending what part of the county you came from. This year we are celebrating All Hallows’ the Shropshire way as told to us by our county’s folklorists Georgina Jackson, Charlotte Burne & Mary Webb who recorded & interpreted the customs, traditions, superstitions, stories & dialect words of local people in and around Victorian times, but often relating to things from way back that had been handed down through generations. We are part of a community group called FOLK who have organised this special event where 65 people will be joining us as guests and a further 24 people as performers or stewards at Acton Scott Victorian farm. We will be hearing tales relating to Sin- Eating, visiting known haunted hot-spots on the farm, playing divination games, joining in Souling songs, listening to Shropshire ghost stories and looking at strange folk items in the caravan of curiosities.

Its a time to remember those who have left us and set a platter for them at your celebrations.

Hope you and yours have an equally seasonal way to celebrate this time of the year with some old ways. x

The Autumn Equinox marks balance followed by change which can often feel a little disruptive. However; as we gather the fruit harvest filling our basket with berries, apples and hips for delicious jams, crumbles and remedies, collect hops to bring calm and restfulness as we drape them over bedsteads and collect the wonderful seed heads to adorn our window ledges whilst preserving their precious contents for sowing next year, it can also feel rather satisfying. We put things we can use to good use and compost anything that has completed its cycle or make ashes from bonfires to benefit future growth in spring. We try to make the unworkable of value. This is a good way to consider the change that we feel as late summer passes into Autumn- gather what is good, reflect on what is not needed but consider the value it has had before you get hold of your besom and sweep it away.

This year we are celebrating the equinox with water rather than our usual bonfire by going to the seaside to witness the tide drawing out and back in. We will let the strong Autumnal tide take out and wash away the things that we no longer need or have use of, we will reflect on the next stages and hopes that we have and want to bring to life in spring next year and then as the tide returns we will feel its strength bringing to us the possibilities. We will have experienced the everyday cycle that means all is well and that we have balance even in times of change. We will reflect on no two tides being the same and that each may bring or take away something different and feel reassured that this will continue.

If you can’t get to the seaside a bit of tidying up, sorting through things, and pruning down is quite satisfying whether in your garden, in your home or in your life. We make preserves at this time of the year to keep anything worth keeping to sustain us over winter, take time to reflect what is worth keeping and will give you comfort over the winter months. Nature is slowing down and so should we, we often forget in this ‘open all hours’ society that its perfectly normal to feel a need to rest more as the dark nights draw in and to enjoy a different more snuggly way of living until we need to be back on top of our game again. Even busy bees take a rest.In folklore we are told that the bee hives should be sealed at the equinox or face an unproductive and unhappy hive next year

As Michaelmas day approaches we need to collect the remainder of the blackberries for fear of the devil’s spittle rendering them useless. It’s all about things coming to an end in readiness for new things to begin. After the equinox we begin writing our new diary for 2021- slowly and gently throughout the winter months. We put to use all that we have gathered -a wonderful harvest of old ways, sayings, stories and traditions by visiting such rich and varied parts of the British Isles throughout the year and we give thanks that we are able to help keep alive the old ways and celebrate the year with you all.

#tradition #folklore #autumnequinox #mabon #oldways #bees #michaelmas #tides #pagan #nature #seasons #autumn #witch

It’s that time of the year when the ‘labours‘ of our folklore collecting come to fruition with the publication of our new diary. This year it’s ‘greener’ than ever as we have ditched the spiro binding for a gentler footprint of ‘PUR’ bound. We are rather excited about the results.

Lammas is traditionally the time of the grain harvest and Lammas loaves being made with great ceremony. The last cut of the corn was always treated with reverence as much superstition was associated with who made the last cut. Rows of corn were left standing so that the corn spirits could have safe passage from the scythes. At the end of the harvesting celebratory suppers were shared .

At Talking Trees Books we too are celebrating as the new diary will once more share and keep alive the snippets of superstition, customs and old ways with you all. Available from our website, stockists and Amazon from Monday 5th August.

So once more we thank you , invite you to accompany us as friends through 2020 together and ask that you say out loud and share the stories , sayings and ways that we will otherwise lose. X

‘You sunburned sicklemen of August early, Come hither from the furrow and be merry’.