A Magic Square

S   A   T   O   R
A   R   E   P   O
T   E   N   E   T
O   P   E   R   A
R   O  T   A   S

trans.: “The creator, to whom I appeal for help ,controls all our endeavors and all the changes of fortune that befall us”

We found this in ‘The Museum of Witchcraft’, Boscastle.

To the virgins, to make much of time

by Robert Herrick

Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,
Old-time is still a flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the Sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer,
But being spent, the worst, and worst
Times, still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.

Wood Poems

A poem, a song, a crib of useful lore.
This is a series of wood fire poems, detailing the properties of the different trees on the fire. Many versions exist, and most highlight Ash as the best wood to burn.

The Wood Fire – version 1

Beechwood fires are bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year;
Oaken logs burn steadily
If the wood be old and dry;
But ash dry or ash green
Makes a fire fit for a queen.

Logs of birchwood burn too fast,
There’s a fire that will not last;
Chestnut’s only good they say
If for long it’s laid away;
But ash new or ash old
Is fit for a queen with a crown of gold.

Poplar makes a bitter smoke
Fills your eyes and makes you choke;
It is by the Irish said
Hawthorn makes the sweetest bread;
But ash green or ash brown
Is fit for a queen with a golden crown

Elmwood burns with a churchyard mould,
E’en the very flames are cold;
Apple logs will fill your room
With an incense like perfume;
But ash wet or ash dry
For a queen to warm her slippers by.



He who meddles with the mane of a wolf
Without a club in his hand,
He must naturally have a brave disposition
Under his cloak.

Keep your secrets

A certain girl was given by her parents to a young man in marriage. She did not care for the youth, so she refused and said she would choose a man for herself. Shortly after there came into the village a fine young man of great strength and beauty. The girl fell in love with him at first sight and told her parents that she had found the man she wished to marry, and as the man was not unwilling, the marriage soon took place.

Notebook Curiosities, vol.1

Rumoured Properties of  Plants and Trees

Lovage juice – Mix it with your fishing bait to get a bite.

Split bamboo, then glue back together without hollow centre. Good for rods or swords.

Cut 6 ft strips of bark from dry fallen cedar. Make a bundle larger than two hands. Use strips of white inner bark from the cedar to bind. Use as a smudge against mosquitoes.

Yarrow leaves instead of pepper

Oak  inner bark soaked and pounded to make material.

Beechwood for hot bright flame and long burning embers

Ground Horse chestnuts/Black walnut/solomon’s seal into fishing waters – up rise the fish

Osier willow – good for basket-making, and covered in skins makes good shields or boats

Birch bark – for waterproof clothing.

Eucalyptus leaves – dried and smoked for asthma – leaves as a tea for colds, fevers, respiratory trouble

Yellow Gentian – a cure-all, roots steeped in water.

Crushed bramble leaves to stem bleeding

The Wise Little Girl

Two brothers were travelling together. One was poor and one was rich, and each one had a horse, the poor one a mare, the rich one a gelding. They stopped for the night, one beside the other. The poor man’s mare bore foal during the night, and the foal rolled under the rich man’s cart.

Vine Thought

by Idries Shah

Once there was a vine which realized that people came every year and took its grapes. It observed that nobody ever showed any gratitude.
One day a wise man came along and sat down nearby. ‘This’, thought the vine, ‘is my opportunity to have the mystery solved.’

It said: ‘Wise man, as you may have observed, I am a vine. Whenever my fruit is ripe, people come and take the grapes away. None shows any sign of gratitude. Can you explain this conduct to me?’

The wise man thought for a time. Then he said:

‘The reason, in all probability, is that those people are under the impression that you cannot help producing grapes.

Calendar Lore 1

February to April

Gathered in PFAF library, in Cornwall, 2007.

February: the whirling month; the month of purity; the month of lambs; the severe time; the season of purification.
snowdrops3 2 February – Imbolc – Candles, fires, tapers burned for Brigid, to illuminate the underworld hunt of Ceres for Persephone

Imbolc – A cake of crescent or circle to Artemis, Isis and Ashteroth

Snowdrop – blossoms to cleanse house of winter ills and malevolence

Lesser celendine + pigfat + treacle = for problems of the fundament

2 February – Candlemas day – Christian alternative for Imbolc.

Candlemas Day! Candlemas Day!
Half our fire and half our hay.

If Candlemas day is fair and bright
Winter will have another flight
But if Candlemas day brings clouds and rain
Winter is gone and won’t come again


Patrick Leigh Fermor–A Time of Gifts

On foot to Constantinople: from the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube

paddy-picWe were given this book in paperback, and were instantly reassured by its combination of dense text and light binding. We’d been staying with Andrew and his family for a few nights, in the New Forest, when he handed us this volume, and told us it was “of a Canterbury lad”, who walked all across Europe before the second war.

Books are arguably the heavier of the portable luxuries, but they are food of a most golden kind, and we love them. So this was slotted into an already over-burdened backpack, to be chewed at leisure.

And what leisure it did provide. Paddy Leigh Fermor writes with verbal skill beyond our prior ken. His linguistic ability outshines the genre of travel writing, like stars above street-lamps. While perhaps not to everyone’s modern reading tastes, this book proves that taste is a faulty concept. It feels to be from an earlier age of rich mental aspirations, of relative poverty and willingness to share. Its day was prevailingly optimistic, when people believed they could learn greater communication, and more meaning; rather than today’s nihilistic literature of self-critique and reductive analysis. Fermor’s words glory in being elucidated; he has the mastery of a great magician, and the practised calm of a museum curator, informative and spectacular.