Wednesday 29 September 2010

A quest to find The Wishing Face

The little fellow in the photo above is called The Wishing Face. This little goblin-like figure is a carved stone set into a flint wall opposite a church in the village of Rottingdean, Sussex.

According to folklore, if you rub his nose and make a wish it will come true.

I learnt about The Wishing Face from the book Where Witchcraft Lives. This was written in 1962 by Doreen Valiente, who wrote much of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows, and has recently been republished by The Centre for Pagan Studies.

What I particularly like about the book is that it is about the history and surviving practices of witchcraft and magic in Sussex - an area I love and frequently visit.

For me, the book was the perfect reading material while I was on holiday in Sussex last week, and it inspired me to try to find this mysterious magical stone for myself.

Where Witchcraft Lives was written about 50 years ago, so I was a little worried that The Wishing Face would no longer exist, but a little web browsing assured me the little fellow has not been lost.

According to the website for St Margaret's Church, he is set "in the wall which surrounds the garden of The Elms, about twenty feet beyond the little arched door in the wall".

And, indeed, that was where I discovered him although, despite the accurate description, it took a bit of searching to spot that stone among all the other nobbly stones in a very long stone wall.

However, the little goblin has seen a few changes over the years. Doreen's book mentions the date "1306" being inscribed in the cement under him, but that doesn't seem to be there any more. Also, his name seems to have changed from The Wishing Face to The Wishing Stone, and the ritual surrounding the wish making now includes turning around three times after saying what you want.

Deciding to err on the side of caution, I adopted the new custom and turned around three times quickly when making my wish - despite the strange glances this earned me from passers-by.

I suspect Where Witchcraft Lives will travel to Sussex with me whenever I return there, and I will search for more of the places it mentions to see how they have changed since the book was written. I do love a magical quest.



Calandreya said...

I suspect if you rub anybody's nose and turn around three times you'll get your wish. The power's in the wisher, not the stone. Helps to have a bit of a fae spirit or else you'd be too self-conscious to make a spectacle in front of others.

Anyway, I've been enjoying your posts quite a lot and I hope you get what you're asking for.

Daisy Debs said...

Enjoyed this entry in your journal so much ! I want to go there . Remember never to become a " passers by " kind of a person !