Sunday, 24 April 2022

Folklore: Divining Love & Death on St Mark's Eve

For those into macabre forms of divination, then tonight, 24th April, is just as good as Halloween or Walpurgisnacht, on April 30th. 

According to folklore, if you want to dream of your future lover, then pick a blade of grass from a grave at midnight and put it under your pillow on St Mark's Eve to dream of them. Or perhaps you would rather summon the wraith of your beloved to visit you? If so, wash an intimate item of clothing and sit with it drying by the fire in silence. At midnight, their shade - or perhaps the shadow of their future self - will join you. 

If you want to know who will be ill and who will die in the coming year, then wait in the porch of your parish church. At midnight a ghostly procession of people you recognise from your local community will pass you in silence. They will not seem to notice you, but will walk in single file into the church. Do not follow them. Some will come out again after a short while. They are the ones who sickness will not claim, although they will be ill. Those who stay inside are fated to die. 

Those examples from English folklore are recounted in more detail in Steve Roud's The English Year. However, he writes: "St Mark's Eve is one of the key nights on which to divine the future, but there is no clue as to why this particular date was chosen. Certainly, there seems to be nothing in the life or writings of the Evangelist St Mark that would deserve this reputation." He adds that the custom was nevertheless widespread from the 17th century to the 19th century.

If you don't fancy summoning the ghosts of your loved ones or hanging around in church porches at midnight, you could try less macabre forms of divination such as scrying in water. I would, of course, suggest my own book Pagan Portals - Scrying to anyone wanting to find out more.

You can view Pagan Portals - Scrying on Amazon. It is published by Moon Books. You can also view Steve Roud's The English Year on Amazon.

1 comment:

Autumn_Ang said...

Awesome :-) Folk tales always start somewhere!