Monday, 29 April 2013

folk tale from Firth of Clyde - for Once Upon a Time


As it's late, and after celebrating a birthday this weekend (the Husband turned 42 to his dismay), and setting up Netflix for the kids, I suddenly find it's almost the end of the weekend and I haven't posted yet.  So in lieu of anything clever to say,

 here is a delightful folk-tale from the Firth of Clyde, from my The Lore of Scotland book I am reading from for Once Upon A Time VII Challenge. My first post was done here, on some fairy lore.

                 Firth of Clyde,  Renfrewshire

 "Once when a girl who lived in Port Glasgow died of consumption, her funeral procession was halted by a mermaid in the Firth of Clyde, who appeared from the waves and cried:
          If they wad drink nettles in March
                And eat muggans in May
         Sae mony braw maidens
                  Wadna gang to the clay.

Nettle tea was a country remedy for consumption, as was 'muggans' or mugwort, mentioned also in the song of the Mermaid of Galloway whose favourite haunt was Dalbeattie Burn (Dumfries and Galloway).
        Mugwort, muggins, and muggans are all coutnry names for Artemisia vulgaris, a member of the daisy family which grows in waste places all over Britain.  It was believed to ease period pains, and perhaps the idea that it stemmed blood-flow led to its use in cases of tuberculosis where blood was coughed up.  As its Latin name suggests, the plant was associated with Artemis or Diana, virgin goddess of the moon who also had power over lunar cycles, hence menstruation, and childbirth.  She was sometimes represented in half-fish form, and considered to care for lakes and rivers, lending particular interest to the fact that it is a mermaid who recommends the use of mugwort in these Scottish stories."   p 182
     I hope you had a wonderful weekend, and signs of spring are arriving in your area.


Literary Feline said...

Happy Birthday to your husband!

Thank you for sharing the tidbit about Nettle tea! It's always interesting to learn the history behind stories like this.

Susan said...

Literary Feline: I love that it was a mermaid that gave the verse! Very unusual folk tale.

You are right, it's interesting to see the truth behind stories like this, plus how long herbs have been used in healing, before modern medicine.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

That looks a beautiful book! And full of fascinating facts too.

Susan said...

Margaret: It is a beautiful book, it's got some fun folklore, and all kinds of off-beat historical facts that get mixed into the legends and local stories. I will be reviewing it at some point, I am dipping into it for now.

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