12 January 2020 – Water Always Finds A Way

There’s a weather prediction about today: 

If on 12th January the sun shine,
It foreshadows much wind
.

Just checked the Met Office and tomorrow and Tuesday carry yellow weather warnings.

Co-incidence…?

Anyhow, today was all about water. I had planned to go up to London for the Blessing of the River Thames, or if feeling slightly more awake, drive over to Margate for the Blessing of the Sea. However, yesterday a friend came into town and we arranged to go for lunch instead. Which left me with a folklore hole. Of course I have my emergency crocheting but I didn’t want to break it out twice in the first week as that felt a little bit like defeat. 

So I started thinking. Given that I had been going to do a watery thing, maybe I could go down to the sea and do something in Brighton instead. Maybe I could find some carnations, January’s flower, and offer them up them up to the waves. Carnations, biodegradable, that could work. But that didn’t feel right either. So I thought about my friend, Rachel and her partner, Harvey. And remembered that they are also watery, in that they live on a boat and sail. Happy about that, I researched good luck charms for sailors. 

There is so much folklore around sailors and the sea, and I once used a lot of it to write a short story. It’s said that drinking sea water in the morning and again at night it will cure a cold in a day, or on an empty stomach it can heal the worst of sore throats, and if you take water from the third wave it can cure a toothache, but most importantly for the men out there, it can even be used to soothe swollen testicles… Good thing sea water. 

I formed three plans: Plan A – a found coin for them to attach to their mast, Plan B – a pig and a rooster in some form, and Plan C – a black cat.

Coins are often lucky tokens for sailors; some welded to the keels of new ships, some attached to masts or under masts, some carried, some silver, some gold, some given, some found. 

Pigs and roosters are considered a charm against shipwreck and are often found on the feet of sailors as tattoos. One reason for their perceived luck is thought to come from the crates they were packed in on voyages. Apparently, as they floated well, they were very handy to grab onto should the ship sink…

Black cats are thought to be extra specially lucky onboard ship. 

I set off into town to meet them for lunch with my head down, scanning the pavement. But as I walked, I got into a theoretical discussion with myself about the nature of luck. Should I find a lost coin, my good luck would be predicated on someone else’s bad luck. Which didn’t seem entirely fair. So part of me was quite happy not to find one. Instead, fate intervened with Plan B, as when buying some seaweed, I saw a wooden pig and a wooden roster key ring hanging up by the till.

And so here is Rachel and Harvey with their key rings.

I was a little worried about bringing up the whole shipwreck thing but they seemed to take it well. Besides, now they are protected. 

So that’s how the sea still saved the day, despite not having any swollen gonads to soothe. That I knew about anyway. After all, it was a very busy pub…


Resources

Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Morvan, F. (1980) Legends of the Sea, Geneva, Minerva

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/warnings-and-advice/uk-warnings#?date=2020-01-13

https://www.forces.net/stories/ten-most-important-ships-cats-all-time

https://www.tattoodo.com/a/a-maritime-classic-the-pig-and-rooster-tattoo-5023

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00253359.1965.10657830?journalCode=rmir20

A History of the Coin Ceremony
Good luck charms for sailors

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2 Comments

  1. Michele Marsh
    12 January 2020
    Reply

    So no black cat?

    • 12 January 2020
      Reply

      I stopped looking after I found the rooster and the pig! I do love a black cat though.

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