18 October 2020 – St Luke’s Day

Mark Hamill. I dreamt of Mark Hamill last night. And lots of other people, but mainly Mark Hamill. Maybe it was the Luke thing. But while dreaming of Mark Hamill made me very happy, I’m going to say my chances of matrimony with this legend are pretty slim.

But never mind, as luckily I get a second chance at happiness tonight, as St Luke’s Day is also all about dreaming of my one true love. Only this time I have to anoint myself. 

The recipe resembles something you’d find on the technical challenge for The Great British Bake Off. It just says wormwood, marjoram, thyme, marigold, honey and vinegar. No quantities and no instructions other than, dry the first four ingredients and grind them into a powder, then simmer them in the honey and vinegar over a low heat. Also something about sifting the mixture through lawn. Which I ignored as a) I didn’t have any and b) I used my coffee grinder so the powder was lumpless. 

Against all odds (and timings), my wormwood seeds have actually sprouted, but the shoots were too tiddly to use. So I set to work with the gorgeous bundle sent to me by Holly at the Centre for Folklore, Myth and Magic. I weighed out 4oz of each of the herbs and put them in the oven for a couple of hours to dry. The marigolds were already dried. I’d bought them as tea as I didn’t quite find the time to forage for them. 

Then into the grinder they all went until thoroughly pulverised. The smell was rather medicinal, and slightly citrusy. Next I put the powder in a saucepan and added enough vinegar to make a sauce-like constancy, before adding a dollop of honey. Not having a low fire to simmer it on, my smallest hob had to make do. But if the taste is anything to go by, I managed to burn it. 

And now I have a paste that looks not unlike horse manure that tonight I have to daub either on my belly, chest and lips, or just my face, or just in general, depending on the source, lying down, before reciting the following three times (always with the three times):

St Luke, St Luke, be kind to me
In dreams let me my true love see.

And going to sleep very quickly afterwards. Piece of cake. Except of course, unlike last night, tonight my vision has rules. According to the Perpetual Almanack of Folklore, my in-dream future husband has to smile at me, otherwise he’s a duffer. There’s also a chance he may turn out to be a cad as well, although I’m not sure from the quote if that’s smile related too.

Unlike the hops, at least this concoction has a decent smell. Nevertheless, I’m keeping my fingers crossed I’ll have the Force again with me tonight…


Resources

Baker, M. (2019) Discovering The Folklore of Plants, Oxford, Shire Publications

Kightly, C. (1994) The Perpetual Almanack of Folklore, London, Thames and Hudson Ltd.

Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books

https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/w/wormwo37.html

Centre for Folklore, Myth and Magic

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2 Comments

  1. Glorious Barbara
    19 October 2020
    Reply

    Was going to make a joke about being ‘too shy’ to read the rest of the blog but then I realised…wrong Hamill.

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