Before tonight, had someone told me to drink a cup of hot dill water, I probably would have told them where to shove it. But sometimes you just have to go with where the folklore takes you, or with the leftovers you have from your tartare sauce.
I was going to do some weatherlore today, but I made the rookie mistake (even though this is month nine) of not checking what the weatherlore actually was. And it was this:
The first rain after Crewkerne Fair,
Is the first rain of winter.
with Crewkerne Fair, Somerset being an annual event dating back to Saxon times and traditionally held on the first Friday and Saturday of September. And that’s all very well and good, but I can hardly experience something that happens in the future, especially as today was clear and bright. Rookie mistake.
So I turned to what I had at hand. And that was a large bunch of leftover dill. Culpeper describes dill as having sadder leaves than fennel and being ruled by Mercury, so good for the brain. It has numerous uses, mainly to do with hiccoughs, wind, ulcers, and ‘vicious humours’ (p.89). And when boiled and drunk is good for the stomach. Which didn’t seem that applicable. However, on further delving, it turns out, it’s also been said that drinking boiled dill water can cancel any rotten spells cast on you. Plus, hanging it above doorways can keep the evil spirits out and the good luck in. Which frankly, is always worth a try. After all, there was all that business with the egg cleanse.
Clutching several sprigs and a couple of drawing pins, I went outside only to remember there’s a perfectly good ledge above the front door. Using tiptoes and fingertips, I managed to lodge a frond or two above the entrance, then went back in and put the kettle on.
Hot dill water is actually not that bad. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s pleasant. A bit like drinking pickle juice but without the wincing. It’s done nothing for my stomach (but then there was nothing wrong with it), but now I have the added bonus of having lifted any nasty intentions lodged in my direction.
Thinking about it, the plantlore surrounding dill might have been the basis for pickle juice being thought of as a hangover cure. Good for the head, good for the stomach, and gets rid of lingering vicious spirits. Mind you, that’s not quite what my lovely friend and folklorist, Claire found when she tried it for me on the first day of the project:
Here’s hoping I’ll have better luck with the over the door dill.
Baker, M. (2019) Discovering The Folklore of Plants, Oxford, Shire Publications
Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Culpeper (1995) Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, Ware, Wordsworth Editions Ltd