Dear Folklore Agony Aunt
I have a problem with a ley line that passes through my wonderfully secluded garden, kitchen, and directly under the AGA, it’s been attracting some persistent pagan neighbours who’ve been insisting on their ancient druidic rights to access it (the ley line, not the AGA). Can you suggest some fancy pancy geomancy so I can shift the location of this ley?
My pesky pagans demand that structures be placed within the landscape according to certain magical formulas that include the laws of mathematics and music. I’m not sure my predilection for concrete lighthouses quite fit.
I’m keen not to disturb animals who may be using them, certainly not to disturb any ghosts who may traverse these mystical lines, so please help, I’m at the end of my literal tether and reaching for the electrical fence as I type.
In desperate need of folkloric intervention
Pissed Off Pagan, Llanfihangel Nant Bran
Dear Pissed Off Pagan
If ever there was a case for nimbyism, this is it. For readers unaware of what ley lines are, some believe them to be mystical lines of energy that criss-cross the earth to form a grid, transecting important markers or ‘terminal points’ in the landscape like Stonehenge, The Sphinx and the enquirer’s Aga, while others subscribe to it all being bunkum. Leys were first brought to our attention by Alfred Watkins in the 1920s who also called them ‘Old Straight Tracks’ and I’m afraid Pissed Off Pagan, the clue is in the title. Ley lines are indeed said to be straight. So if someone has got their ruler out and determined your home is perched on one, I’m guessing it will take more than a spot of geomancy to divine a new route to change their mind.
However, that’s not to say you can’t discourage them from their quest, especially if your neighbours are insisting on right of way. To start with, you might want to consider protecting your property with the folkloric equivalent of an electric fence such as a ring of salt, a horseshoe pinned up, hanging a couple of hagstones, planting a rowan tree by your threshold, or chucking some dill over your door mantels and frames. All of which are said to repel evil spirits and bad thoughts, however if your neighbours are perfectly pleasant pagans, this type of response might not have much effect (although if you’re anxious about their grumblings, this might bring you some peace of mind).
If protection doesn’t do the trick, you could try spreading rumours instead. Start telling people that this particular part of the ley line does, in fact, follow a fairy path, and as such, it would be unwise for anyone to traverse it or disturb it in any way. Fairies can be quite useful in matters such as these given they have a reputation for spiriting away those who literally cross their paths. However you may want to carry an iron key or an oatcake in your pocket for some personal protection in case the fairies also hear about your ruse and don’t take kindly to being made a scapegoat.
You could also point out to your pagan neighbours that ley lines are said to be rather sensitive to negative energy and their incessant wanging on about access and their desire to construct unnecessary clutter in your vicinity could be construed as contributing to disharmony in the landscape. No self-respecting pagan should want to upset the balance in nature, so this might be enough to tone down their entitlement.
And if you’re feeling a little beaten down by their intransigence, you could go the herbal route. The ancient Greeks believed borage bolstered courage, while ancient Roman soldiers used thyme to fortify themselves, so when you know you’re about to come into conflict with your neighbours, a sniff or nibble of these herbs might make you feel better equipped to deal with the conversation.
But when it comes down to it, changing the behaviour of other people is hard. Changing our own responses to them is often harder, but in many cases yields better results. So if they really won’t get off your property and your back, perhaps a compromise could be found? Maybe instead of bashing heads, you could offer them a cup of tea (just the one) on a couple of the main pagan holidays, for example Samhain (New Year), Yule (winter solstice), Beltane (the beginning of summer) and Litha (summer solstice), in exchange for them leaving you alone for the rest of the year. That way they have the illusion of access and you get to enjoy your home in peace without any nasty surprise visits.
And if all else fails, be petty. Plant nettles. Everywhere. They’re great for butterflies and you’ll have a fantastic stash of ingredients for soup, tea and beer, as well as having a rheumatism remedy and a good source of fibre to make string, cloth and paper to hand.
The Folklore Agony Aunt
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