Category Archives: folklore

activities dandelions folklore nature play

dandelion clock lore activity

 Legend has it, in Ireland, that if fairies are seen by humans a little bit of their magic will disappear.  So as they dance in the moonlight hours, they have the leprechauns blow down dandelion puffs at frequent intervals to tell them how many hours they have left until dawn. The number of seeds left after 3 hard blows is said to tell the hour of the day.

  dandelion 1

Obviously, we had to try this out! One blow didn’t get us too far!

dandelion 2

The second one was better.

dandelion 3

And this is what we had after the 5th…… (it took a few more to get even close to the hours in a day).

dandelion 56

We ended up with 8 seeds, our clock said 1:00, so this was a fail, but it was fun to try! Try it and see if you can come close to the time.

“That’s all,”
Lisa

animals folklore literature

black cat superstitions and folklore

“Whenever the cat of the house is black,
the lasses of lovers will have no lack.”
-English proverb

I am a sucker for superstitions. I always throw salt over my left shoulder, only pick up a penny if it’s heads up, plant rosemary by the front door, FREAK OUT if I break a mirror, won’t trim the hawthorn tree, try to exit the door I enter, and many more silly little quirks. Personally, I think it makes me more interesting, but some people think I’m just a little crazy and ridiculous (Granny;))!

Black cats, however, I embrace! I LOVE them. We have 2- Charm (5yo) and Pixie Vixen (1yo). We also call them the “Inkspots” after my brother-in-law’s grandma’s black cats.  The little ladies and I simply cannot resist Pixie’s little black fuzzy face!

pixie vixen

 Cat superstitions from various countries:

-In Britain and Japan it’s good luck to have a black cat cross your path

-In the south of France, black cats are referred to as “matagots” or “magician cats.” According to local superstition, they bring good luck to owners who feed them well and treat them with the respect they deserve.

-In the USA and some parts of Europe it is considered bad luck to have a black cat cross your path, make an “x” in the air to cancel out the luck.

-In Scotland a strange black cat on your porch brings prosperity. 

-In Egypt, it was once believed that the life-giving rays of the sun were kept in a  cat’s eyes at night for safekeeping. ***LOVE this!

-In Germany, if a black cat crosses your path from right to left it is a bad omen, but if it crosses from left to right, the cat is granting favorable times for you.

-In Italy, if an inky lays on a sick person’s bed, death will follow.

-In China there are those that believe black cats to be harbingers of famine and poverty.

-Latvian farmers that find black kitties in their grain silos, dance with joy. They believe these felines to be the spirit of Rungis, a god of harvests.

-In most parts of the world it is thought that a black cat walking towards you is a certainty of good luck coming your way; should the cat stop and turn away before it reaches you, fair fortune is not to be yours.

-Chasing black cats out of your house is a certain way to ensure that yours will not be a lucky house.

-Stroking the fur of black cats will bring you both health and wealth.

-In some fishing communities, the fishermen’s wives keep their cats indoors, believing that this will keep their men folk safe from peril while at sea.

-Many people around the world believe that there is a single white hair to be found, even on the blackest of cats. Pull out that hair, without getting a scratch, and yours will be a long, happy and prosperous marriage.

pixie vixen 2

-One popular tale from British feline lore illustrates the thinking of the day. In Lincolnshire in the 1560s, a father and his son were frightened one moonless night when a small creature darted across their path into a crawl space. Hurling stones into the opening, they saw an injured black cat scurry out and limp into the adjacent home of a woman suspected by the town of being a witch. Next day, the father and son encountered the woman on the street. Her face was bruised, her arm bandaged. And she now walked with a limp. From that day on in Lincolnshire, all black cats were suspected of being witches in night disguise. The lore persisted. The notion of witches transforming themselves into black cats in order to prowl streets unobserved became a central belief in America during the Salem witch hunts. Thus, an animal once looked on with approbation became a creature dreaded and despised.

-Germany has lots of legends of black coated cats and witches. While being sentenced to death, a German witch cackled at the judge, spat threats to the priest, and cursed her executioner. She was dragged from the court and tied to a stake for burning. As the flames rose around her she let forth a deafening cackle, there was a flash and a black cat leap from the flames and escaped amongst the astonished crowd.

-King Charles the first of England owned a black cat. He believed this cat to be lucky and was so afraid of losing it he had it guarded day and night. Coincidentally the cat died the very day before Oliver Cromwell’s parliamentary troops came and arrested the king. Shortly after, King Charles was taken to the scaffold and beheaded. (some stories and superstitions were found at best-cat-art.com)

 ”One cannot catch a black cat in a dark room.” Chinese proverb

black cat cord fabric

For me, black inkspots are the best companions! We love our two fuzzy ones and would feel an empty place without them. They inspire us to write stories and poems, draw pictures, paint, and are models for sewing projects. I couldn’t resist the above pictured corduroy fabric I found at the fabric store. It will be made into cat shaped pillows for the little ladies for the holidays.

PoeTales

Edgar Allen Poe was inspired to write a short story about a black cat titled- The Black Cat  (here is a study guide link too for more info). You will want to read this story first before reading it aloud to the little ones. You know how Edgar Allen Poe can be a “little” gory and gruesome, this story fits the true Edgar Allen Poe gory style!

I know a lot of my blogger friends also have black inkspots living with them and bringing them luck and love into their daily lives! Both of my sisters also have black cats, it’s quite sad though, the black cats in my family (including my sisters’ inkspots) were all strays. It’s a shame that some people are missing out on a wonderful housepet due to a superstition based on color!

activities craft fairies flowers folklore herb herbs homemade gifts literature tutorial

shakespeare for kids (shakespeare globe terrariums)

 Many, many years ago I had a dream that my sister Katrina and I owned a little terrarium shop full of hanging glass spheres full of green life. This dream will always be in my mind and it inspired me to do this little Shakespeare activity with the girls. Shakespeare was a country boy and knew his herbs and plants. He always incorporated his medicinal knowledge and herbal lore into his plays. As The Little Ladies and I read Shakespeare we always stop and talk about the plants he writes about; it’s fun to see them recognize the names of the plants.

shakespeare globe 3

To make a Shakespeare Herbal Globe (ha, kind of a bad play on words) you need:

glass ornaments- the thicker the glass the better (I found mine at Michael’s craft store)

charcoal (from a pet store)

potting soil

herbs from Shakespeare’s plays, preferably with roots, but cuttings are OK

chopstick or pencil

funnel 

shakespeare globe 5

  Carefully sprinkle a couple pinches of charcoal into the glass sphere. Add soil using a funnel to help guide the soil into the sphere. The Little Ladies used a rubber tree leaf as their funnel, silly girls, however it did work!

shakespeare globe 4

Add the herbs. We used ones with the roots already formed. This is easy to find with mint and thyme. If you are using cuttings, pull off the bottom leaves and insert the bare part of the stem into the soil. Use a chopstick or pencil to bury and arrange your plants.

shakespeare globe

Add a sprinkle of water and the terrariums are ready to go. Be warned though, sometimes this little habitat gets too warm and it can crack the glass. I have had a few do this. Last year I tried garden soil and moss from my yard, each sphere cracked within 12 hours! These little herb terrariums haven’t failed us yet though! Personally, I wouldn’t put the caps back on, this will prohibit even more warm air to escape. We are planning to make wire hangers to hold the Shakespeare herbal globes; they would look so cute hanging from the window!

shakespeare globe 2

shakespeare globe 7

Here are some beautiful words of Shakespeare and click here to read more with a list of herbs mentioned in his plays. 

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows
Quite overcanopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with elgantine.
(-A Midsummer’s Night Dream)

There is rosemary, that’s for remembrance:
pray, love, remember:
and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts. -Hamlet)

 What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet. (
- Romeo and Juliet)

 I am that flower,
That mint,
That columbine. (
- Love’s Labour Lost)

 Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ th’ sun,
And with him rises weeping; these are flow’rs
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age. (
-The Winter’s Tale)

activities flowers folklore herbs literature little ladies nature nature play Uncategorized

Shakespeare and herbal fairy brooms

Not a mouse

Shall disturb this hallow’d house:

I am sent with broom, before,

To sweep the dust behind the door.”

-A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Puck cleaning Theseus’ house)

fairy broom

We are really enjoying the tales of Shakespeare! So far we have read The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and are so wrapped up in their enchanted worlds. In the end of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Oberon tells Puck and the other fairies to clean the royal castle. Fauna’s idea of fairy cleaning is little brooms and mops made from sticks and herbs. We have been talking about the herbs and flowers in Shakespeare’s writings and used some of them for the little cleaning tools. The Little Ladies picked rose petals, lamb’s ear, thyme, lemon balm, Sweet Annie, and peppermint; “these herbs will leave a lovely scent with each swoosh!”

herb broom

They are so simple to make; just tie a little plant bunch around a stick with craft floss. Araina thought a fairy rose would make the perfect mop!

mint broom rain rose mop

Make one for each room in your castle, make sure to leave a little pail of water for the mops! I will continue to share our love of Shakespeare with you as we go along!

leaf brooms

These would make cute little halloween witch brooms as well! A little garland of them would be so cute!

fairy brooms

Ok, you caught me, the realist in me is having issues with the whimsy in me…..I can’t stop experimenting with the photo editing! I used the “vibrance” effect to toy with the color today, played with the water marks and can’t resist those rounded corners! Araina wasn’t happy with the pinkness it added to her face though (geez, that child is VAIN)! Have a lovely weekend!

Click here for info on Shakespeare and his fairies.

fairies felt felty inspiration folklore literature

Will-o’-the-wisp

Tomorrow is Fauna’s 8th birthday and what does she ask for? A Will-o’-the-Wisp. I had no idea what this creature was until she got out her Spiderwick book and shared it with me. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about a will-o’-the-wisp:

The will-o’-the-wisp, sometimes will-o’-wisp or ignis fatuus Latin, from ignis (“fire”) + fatuus (“foolish”), plural ignes fatui) refers to the ghostly lights sometimes seen at night or twilight over bogs, swamps, or marshes. It looks like a flickering lamp, and is sometimes said to recede if approached. Much folklore surrounds the phenomenon. 

The will-o’-the-wisp can be found in numerous folk tales around the United Kingdom, and is often a malicious character in the stories. Wirt Sikes in his book British Goblins mentions a Welsh tale about a will-o’-the-wisp (Pwca). A peasant travelling home at dusk spots a bright light travelling along ahead of him. Looking closer, he sees that the light is a lantern held by a “dusky little figure”, which he follows for several miles. All of a sudden he finds himself standing on the edge of a vast chasm with a roaring torrent of water rushing below him. At that precise moment the lantern-carrier leaps across the gap, lifts the light high over its head, lets out a malicious laugh and blows out the light, leaving the poor peasant a long way from home, standing in pitch darkness at the edge of a precipice. This is a fairly common cautionary tale concerning the phenomenon; however, the Ignis Fatuus was not always considered dangerous. There are some tales told about the will-o’-the-wisp being guardians of treasure, much like the Irish leprechaun leading those brave enough to follow them to sure riches. Other stories tell of travellers getting lost in the woodland and coming upon a will-o’-the-wisp, and depending on how they treated the will-o’-the-wisp, the spirit would either get them lost further in the woods or guide them out. To read more folklore go here.

 Now I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a sewing machine person….just plain intimidated by it; I knew it was time to learn how to use that thing and stop being scared of a silly machine. So I spent some time with my mom today learning how to assemble and sew up this gal. However, the Wisp had to have a lot of hand stitching on it too, that’s just my style! So this is what I have done so far:

IMG_3039

Do you notice that those are her eyes on the top of the columns on her head? I need to tack down the columns a little better and sew eyelashes on one eye. I also need to add some whimsy to the wings; that’s the cream felt behind her. So I better go finish her and get off the computer……..

100 Species Challenge folklore nature tree

100 Species Challenge (#1) Yoshino Cherry Tree

This beautiful symbol of spring lives in our front yard. The Yoshino Cherry tree is a native of Japan that was introduced to America in 1902.


Fauna refers to it as the “Humming Tree” because every year at this time it is covered with honeybees.

Obviously it is an important source of food for the honeybees, but it is also a source of food for many small birds and mammals including robins, cardinals and waxwings.

According to legend, the goddess of spring, Konohana-sakuyahime, hovers low in the sky, wakening the sleeping cherry trees to life with her delicate breath. Consequently, people have gathered under blossoming cherry trees throughout the ages, to offer prayers to Konohana-sakuyahime for a bountiful harvest. Here is my little spring goddess wakening our cherry tree.

cherry blossom shade-
a fox spirit
has enchanted me!
By Japanese Haiku Poet Issa