Blow away the morning dew

Leggi in italiano

In the older version of the ballad known as The Baffled Knight, a young and inexperienced knight meets a girl in the fields and asks her to have sex, but the lady makes fun of her love inexperience and tricks him into a ploy.


Child ballad #112 D

This ballad is reported in many text versions both in the eighteenth-century collections and in the Broadsides, as well as transmitted orally in Great Britain and America with the titles of “Blow (Clear) (Stroll) Away The Morning Dew”; the male protagonist from time to time is a gentleman, or a shepherd boy / peasant. The novelty compared to the versions A and B already seen (here and here) is the refrain that, declined in a couple of variations, recalls an allusive morning breeze that sweeps away the night’s dew.
The Renaissance courtly ballad of the “Baffled Knight” is now transposed into a popular setting, linking it to an ancient Celtic auspicious and healthy ritual, still practiced by the peasants, that of the Bath in the dew of Beltane.(see more).


Geoff Woolfewrites “Cecil Sharp noted several versions of this song in his travels around Somerset in the early 1900s, and in 1916 published what became the ‘standard’ version later sung by many schoolchildren and choirs. Vaughan Williams used the tune for his folk song suite for military band in the 1920s. The text in Mrs Nation [Elisabeth Nation of Bathpool, Somerset]’s version is similar to most others; its meaning may have been lost on collectors and schoolchildren in more innocent times” (from here)

Oscar Brand & Joni Mitchell 1965: a still unknown Joni Anderson, but already refulgent. This video is part of the television series “Let’s Sing Out” conducted by Oscar Brand, which was recorded on various Canadian university campuses and aired on Canadian television from 1963 to 1966. The textual version of the ballad has been slightly retouched and reduced in the form of humorous song.

There was a young farmer(1)
Kept sheep all on the hill;
And he walk’d out one May morning(2)
To see what he could kill.(3)
And sing blow away the morning dew
The dew, and the dew.
Blow away the morning dew,
How sweet the birds they sing(4)
He looked high, he looked low,
He cast an under look;
And there he saw a pretty maid
that swimming in a brook.
“If you take to my father’s castle(6)
Which is walled all around,
And, you may have a kiss from me
And twenty thousand pound”(7).
When they got to her father’s gate,
quicly she ride in:
There is a fool without
And here’s a maid within.
There is a flower in the garden,
they call it Marigold(8):
And if you do not
when you’re young(9),
then you may not when you’re olde.

1) or “shepherd boy” in  Phyllis Marshall (which collected 26 popular songs between 1916 and 1917 from Bathpool and West Monkton, Somerset). In the Somerset Scrapbook, Bob and Jackie Patten write: “in 1916 and 1917 Miss Phyllis Marshall was collecting songs around West Monkton. Although only a small collection, her note books contain some choice material. This collection only came to light in the 1970s when it was found in a second-hand book shop and bought for a few pence“. Both the Oscar Brand and Phyllis Marshall versions are attributable to the “standard” one published by Cecil Sharp in 1916.
2) the verse is significant and clarifies the refrain: it is the May Day, when the sun of Beltane gives more power to the dew (vedi).
3) here the young man goes hunting for necessity, but initially he was a gentleman hunting for pleasure: it is evident the allusion to the woman as prey
4)the verse has been changed to make it more “winking”, The refrain reported by Cecil Sharp says:
And sing blow away the morning dew,
The dew, and the dew.
Blow away the morning dew,
How sweet the winds do blow.
5)in this version are missing a couple of verses as reported by Phyllis Marshall
“The dew’s all on the grass, it’ll spoil my wedding gown
Which cost my father out of his purse as many pounds as crowns”
“I’ll take off my riding coat and wrap it round and round
There is a wind come from the west which soon will blow it down”
The woman tries to dissuade the man with a pretext (and who sings does not seem to have doubts about the incongruity of the two just out of the stream where they were supposedly naked swimming), that of the dress that is rubbing (it is here is even a wedding dress , a Bride of May?) is a staple of the story that already in its seventeenth-century versions warned the inexperienced (in love) young men  “Spare not for her gay clothing, But lay her body flat on the ground”
6) normally it is a gate, I assume that Oscar Brand used the word “castle” to confirm the “ancient” origin of the ballad, (making a little effort to make it stand in the metric)
7) the girl boasts a rich dowry that could tempt the man not to go immediately to rape, but to aim at obtaining the consent of the parents (he can have money only in exchange for the marriage of course) the stanza collected by Phyllis Marshall, that it could be misunderstood if not included in the context, it says “And you shall see what I can do for fifty thousand pounds”
8) flower that already in the second half of 1600 was brought to America by the first settlers. The flower takes up the solar symbolism and was considered a protective plant. In this context it symbolizes the virtue of the girl
9) the maximum is softened

Eliza Carthy – Blow the winds from Red Rice 1998 (following The Game of Draughts)

There was a shepherd’s son,
He kept sheep on the hill.
He laid his pipe and his crook aside
And there he slept his fill.
And blow the winds high-o, high-o
Sing blow the winds high-o
Well he looked east and he looked west,
He took another look
And there he saw a lady gay
Was dipping in a brook.
She said: “Sir, don’t touch my mantle,
Come let my clothes alone.
I will give you as much bright money
As you can carry home.”
“I will not touch your mantle,
I’ll let your clothes alone,
But I’ll take you out of the water clear
My dear to be my own.”
He mounted her on a milk white steed,
Himself upon another,
And there they rode along the road
Like sister and like brother.
And as they rode along the road
He spied some cocks of hay,
“Oh look!” he says, “there’s a lovely place
For men and maids to play (1).”
And when they came to her father’s house
They rang long at the ring,
And who is there but her brother
To let the young girl in.
When the gates were opened
This young girl she jumped in,
“Oh, look!” she says, “you’re a fool without
And I’m a maid within!
IX (2)
“There is a horse in my father’s stable,
He stands behind the thorn,
He shakes himself above the trough
But dares not pry the corn.
“There is cock in my father’s yard,
A double comb (3) he wears,
He shakes his wings and he crows full loud
But a capon’s crest he bears.
“And there is a flower in my father’s garden,
It’s called the marigold,
The fool that will not when he can,
He shall not when he would.”
Says the shepherd’s son as he doffed his shoes,
“My feet they shall run bare
And if I ever meet another girl
I’ll have that girl, beware.”

1) curious inversion of roles now it is the girl to tease the boy that does not react
2) the two strophes are “veiled” insults, the girl insinuates that the boy is a powerless
3) review of cock’s crests (see more)

Clear Away the Morning Dew

Ian Robb from “Ian Robb and hang the Piper” 1979
In the notes Ian writes ” the bulk of the text and the tune coming from ‘This Singing Island’, MacColl and Seeger

As I walked out one morning fair,
To see what I could shoot,
I there espied a pretty fair maid
Come a-tripping by the road.
And sing, Hail the dewy morning’
Blow all the winds high-O.
Clear away the morning dew,
How sweet the winds do blow.
We both jogged on together
‘Till we came to some pooks of hay.
She said’ “Young man, there is a place,
Where you and I can lay”.
I put me arms around her waist
And I tried to throw her down.
She said “Young man, the dewy grass
Will rumple my silk gown. (1) “
“But if you come to me father ‘s house
There you can lay me down.
You can take away me maidenhead,
Likewise a thousand pounds.”
So I took her to her father’s house,
But there she locked me out.
She said’ “Young man, I’m a maid within,
And you’re a fool without! ”
So it’s if you come to a pretty maid,
A mile outside of town,
Don’t you take no heed
of the dewy grass
Or the rumpling of her gown.

1) very curious the attitude of the girl who first teases him by proposing to lie down between the hay (with an obvious double meaning) and then complains when he hugs her

Dew Is on the Grass

From the field recording of Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1907 from the testimony of Jake Willisof Hadleigh, Suffolk, in Folk Songs Collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams (Roy Palmer 1983 )
Lisa Knapp from Wild & Undaunted 2007

As I walked out one midsummer’s morn
All in in the month of May, sir,
O there I beheld a fair pretty maid
Making of the hay, sir.
Fol de lie de lay
I boldly stepped up to her
Asked her to lay down, sir.
The answer that she gave to me
Was, “The dew is on the ground, sir.”
“O but if you come to my father’s house
You may lay in my bed, sir;
You can have my maidenhead
All on a bed of down, sir.”
But when we got to her father’s house,
It was walled in all around, sir.
And she ran in and shut the gate,
Shut the young man out, sir.

“O when you met with me at first
You did not meet a fool, sir;
Take your Bible under your arm,
Go a little more to school, sir.
“And if you meet a pretty girl
A little below the town, sir;
You must not mind her squalling
Or the rumpling of your gown, sir.
“There is a cock in my father’s garden
Will not tread the hen (1), sir;
And I do think in my very heart
That you are one of them, sir.
“There is a flower in my father’s garden
Called a marigold, sir,
And if you will not when you may
You shall not when you would, sir.”
1) now the insult is explicit: the boy is an impotent, in the Irish versions the most recurring phrase is:” when they got to bed upstairs, sure the bay he wasn’t able
TITLES: The Baffled Lover (knight),  Yonder comes a courteous knight, The Lady’s Policy, The Dew is on the grass, The Disappointed Lover, The (Bonny) Shepherd Lad (laddie), Blow away the morning dew, Blow Ye Winds in the Morning, Blow Ye Winds High-O, Clear Away the Morning Dew
Child #112 A (Tudor Ballad): yonder comes a courteous knight
Child #112 B
Child #112 D ( Cecil Sharp)
Child #112 D (Sheperd Lad)
Blow Away The Morning Dew (sea shanty)


Jack in the Green festival

Leggi in italiano
man-natureThe Green Man is an archetypal figure connected with the cycle of nature, it is the immanent green force of Nature. The myth tells of a Goddess, the Mother, who generates her child, but this child is not immortal, and because the cycle of life is renewed, he must die.
His death and rebirth are the regeneration of the Spring and with it the regeneration of the community that celebrates the rite for propitiate fertility.

The Green Man  is the guardian spirit of the woods, perhaps an ancient god of vegetation and fertility transversal to many cultures that takes the name of Pan, Cernunnos, Dionysus ..

Heart of Faerie Oracle tarot, Brian & Wendy Froud

It is depicted as a human face among the green foliage or rather its skin is of foliage: in the illustration (Heart of Faerie Oracle tarot, Brian & Wendy Froud) they are artistically reproduced oak leaves, holly, ivy and the palmate leaf of the Maple. Two branches look like horns, the eyes are reddish like those of the fairies of Avalon, among the branches a sprig of mistletoe grows with its berry, the sacred plant of the Druids.
From the mouth of the Green Man sprouts the rowan twigs with the characteristic red berries. The rowan of the birds, as it is commonly called, represents in the Druidic tradition the rebirth of light after the winter and was therefore considered the tree par excellence of the awakening of Nature.

And yet all this veneration of the past was lost in the Middle Ages when the old gods died and the Green Man became a sort of decorative mask to be understood sometimes as benign but more often as a depiction of the evil one.

British Library, Add MS 18850, the ‘Bedford Hours’ , Paris XV century



Notre Dame la Grande, Politiers : X century

The deep bond between man and nature is all in the archetype of the green man, the man metamorphosed into a tree, the indissoluble bond between man and nature and its laws. A bond that instills fear but also peace and tranquility hence the ambivalence of the benign or malicious symbol depending on the context: the images smile benevolently or are mocking and fierce. But there is a third type of Green Man: one in which the faces seem scared and suffering.

If some Green Man, instead of joyous, look scary, we find others that, on the contrary, seem scared. These are certainly not demons, but we can not even associate them with images that celebrate the relationship between man and nature. We are faced with another value that this image can take on, that of suffering. In the late Middle Ages, especially after the terrifying experience of the pestilence known as the Black Death, there are rarely joyful and peaceful Green Men. Often branches and leaves stick out of the eyes, in an image that can be terrifying; sometimes the teeth are protruding or very pronounced, as if trying to bite the plant that protrudes from the mouth, to cut it and thus free itself from its suffocating grip. Finally, sometimes we find deformed faces and this too is a very strong signal for the medieval mentality: at that time, in fact, the deformities were a phenomenon much more frequent and known than in the present day, due to insecurity on the places of work, malnutrition and poor care for poor people, and not too advanced medicine. Such incidents in a man’s life were always associated with some divine punishment for his sins. A suffering face that turns into a plant, therefore, puts the accent on the boundary between natural and supernatural, and can sound like a warning against sin and temptations. Another typical representation that can be found is that of Green Man that show the language, probably inspired by the classic Gorgon masks, where it was supposed that this gesture had the sense to drive away evil. It is certain, however, that the people of the Middle Ages did not look at this image in the same way: beyond, in fact, the passages of the Bible that speak of the language as an “unseemly organ”, something that if shown could give rise to scandal, a face with the tongue outside also remembered the image of the hanged man, so certainly not pleasant. (translate from here)


Trisha Fountain Design

In the English folk tradition The Green Man is reborn in a popular May mask of medieval origins (and presumably even more ancient). “Green Jack” was a popular mask of the English May, from the Middle Ages and until the Victorian era, fallen into disuse at the end of the nineteenth century, it returned to show itself and spread to starting from the 1970s in May Day parades.

William Hone in his “The every day book” of 1878 describes the mask of Jack-o’-the-Green “Formerly a pleasant character dressed out with ribands and flowers, figured in village May-games under the name of The Jack-o’-the-Green would sometimes come into the suburbs of London and amuse the residents by rustic dancing.. A Jack-o’-the-Green always carried a long walking stick with floral wreaths; he whisked it about the dance, and afterwards walked with it in high estate like a lord mayor’s footman”

Jack’s mask is further spectacularized by the guild of chimney sweeps, with a boy inside a pyramid-shaped wicker structure, covered with ivy and foliage, surmounted by a kind of wreath of flowers. He went out into the streets with his other friends to dance and collect offers in money. see more


As well as the other parts of England, the custom was lost in the early twentieth century, but in Hastings  (East Sussex, England) the local group of Morris dance, “Mad Jacks” has had the brilliant idea to resume the tradition, mainly organizing a noisy and green festival that lasts a long weekend from Friday to Monday! Songs and dances, drum races, folk music sessions, concerts, follow each other to culminate the last day in the costume parade with the Morris dancers, musicians, chimney sweeps, queens of May, wild men, and green men, to greet the return of Jack, so a long procession is formed behind him, from 10 in the morning until noon where they converges in the stage on the West Hill where among foods, drinks, performances of participants, crafts fair we spend the afternoon for arrive at 4 when Jack is symbolically killed and stripped of his leaves which are thrown to the crowd as a good luck charm.
Ewan Golder & Daniel Penfold movie (The Child Wren’s music),  they write in the video notes “Since 1983 folk-lore revivalists have organised the annual Jack In The Green Festival held over the May Day weekend in Hastings. The ‘Jack’, covered head to foot in garlands of flowers and leaves, is paraded through the streets before being ‘ sacrificed’. His death marks the end of winter and the birth of summer. Beltane is the Gaelic name of this festival. The film follows Jack’s journey through the streets of Hastings, to his inevitable demise upon the hilltop.

Jethro Tull,  from “Songs from the wood“, 1977

Have you seen Jack(1)-In-The-Green?
With his long tail hanging down.
He sits quietly under every tree –
in the folds of his velvet gown.
He drinks from the empty acorn cup
the dew that dawn sweetly bestows.
And taps his cane upon the ground –
signals the snowdrops it’s time to grow.
It’s no fun being Jack-In-The-Green –
no place to dance, no time for song.(2)
He wears the colours of the summer soldier –
carries the green flag all the winter long.
Jack, do you never sleep –
does the green still run deep in your heart?
Or will these changing times,
motorways, powerlines,
keep us apart?
Well, I don’t think so –
I saw some grass growing through the pavements today.
The rowan(3), the oak and the holly tree(4)
are the charges left for you to groom.
Each blade of grass whispers Jack-In-The-Green.
Oh Jack, please help me through my winter’s night.
And we are the berries on the holly tree.
Oh, the mistlethrush is coming(5).
Jack, put out the light.

1) Jack is the diminutive of two different names James and John, but more than a name right here is to indicate the Green Man
2) the first of May was the feast of Green Jack, with the masks that went around singing and dancing for begging
3)  The druids considered the rowan the tree of the Down of the year and it was the symbol of the return of light for its spring rebirth. But they consider most sacred the fruits that they thought were the food of the gods, able to rejuvenate, to prolong life, to satiate and to treat serious wounds. The tree was often planted near houses and stalls to protect them, because it was believed to turn away lightning; if it grew spontaneously close to the houses, it was a bearer of good luck. (translated from here)
4) Holly is a tree with masculine symbology, linked to fraternal love and paternity, the winter counterpart of the Quercia. Sir James George Frazer, in his book “The Golden Bough” and Robert Graves, in “The White Goddess” and “The Greek Myths”, they describe a ritual ceremony that was, according to them, practiced in Ancient Rome and in other more ancient European cultures: the ritual fight between King Holly and King Quercia, a struggle that guaranteed the alternation of winter and summer seasons.  (see more)
5) The thrushes and the blackbirds are insensitive to the toxicity of the holly berries and consume large quantities of them becoming the disseminators. The male holly starts to flower when it is about 20 years old and produces small, fragrant white-rosy flowers from May to June. The berries (on the female holly) are green and in autumn they become a shiny red similar to coral: they remain on the tree for the whole winter constituting an important source of food for the birds (be careful because the berries are instead toxic for the man)

second part


Beltane Love Chase: The Two Magicians

Leggi in italiano

63_rackham_siegfried_grimhildeLove Chase is a typical theme of popular songs, according to the proper ways of the courting song it is the contrast between two lovers, in whice he tries to conquer her and she rejects him or banters in a comic or coarse situation
So the ballad “The Twa Magicians” is a Love Hunt in which the natural prudery of the maid teases the man, because her denial is an invitation to conquer.


The ballad originates from the north of Scotland and the first written source is in Peter Buchan’s “Ancient Ballads and Song of the North of Scotland” – 1828, later also in Child # 44 (The English and Scottish Popular Ballads by Francis James Child ). It is believed to come from the Norse tradition. The versions are numerous, as generally happens for popular ballads spread in the oral tradition, and even with different endings. In its “basic” form it is the story of a blacksmith who intends to conquer a virgin; but the girl flees, turning into various animals and even objects or elements of Nature; the man pursues her by changing form himself.
There is a written trace of the theme already in 1630 in a ballad entitled “The two kind and Lovers” – in which however the woman is to chase the man.
The ballad begins with the woman who says

if thou wilt goe, Love,
let me goe with thee
Because I cannot live,
without thy company
Be thou the Sunne,
Ile be the beames so bright,
Be thou the Moone.
Ile be the lightest night:
Be thou Aurora,
the usher of the day,
I will be the pearly dew,
upon the flowers gay.
Be thou the Rose,
thy smell I will assume,
And yeeld a sweet
odoriferous perfume

It is therefore a matter of complementary and non-opposing couples, a sort of total surrender to love on the part of the woman who declares her fidelity to man. Let us not forget that ancient ballads were also a form of moral teaching.
And yet we find buried in the text traces of initiation rituals, pearls of wisdom or druidic teachings, so the two wizards are transformed into animals associated with the three kingdoms, Nem (sky), Talam (Earth) Muir (sea) or world above, middle and below and the mystery is that of spiritual rebirth.
Other similarities are found with the ballad “Hares on the Mountain


In general, the Love Chase ends with the consensual coupling.
Today’s version of “The Two Magicians” is based on the rewriting of the text and the musical arrangement of Albert Lancaster Lloyd (1908-1982) for the album “The Bird in the Bush” (1966);

(all the verses except XV and XVI)

Celtic stone from Celtic Stone, 1983: (American folk-rock group active in the 80s and 90s), an ironic vocal interpretation, a spirited musical arrangement that happily combines acoustic guitar with the dulcimer hammer (verses from I to VII, XI, IX, XIV, X, XV, XVI, XVII)

Damh the Bard from Tales from the Crow Man, 2009. Another minstrel of the magical world in a more rock version (verses from I to VII, XI, IX, XII, X, XIV, XV, XVI,XVII, XVIII)

Jean-Luc Lenoir from “Old Celtic & Nordic Ballads” 2013 (voice Joanne McIver) 
– a lively and captivating arrangement taken from a traditional (it’s a mixer between the two melodies)
Owl Service from Wake The Vaulted Echo (2006)
Empty Hats from The Hat Came Back, 2000 the choice of speech is very effective

The lady stood at her own front door
As straight as a willow wand
And along come a lusty smith (1)
With his hammer in his hand
Saying “bide lady bide
there’s a nowhere you can hide
the lusty smith will be your love
And he will lay your pride”.
“Well may you dress, you lady fair,
All in your robes of red  (2)
Before tomorrow at this same time
I’ll have your maidenhead.”
“Away away you coal blacksmith
Would you do me this wrong?
To have me maidenhead
That I have kept so long”
I’d rather I was dead and cold
And me body in the grave
Than a lusty, dusty, coal black smith
Me maide head should have”
Then the lady she held up her hand
And swore upon the spul
She never would be the blacksmith’s love
For all of a box of gold  (3)
And the blacksmith he held up his hand/And he swore upon the mass,
“I’ll have you for my love, my girl,
For the half of that or less.”
Then she became a turtle dove
And flew up in the air
But he became an old cock pigeon
And they flew pair and pair
And she became a little duck,
A-floating in the pond,
And he became a pink-necked drake
And chased her round and round.
She turned herself into a hare  (4)
And ran all upon the plain
But he became a greyhound dog
And fetched her back again
And she became a little ewe sheep
and lay upon the common
But he became a shaggy old ram
And swiftly fell upon her.
She changed herself to a swift young mare, As dark as the night was black,
And he became a golden saddle
And clung unto her back.
And she became a little green fly,
A-flew up in the air,
And he became a hairy spider
And fetched her in his lair.
Then she became a hot griddle (5)
And he became a cake,
And every change that poor girl made
The blacksmith was her mate.
So she turned into a full-dressed ship
A-sailing on the sea
But he became a captain bold
And aboard of her went he
So the lady she turned into a cloud
Floating in the air
But he became a lightning flash
And zipped right into her
So she turned into a mulberry tree
A mulberry tree in the wood
But he came forth as the morning dew
And sprinkled her where she stood.
So the lady ran in her own bedroom
And changed into a bed,
But he became a green coverlet
And he gained her maidenhead
And was she woke, he held her so,
And still he bad her bide,
And the husky smith became her love
And that pulled down her pride.

1) in popular songs the blacksmith is considered a synonym of virility, a very gifted lover with a portentose force. Here he is also a magician armed with a hammer while the girl is a antagonist (or complementary) holds a willow wand.
One thinks of a sort of duel or challenge between two practicing wizards
2) in ancient ballads some words are codes that make the alarm bells ring out in the listener: red is the color of fairies or creatures with Magic powers. Red was also the color of the bride in antiquity and is a favorable color for fertility
3) also written as “pot of gold” and immediately it come to mind the leprechaun
4) the hare-hound couple is the first of the transformations in the Welsh myth of Taliesin’s birth. Gwion is the pursued that turns into a lunar animal, takes in itself the female principle symbol of abundance-fertility, but also creativity-intuition, becomes pure instinct, frenzy.
The dog is not only predator, but also guardian and psychopomp ‘The dog plays with many populations the function of guardian of the sacred places, guide of the man on the night of death, defender of the kingdom of the dead, overseer in all cases of the kingdom spiritual.
In particular among the Celts it was associated with the world of the Warriors. In fact, the dog was present in the Warrior initiations. Hunting, like war, was a sacred act that could be accomplished only after an initiation and a ritual preparation of divine protection. (Riccardo Taraglio from Il Vischio e la Quercia) 
see more
5) scottish pancake: a special tool to cook the Beltane bannock.The two iron griddle could be smooth or variously decorated honeycomb or floral carvings, written or geometric designs, were hinged on one side and equipped with a long handle: placed on the fire it was turned over for cooking on the other side. In the Middle Ages they had become masterpieces of forging made by master wares or refined silversmiths, and they were a traditional engagement gift. see more

Ferro da cialde, Umbria, sec. XVI


The song is reported by Cecil Sharp in One Hundred English Folksongs (1916) in the notes he says he heard it from Mr. Sparks (a blacksmith), Minehead, Somerset, in 1904.

Steeleye Span from “Now we are six”, 1974 – a funny video animation

She looked out of the window
as white as any milk
And he looked in at  the window
as black as any silk
Hello, hello, hello, hello,
you coal blacksmith

You have done me no harm
You never shall  have my maidenhead
That I have kept so long
I’d rather die a maid
Ah, but then she said
and be buried all in my grave

Than to have such a nasty,
husky, dusky, fusky, musky

Coal blacksmith,
a maiden, I will die

She became a duck,
a duck all on the stream
And he became a water dog (1)
and fetched her back again.
She became a star,
a star all in the night
And he became a thundercloud
And muffled her out of sight.
She became a rose,
a rose all in the wood
And he became a bumble bee  (2)
And kissed her where she stood.
She became a nun,
a nun all dressed in white
And he became a canting priest
And prayed for her by night.
She became a trout,
a trout all in the brook
And he became a feathered fly
And caught her with his hook.
She became a corpse,
a corpse all in the ground
And he became the cold clay
and smothered her all around (3)

1) water dog is a large swimmer retriever dog or a dog trained for swamp hunting,
2) the bumblebee is related to the bees, but does not produce honey and is much larger and stocky than the bee
3) “Which part of the word NO do not you understand?” that is, the categorical and virginal refusal of the woman to the sexual act repeatedly attempted by an ugly, dark and even stinking blacksmith. In escaping the man’ s longing she turns into duck, star, rose, nun and trout (and he in marsh dog, cloud, bumblebee, priest, fishing hook); apparently the girl prefers her death rather than undergoing a rape: this is a distorted way of interpreting the story, it is the “macho” mentality convinced that woman is not a victim but always in complicit with the violence and therefore to be condemned.
In my opinion, instead, it is the return to the earth with the fusion of the feminine principle with the male one; the two, now lost in the vortex of transformations, merge into a single embrace of dust and their death is a death-rebirth.

Beltane Fire Festival


The hunter man here is a “supernatural” figure, the blacksmith was considered in ancient times a creature endowed with magical powers, the first blacksmiths were in fact the dwarves (the black or dark elves) able to create weapons and enchanted jewels. The art of forge was an ancient knowledge that was handed down among initiates.
So in the Middle Ages the figure of the blacksmith took on negative connotations, just think of the many “forges of the devil” or “the pagan” that gave the name to a place once a forge.

Vulcan Roman God, Andrea Mantegna

By virtue of his craft, the smith is a mighty man with well-developed muscles, yet precisely because of his knowledge and power the smith is often lame or deformed: if he is a mortal his impairment is a sign that he has seen some divine secret, that is, it has seen a hidden aspect of the divinity thus it is punished forever; it is the knowledge of the secret of fire and of metals, which turn from solid to liquid and blend into alloys. In many mythologies the same gods are blacksmiths (Varuna, Odin), they are wizards and they have paid a price for their magic.
The lameness also hides another metaphor: that of the overcame test that underlies the research, be it a spiritual conquest or a healing or revenge act (a fundamental theme in the Grail cycle).

But the magicians of the ballad are two so the girl is also a shapeshifter or perhaps a shaman.


Cerridwen_EmpowermentThe theme of transformation is in Ovid’s Metamorphoses: a succession of Olympian gods who, through their lust, transform themselves into animals (but also in golden rain) and seduce beautiful mortals or nymphs.
The pursuit through the mutation of the forms recalls the chase between Cerridwen and his apprentice in the Welsh history of the the bard Taliesin birth (534-599) . A boy is escaping, having drunk the magic potion from the cauldron he was watching over; he escapes the wrath of the goddess by becoming various animals (hare, fish, bird). At the end he is a wheat grain to hide like a classic needle in a haystack, but the goddess changed into a hen eating it. From this unusual coupling is born Taliesin alias Merlin

I am a stag: of seven tines,
I am a flood: across a plain,
I am a wind: on a deep lake,
I am a tear: the Sun lets fall,
I am a hawk: above the cliff,
I am a thorn: beneath the nail,
I am a wonder: among flowers,
I am a wizard: who but I
Sets the cool head aflame with smoke?

That is, in order to become Wisdom, to Understand, one must experience the elements …

This poem by Taliesin could condense the mystery of the initiatory journey, in which Wisdom is conquered with the knowledge of the elements, which is profound experience, identification, through the penetration of their own essence, becoming the same traveler the essence of the elements.
Changing shape means experiencing everything, experiencing oneself in everything in continuous change and experiencing the encounter between the self and the other, prey and predator, not separated but inseparably linked, as in a dance.from here)


The main characteristic of the shaman is to “travel” in conditions of ecstasy in the spirit world. The techniques for doing this are essentially the ecstatic sleep (mystical trance) and the transformation of one’s spirit into an animal. As a magical practice it involves a transformation of a part of the soul into the spirit of an animal to leave the body and travel in both the sensitive and the supersensible world. Another technique is to leave your body and take possession of the body of a living animal.

In this way the shaman “rides”, that is, takes as a means to move, the bodies of animals that are also his driving spirits. In some rituals, psychoactive plants are used, or the drum beat, or the skins or the mask of the animal that you want to “ride” are worn. This practice is not free from risks: it may happen that the shaman can no longer return to his body because he forgets himself, his human being, or travels too far from the body and falls into a coma or the physical body dies because too weakened by separation.
The spirit can be captured in the afterlife or the animal can be wounded or killed on the ground level and therefore, as the soul of the shaman is captured or wounded or killed, so does his body report its consequences.

second part 


Bedfordshire May Day carols

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The Lord and the Lady and the Moggers
On 1st May several customs were observed. Children would go garlanding, a garland being, typically, a wooden hoop over which a white cloth was stretched. A looser piece of cloth was fastened at the top which was used to cover the finished garland. Two dolls were fastened in the middle, one large and one small. Ribbons were sewn around the front edge and the rest of the space was filled with flowers. The dolls were supposed to represent the Virgin Mary and the Christ child. The children would stop at each house and ask for money to view the garland.

Another custom, prevalent throughout the county if not the country, was maying. It was done regularly until the outbreak of the First World War and, sporadically, afterwards. Young men would go around at night with may bushes singing May carols. In the morning a may bush was attached to the school flag pole, another would decorate the inn sign at the Crown and others rested against doors, designed to fall in when they were opened. Those maying included a Lord and a Lady, the latter the smallest of the young men with a veil and bonnet. The party also included Moggers or Moggies, a man and a woman with black faces, ragged clothes and carrying besom brushes. (from here)

VIDEO Here is a very significant testimony of Margery “Mum” Johnstone from  Bedforshide collected by Pete Caslte, with two May songs

Maypole dancers dance during May Day celebrations in the village of Elstow, Bedfordshire, in 1952 (Edward Malindine/Getty)

From the testimony of Mrs Margery Johnstone this May Garland or “This Morning Is The 1st of May” was transcribed by Fred Hamer in his “Gay Garners”

Lisa Knapp in Till April Is Dead ≈ A Garland of May 2017

This morning is the first of May,
The prime time of the year:
and If I live and tarry here
I’ll call another year
The fields and meadows
are so green
so green as any leek
Our Heavenly Father waters them
With His Heavenly dew so sweet
A man a man his life’s a span
he flourishes like a flower,
he’s here today and gone tomorrow
he’s gone all in an hour
The clock strikes one, I must be gone,
I can no longer stay;
to come and — my pretty May doll
and look at my brunch of May
I have a purse in my pocket
That’s stroll with a silken string;
And all that it lacks
is a little of your money
To line it well within.

* una trascrizione ancora parziale per l’incomprensione della pronuncia di alcune parole


The carol is known as “The May Day Carol” or “Bedford May Carol” but also “The Kentucky May Carol” (as preserved in the May tradition in the Appalachian Mountains) and was collected in Bedfordshire.
A first version comes from  Hinwick as collected by Lucy Broadwood  (1858 – 1929) and transcribed into “English Traditional Songs and Carols” (London: Boosey & Co., 1908).

Lisa Knapp & Mary Hampton from “Till April Is Dead – A Garland of May”, 2017

I’ve been rambling all the night,
And the best part of the day;
And now I am returning back again,
I have brought you a branch of May.
A branch of May, my dear, I say,
Before your door I stand,
It’s nothing but a sprout, but it’s well budded out,
By the work of our Lord’s hand (1).
Go down in your dairy and fetch me a cup, A cup of your sweet cream, (2)
And, if I should live to tarry in the town,/I will call on you next year.
The hedges and the fields they are so green,/As green as any leaf,
Our Heavenly Father waters them
With His Heavenly dew so sweet (3).
When I am dead and in my grave,
And covered with cold clay,
The nightingale will sit and sing,
And pass the time away.
Take a Bible in your hand,
And read a chapter through,
And, when the day of Judgment comes,
The Lord will think on you.
I have a bag on my right arm,
Draws up with a silken string,
Nothing does it want but a little silver
To line it well within.
And now my song is almost done,
I can no longer stay,
God bless you all both great and small,
I wish you a joyful May.

1) the hands become those of God and no more than Our Lady, as in Cambridgshire, the contaminations with the creed of the dominant religion are inevitable
2) this sweet and fresh cream in a glass is a typically Elizabethan vintage-style drink-dessert still popular in the Victorian era, the Syllabub. The Mayers once offered “a syllabub of hot milk directly from the cow, sweet cakes and wine” (The James Frazer Gold Branch). And so I went to browse to find the historical recipe: it is a milk shake, wine (or cider or beer) sweetened and perfumed with lemon juice. The lemon juice served to curdle the milk so that it would form a cream on the surface, over time the recipe has become more solid, ie a cream with the whipped cream flavored with liqueur or sweet wine (see recipes) 

Philip Mercier (1680-1760) – The Sense of Taste: in the background a tray full of syllabus glasses

3) the reference to the dew is not accidental, the tradition of May provides a bath in the dew and in the wild waters full of rain. The night is the magic of April 30 and the dew was collected by the girls and kept as a panacea able to awaken the beauty of women!! (see Beltane)

Shirley Collins  live 2002, same tune of Cambridgeshire May Carol (not completely transcribed)

A branch of may, so fine and gay
And before your door it stands.
It’s but a sprout, it’s well-budded out, for the work of our Lord’s hand(1).
Arise, arise, you pretty fair maid
And take the May Bush in,
For if it is gone before morning come
You’ll say we have never been.
I have a little bird(?)
If not a cup of your cold cream (2)
A jug of your stout ale
And if we live to tarry in the town
We’ll call on you another year.
For the life of a man it is but a span
he’s cut down like the flower
We’re here today, tomorrow we’re gone,
We’re dead all in one hour.
The moon shine bright,
the stars give a light
A little before this day
so please to remember ….
And send you a joyful May.

1) the hands become those of God and no more than Our Lady..
2) Syllabub (see above)
3) the stanza derives from “The Moon Shine Bright” version published by William Sandys in Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833) see


Magpie Lane from “Jack-in-the-Green” 1998 ( I, II, III e IX) with The Cuckoo’s Nest hornpipe (vedi)  
The song is reproposed in the Blog “A Folk song a Week”   edited by Andy Turner himself in which Andy tells us he had learned the song from the collection of Fred Hamer “Garners Gay”
Fred collected it from “Chris Marsom and others” – Mr Marsom had by that time emigrated to Canada, but Fred met him on a visit to his native Northill, Bedfordshire. Fred’s notes say “The Day Song is much too long for inclusion here and the Night Song has the same tune. It was used by Vaughan Williams as the tune for No. 638 of the English Hymnal, but he gave it the name of “Southill” because it was sent to him by a Southill man. Chris Marsom who sang this to me had many tales to tell of the reception the Mayers had from some of the ladies who were strangers to the village and became apprehensive at the approach of a body of men to their cottage after midnight on May Eve.”

Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick from “Because It’s There” 1995, ♪ (track 2 May Song)
Martin Carthy writes in the sleeve notes “May Song came from a Cynthia Gooding record which I lost 16 years ago, words stuck in my head.” (from II to VIII)

Arise, arise, my pretty fair maids,
And take our May bush in,
For if it is gone by tomorrow morrow morn,
You’ll say we have brought you none.
We have been rambling all of the night,
The best(and most) part of this day;
And we are returning here back again
And we’ve brought you a garland gay (brunch of May).
A brunch of May we bear about(it does looked gay)
Before the (your) door it stands;
It is but a sprout and it’s all budded out
And it’s the work of God’s own hand.
Oh wake up you, wake up pretty maid,
To take the May bush in.
For it will be gone and tomorrow morn
And you will have none within.
The heavenly gates are open wide
To let escape the dew(1).
It makes no delay it is here today
And it falls on me and you.
For the life of a man is but a span,
He’s cut down like the flower;
He makes no delay he is here today
And he’s vanished all in an hour.
And when you are dead and you’re in your grave
You’re covered in the cold cold clay.
The worms they will eat your flesh good man
And your bones they will waste away.
My song is done and I must be gone,
I can no longer stay.
God bless us all both great and small
And wish us a gladsome May.
The clock strikes one, it’s time to be gone,
We can no longer stay.
God bless you all both great and small
And send you a joyful May.

1) according to the previous religion, water received more power from the Beltane sun. Celts made pilgrimages to the sacred springs and with the spring water they sprinkled the fields to favor the rain.

Kerfuffle from “To the Ground”, 2008

ARISE, ARISE (Northill May Song)
Arise, arise, you pretty fair maid
And bring your May Bush in,
For if it is gone by tomorrow, morrow morn,
You’ll say we have brought you none.
We have been wandering all this night
And almost all of the day
And now we’re returning back again;
We’ve brought you a branch of May.
A branch of May we have brought you,
And at your door it stands;
It’s nothing but a sprout but it’s well budded out
By the work of our Lord’s hand.
The clock strikes one, it’s time to be gone,
We can no longer stay.
God bless you all both great and small
And send you a joyful May.



Amhrán Na Craoibhe

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Amhrán Na Craoibhe (in englishThe Garland Song)  is the processional song in Irish Gaelic of the women who carry the May branch (May garland) in the ritual celebrations for the festival of Beltane, still widespread at the beginning of the twentieth century in Northern Ireland (Oriel region).

The song comes from Mrs. Sarah Humphreys who lived in the county of Armagh and was collected in the early twentieth century, erroneously called ‘Lá Fhéile Blinne‘ (The Feast of St Blinne) because it was singed in Killeavy for the Feast of St Moninne, affectionately called “Blinne“, a clear graft of pre-Christian traditions in the Catholic rituals.
The song is unique to the south-east Ulster area and was collected from Sarah Humphreys who lived in Lislea in the vacinity of Mullaghban in Co. Armagh. The air of the song from Cooley in Co. Louth survived in the oral tradition from my father Pádraig. It was mistakenly called ‘Lá Fhéile Blinne’ (The Feast of St Blinne) by one collector. Though it was sung as part of the celebrations of Killeavy Pattern it had no connection with Blinne or Moninne, a native saint of South Armagh, but rather the old surviving pre-Christian traditions had been incorporated into Christian celebrations. The district of ‘Bealtaine’ is to be found within a few miles of Killeavy where this song was traditionally sung, though the placename has been forgotten since Irish ceased to be the vernacular of the community within this last century. Other place names nearby associated with May festivities are: Gróbh na Carraibhe; The Grove of the Branch/Garland (now Carrive Grove) Cnoc a’ Damhsa; The Hill of Dancing (now Crockadownsa).” (Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, 2002, A Hidden Ulster)
St Moninna of Killeavy died in 517-518, follower of St Brigid of Kildare, her names “Blinne” or “Moblinne” mean “little” or “sister” (“Mo-ninne” could be a version of Niniane, the “Lady of the Lake” of the Arthurian cycle); according to scholars her name was Darerca and her (alleged) tomb is located in the cemetery of Killeavy on the slopes of Slieve Gullion where it was originally located her monastery of nuns, become a place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages along with her sacred well, St Bline’s Well.


It seems that the name of Baptism of this virgin, commemorated in the Irish martyrologists on July 6th, was Darerca, and that Moninna is instead a term of endearment of obscure origin. We have her Acta, but her life was confused with the English saint Modwenna, venerated at Burton-on-Trent. Darerca was the foundress and first abbess of one of Ireland’s oldest and most important female monasteries, built in Killeavy (county of Armagh), where the ruins of a church dedicated to her are still visible. He died in 517. Killeavy remained an important center of religious life, until it was destroyed by the Scandinavian marauders in 923; Darerca continued to be widely revered especially in the northern region of Ireland (translated from  here)


The Slieve Gullion Cairns

Slieve Gullion ( Sliabh gCuillinn ) is a place of worship in prehistoric times on the top of which a chamber tomb was built with the sunlit entrance at the winter solstice. (see).
According to legend, the “Old Witch” lives on its top, the Cailleach Biorar (‘Old woman of the waters’) and the ‘South Cairn’ is her home also called ‘Cailleach Beara’s House‘.
the site with virtual reality
On the top of the mountain a small lake and the second smaller burial mound built in the Bronze Age. In the lake, according to local evidence, lives a kelpie or a sea monster and it’s hid the passage to the King’s Stables. (Navan, Co. Armagh)

Cailleach Beara by Cheryl Rose-Hall

The Hunt of Slieve Cuilinn

The goddess, a Great Mother of Ireland, Cailleach Biorar (Bhearra) -the Veiled is called Milucradh / Miluchradh, described as the sister of the goddess Aine in the story of “Fionn mac Cumhaill and the Old Witch“, we discover that the nickname of Fionn (Finn MacColl) “the blond”, “the white” comes from a tale of the cycle of the Fianna: everything begins with a bet between two sisters Aine (the goddess of love) and Moninne (the old goddess), Aine boasted that he would never have slept with a gray-haired man, so the first sister brought Fionn to the Slieve Gullion (in the form of a gray fawn she made Fionn pursue her in the heat of hunting by separating himself from the rest of his warriors), then turned into a beautiful girl in tears sitting by the lake to convince Fionn to dive and retrieve her ring. But the waters of the lake had been enchanted by the goddess to bring old age to those who immersed themselves (working in reverse of the sacred wells), so Fionn came out of the lake old and decrepit,and obviously with white hair. His companions, after having reached and recognized him, succeed in getting Cailleach to give him a magic potion that restores vigor to Fionn but leaves him with white hair! (see)

The Cailleach and Bride are probably the same goddess or the different manifestations of the same goddess, the old woman of the Winter and the Spring Maid in the cycle of death-rebirth-life of the ancient religion.

The ancient path to St Bline’s Well.

On the occasion of the patronal feast (pattern celebrations) of the Holy Moninna (July 6) a procession was held in Killeavy that started from St Blinne grave, headed to the sacred well along an ancient path, and then returned to the cemetery. A competition was held between teams of young people from various villages to make the most beautiful effigy of the Goddess, a faded memory of Beltane’s festivities to elect their own May Queen. During the procession the young people sang Amhrán Na Craoibhe accompanied by a dance, whose choreography was lost, each sentence is sung by the soloist to whom the choir responds. The melody is a variant of Cuacha Lán de Bhuí on the structure of an ancient carola (see)

One of the most spectacular high-level views in Ireland.
On a clear day, it’s possible to see from the peak (573 mt) as far as Lough Neagh, west of Belfast, and the Wicklow Mountains, south of Dublin.

Páidraigín Ní Uallacháin from“An Dealg  Óir” 2010

Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin & Sylvia Crawford live 2016 


English translation P.Ní Uallacháin*
My branch is the branch
of the fairy women,
Hey to him who takes her home,
hey to her;

The branch of the lasses
and the branch of the lads;
Hey to him who takes her home,
hey to her;

The branch of the maidens
made with pride;
Hey, young girls,
where will we get her a spouse?
We will get a lad
in the town for the bride (1),
A dauntless, swift, strong lad,
Who will bring this branch (2)
through the three nations,
From town to town
and back home to this place?
Two hundred horses
with gold bridles on their foreheads,
And two hundred cattle
on the side of each mountain,
And an equal amount
of sheep and of herds (3),
O, young girls, silver
and dowry for her,
We will carry her with us,
up to the roadway,
Where we will meet
two hundred young men,
They will meet us with their
caps in their fists,
Where we will have pleasure,
drink and sport (4),
Your branch is like
a pig in her sack (5),
Or like an old broken ship
would come into Carlingford (6),
We can return now
and the branch with us,
We can return since
we have joyfully won the day,
We won it last year
and we won it this year,
And as far as I hear
we have always won it.
Irish gaelic
‘S í mo chraobhsa
craobh na mban uasal
(Haigh dó a bheir i’ bhaile í
‘s a haigh di)

Craobh na gcailín is
craobh na mbuachaill;
(Haigh dó a bheir i’ bhaile í
‘s a haigh di).

Craobh na ngirseach
a rinneadh le huabhar,
Maise hóigh, a chaillíní,
cá bhfaigh’ muinn di nuachar?
Gheobh’ muinn buachaill
sa mbaile don bhanóig;
Buachaill urrúnta , lúdasach, láidir
A bhéarfas a ‘ghéag
seo di na trí náisiún,
Ó bhaile go baile è ar
ais go dtí an áit seo
Dhá chéad eachaí
è sriantaí óir ‘na n-éadan,
Is dhá chéad eallaigh
ar thaobh gach sléibhe,
È un oiread sin eile
de mholtaí de thréadtaí,
Óró, a chailíní, airgead
is spré di,
Tógfa ‘muinn linn í suas’
un a ‘bhóthair,
An áit a gcasfaidh
dúinn dhá chéad ógfhear,
Casfa ‘siad orainn’ sa gcuid
hataí ‘na ndorn leo,
An áit a mbeidh aiteas,
ól is spóirse,
È cosúil mbur gcraobh-na
le muc ina mála,
Nó le seanlong bhriste thiocfadh ‘steach i mBaile Chairlinn,
Féada ‘muinn tilleadh anois
è un’ chraobh linn,
Féada ‘muinn tilleadh,
tá an lá bainte go haoibhinn,
Bhain muinn anuraidh é
è bhain muinn i mbliana é,
è mar chluinimse bhain
muinn ariamh é.
May Garland

1) it is the May doll, but also the Queen of May personification of the female principle of fertility
2) the may garland made by women
3) heads of cattle in dowry that is the animals of the village that will be smashed by the fires of Beltane
4) after the procession the feast ended with a dance
5) derogatory sentences against other garlands carried by rival teams “a pig in a poke” is a careless purchase, instead of a pig in the bag could be a cat!
6) Lough Carlingford The name is derived from the Old Norse and in irsih is “Lough Cailleach”

7005638-albero-di-biancospino-sulla-strada-rurale-contro-il-cielo-bluThe hawthorn is the tree of Beltane, beloved to Belisama, grows as a shrub or as a tree of small size (only reaches 7 meters in height) widening the branches in all the directions, in search of the light upwards.
The branch of hawthorn and its flowers were used in the Celtic wedding rituals and in the ancient Greece and also for the ancient Romans it was the flower of marriage, a wish for happiness and prosperity.
The healing virtues of hawthorn were known since the Middle Ages: it is called the “valerian of the heart” because it acts on the blood flow improving its circulation and it is also used to counteract insomnia and states of anguish. see


The flowers are small, white and with delicate pinkish hues, sweetly scented. In areas with late blooms for Beltane the “mayers” use the branch of blackthorn,same family as the Rosaceae but with flowering already in March-April.


Amhrad Na Beltaine


Irish May Day (Beltane)

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May day is called in Ireland the “na Beal tina” or “the day of the fire of Beal” consecrated to Bel or Belenos. On the eve large fires are lit and the cattle are passed between them – as was the ancient custom of the Celts – custom still conserved in the Irish countryside with the belief that this preserves cows from diseases and from Good People (wee folk).

All hearths were extinguished at sunset and rekindled with the embers of the collective bonfire only the next day (and still today in Ballymenone county of Fermanagh).
The cattle were then taken to the summer pastures, where they remained until Samahin, watching by a buachaill.


Fee74aBeltane is a crucial day in the season (Winter ends and Summer begins) and fairie can more easily make contact with the world of humans. The eve is a day in which you have to pay the most attention, because the fairy people (Good People for the Irish) can be very spiteful and even the malefics are more effective. So no Irish woman would ever taking her newborn for a walk outside so as not to risk finding a challenger in return. In particular, youth and beauty can arouse the envy of fairies and therefore even the beautiful girls are indoors.
In general it is popular belief that illnesses or injuries occurring on the May Eve are the most difficult to cure. So it is a good idea to always leave the house with an iron amulet around your neck or in your pocket and leave an offer of food to the fairies!


Mummers were typical beggars during the nineteenth century, masked figures equivalent to the English Morris dance. Thomas Crofton Croker in “The Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland” (published in 1825) reports many Irish traditions of May and describes precisely the May Mummers; in short, Croker tells us that during his trip to the south of Ireland he witnessed the May festival, which is the favorite of the Mummers: a group of girls and boys from the village or neighborhood who march in procession in a row for two, the men are dressed in white with brightly colored jackets or waistcoats and carry colored ribbons on their hats and on their sleeves and even the women are dressed in white or in light colors. A pair of girls carries a holly bush for each, decorated with many colored ribbons with hanging many new hurling balls (a popular sport that begins in May), a May gift for young people in the village. The procession is preceded by musicians, bagpipes or pipes and drums. There is a clown wearing a scary mask and bearing a long pole with scraps of fabric on top (like a broom) that plunges into the water and shakes it around the crowd to keep the little ones entertained.
The masks parade through the villages or go from house to house dancing to receive money and spend the evening with a cheerful and colossal drink.

The Procession of the May Queen Herbert Wilson Foster (1846–1929)


May Pole and the dances around the pole are quite common in Ireland, Holywood town in Northern Ireland is famous for its May tree erected in the middle of a crossroads: according to local tradition it dates back to 1700 (taken from the mast of a ship) and is still a place for dances to the annual May festival.

Holywood Pole

But the most typical custom is to cut a branch of hawthorn (or rowan) and plant it next to the door or put it on outside the door, making a garland with yellow flowers (primroses, marigolds and buttercups) and colored ribbons.
From this tradition was born the May basket crafted by the childrenand and filled with fresh flowers, to be left – secretly – next to the door of the neighbors or beloved one. With this auspicious token, the inhabitants are protected from fairies, because fairies cannot overcome these flowered barriers.


The herbs harvested before sunrise in May Day have better healing properties especially to treat warts. When butter production was a homemade churning process, the first butter produced with milk from May Day was considered the best to prepare ointments.

Another custom of the eve was a good whipping with nettles and the children went around running with a bunch of nettles to hit the comrades or the unfortunate bystanders; their task was to collect the shoots of nettles to bring home to the kitchen pantry. Known as a purifying and detoxifying herb since ancient times, nettle was in fact used in the preparation of soups and the Irish rural tradition recommended eating nettles in May to treat or prevent rheumatism. Even in ancient Rome it was recommended to those who suffered from rheumatism or rheumatoid arthritis to roll in the nettle. see more

Nettles once rivaled linen and hemp as weaving fiber, for sails, clothes and household linen.


Beltane Fire Festival of Edinburgh

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In the small park of Calton Hill in the middle of Edinburgh is held the most spectacular Beltane festival in Europe, the Beltane Fire Festival organized by the Beltane Fire Society, a community of artists founded in 1988.
On the night of 30 April the Beltane fire feast is re-acting according to ancient customs, but with a hint of theatricality and modern spectacularization that make it unique: obviously the fire is the dominant element and yet it is the contour of a ritual narration, the awakening of the Green Man, with a succession of acrobatic dance performances and choreographies full of costumed characters: hundreds of figures embody divinities and spirits of Nature that inhabit Gaelic mythology.

The particularity of this festival is that you can attend the feast as spectator but also participate as performer, after registration and attendance of some open meetings that are held a few months before the event; you can choose from a series of groups predefined by the organization (see)
The event is an happening in progress, the starting point is the National Monument of Scotland, built in the first half of the nineteenth century, known as Acropolis because inspired by the Parthenon of Athens.
Over the centuries on the hill overlooking Edinburgh, Greek-themed monuments have been erected, with the will to create a sort of a timeless space that emphasizes the sense of distance from the city. Entire Calton Hill is a succession of folly architecture buildings that are an exercise in style, such as a fake ruin or a classical temple.

From the Acropolis the parade proceeds along a pre-established path to the rhythm of the drums. At the head, the May Queen and the Green Man with their court; in parallel to the main procession there are a series of counter-performances and traveling groups that have evolved to balance the strong turnout of visitors and revive even the most dark corners of the park. As the procession approaches, the groups come to life and continue to play a part throughout the evening; the hill comes alive, reflecting the awakening of the earth at the passage of spring.

Dancers and acrobats, fires, sounds of horns and drums, men (and women) painted by blue, green, red and white, to represent the 4 natural elements (air, water, earth and fire): the heart of the spark are the White Bride and the Green Man, the feminine and male principle that with their sacred union light the Beltane fire.
And then…. dances, songs, and dances will follow throughout the night.


Beltane Fire Festival di Edimburgo

Read the post in English

Nel piccolo parco di Calton Hill al centro di Edimburgo si tiene la festa di Beltane più spettacolare d’Europa, il  Beltane Fire Festival organizzato dalla  Beltane Fire Society, una comunità di artisti fondata nel 1988.
Nella notte del 30 aprile viene rievocata la festa del fuoco di Beltane secondo le antiche consuetudini, ma con un pizzico di teatralità e di moderna spettacolarizzazione che la rendono unica: ovviamente il fuoco è l’elemento dominante eppure è di contorno alla narrazione di un rito,  il risveglio dell’Uomo Verde,  con un susseguirsi danze tavolta acrobatiche e coreografie ricche di personaggi in costume : centinaia di figuranti incarnano divinità e spiriti della Natura che popolano la mitologia gaelica.

Il bello di questo festival è che si può assistere alla festa come spettatori ma anche parteciparvi come performers, previa iscrizione e frequentazione di serie di open meeting che si tengono qualche mese prima dell’evento; si possono scegliere tra una serie di gruppi predefiniti dall’organizzazione (vedi)
L’evento è un happening in progress, il luogo di partenza è il National Monument of Scotland, costruito nella prima metà dell’Ottocento, noto come Acropoli  perchè ispirato al Partenone di Atene.
Nel corso dei secoli  sulla collinetta che domina Edimburgo sono stati eretti monumenti a tema greco, con la volontà di creare una sorta di sorta di spazio atemporale che enfatizzasse il senso di lontananza rispetto alla città. Tutta Calton Hill è un susseguirsi di folly architecture  edifici che sono un esercizio di stile, come una finta rovina o un tempio classico.

Dall’Acropoli il corteo procede in senso antiorario lungo un percorso prestabilito a ritmo di tamburo. Alla testa, la Regina di Maggio (May Queen) e l’Uomo Verde (Green Man) e la loro corte, parallelamente al corteo principale si svolgono tutta una serie di  contro-esibizioni e gruppi itineranti che si sono evoluti per bilanciare la forte affluenza dei visitatori e ravvivare anche gli angoli più in ombra del parco. Man mano che la processione si avvicina  i gruppi prendono vita e continuando a recitare una parte per tutta la sera; la collina si anima, rispecchiando il risveglio della terra al passaggio della primavera.

Ballerini e acrobati, fuochi, suoni di corni e di tamburi, uomini dipinti di blu, verde, rosso e bianco, per rappresentare i 4 elementi naturali (aria, acqua, terra e fuoco), e il cuore della scintilla sono la bianca dea della Primavera e l’Uomo Verde, il principio femminile e quello maschile che con la loro unione sacra accendono il fuoco di Beltane.
E poi…. danze, canti, e balli seguiranno per tutta la notte.


Tam Lin by Fairport Convention vs Steeleye Span

The traditional ballad of the Elven Knight Tam Lin, is of Scottish origin and dates back to the late Middle Ages.
A melody called “Young Thomlin” dates back to the 1600s, but historians stated the origin of the ballad since the 13th century. The ballad was transcribed by Robert Burns in 1792 (in Johnson’s Scots Musical Museum) and is one of the ballad variants collected by Francis James Child in his “The English and Scottish Popular Ballads”, Child Ballad # 39 A (42 stanzas)
Musical Notation

A ballad that is also a fairy tale for children full of hidden meanings and symbolism.
(first part introduction and texts / versions list)
[La ballata tradizionale del Cavaliere elfico Tam Lin, è di origine scozzese e risale al tardo Medioevo. 
Una melodia dal nome “Young Thomlin” è del 1600, ma gli storici riallacciano l’origine della ballata fin dal XIII secolo. La ballata è stata trascritta da Robert Burns nel 1792 (in Johnson’s Museum) e costituisce una delle varianti collezionate da Francis James Child in “The English and Scottish Popular Ballads“, Child Ballad # 39 A (42 strofe)
Musical Notation

Una ballata che è anche una fiaba per bambini ricca di significati nascosti e simbolismi.
(prima parte introduzione e elenco testi/ versioni)]


Stephanie Law: Janet in the sacred wood picks up a rose. Although it is not explicitly mentioned the month of May it is quite clear that the season in which the beautiful Janet and the elf meet is Spring, since roses have just blossomed: we are in the realm of fairies – who love roses – and therefore they make them grow where they want, we imagine them in the wild variety, the small roses with five petals. [Janet nel bosco sacro raccoglie una rosa. Anche se non è espressamente citato il mese di Maggio è del tutto evidente che la stagione in cui si incontrano la bella Janet e l’elfo è la primavera, essendo appena sbocciate le rose: siamo nel regno delle fate -che amano le rose- e quindi le fanno crescere dove vogliono, ce le immaginiamo nella varietà selvatica (rosa canina), le piccole roselline dai cinque petali ]

The whole first part of the ballad is a clear allusion to the first sexual experience, voluntarily sought by the girl who enters the sacred wood attracted by the scent of wild roses, it is Spring and with the awakening of Nature also the blood flows faster in the veins and the heart beats by love: the rose is also the “rose of roses” and the cloak that covers the modesty of the woman (and represents the paternal protection) must be left in pawn and then lost, I do not therefore complety agree with the interpretations that they see the relationship between the two as a male violence, indeed there are all the signs of an ancient ritual of sexual initiation.
Tutta la prima parte della ballata è una chiara allusione alla prima esperienza sessuale, volontariamente ricercata dalla fanciulla che si addentra nel bosco sacro attratta dal profumo delle rose selvatiche, è Primavera e con il risveglio della Natura anche il sangue scorre più velocemente nelle vene e il cuore batte smanioso d’amore: la rosa è anche “la rosa delle rose” femminile e il mantello che copre il pudore della donna (e rappresenta la protezione paterna) deve essere lasciato in pegno e quindi perso, non concordo perciò con le interpretazioni che vedono il rapporto tra i due come una violenza da parte maschile, anzi ci sono tutti i segni di un antico rituale di iniziazione sessuale.


Stephanie Law: dettaglio della schiera fatata, la regina delle fate

The second part takes place on Winter during the Celtic feast of Samain, and it’s about the test that our heroine must overcome to free the elf: the illusions of the fairy queen will make her believe that she is witnessing the transformation of Tam Lin into a dragon (or snake) and in bear; but she will have to show courage and true love to keep the knight with her arms (in the extended version Janet will have to make one last effort and throw the knight into the water of the sacred well.)
A similar theme of transmutation in animals is present in the Cretan tale of Thetis and Peleus, the parents of Achilles, and in fact the two stories are similar but in the Greek myth the woman is a nereid and she’ll transform before becoming human.
La seconda parte si svolge nell’inverno durante la festa celtica di Samain, con le prove che la nostra eroina deve superare per liberare l’elfo: le illusioni della regina delle fate le faranno credere di assistere alla trasformazione di Tam Lin in drago (o serpente) e in orso; ma lei dovrà dare prova di coraggio e di grande amore e tenere stretto a sè il cavaliere fino a quando comparirà nudo tra le sue braccia (nella versione estesa Janet dovrà compiere un ultimo sforzo e gettare il cavaliere nelle acque del pozzo.)
Un tema simile di trasmutazione in animali è presente nella favola cretese di Thetis e Peleus ovvero i genitori di Achille, e in effetti i due racconti sono simili ma nel mito greco è la donna ad essere una nereide e a trasformarsi prima di poter diventare umana.

However, always looking for traces of ancient teachings in the ballad, we can read the second part as a metaphor of childbirth.
Sempre però cercando nella ballata le tracce di antichi insegnamenti, possiamo leggere la seconda parte come una metafora del parto.


In the illustration (fairytale, dreamy) of Stephanie Law we see the fairies riding on the bridge, (and the white horse of Tam Lin). The moon is waning, but the detail is wrong because the night of Samain coincides with the new moon. The ballad does not have a happy ending because the fairy queen casts a mortal curse on the woman.
Nella illustrazione (fiabesca, sognante) di Stephanie Law vediamo il passaggio della schiera fatata sul ponte, ove si distingue il cavallo bianco di Tam Lin. La luna è calante, ma il dettaglio è errato perché la notte di Samain coincide con la luna nuova (la data una volta non era fissa, ma era regolata sul calendario lunare). La ballata non ha un lieto fine perché la regina delle fate lancia una maledizione mortale sulla donna.

Fairport Convention (voice Sandy Denny) in “Liege and Lief” , 1969. There are no words, simply mythical!
Non ci sono parole, semplicemente mitici!

Fairport Convention in “Fairport’s Sense of Occasion” album (2007)

English version*
“I forbid you maidens all
that wear gold in your hair (1)
To travel to Carter Hall (2)
for young Tam Lin is there
None that go by Carter Hall
but they leave him a pledge
Either their mantles of green
or else their maidenhead”.
Janet tied her kirtle green
a bit above her knee
And she’s gone to Carter Hall
as fast as go can she.
She’d not pulled a double rose,
a rose but only two
When up there came young Tam Lin
says “Lady, pull no more”.
“And why come you to Carter Hall
without command from me?” (3)
“I’ll come and go”, young Janet said,
“and ask no leave of thee”.
Janet tied her kirtle green
a bit above her knee
And she’s gone to her father
as fast as go can she
Well, up then spoke her father dear
and he spoke meek and mild
“Oh, and alas, Janet,” he said,
“I think you go with child” (4)
“Well, if that be so,” Janet said,
“myself shall bear the blame
There’s not a knight in all your hall
shall get the baby’s name
For if my love were an earthly knight
as he is an elfin grey
I’d not change my own true love
for any knight you have”
Janet tied her kirtle green
a bit above her knee
And she’s gone to Carter Hall
as fast as go can she
“Oh, tell to me, Tam Lin,” she said,
“why came you here to dwell?”
“The Queen of Faeries caught me
when from my horse I fell
And at the end of seven years (5)
she pays a tithe to hell
I so fair and full of flesh
and feared it be myself
But tonight is Hallowe’en
and the faery folk ride
Those that would their true love win
at Miles Cross they must buy.
So first let past the horses black
and then let past the brown
Quickly run to the white steed (6)
and pull the rider down
For I’ll ride on the white steed,
the nearest to the town
For I was an earthly knight,
they give me that renown
Oh, they will turn me
in your arms to a newt or a snake
But hold me tight and fear not,
I am your baby’s father.
And they will turn me
in your arms into a lion bold
But hold me tight and fear not
and you will love your child.
And they will turn me
in your arms into a naked knight
But cloak me in your mantle
and keep me out of sight.”
In the middle of the night
she heard the bridle ring
She heeded what he did say
and young Tam Lin did win
Then up spoke the Faery Queen,
an angry queen was she
“Woe betide her ill-farred face,
an ill death may she die”
“Oh, had I known, Tam Lin,” she said,
“what this knight I did see
I have looked him in the eyes 
and turned him to a tree”
Traduzione italiana in rima di Maurizio**
Attente voi tutte fanciulle
che avete il capello dorato (1)
all’Argine dei Biancospini (2)
che da Tamlino è abitato!
Chi passa per i Biancospini
un pegno lasciare dovrà:
Il verde mantello che porta
o la sua verginità.
Giovanna con la veste verde
che scopre le gambe di un po’
all’Argine dei Biancospini
corre più svelta che può.
Aveva già colto una rosa
un’altra voleva staccare
Ed ecco, le appare Tamlino:
“Donna, non me le toccare!
Perché vieni qui ai Biancospini
se non hai l’invito da me? (3)”
“Io vado dovunque mi pare,
non devo chiederlo a te!”
Giovanna con la veste verde
che scopre le gambe di un po’
a casa dai suoi genitori
corre più svelta che può.
Il padre la guarda e le parla,
la voce è un sommesso bisbiglio
“Ahimè mia Giovanna” le dice
“Credo che tu aspetti un figlio.” (4)
“Se è vero” risponde Giovanna
“Io sola e soltanto so come,
nessuno dei tuoi cavalieri
può dare al bimbo il suo nome.
Se solo il mio amore
non fosse un elfo verdastro e fatato!
Perché non lo voglio cambiare
con chi è del nostro casato.”
Giovanna con la veste verde
che scopre le gambe di un po’
All’Argine dei Biancospini
corre più svelta che può”Tamlino,
Raccontami” dice
“Perché vivi qui in questo stallo?”
“La Fata Regina mi prese
quando cascai dal cavallo.
Al settimo anno (5) lei deve
pagare all’inferno un balzello,
un uomo piacevole e forte:
temo che io sarò quello.
Ma questa è la notte dei Santi
e tu mi puoi ancora salvare,
ché passa il corteo delle fate:
devi a un incrocio aspettare.
Tu lascia passare i cavalli
che han pelo nero o marrone,
Ma quando vedrai quello bianco (6)
tira giù chi è sull’arcione,
perché io sarò il cavaliere
che ti troverai fra le mani:
Il bianco destriero è un onore
solo per gli esseri umani.
Allora sarò trasformato
in drago o serpente fischiante
ma stringimi senza temere,
pensa che sono il tuo amante.
Allora sarò trasformato
in orso o leone ferino
ma stringimi senza temere,
son il padre del tuo bambino.
Infine sarò trasformato
in un cavaliere spogliato
avvolgimi nel tuo mantello,
tienimi bene celato(7)”
Giovanna nella notte fonda
ascolta il corteo scalpitare
fa come Tamlino le ha detto
e lo riesce a salvare.
La Fata Regina si volta
le parla con voce furiosa:
“Tu sia maledetta,
tu muoia di morte assai dolorosa.
Se avessi saputo, Tamlino,
di avere da te questo sdegno
ti avrei trasformato con gli occhi
in un bel pezzo di legno!”

* lyrics: Child Ballad # 39A ; Fairport Convention  
**tratto da vedi –un’altra traduzione in italiano qui
1) In the Middle Ages it was customary for maidens to wear gold clasps (or golden nets, headbands) in their long hair; the minstrel then addresses the virgin girls to warn them not to venture into the forest of Carterhaugh because it is inhabited by an elf (it is known that the elves are excellent lovers and eager to conquer the virtue of virgins maidens!)
wear gold in your hair: il traduttore italiano scrive “capello dorato”. Nel Medioevo era costume per le ragazze da marito portare dei fermagli d’oro (o retine dorate, cerchietti) nei capelli; il menestrello quindi si rivolge alle fanciulle vergini per avvertirle di non avventurarsi nel bosco di Carterhaugh perché è abitato da un elfo (è noto che gli elfi siano ottimi amanti nonché bramosi di conquistare la virtù di vergini fanciulle!).
2) the story is set in a real and well-identified place, the Carterhaugh wood still existing in Selkirk (in the Scottish Border) where the Ettrick and Yarrow rivers flow together (see)
la storia è ambientata in un luogo reale e ben identificato, il bosco di Carterhaugh tuttora esistente a Selkirk (nel Border scozzese) dove confluiscono i fiumi Ettrick e Yarrow (vedi)
3) before entering the greenwood (the sacred wood) it is necessary to ask permission of the fairies that inhabit it, Lady Janet being the owner of the forest behaves incautiously. The gift requested by the fairies is symbolic: the cloak that covers the modesty of the woman (and represents the paternal protection) must be left in a pledge and then lost.
prima di entrare nel greenwood ossia nel bosco sacro è necessario chiedere il permesso delle fate che lo abitano, Lady Janet essendo la proprietaria del bosco si comporta in modo incauto. Il dono richiesto dalle fate è simbolico: il mantello che copre il pudore della donna (e rappresenta la protezione paterna) deve essere lasciato in pegno e quindi perso. 
4) The sexual relationship between the two here is not explicit, but the father after a while notices the pregnancy of his daughter and she proudly claims the paternity to the elf not accepting any other shotgun wedding.
Il rapporto sessuale tra i due qui non è esplicitato, ma il padre dopo un po’ si accorge della gravidanza della figlia ed ella rivendica con orgoglio la paternità all’elfo non accettando nessun altro matrimonio riparatore.
5) seven years is a symbolic period to indicate a punishment, once it was also the duration of an apprenticeship to learn a trade, but also the legal duration to be able to declare a missing person legally dead. Is a transitional position of Tam Lin thus emerging: a prisoner, a magician’s apprentice or a man waiting to pass definitively in the Fairy World?
The period is about to expire with the night of Halloween, one of the most important Celtic festivals with that of Beltane: the winter festival (called Samhain).
The young knight went to hunt with impunity in the sacred wood, profaning the taboo of inviolability, so the fairy queen is keeping him prisoner. Here is quoted, very Christianly, the tribute (the tenth) that the fairies must pay to the devil, an allusion to the human sacrifices that the pagans due to their deities! This explains, in a Christian perspective, the fairy abductions: the love of the dame sans merci leads straight to hell!
sette anni è un periodo simbolico per indicare una punizione, una volta era anche la durata di un apprendistato per imparare un mestiere, ma anche la durata giuridica per poter dichiarare legalmente morta una persona scomparsa. Viene così a delinearsi una posizione transitoria di Tam lin: un prigioniero, un apprendista mago o un uomo in attesa di passare definitivamente nel Mondo delle Fate? Il periodo sta per scadere con la notte di Halloween, una delle feste celtiche più importante con quella di Beltane: ossia la festa dell’Inverno (detta Samhain). 
Un giovane cavaliere è andato a cacciare impunemente nel bosco sacro, profanando il tabù dell’inviolabilità, così la regina delle fate lo tiene prigioniero. Qui è citato, molto cristianamente, il tributo (la decima) che le fate devono versare al diavolo, un’allusione ai sacrifici umani che si credeva facessero i pagani alle divinità boschive! Si spiegano così, in un ottica cristiana, i rapimenti fatati: l’amore della dame sans merci porta dritto all’inferno!
6) the white horse reserved to Tam Lin indicates his particular beauty, his purity as a human not yet completely transformed into an elf
il cavallo bianco riservato a Tam Lin indica la sua particolare bellezza, la sua purezza in quanto umano non ancora trasformato completamente in elfo 
7)  it is the green mantle of Janet to protect the man “reborn” from the queen of fairies, which precisely because of its magical color will hide his escape (but also a bit ‘of realism it takes after all we are in November!)
è il mantello verde di Janet a proteggere l’uomo “rinato” dalla regina delle fate, che proprio per il suo colore magico lo coprirà nella fuga (ma anche un po’ di realismo ci vuole dopotutto siamo a novembre!)

Steeleye Span in  “Tonight’s the Night…, Live” 1992
the song is divided into two parts (12 + 12) and also the melody changes, first more rhythmic and lively, it becomes slow and twilight in the second part, the last 4 stanzas change again: it is the curse of the fairy, almost a spoken
il brano è diviso in due parti (12+12) e anche la melodia cambia, prima più cadenzata e vivace, diventa lenta e crepuscolare nella seconda parte, le ultime 4 strofe cambiano ancora: è la maledizione della fata, quasi un parlato

oh, I forbid you maidens all
that wear gold in your hair.
to come or go by Carterhaugh
for young tam lin is there.
If you go by Carterhaugh
you must leave him a wad.
either your rings or green mantle
or else your maidenhead.
she’s away o’er gravel green
and o’er the gravel brown.
she’s away to carterhaugh
to flower herself a gown.
she had not pulled a rosy rose
a rose but barely one.
when by came this brisk young man
says, lady let alone.
how dare you pull my rose, madam?
how dare you break my tree?
how dare you come to carterhaugh
without the leave of me?
well may I pull the rose, she said
well may I break the tree.
for carterhaugh it my father’s
I’ll ask no leave of thee.
oh, in carterhaugh, in carterhaugh
oh, in carterhaugh, in carterhaugh
he’s taken her by the milk-white hand
and there he’s laid her down.
and there he asked no leave of her
as she lay on the ground.
oh tell me, tell me, then she said
oh tell me who art thee.
my name it is tam lin, he said
and this is my story.
As it fell out upon a day
a-hunting I did ride.
there came a wind out of the north
and pulled me betide.
And drowsy, drowsy as I was
the sleep upon me fell.
the queen of fairies she was there
and took me to herself.
oh, in carterhaugh, in carterhaugh
oh, in carterhaugh, in carterhaugh
at the end of every seven years
they pay a tithe to hell.
and I’m so fair and full of flesh
I’m feared ‘twill be myself.
Tonight it is good halloween
the fairy court will ride.
and if you would your true love win
at miles cross, you must bide.
oh, in carterhaugh, in carterhaugh
oh, in carterhaugh, in carterhaugh
Gloomy was the night
and eerie was the way.
this lady in her green mantle
to miles cross she did go.
With the holy water in her hand
she cast the compass round.
at twelve o’clock the fairy court
came riding o’er the mound.
First came by the black steed
and then came by the brown.
then Tam lin on the milk-white steed
with a gold star in his crown.
She’s pulled him down into her arms
and let the bridle fall.
The queen of fairies she cried out
Young Tam lin is away.
They’ve shaped him in her arms
an adder or a snake.
she’s held him fast and feared him not
to be her earthly mate.
They’ve shaped him in her arms again
fire burning bold.
she’s held him fast and feared him not
till he was iron cold.
They’ve shaped him in her arms
to a wood black dog so wild.
she’s held him fast and feared him not
the father of her child.
They’ve shaped him in her arms
at last into a naked man.
she’s wrapped him in the green mantle
and knew that she had him won.
The queen of fairies she cried out
young Tam lin is away.
Had I known, had I known, Tam lin
long before, long before you came from home.
had I known, I would have taken out your heart
and put in a heart of stone.
Had I known, had I known, Tam lin
that a lady, a lady would steal thee.
had I known, I would have taken out your eyes
and put in two from a tree.
Had I known, had I known, Tam lin
that I would lose, that I would lose the day.
had I known, I would have paid my tithe to hell
before you’d been won away.
traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
E’ proibito a tutte le fanciulle
che portano l’oro nei capelli 
di venire o andare a Carterhaugh
che il giovane Tam Lin vi dimora!
Se andate a Carterhaugh
un pegno dovete lasciare:
o l’anello o il verde mantello
o la vostra verginità.
Lei scappò sul sentiero verde
e sul sentiero di terra
scappò a Carterhaugh
per decorare di fiori il vestito
Aveva appena colto una rosa
una rosa soltanto
quando questo bel giovane appare
e dice: “Donna, lascia stare!
Come osi cogliere le mie rose, madama?
Come osi spezzare i miei rami?
Come osi venire a Carterhaugh
senza il mio permesso?”
“Io posso cogliere le rose
e posso spezzare i rami
perchè Carterhaugh è di mio padre
e non ti chiederò il permesso”
oh, a carterhaugh, a carterhaugh
oh, a carterhaugh, a carterhaugh
La prende per la bianca mano
e la stende a terra
e là non le chiede il permesso
mentre lei giace a terra
“Dimmi oh dimmi -poi disse lei-
dimmi il tuo nome”
“Il mio nome è Tam Lin- disse lui-
e questa è la mia storia
Accadde un giorno
che cavalcavo per la caccia,
venne un vento dal nord
e mi spinse via
E intontito come ero
cadde su di me il sonno
la regina delle fate era là
e mi prese con se
oh, a carterhaugh, a carterhaugh
oh, a carterhaugh, a carterhaugh
Alla fine di ogni sette anni
si paga un tributo all’inferno
e io sono così bello e forte
che temo toccherà a me
Stanotte è la notte di Halloween
e la corte fatata cavalcherà
e se vuoi conquistare il tuo vero amore
al Bivio della Croce devi aspettare
oh, a carterhaugh, a carterhaugh
oh, a carterhaugh, a carterhaugh
Tenebrosa era la notte
e scura era la strada
questa dama nel suo mantello verde
andò al Bivio della Croce
Con l’acqua santa in mano
posò la bussola 
a mezzanotte in punto la corte fatata
venne cavalcando dal tumulo
Per primo passò il destriero nero
e poi quello baio
e quindi Tam Lin sul destriero bianco
con una stella dorata sulla corona
Lei lo attirò tra le sue braccia
e fece cadere la briglia.
Gridò la regina delle Fate
“Il giovane Tam lin è scappato”
Si trasformò tra le sue braccia
in una vipera o un serpente
ma lei lo tenne stretto e senza temerlo
era il suo compagno umano
Si trasformò tra le sue braccia ancora
in un feroce fuoco ardente
ma lei lo tenne stretto e senza temerlo
finchè divenne freddo ferro
Si trasformò tra le sue braccia 
in un cane nero del bosco e selvaggio
ma lei lo tenne stretto e senza temerlo 
era il padre di suo figlio
Si trasformò tra le sue braccia 
infine in un uomo nudo
e lei lo avvolse nel mantello verde
e seppe di averlo conquistato
Gridò la regina delle Fate
“Il giovane Tam lin è scappato”
“Se avessi saputo, se avessi saputo Tam Lin
molto tempo prima quando arrivasti da casa
se avessi saputo, ti avrei cavato il cuore
e messo un cuore di pietra
Se avessi saputo, avessi saputo Tam Lin 
che una dama, una dama ti avrebbe rubato,
se l’avessi saputo ti avrei cavato gli occhi
e messi altri due di legno
Se avessi saputo, avessi saputo Tam Lin
che ti avrei perduto che ti avrei perduto un giorno, se l’avessi saputo avrei pagato
il mio tributo all’inferno prima”



I festeggiamenti intorno al fuoco di Beltane avevano caratteristiche rituali comunitarie a sfondo orgiastico e il parallelo corre ai riti dionisiaci cadenzati da aulos doppi e tamburi. vedigreci

ASCOLTA Synaulia

ASCOLTA Wardruna  (per il versante germano-scandinavo)



Dal film-cult The Wicker man (1973): il canto-danza è una sorta di lezione-studio di partenogenesi in cui delle giovani fanciulle per essere rese fertili dal Fuoco, saltano sulla fiamma .

dal film The Wicker Man Lezione di partenogenesi

Lord Summerisle: Well I’m confident your suspicions are wrong, Sergeant. We don’t commit murder here. We’re a deeply religious people.
Sergeant Howie: Religious? With ruined churches, no ministers, no priests… and children dancing naked!
Lord Summerisle: They do love their divinity lessons.
Sergeant Howie: [outraged] But they are… are *naked*!
Lord Summerisle: Naturally! It’s much too dangerous to jump through the fire with your clothes on!
Sergeant Howie: What religion can they possibly be learning jumping over bonfires?
Lord Summerisle: Parthenogenesis.
Sergeant Howie: What?
Lord Summerisle: Literally, as Miss Rose would doubtless say in her assiduous way, reproduction without sexual union.
Sergeant Howie: Oh, what is all this? I mean, you’ve got fake biology, fake religion… Sir, have these children never heard of Jesus?
Lord Summerisle: Himself the son of a virgin, impregnated, I believe, by a ghost…
Sergeant Howie: And what of the TRUE God? Whose glory, churches and monasteries have been built on these islands for generations past? Now sir, what of him?
Lord Summerisle: He’s dead. Can’t complain, had his chance and in modern parlance, blew it.

ASCOLTA Per “Fire Leap” ovvero “Take the flame within you” Paul Giovanni ha composto una melodia medioevale, di flauti e zufoli, cadenzata ma non frenetica, non proprio una musica dionisiaca.
Secondo la versione ufficiale la maggior parte dei testi scritti per l’occasione provengono dalle raccolte di musica tradizionale di Cecil Sharpe, e riscritti dallo sceneggiatore Anthony Shaffer (ma al momento per questo canto in particolare non ho ancora trovato riscontro)

Take the flame inside you
Burn and burn below
Fire seed and fire feed
To make the baby grow
Take the flame inside you
Burn and burn belay(1)
Fire seed and fire feed
To make the baby stay
Take the flame inside you
Burn and burn belong
Fire seed and fire feed
And make the baby strong
Take the flame inside you
Burn and burn belie(2)
Fire seed and fire feed
To make the baby cry(3)
Take the flame inside you
Burn and burn begin
Fire seed and fire feed
To make the baby King
Prendi la fiamma dentro di te
brucia e brucia da sotto
il fuoco è seme e nutrimento
per far nascere il bambino
Prendi la fiamma dentro di te
brucia e brucia il legame
il fuoco è seme e nutrimento
per accogliere il bambino
Prendi la fiamma dentro di te
brucia e brucia da tanto
il fuoco è seme e nutrimento
per far diventare il bambino forte
Prendi la fiamma dentro di te
brucia e brucia le impurità
il fuoco è seme e nutrimento
per far piangere il bambino
Prendi la fiamma dentro di te
brucia e brucia dall’inizio
il fuoco è seme e nutrimento
per fare il bambino Re

1) nelle strofe si ripetono parole assonanti composte con il verdo be: below, belay, belong, belie, begin che creano un’allitterazione
2) belie è una contrazione di belied, belying, io l’ho tradotto un po’ liberamente
3) credo si riferisca al vagito del bambino al momento della nascita