Reply To: Shadows of Samhain

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    There is also the Black Toad, and dancing around a churchyard on halloween, can bring you in contact with the power of the Black Toad, who seems to be an evil spirit, and appears as large as a person. There is also the Bucca Dhu. Plus there are toad doctors and cunning men. So a lot of sickness and misfortune was blamed on curses. and this may be why some people are terrified of Neo-pagans. there is a place in Cornwall called the Logging Stones that are associated with witches. I feel if one wanted to find real witches, then Cornwall and the West Country would be the place that some of them are. And there is a lot of talk of the witches making packs with the devil, or the Bucca Dhu. Some places in the world are more magical than others, and Cornwall is a power spot. Do you have black toads around where you live, and what do you think about the magical power of black toads.

    There’s a lot of superstition surrounding toads in the British Isles and, rather, grimly a dried toad or toad bones were also part of a witch’s “kit” so to speak. The West Country, in particular, Cornwall had a class of people known as pellars, people who could charm warts, lift curses and suchlike. The origin of the word is debated, but it could be derived from an “expeller”, i.e. a person who gets rid of, expels, bad magic. The “power” was passed through the bloodline and/or from male to female or female to male, as I understand it, you couldn’t just choose to become one.

    The bucca was not the Devil, I don’t know how people have arrived at that idea. The bucca was an entity, like a pisky, elf or fairy, and in fishing communities in the West of Cornwall, the fishermen would propitiate the bucca for a good catch and a safe trip. These practices continued until the 19th century. I doubt the mostly Methodist/Wesleyan fishermen of West Cornwall were worshipping the Devil somehow. The thing is that there seems to have been such a great degree of syncretism throughout the ages that there was no real issue in the minds of the people about being Christians of a sort, but also propitiating the bucca, calling on the Cornish saints for help, using megalithic sites for magical cures, venerating holy wells and springs and trying not to anger the Good People or going to a pellar or “white witch” to have a curse lifted. Our old Cornish culture is like a scrapbook whose beginnings are lost in the mists of time, but which continues right up to modern times. I think that some elements of traditional Romany folklore and custom have also been mixed into the beliefs of the rural people too.

    Logan stones are rocking stones that are said to have a wide variety of powers, but typically they will not rock for a liar or dishonest-hearted person – only the true king can pull the sword from the stone? Perhaps a similar idea?

    As for toads, quite a lot pass through my family’s garden and they are never harmed, although I do remember when one came into the kitchen and sat on the doormat croaking, so much so that it alarmed my mother. An older relative said that this toad was bringing an important message and, that very weekend, there was an unexpected death in the family. I’ll leave you to think about that one.

    A lot of these beliefs have died out and are only really found in folklore books or revivals, however, some of them haven’t and, as a young lad, I saw with my own eyes a curse displayed in a front garden for all to read.

    Cornwall is a power spot.

    The Devil has no power in Cornwall, he looked across the Tamar River and saw a land filled with so many saints that he turned round and stayed in England … as the folk story goes. 😀 Bear in mind that many of these saints are Celtic saints whose legends make them resemble more the druids of old than what many people today would consider a Christian saint.