Research – Dorsetshire Folk Lore

Wise Woman   A Dorsetshire peasant and master consulted the wise woman or “cunning-man” of the neighbourhood whenever he believed himself or his property to be under the “evil eye”. People visited them from afar for the efficacy of their spells and charms.

Ref: Particular wise woman who picks her herbs at midnight on the full moon as they are more potent then. She stands in front of a trap with a sick patient in it and makes great flourishes in the air with a willow wand, probably exorcising some demon. Possibly suggestions of an evil eye and flourishing of the wand are only adjuncts to play on the ignorance of her patients. Real cures come from herbal remedies.


It is unlucky to turn back to fetch something once a journey has started.

A dry summer never begs its bread – a fine dry summer is good for crops, particularly wheat.

Let the blood stand still as the waters did in the River of Jordan, in the name of the father etc. Amen – nose-bleeding charm.

Omens signified by magpies:   One for anger, two for mirth, three for a wedding, four for a birth.

A snake skin worn on the hat or bonnet – a remedy for headache.

You should never eat pig’s brains as it makes you tell all that you know.

Cuckoo – if heard after Midsummer’s Day or in church you won’t live the year out.

If a woodpecker is heard frequently in a wood (laughing cry) it is a sign of rain.

A bee (dumble dore) denotes the arrival of a stranger during the day.

When sticks of wood are placed together and kindle or blaze up without interference, it is a sign that a stranger will come.

If clothes are put on inside out, it is a sign you will receive a present.

A Friday’s dream on a Saturday told is sure to come true if it’s ever so old.

Two legged foxes – human beings.

Some folks are always behind – always late.

Two legged blackbirds – human stealers of fruit.


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