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Folklore & Mythology

The Changeling- a fairy child or ill child destined to die

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A changeling is a human-like fairy child  found in folklore throughout Europe left in place of a human child stolen by the fairies and swapped for a poor deformed or ailing child that did not thrive.. Stories of changelings were believed by many and are common in medieval literature. These tales show us the difficulty of surviving in a harsh cruel world before medicines and monetary aid were able to be found for an ill or deformed child born into a poor family. 

A peasant family’s very existence depended upon every member of the family working and labouring for their share of meagre resources especially in a harsh winter when an ailing child might be born to a malnourished mother, and it was difficult to provide for a person who was a permanent drain on the family’s scant resources. So it was kinder, easier and a balm to the soul and heart for the family to believe their  bonny and happy child was taken by the fairy folk ; to act as a servant, for the fairies to receive the love of a human child, or for malice/revenge.

Usually the exchange was made with a fairy child but it was ‘known’  that occasionally  an elderly fairy would be swapped for a beloved grandparent or relative, either so that it could live out its life in the comfort of the care of a human, or so that it could die.

Usually, it was the fairest, most beautiful children who were taken, because the fairies craved and admired beauty and grace. 

If a  baby or child mysteriously became ill, had a strange appearance, or perhaps suddenly  unable to move their limbs, they had been ‘fairy-struck’ and fairy work was suspected. 

children with deformities and illnesses were abandoned or even killed, with the excuse that they were changelings but there were still loving kind parents who,whilst not accepting their child could be this way, still , loved and  cared for their  ‘changeling child’ , hoping one day to have their child returned to them in gratitude for their care of the fairy child.

Infanticide was a terrible yet very real medieval practise, changeling tales often mention ravenous appetites giving cause for the parents to fear for the whole family when food was scarce, and so allowing them to die might be the only way to save everyone else. The changeling stories just helped them down the horribly inevitable path.

 

I'm a slightly deranged middle aged widow, living in the Cotswolds with two fabulously funny little dogs. A mother, grandmother, sister and friend. Determined to survive by writing to remember, to forget and to cope with grief. the memory of my husband supporting me, guiding me and probably laughing at me if there is a ‘somewhere’

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Folklore & Mythology

The ghosts of the Serpentine in Hyde Park

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The Serpentine dominates the southern end of Hyde Park in London. This man-made lake was created around 1730 for Queen Caroline, wife of King George II, blocking the Westbourne River. The Serpentine was one of the first artificial lakes in England designed to appear natural when long, straight lakes were in vogue at the time.

It did not take long to make the artificial lake a destination for suicides, there were dozens and dozens of suicide attempts every year, many of them fatal.

For example Harriet Westbrook Shelley committed suicide right here at age 21 in 1816. Harriet was the first wife of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and had been abandoned by him for Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, famous for writing Frankenstein. It is rumored that she was pregnant by a lover at the time of her suicide and many swear that her ghost still walks around the Serpentine.

A story tells that two ladies stopped on the bank of the Serpentine, and noticed something in the lake that was moving. A thin, pale hand was visible with long fingers opening and closing like those of a drowning person. On the middle finger the hand had a gold ring that sparkled and then the ghost hand disappeared into the lake.  Could that be Harriet’s ghost?

In 1857 a child was killed and thrown into the Serpentine, for several years it is said that a ghost of a child often passed by, so much so that many then decided not to go near the Hyde Park lake.

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Folklore & Mythology

The ghost bus of Notting Hill

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There are also relatively recent testimonies of this apparition dating back to the 90s. This is a number 7 bus that appears in the Cambridge Gardens area of Notting Hill at 1.15am in the morning only in May.

The first appearance was in 1934 when a gentleman driving a car swerved quickly to avoid something and crashed into a wall and died instantly.

Some eyewitnesses said the man tried to avoid a number 7 bus, while a couple of others said there was no bus.

Other motorists since then swear they see a driverless bus with the lights off driving at high speed into their vehicle. But when they avoid them and turn to see what it was, the bus disappears.

No one has an idea of the reason for these apparitions and why they are seen always at the same time and only in the month of May.

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Folklore & Mythology

Nostradamus predictions for 2021, even worse than 2020

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According to some Nostradamus predicted coronavirus but to be really honest it’s very unlikely. There have been posts on social media about this prophecy  attributed to Nostradamus.”“There will be a twin year (2020) from which will arise a queen (corona) who will come from the east (China) and who will spread a plague (virus) in the darkness of night, on a country with 7 hills (Italy) and will transform the twilight of men into dust (death), to destroy and ruin the world. It will be the end of the world economy as you know it.

Experts have denied that this is a prophecy by Nostradamus who doesn’t have appeared to have predicted COVID-19.  He predicted for 2021 the start of Third World War and the deaths of Putin, the Pope and Trump.  He also predicted a massive earthquake in California, a new king in Britain and a financial crisis.  We still have a few days of this awful year so we can’t yet think we are safe. But as we know Nostradamus doesn’t get everything right. 

Just as well because according to whoever interprets his writing 2021 might be even worse.  In fact he predicts zombies, an asteroid hitting Earth, famine, a massive earthquake in California and the fact that people return to religion. Not a surprise after so many catastrophes.

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