Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Robin Goodfellow - a midsummer night's imp

Watch out, watch out, there are imps about! Charles Kightly in his The Perpetual Almanack of Folklore (Thames and Hudson, 1987) tells us that the red-stalked Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) blooms around English houses in June, associated with Summer Solstice (June 21) and Midsummer (June 24). (In North America, however, it is a noxious weed.) Herb Robert is also known as Death-come-quickly, Robin's eye, Robin Hood, Robin-i’-th’-hedge, Stinking Bob, Stinker Bobs and Wren flower.

Weed or not, beware how you treat it, for it is Robin Goodfellow’s flower and he might direct a snake to bite you, especially if you destroy it.

Robin Goodfellow is an English imp, a trickster from the woods. As a forest dweller, he symbolises the pagan (wood-dwelling) pre-Christian peoples who the Church worked hard at converting from their wicked ways. Robin is a cognate of the famous European Green Man (a name coined by Lady Raglan in 1939 for a medieval image usually found in churches), and of Robin Hood. The English sometimes called him Puck, frequently representing him as a goat, while the Irish knew similar fantastic beings as Pooka. In Killorglin, County Kerry, Ireland annually on August 10 - 12, a goat is still the mascot of the ancient Puck Fair ...

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted

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