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Saturday, 11 April 2009

Ne'er Cast A Cloot Til May's Oot...

wishing tree Pictures, Images and Photos

'Ne'er cast a clout till May be out' is an old English proverb. My late and much-missed dad used to joke about the English weather and say, "Ne'er cast a cloot till June's oot!" His nickname in the lab where he worked was "Jimmy Two-Coats", and he wondered why...

Apparently the earliest version of the proverb comes from Dr. Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, (wha'?) 1732, although it probably existed in word-of-mouth form before that:

"Leave not off a Clout Till May be out".

Do you know what the 'cast a clout, or a cloot' part means?

'Clout', although pretty old, is straightforward enough. Since at least the early 15th century 'clout' has been used variously to mean 'a blow to the head', 'a clod of earth or (clotted) cream' or 'a fragment of cloth, or clothing'.

It is the last of these that is meant in 'cast a clout'. This was spelled variously as clowt, clowte, cloot, clute.

'Here's an early example, from the Early English Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, circa 1485:

"He had not left an holle clowt, Wherwith to hyde hys body abowte."

So, 'ne'er cast a clout...' simply means 'never discard your [warm winter] clothing...'.

The 'till May be out' part is where some confusion lies. Does it mean 'until the month of May is ended'.

'In England, in May, you can't miss the Hawthorn. It is common in the English countryside, especially in hedges. ...Not a lot of people know this... As many as 200,000 miles of hawthorn hedge were planted in the Parliamentary Enclosure period, between 1750 and 1850.

The name 'Haw' derives from 'hage', the Old English for 'hedge'. Well, there you go!

The tree gives its beautiful display of flowers in late April/early May. It is known as the May Tree and the blossom itself is called May Blossom. Using that allusion, 'till May is out' could mean, 'until the hawthorn is out in bloom'.

(Source: Sacred Celtic Trees and Woods Introduction by Ed Collins)'

wishing tree 1 Pictures, Images and Photos

Did you know that Clootie wells (also Cloutie or Cloughtie wells) are places of pilgrimage in Celtic areas? These are wells or springs, almost always with a tree growing beside them, where strips of cloth or rags have been left, usually tied to the branches of the tree as part of a healing ritual.

The Clootie Well Pictures, Images and Photos

Pieces of cloth are dipped in the water of the holy well and tied to a branch while a prayer is said to the spirit of the well - in modern times this usually implies a saint, but in pre-Christian times it meant a goddess or local nature spirit. This is most often done by those seeking healing, though some may do it simply to honour the spirit of the well. In either case, many see this as a continuation of the ancient Celtic practice of leaving votive offerings in wells or pits.

At some wells the tradition is to wash the affected part of the body with the wet rag and then tie the washing-rag on the branch; as the rag disintegrates over time, the ailment is supposed to fade away as well. At some wells the clooties are definitely "rags", at others, brightly-colored strips of fine cloth. In some locations the ceremony may also include circling of the well a certain number of times and making an offering of a coin, hammered into the trunk of a tree (poor tree!), a pin or a stone.

Additional votive offerings hung on the branches or deposited in the wells may include rosaries, religious medals, crosses, religious icons and other symbols of faith.

Sacred trees at clootie wells are usually Whitethorn trees, though Ash trees are also common.
Clootie Well [Black Isle] Pictures, Images and Photos

The most popular times for pilgrimages to clootie wells, like other holy wells, are on the feast days of Saints, the Pattern or Patron day, or on the old Gaelic festival days of Imbolc (February 1), Beltane (May 1), Lughnasadh (August 1), or Samhain (November 1).

Craigie Well at Avoch, (pronounced 'Och), on the Black Isle, near where Fhina used to live, has both offerings of coins and clooties. Rags, wool and human hair were also used as charms against sorcery, and as tokens of penance or fulfilment of a vow.

So, mes petits mega-stars, would you like to...

Wild Pictures, Images and Photos

Make a wish. Pictures, Images and Photos

40 comments:

Aleksandra said...

Wish you a beautiful dream of your father,lovely lady,happy Easter too.Hugz,Sandra

Dumdad said...

It reminds me of Mother Shipton's Petrifying Well in Yorkshire that I visited as a kid. Objects, such as a teddy bear or an umbrella or whatever, are hanged up and the flowing waters literally turn them to stone within about three months or so.

Derrick said...

Hello Fhina,

I thought you were putting on your Scots accent with "cloot"! And of course, you never mentioned Clootie Dumpling, which has nothing to do with rags and wishing wells but everything to do with a hearty Scottish suet pudding!! Just the thing for a Spring day??!! Thanks for the words of wisdom.

ladyfi said...

Love that healing tree with all the healing rags! Fascinating!

And Terence Trent D'Arby is one of my favourites!

Leatherdykeuk said...

Lovely post. I always took it to mean the May blossom, but I was unaware of the etymology for 'Haw', so thanks for that.

Hit 40 said...

I had never heard about the healing wells. Beautiful. Happy Easter.

blognut said...

Ah, Fhina! You've been over to my place spreading your wisdom again, and now I find you over here doing the same. You are a bright spot in my day, as always, and you've explained a proverb that I should take care to remember as I always find myself in a snowstorm in April with my winter coats packed away. ;)

Love to you, my dear Lady! xo

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

lovely bountiful and blossomful post, everyone is seemingly cuaght up with the merryment of an approaching May!!

GB said...

I know well the Craigie Well at Avoch 'cos my former inlaws (if that is what a partner's family is called) live in Munlochy. It's a small world (says he from the other side of it).

On the subject of clootie dumpling the 'clootie' refers to the cloth in which the dumpling is boiled.

Michelle said...

VERY Very interesting. I knew when I came here today, I would learn me something new!!!

I just love your blog so much!!!

Great video too!!

HAPPY SATURDAY M'Lady!!!!

Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

Darlin lady......your sweet comment made my day.
I love your blog and rarely miss your post, thought I do get behind in my commenting at times.
You are a joy to read and I would have to say that you are "A Woman Of Great Importance" dear lady.
Hope the bunny dude brings you lots of chocky eggs and......

Steady On
Reggie Girl

♥ Braja said...

Well you certainly have some internet clout, missy :))

love you
xxx

Protege said...

Who needs Wikipedia, when we have your blog.;))
The customs/pilgrimage with hanging up the clothes is amusing.
I remember watching the video with Terence and the follow up one as well. Where did the time go, right?
Hope your Easter weekend is wonderful.;))

shabby girl said...

You could definitely call me shabby two coats today! Who knew? Snow off and on all day. Rats!
All the better to curl up with a chocolate bunny! Happy Easter Fhina!

lakeviewer said...

Always fascinating!

Pouty Lips said...

Hello Fhina,
I knew nothing of the clootie wells and their magical healing powers. I love learning something new. Your dad sounds wonderful.

Ribbon said...

G'day...
That was an interesting read.
I've learned something new....
I enjoy what you share, thank you.

Best wishes Ribbon :-)

The Things We Carried said...

I have never heard of any of this, but the photos were fascinating along with the new facts to me! Thanks and Happy Easter!

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Aleksandra: Thankyou, Sandra, that means a lot to me that you said that about my dad! xox

Dumdad: Mother Shipton's Petrifying Well in Yorkshire sounds incredible - I never knew that happened - How strangely magickal, Sir - I really must try to go!

Derrick: I know all about the Clootie Dumpling - me being a Border Reiver and all that at heart!

ladyfi: It's always good to make wishes, non?! And who could not love Terence, even though I used to work with a lady whose daughter Terence persuaded to leave her job and try out for a musical career - because he said she had promise - Her half brother was his keyboard player back then - Her mother despaired, she had no talent for singing! Trent D'Arby is one of my favourites! What a tiny anecdote!

Leatherdykeuk: Glad I managed to include something you didn't already know, oh bright LDUK! x

Hit 40: Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Bloggus Nuttus: Bless you, my little bloggy treasure! Don't make me worry about you catching your death of cold - I couldn't bear it! Lots of love and hugs to you my sweet! xxx

Fat, frumpy and fifty...: Saz, I am holding up well, thank you! I think the warmer weather has us all seduced by its beauty, non?! xxooxx

GB: It is a small world - and you took me back with mention of Munlochy, Sir - Such a beautiful place the Highlands are, with all their ancient echoes, non?!

Michelle: I am pleased to see you here every day, my bosom pal! xxooxx

~Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff...: I am pleased to have been of some delight, my friend! It's lovely to have you visit x Don't we all get behind with comments? It's so hard to keep up as much as we wish with everyone - Reading all your blogs makes my day! Oh, and I did receive one lovely Fairtrade egg from my OH, but Grizzler, my son, ate it! He left me two truffles and the box! x

♥ Braja: I love you and bless you each and every day, Heart Braja xox

Protege: Bless you, Tinkerbell Z! I hope you had a loved and loving weekend! x

Shabstress: Shabby Two Coats - ;) xx

lakeviewer: :)

Pouty Lips: Then, I'm pleased to have been of some support in a little learning this holiday weekend, my friend! And my dad was such a treasure, and I miss him more every day... x

Ribbon: G'day... Glad you liked it! :)

The Things We Carried: Meredith, so happy to find you here, precious M! x I hope you had a fabulous Easter rolling eggs with your lovely family!

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