21 December: A Love-Spell for St Thomas' Eve
'The night of 21 December was thought in Guernsey to be a night when spirits walked abroad, when it was dangerous to be outside; but this made it a very auspicious night for magic.' From Guernsey Folk Lore, p. 408.
Pour vé ki ki sera ton homme ...
On St Thomas Night¹ a girl who wants to find out the identity of her future husband, just before she goes to bed, .... must take a golden pippin, ... pass two pins crossways through it and lay it under her pillow, having either taken off her left stocking last and thrown it over her left shoulder or, according to other versions, wrapped the apple in her left stocking. She has to then get into bed backwards and repeat this spell three times:
Saint Thomas, Saint Thomas,
Le plus court, le plus bas,
Fais moi voire en m’endormant
Celui qui sera mon amant,
Et le pays, et la contrée,
Où il fait sa demeurée,
Et le métier qu’il sait faire.
Qu’il soit beau ou qu’il soit laid
Tel qu’il sera je l’aimerai.
Saint Thomas, fait moi la grace
Que je le voie, que je l’embrasse. Ainsi soit il.
This is a rough translation: St Thomas, St Thomas, the shortest and most stubby, As sleep comes for me, show me my future hubby, The country in which he resides, the place where he abides, The job that he does for a trade. I will love him, ugly or well-made. St Thomas please help me in this, Let me see him and him let me kiss. Amen.
In a note, Edith Carey adds that Mrs Knowles’ 'old servant from the Câtel' used also to include 'Montrez moi le lieu où je vivras, Et la loge que j’habitras' ('Show me the place I am going to live, and the house I shall live in').
Not another word must be spoken, and, if the rite has been duly performed, the desired knowledge will be communicated in a dream.
Good luck, ladies!
More from MacCulloch's Guernsey Folk Lore. [DAB]
¹ Louisa Lane Clarke, in her Folk Lore of 1880, wrote of St Thomas' Eve: '.... the Guernsey Hallowe'en, which is not on the Eve of All Saints as it ought to be, but on the 21st December, St Thomas' Day. It is kept much after the Scotch fashion, and it is a famous night for spells and visions, and unpleasant adventures with evil spirits. Men returning from their work in the evening have walked, and walked, and walked, always seeming to be near home, and never getting to their own door, till they have suddenly made a full stop, rubbed their eyes, and found themselves at Torteval or Rocquaine; or of it was a Torteval man, he has stumbled over the Roc du Guet at the Câtel.
Sometimes a great black dog will run rudely at a man and knock him down. Sometimes a white rabbit will go hopping before him till he his crazed with fear. People do not like, on either the Surveil de Noel [Christmas Eve] or le Jour de St Thomas, to wander about after dark. Nevertheless, the latter is a favourite day with young men and maidens; for then they perform all kinds of spells to find out who loves them, or pour vé ki ki sera son homme, 'who is to be their husband.'
She gives the same spell in virtually the same format, but specifies using 'eighteen new pins, that have never been used or stuck into paper; put nine in the eye and nine in the stem .... with the left garter round it.' Lane Clarke, Louisa, The Folk Lore of Guernsey and Sark: Guernsey, Le Lièvre, 1880, pp. 8-9.
Denys Corbet, in 'Local Superstitions,' an article he wrote for the Report and Transactions of the Société Guernesiaise in 1892, had this to say about Christmas divination: 'Young people also pretend to find out the time of their marriage by the means of the number of kernels, or stones, found in the portion of plum-pudding which they eat at their Christmas dinner. Thus reckoning the stones, they say: 'This year, next year, never, now,' or something of the kind, over and over again, until they come to the last stone, which is supposed to give the desired information' (p. 244.)