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The significance of a white wand

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Thestoryteller Post number 8238 Posted: 24th December 2009     Subject: The significance of a white wand
I'm doing some research into the Child ballad of The Brown Girl and would be grateful for any information you can provide on the significance and symbolism of the white wand.

Hope you can help me.

Thank you from the Storyteller
Merlin Sythove Post number 8239 Posted: 24th December 2009     Subject:
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I know it as performed by Steeleye Span, can you publish the lyrics here? Because sometimes these things are euphemisms / slang and don't refer like in this case to a magician's wand or anything [Very happy]

Beauty matters
Thestoryteller Post number 8240 Posted: 24th December 2009     Subject:
Here it is. And any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. In shamanism, we talk of soul loss and soul retrieval, but this seems to be an example of soul theft:

295B: The Brown Girl

295B. 1 ‘I am as brown as brown can be,
And my eyes as black as sloe;
I am as brisk as brisk can be,
And wild as forest doe.
295B. 2 ‘My love he was so high and proud,
His fortune too so high,
He for another fair pretty maid
Me left and passed me by.
295B. 3 ‘Me did he send a love-letter,
He sent it from the town,
Saying no more he loved me,
For that I was so brown.
295B. 4 ‘I sent his letter back again,
Saying his love I valued not,
Whether that he would fancy me,
Whether that he would not.
295B. 5 ‘When that six months were overpassd,
Were overpassd and gone,
Then did my lover, once so bold,
Lie on his bed and groan.
295B. 6 ‘When that six months were overpassd,
Were gone and overpassd,
O then my lover, once so bold,
With love was sick at last.
295B. 7 ‘First sent he for the doctor-man:
‘You, doctor, me must cure;
The pains that now do torture me
I can not long endure. ’
295B. 8 ‘Next did he send from out the town,
O next did send for me;
He sent for me, the brown, brown girl
Who once his wife should be.
295B. 9 ‘O neer a bit the doctor-man
His sufferings could relieve;
O never an one but the brown, brown girl
Who could his life reprieve. ’
295B. 10 Now you shall hear what love she had
For this poor love-sick man,
How all one day, a summer’s day,
She walked and never ran.
295B. 11 When that she came to his bedside,
Where he lay sick and weak,
O then for laughing she could not stand
Upright upon her feet.
295B. 12 ‘You flouted me, you scouted me,
And many another one;
Now the reward is come at last,
For all that you have done. ’
295B. 13 The rings she took from off her hands,
The rings by two and three:
‘O take, O take these golden rings,
By them remember me. ’
295B. 14 She had a white wand in her hand,
She strake him on the breast:
‘My faith and troth I give back to thee,
So may thy soul have rest. ’
295B. 15 ‘Prithee, ’ said he, ’Forget, forget,
Prithee forget, forgive;
O grant me yet a little space,
That I may be well and live. ’
295B. 16 ‘O never will I forget, forgive,
So long as I have breath;
I’ll dance above your green, green grave
Where you do lie beneath. ’
Merlin Sythove Post number 8252 Posted: 26th December 2009     Subject:
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Hmmm, a lovers' story where he has been unfaithful, then after the affair now lies lovesick in bed and wants his original sweetheart back. She makes him wait and wait, and you can imagine in a Canterbury Tale fashion what their reunion then must be like for him. At that moment she leaves him high and dry, and breaks / returns the vows she made to him and promises to dance on his grave if he dies of love. That is the only interpretation I can give it, because I have no idea why a (normal) wand would figure in this story at all.

Beauty matters
Thestoryteller Post number 8254 Posted: 26th December 2009     Subject: Thank you
Thank you for taking the time and trouble to look into it for me anyway Merlin. All I've been able to find out is that wands are used in other ballads by "villainesses" in order to bring about transformations too. Perhaps it was all based on a common misconception of what witches were like at the time - that they only practised black magic.
Morgana Post number 8256 Posted: 26th December 2009     Subject:
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Quote:
 that they only practised black magic.

... with a white wand [Very happy] [Very happy] [Very happy]

I'll ask around too.

B*B
Morgana
Harmonia Saille Post number 8257 Posted: 26th December 2009     Subject:
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Hello:-)

It appears that white wands in this context and used by "villainesses" were indeed used for transformation. These white wands were possibly made from silver.... " [4] In the ballads such as Allison Gross and The Laily Worm and the Machrel of the Sea, the villainesses use silver wands to transform their victims." (Wiki source) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wand

And more on the ballad http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/dung01.htm

Other white wands seem to be a symbol of purity. These might perhaps be made of ivory or wood (birch or willow).

Www.witchdom.com
www.comewander.co.uk
Thestoryteller Post number 8260 Posted: 26th December 2009     Subject: Thank you
Thank you Harmonia - every little bit helps!
Astrid Post number 8420 Posted: 9th January 2010     Subject:
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''Other white wands seem to be a symbol of purity. These might perhaps be made of ivory or wood (birch or willow).''

In Cassell's dictionary of witchcraft I found this under willow:'the willow was associated in superstition with sorrow and lost love.
but under 'wand' I found :... the devil himself had materialised in his cell carrying a white wand as his staff of office.

maybe the author is combining these two?

Blessings

Astrid
Thestoryteller Post number 8421 Posted: 9th January 2010     Subject:
Kind of you to add this contribution Astrid - thank you for your help.
Nuisance Value Post number 8590 Posted: 17th January 2010     Subject:
Thestoryteller wrote:
 My faith and troth I give back to thee,
So may thy soul have rest. ’

This does not sound like a curse but like help: "I set you free". The man does not want to be set free, he wants her back and then she refuses and tells him how much she cares about him, but this is another matter. At first she is trying to break the bonds between them, which sounds good for him in this context, so I see this as white magic.

In France people were sworn in or ritually thrown out of a group by being hit on the upper body, often on the shoulders with the flat of a sword (white metal).

Nuisance
Thestoryteller Post number 8591 Posted: 17th January 2010     Subject:
Perhaps the real problem here is that we are just not given enough information in the ballad to come to any definite conclusion as to why the white wand was included in it, though what you suggest Nuisance Value (what a great name) does seem to be a reasonable conclusion to draw. Anyway, thank you for having a go and I'm heartened by the number of people who have responded to my request for help. Just shows what an active forum this is and it's great to be part of it.
Lucifer Post number 8636 Posted: 21st January 2010     Subject:
Hi everyone,

Interesting ballad. Does anyone know where it originated and in what sense the girl is "brown"?

Greetings,

Lucifer

PAGANS OF THE WORLD UNITE! HEIDEN ALLER LÄNDER VEREINIGT EUCH! ¡PAGANOS DEL MUNDO UNÍOS!
Thestoryteller Post number 8638 Posted: 21st January 2010     Subject: Why the Brown Girl
At the time this song was collected, many people would still have believed that ill-health could be the result of a curse. For example, in 1884, the Bridport news reported the case of a woman suffering from an illness that mystified doctors. She consulted a gipsy wise woman, who told her she had been ill-wished and cured her with counter-magic. In ballads, the term Brown Girl seems to indicate a country girl. Is she despised by her lover as ignorant and unsophisticated? If so, he soon learns, to his cost, that she has unsuspected knowledge (Froome, 2007, p. 22).
Lucifer Post number 8640 Posted: 21st January 2010     Subject:
Hi Storyteller,

Some versions of the ballad have "pen knife", "long bodkin" (pointed weapon), etc.

"White wand" could be any wand-like object such as walking stick, etc. made of white material such as wood, silver or ebony and fitted with a concealed blade.

Just a suggestion [Wink]

Greetings,

Lucifer

PAGANS OF THE WORLD UNITE! HEIDEN ALLER LÄNDER VEREINIGT EUCH! ¡PAGANOS DEL MUNDO UNÍOS!
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