Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hazelnuts at Halloween

The use of hazelnuts in Halloween divination rites is well-attested. There are several methods, which are somewhat contradictory, but this is likely attributable to regional variations in tradition and transmission.

Today's card shows an imp-like figure with what looks like a nineteenth century bedwarming pan filled with smoking roasted nuts. The smoke is being carried upward to a classic witch in silhouette flying across a crescent moon. The verse at the bottom reads:

"A hazel nut is named for you
And dropped upon the coals.
If it burns and burns to cinder
There's nothing more to hinder
For my love burns true."

This echoes the variant of the spell in which one would name a selection of nuts after one's suitors and line them up before the hearthfire, or, alternately,  cast them directly into the fire. A nut that burned cleanly would indicate that the person's affections were true, while a nut that popped or did not burn suggested that the lover would be dishonest. Yet another variation has a couple each naming a nut for him- or herself, then casting them into the fire, watching the behavior of the nuts to determine their partner's true feelings. (Personally I think watching your partner's behavior a better indicator of their true feelings than watching nut activities, but hey--it's Halloween).

The hazelnut spell with which I am most familiar involves naming the nuts for your potential love interests, then lining them up at the edge of the fire and chanting the following:

"If you love me, pop and fly;
If you hate me, burn and die."

This is a reversal of the imp's method above, but to each his own; again, the difference can most likely be ascribed to regional variations and to changes that occur in transmission. Who hasn't received a bit of "oral lore" that, upon later comparison with another practitioner, has proven to have come through as garbled as a message passed through a child's "telephone game"?

No comments:

Post a Comment