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Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 2, by William Bottrell, [1873], at

Divination by Rushes and Ivy-Leaves. Page 217.

Many persons, who were anxious to know their future fate with regard to love and marriage, or for mere fun, were in the habit of assembling, on twelfth night, in a farm house kitchen, which had a large open fire-place—used for burning furse and turf. A fire was laid that would make plenty of "umers" (embers) and hot ashes, such being required for working theses; then each person touched the "cravel" (mantle stone) with his or her forehead, and departed in single file and silence, which was

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required to be observed, until, having gathered the rushes and ivy-leaves, they returned and again touched the "cravel" with their heads. The procession was often waylaid or followed by some who tried to make the spell-workers break silence; if any of them spoke they had to return and again touch the "cravel."

Those who wished to know their own luck in love and marriage, or that of different couples who were said to be sweethearts, placed in the hot ashes and "umers" two pieces of rush—named or intended for the respective parties;—if both rushes burnt kindly together, those they represented would be married. As the pairs were consumed, united or parted, such would be the course of their love. The one which burnt longest would outlive the other. When it was decided who were to be married together an ivy-leaf was cast into the fire, and the number of cracks it made in burning told the years to pass before the couple would be wed. Then two leaves for the wedded pair were buried in the hot ashes, and the cracks they made showed how many children the happy couple would be blessed with. Other presages, which afforded much amusement, were drawn from the appearance and behaviour of rushes and ivy-leaves—or lovers and married folks—in their fiery bed.

Meanwhile old people—who in general were the most anxious to know if they or others were destined to live or die during the ensuing year—drew an ivy-leaf for each person, either named or thought of, through a gold ring, and cast the leaves into a vessel of spring water, which was placed on the hearth-stone and left there over night. Next morning, the leaves that were found to have turned black or to be specked with reds is like blood, showed that those black, whom the were intended would for dead ere next twelfth night. The blood spots betokened a violent end.

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