Sacred Texts  Sagas and Legends  English Folklore  Index  Previous  Next 



THE following superstitions are still prevalent on the north coast of Cornwall :--

"This root (the sea-poppy), so much valued for removing all pains in the breast, stomach, and intestines, is good also for disordered lungs, and is so much better here than in other places, that the apothecaries of Cornwall send hither for it; and some people plant them in their gardens in Cornwall, and will not part with them under sixpence a root. A very simple notion they have with regard to this root, which falls not much short of the Druids' superstition in gathering and preparing their selago and samolus. This root, you must know, is accounted very good both as an emetic and cathar­tic. If, therefore, they design that it shall operate as the former, their constant opinion is that it should be scraped and sliced upwards--that is, beginning from the root, the knife is to ascend towards the leaf;--but if that it is intended to operate as a cathartic, they must scrape the root downwards. The senecio also, or groundsel, they strip upwards for an emetic and down' wards for a cathartic. In Cornwall they have several such groundless opinions with regard to plants, and they gather all the medicinal ones when the moon is just such an age; which, with many other such whims, must be considered as the reliques of the Druid superstition." [a]

They, the 'Druids, likewise used great, ceremonies in gathering,. an herb called samolus, marsh-wort, or fen-berries, which consisted in a previous fast, in not looking back during the time of their plucking it, and, lastly, in using their left hand only; from this last ceremony, perhaps, the herb took the name of samol, which, in the Phoenician tongue, means the left hand. This herb was considered to be particularly' efficacious in curing the diseases incident to swine and cattle.--( C. S. Gilbert.)

[a] Borlase's Observations on the Ancient and Present State of the Island of Scilly" "Notes and Queries," vol. x. p. 181. 1854.

Next: Cures for Whooping Cough