Pennsylvanian Folklore

October 2020 Newsletter.

1 Recent goings on.

Hello. It’s late October. It’s dark. It’s raining. I am sitting in the conservatory. My next book, the second in the “Cape Misfortune” trilogy, is very nearly finished.

2. For the dreamers.

Advice on writing from Bob Dylan.

“Once a month, write a poem in blood. Use your own if you must.”

3. For the Misfortune fans.

“Carry in your pocket the heart of a bat if you would win at cards.” 

I’m quoting, of course, from “Beliefs and superstitions of the Pennsylvania Germans” by Edwin Miller Fogel, Ph.D. 

I came across his work whilst researching “Cape Misfortune”.

It was published in 1915, two years before America’s entry into the first world war caused a backlash against German language and customs.

In modernity folklore seems inconsequential and absurd, (to some) but to others gives a window into the magic of how we once thought, not so very long ago.

Anyway, here is some old Pennsylvanian German advice.

“If your nose itches, you will be kissed by a fool.”

“Meeting an empty hearse is unlucky, one containing a corpse, lucky.”

“If you are lost in the woods, take off a garment, turn it inside out and put it on again.”

“A fearful person should touch a corpse.”

“A remedy to cure hiccoughs is to scare the person by saying, ‘you have stolen something.’”

“If several persons see a meteor at the same time they should remain silent, or it will disappear at once.”

“Do not lay a loaf of bread on its round side, it makes the angels weep.”

“If you walk through a spider web you will meet a friend.”

“Let a dog eat out of your shoe and he will not stray away.”

“If you dream of cats, and especially if you are bitten by them, you will be the subject of a scandal.”

“If singing at a funeral is wretched there will soon be another funeral.”

“Turning down snow with a plow is as good for a field as manure and lime.”

Thanks for reading!




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