Samhain: Gatherings and Games 1.4

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Several marriage divinations involved performing proscribed actions for calling that person’s “fetch” or astral self from the body to the diviner’s local for the sake of identification. For example, in one popular spell, a young woman sowed a row of hemp seed at midnight on Allhallows. As she sat and watched, the apparition of her husband to be would appear to furrow the seed. In another version, a young woman would hang her nightgown in front of the fire and then watch the room through the keyhole of the closed door, waiting to see the ghost of her future husband come and turn the garment. She might instead choose, on Hallowe’en, to sit in front of a mirror at midnight, eating an apple and combing her hair—the man destined for her would appear to her over her left shoulder.

In a sort of inversion of the dumb supper, a young woman might also seek to see her lover’s form with “dumb cake” by mixing the dough with any liquid except spring water. She would do this using her left thumb only, performing the kneading in total silence, and at midnight pricked her initials on them with a new pin before putting them into an oven to bake. She then sat on the opposite side of the room, waiting in silence for her the form of her future lover to appear and check on the cake’s progress.

A young man might pull flowers from the horse-knot plant and cut the tops off the stamens, then hide the flower from view. If on All Saint’s morning, he found the stamens shot back to their original height, he knew his sweetheart returned his love.