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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Article: The Seventh Child of the Seventh Child or the Magic of Seven by Cindy Campbell-Stone

It is seven days until All Hallows' Eve and it being a superstitious time of the year, I've been thinking about the magic and power of the number seven.

The number seven is a magic or lucky number that abounds throughout folklore, stories and songs. I first became aware of it as a child when I was simply told that seven was a lucky number especially in games such as one potato, two potato. Later, I read a lot of folktales and fairy tales where the number seven was important in one way or another, such as in the seven dwarves of Snow White fame. Much later in life I encountered the power and magic of seven when I heard a tale by an Irish storyteller who told about the seventh son of a seventh son. I was intrigued.

According to folklore, the seventh son born of a seventh son is said to have healing powers and quite often becomes the healer of the community or a doctor of medicine. These healing powers can also apply to the seventh daughter of a seventh son or daughter. Although the seventh daughter is often referred to as a witch for her unusual powers.
The seventh son or daughter are best known for curing the King's Evil which is a swelling of the throat (tuberculosis). It is called the King's Evil only because the first recorded 'cure' of the neck swelling was said to have been by the touch of a King (Edward the Confessor, and later other Kings or Royalty) via the power of God. Of course, the number seven is mentioned in the Bible where the number seven predominates in the Old Testament along with the significance of the seven days of Creation according to Christian belief.

Nova Scotia had its share of seventh sons of seventh sons according to Bluenose Magic by Helen Creighton:
  • In Peggy's Cove, only the seventh son of a seventh son could cure the King's Evil.
  • Old Richard Flemming from Sambro Head was the seventh son of a seventh son.When he was young it seems he cured himself of a cut leg he received while chopping in the woods. It was then he knew what he could do. He once cured a man who was spitting blood, a minister with a bad leg, a man with a tortuous gathered finger (likely arthritic?). Often, he didn't even have to touch the person or see them, just get them to believe that he had the power of the seventh son of the seventh son and they would be cured. He was known in the community as Dr. Flemming.
It is said that the seventh son or daughter was born with the gift of charming.
  • In Seabright, there was a man who 'charmed for the eyes' named Barkhouse. He would take his finger and run it over the skin around the eye while saying words in German. 'Then he would turn the head back and blow in the eye'.
  • In Sydney, there was a seventh daughter who cured a child of a lump in the throat by rubbing it. She did the same for a fellow with a lump on his leg. Afterwards he didn't need crutches.
  • From the Scotch in Louisbourg: 'Put a ten cent piece in water and use this water to bathe child's neck so many days. The water will turn black. In this case it was done by a seventh son.'
  • And then there was Andrew Sinclair of South River Lake. He had many cures including one for goitre.
But even if you don't believe in the power of the seventh child, the number seven has significance in other ways.

The following are some examples of the power of the number seven from Bluenose Magic:
  • 'When you have seven peas in a pod, put them over the door and the first man to come in, you will marry.' (Windsor, NS - English and German)
  • 'At Western Head my sisters second child was sick with indigestion and they told her it was liver growed. All she needed to do was to pass it (child) round the table leg backwards seven times.' (Liverpool, NS - Irish)
  • 'Rain before seven, clear before eleven. That is, if it starts after twelve at night or before eleven in the morning.' (Victoria Beach, NS - English and Dutch)
And, of course, Mother Nature gets in on the number seven action with this observation:
  • 'Every seven years the trees bear a heavy growth of cones. They are extremely heavy this year (1948)'. (Victoria Beach, NS - English and Irish).
So do the math and check the trees!

Or, if you happen to be looking for buried treasure, keep this story in mind from Devils' Island near the mouth of Halifax Harbour (retold from Bluenose Magic):
  • Devil's Island is pretty bare nowadays but once it had a lot of trees. Over the years the trees were cut and the wood used for such things as lobster traps and firewood. There was also a lake in the middle of the island and one day, two boys, Dave Henneberry and Ned Edwards were walking by and saw a big barrel floating. Ned was going to shoot the barrel but Dave was afraid there was a treasure in the barrel with a ghost guarding it. It was strange for the barrel to suddenly appear in the water and even stranger when it suddenly disappeared in front of their eyes. They never say it again. On the mainland, Old Enos Hartlan told them that treasure appears 'every seven years for a bath'. They waited but never seemed to see it again or be able to figure out the exact time.
As far as I know, no one has ever found it. This happened in 1928, so do the math, and if you want to try searching for treasure yourself on the island, go for it. The lake may have been drained but that may make the treasure easier to 'catch'! May the luck of the seven be with you.

Oh, and in case don't know anyone who is the seventh child of a seventh child, or the number seven doesn't seem lucky for you, try the number three.

Good Luck!
Cindy Campbell-Stone,
Storyteller

Article by Cindy Campbell-Stone: The Seventh Child of the Seventh Child or The Magic of Seven, copyright 2015. Use by permission only.

Resources:

A Dictionary of Superstitions by Iona Opie and Moira Tatem, Oxford University Press, Britain, 1989.

Bluenose Magic by Helen Creighton, Nimbus Publishing Limited, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2004.

Many works by Dr Helen Creighton are available at public libraries or for purchase by contacting Evergreen House,
Dartmouth Heritage Museum,
26 Newcastle Street,
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
B2Y 3M5
http://www.dartmouthheritagemuseum.ns.ca/

Cindy Campbell-Stone is a storyteller and singer living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. She is Vice President of the Helen Creighton Folklore Society, a member and past president of Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada, a member and past chair of the Storytellers Circle of Halifax, and a member of the Cole Harbour Rural Heritage Society.
cindystoryteller@gmail.com

Contact the Helen Creighton Folklore Society: www.helencreighton.org
Dartmouth Heritage Museum,
26 Newcastle Street,
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
B2Y 3M5


Thursday, October 22, 2015

WTF: Changes and Exciting News!


On October 16, 2015 at 11:04 AM Margo Carruthers wrote:

Hi gang,
As you know, WTF! is held on the second and fourth Fridays of every month; however, the fourth Friday of October, the 23rd, conflicts with Safe Harbour: Refuge from the Storm, a fundraiser concert at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to assist Syrian refugees settling in Halifax.


This partnered event with Waterfront Development, Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, Helen Creighton Folklore Society and the Canadian Maritime Heritage Foundation has invited some of WTF!s most talented regulars into the Small Craft Gallery from 7 to 9pm. Join Clary Croft, Vince Morash, Ann Fearon, James Crouse, Dan McKinnon and a host of special guests for an evening of community support, awareness and song.

WTF! returns on the following Friday, October 30th with
spooktacular evening 
Guest Hosted by
 the ghoulish Mr. Leo Feinstein
Leo is offering up a theme he calls
 "Oh Horrors!"

Bring a creepy song or story. Maybe a creepy friend. Come disguised as someone or something creepy. PleasE don't feel limited by the stereotypical definition of horror. There are endless horrors permeating the times through which are living such as man's degradation of the environment and man's inhumanity to certain of its peoples. And let's not forget the biggest horror of all... governments... packs of privileged people who could make a huge difference and choose not to.

Of course, being this close to Hallowe'en we encourage costumes. Come, if you dare, as a politician. You may just get a pie in the face although it would seem criminal to treat the scrumptuous pies of Spencer House in such a wasteful manner. Then again... on a positive note... you will be able to lick the pie off your face... thus receiving a prized perk for very little effort. Just like a real politician :)
Xo Margo
* The above views have not been officially sanctioned by the Board. They are on me. :)

WTF! is an artistic outreach program of the Helen Creighton Folklore Society. 
Now in its 6th year, WTF!
 is primarily an acoustic unplugged open-mike session for performers of all ages in the traditional & folk music vein... singers, instrumentalists and storytellers in particular.

Co-hosted by the ever-jovial Cindy Campbell-Stone & Margo Carruthers with occasional guest hosts, WTF!
meets every second and fourth Friday of the month at SPENCER HOUSE, 5596 Morris Street in Halifax where sing-a-longs are known to spontaneously erupt and laughter is always a given. 

Come anytime after 6:30pm. Entertainment starts around 7:00
 and goes until 9:00ish. As always... admission is by free-will donation 
towards the Society's work. All proceeds from the sale of baked goods and beverages from the Spencer House kitchen will go to help support the operation of Spencer House.

Parking is available on site behind the building after 6:00pm, and on all the neighbouring streets. 


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Record Thanksgiving at WTF:What the Folk!


WTF: What the Folk! Open Mic
October 9, 2015/ 7-9pm
Spencer House Community Centre
5596 Morris Street, Halifax, NS

On Friday, October 9th, WTF! gleefully welcomes GUEST HOSTS ; that effervescent husband & wife music & comedy tag team: Paul and Martha Healy.

At first... since Friday leads into the Thanksgiving weekend, they were thinking of going with a Thanksgiving theme. But then... as Paul, in full storyteller mode, delightfully concluded during last week's ADVENTURE theme... parenting a teenager during what should be their relaxing retirement years made all the other evening's adventures pale in comparison. Paul had us in stitches as he advised us to never become a father at 50 :)

But... if it weren't for the teenager... we wouldn't have this week's theme because Paul then proceeded to tell us that his daughter had brought home from a summer family visit a treasure trove of vinyl, some of which Paul had never seen and some which he no longer had, but remembered fondly so... he then suggested that we all dig out our old vinyl LPs and look for songs we haven't thought about for thirty years or more and bring them to the next WTF!

So... for the first time ever in the 6 year history of WTF! we have a dual theme:

RECORD THANKSGIVING!

If you are thankful... bring songs or stories of thanks. We have much to be thankful for, especially during this harvest season. If you are thankful for your vinyl... bring songs or stories from there. Maybe combine the two. Songs and stories of thanks which you found on your vinyl. The combinations are endless as will be the cameraderie and laughter. WTF! gives thanks for all of you who make our evenings such huge fun.

Co-hosted by the ever-jovial Cindy Campbell-Stone and Margo Carruthers with occasional guest hosts.
WTF! is an artistic outreach program of the Helen Creighton Folklore Society.
Like us on HCFS Facebook or check out the HCFS website .

Now in its 6th year, WTF! is primarily an acoustic unplugged open-mike session for performers of all ages in the traditional & folk vein... singers, instrumentalists and storytellers in particular.

WTF! meets every second and fourth Friday of the month at SPENCER HOUSE, 5596 Morris Street in Halifax where sing-a-longs are known to spontaneously erupt and laughter is always a given. 

Come anytime after 6:30pm. Entertainment starts around 7:00 and goes until 9:00ish. As always... admission is by free-will donation towards the Society's work. All proceeds from the sale of baked goods and beverages from the Spencer House kitchen will go to help support the operation of Spencer House.

Parking is available on site behind the building after 6:00pm, and on all the neighbouring streets.

A new season and new adventures at WTF: What the Folk! Come and see what the excitement is about.