All Hallows Eve

this darkening night
as the very mist is blown –
are witches abroad

rattling the windows
screeching ’round the chimney pots
your haunting moans

old-wizened crone –
wipe away the wind-tears
from your rheumy eyes

rest your stick awhile
upon the witching post
while I rake the hearth

then take up again
ash, birch and hazel bound – and
begone afore the morn!

In my local villages, some of the old houses are adorned with Witching Posts, built on to the end of the roof. It is thought that these were a form of protection. Some think the witching post, was made of elder, but this wood disintegrates easily. Naturally occurring ‘free’ elder wood would not be good and it was considered a curse of fatal consequences to cut fresh elder, so it is unlikely this wood was used. The posts were etched with a cross and installed so that the witches could not pass. However, it is our belief that the witching posts were provided for the witches to rest. Having gotten any little possible good-will from the witch by providing a place to rest, the witches would then continue their journey without wreaking the havoc or destruction they would otherwise bring.

In the high moorlands where these are found, it is likely that the witching posts essentially acted as talismans against wild weather and were chiefly for the protection of property.