Scattered throughout the folklore of Brittany are references to secret, magical plants possessing extraordinary properties. Grasses that allow you to understand the languages of beasts or to find hidden treasures; grasses that cut iron and those that take you to oblivion!
Sometimes venerated, sometimes vilified; representing good luck or seen as an ill omen. The black cat has long enjoyed a turbulent relationship with humanity and features strongly in the world’s folklore. This is especially true here in Brittany.
Brittany has the greatest concentration of megalithic sites in the world. These megaliths range from single standing stones to complex alignments stretching for miles and massive man-made tumuli the size of a small hill. Older than the written word, their meanings remain clouded in mystery, shrouded in superstition and folklore.
Forecasting the weather has always been one of mankind’s most vital concerns. The observation of weather patterns and their effect on the cultivation of crops gave rise to many popular folk beliefs and superstitions in Brittany.
Once common throughout Europe, the arrival of midsummer was celebrated from time immemorial by the lighting of massive communal bonfires, covering the countryside with a multitude of glowing points of light; an ancient practice that continued in Brittany well into living memory.
The humble honey bee has, from the earliest annals of recorded time, had a close, symbiotic relationship with humanity. Brittany possesses a rich tradition of beliefs and superstitions surrounding bees and beekeeping.
In the Brittany of yesteryear, there was a dearth of doctors in the rural areas and when one could be found, his services were not always affordable to the local populace. Traditional healing treatments were therefore widely used; one of the local healers most commonly consulted was the Bonesetter.
The Phantom Washerwomen of the Night stand out as one of the most striking and baleful characters in the rich folklore of Brittany; spectral women doomed to spend eternity labouring over their laundry from sunset to sunrise, terrifying unfortunate souls in the darkness.
A brief glimpse into some Christmas traditions from the Brittany of yesteryear.
An echo of the region’s Celtic past, sacred springs were commonplace throughout Brittany with miraculous qualities attributed to many and were an important part of daily life even after the Catholic counter-reformation.