English folklore has it that if it rains today, then it will rain for the next forty days:

St Swithin’s Day if thou be fair

For forty days ’twill rain no more.

St. Swithin’s Day if thou bring rain

For forty days it will remain.

Farmers once anxiously watched the skies on St Swithin’s Day as too much rain at this time of year would ruin the harvest. St. Swithin was a ninth century English Bishop. When his bones were removed from the churchyard into the cathedral he seems to have objected, as a thunderstorm broke and went on for forty days; he was weeping at the moving of his grave.

This is a month that celebrates many patron saints and deities of water, wells, grottoes and shrines.The feast of Sul (or Sulis), the patron goddess of the famous mineral springs at Bath in England, fell this month, while in ancient Rome, the Neptunaliawas heldin honour of Neptune as god of waters, along with festivals of  Salacia, goddess of salt water and inland mineral springs, and the goddess Furrina, patroness of freshwater springs. In Britain, many holy wells, which once would have been dedicated to a local deity, were assigned to St Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary. (Her feast day is celebrated just before Lammas on 26 July.) The similarity of her name to that of the goddess Anu or Danu may have made it to easier to Christianise these ancient holy places. One of the best-known wells dedicated to her is that of the spa town of Buxton in the English Peak District, previously dedicated to Arnemetiae, the local water goddess.


Author: annafranklinblog

Anna Franklin is the High Priestess of the Hearth of Arianrhod, which runs teaching circles, a working coven, and the annual Mercian Gathering, a Pagan camp which raises money for charity. She regularly speaks at conferences, moots and workshops around the country. She is the author of many books on witchcraft and Paganism, including the popular Pagan Ways Tarot, Sacred Circle Tarot, The Fairy Ring, Herb Craft, Magical Incenses and Oils, Personal Power, A Romantic Guide to Handfasting, Familiars, The Oracle of the Goddess, Hearth Witch, The Path of the Shaman and The Hearth Witch’s Compendium. Anna’s books have been translated into nine languages.

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