2 horns & a tail

Sunrise. 21st June 2018, some people celebrate the Summer solstice. Honour the old ways, and their ancestors, toast the second half of the year. Not me.

I used to, but something about the way last year went, still makes me uneasy. It’s not like anything THAT bad happened, right? I mean we are all still here, me, my wife, our daughter. I just worry. What if HE returns again. It’s possible we imagined it, too much mead, but what if…

It’s silly really. He didn’t actually do anything to us, if anything he was quite friendly. More than any of those Christian religions would have you believe.

I should start at the beginning. It was 4am on the 21st June 2017. The sky was brightening, though it was still dark enough to use a torch to avoid tripping on rocks.

We were at Appledore. We’d found a nice spot to celebrate. A quiet piece of the river bed, that, at low tide was easily accessible. Someone had placed rocks in a spiral, it must have been years ago judging by the seaweed forming on them. We had checked the tide times and found it was perfect, almost as low as it could get at sunrise.

It wasn’t far from where we were staying, maybe 15 minutes, and Appledore was the kind of place that always felt safe, with its narrow, cobbled streets.

We had just passed the lifeboat station when we noticed the fire. It wasn’t much, but enough to highlight the silhouette of a man, warming himself by it. We stopped briefly, hesitated, with a glance at each other, before proceeding cautiously. He was on OUR spot, the spiral.

‘Good morning’ he called with a gesture.

‘Er…hi?’ Said Emma

‘Come for the solstice?’ said the man

‘Yes. You too then?…er great. Nice to meet you. I’m Emma, this is Craig and Ocean’ said Emma

He never gave his name, but offered us his hand.

‘We bought mead’ said Emma

‘Oh, you’re one of those. Well never mind, that’s ok. Each to their own. I never really liked mead, but I like turning down a drink even less’

Emma handed him a drink. It was then that I noticed the smell, burning flesh. I looked into the fire and across at Emma. He caught my gaze.

‘Oh, that’s just the sacrifice’ he said ‘don’t worry, you are quite safe. I only make one. Now hand me that drink’

The rest of the morning passed without incident. We were too scared to make our excuses and leave.

‘well’ he said ‘must be off. I need to get some breakfast. Nice to meet you. Maybe see you next year?’

‘ok, bye then’ we said in unison.

As he walked off into the early morning light, his body cast a shadow. I could have sworn I could see 2 horns and a tail….

The last 3 witches of Bideford

They say the last 3 witches of England were hung on a sunny June day in 1682, in the little town of Bideford. They were wrong.

3 innocent ladies – Temperance Lloyd, Mary Trembles and Susanna Edwards were their names. Their crimes? Causing people to fall ill, causing the deaths of several others and blinding a women in 1 eye.

They were innocent of course, but someone had to take the fall, or else someone would have eventually got suspicious of me.

I’m ok with it. I have made my peace. It’s been over 300 years, after all. They weren’t the first to fall victim to wrong accusations and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

Temperance Lloyd, that was a funny one. I put rumours out about her having unnatural teats on her body for the Devil to suckle. Luckily, the stupid locals never thought to check. Probably too scared of getting close to a ‘real’ witch.

The local shop keeper, Thomas Eastchurch was the first to accuse her of witchcraft. He said she caused Grace Thomas to fall ill. Of course it was all my doing, well, with a little help from the Devil.

He nearly got caught, don’t you know. Taking too many chances sneaking about looking like a cat, but the blame fell, yet again, on poor Temperance.

People were much less tolerant in those days, some might say racist. Temperance was the only women kind enough to talk to a black man who visited the area, yet people just assumed he was the devil.

She used to talk to the homeless too, poor Mary Trembles and Susanna Edwards, that was their only crime. Conversing with a so called witch.

Their final parting words before their hanging were: “For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so I am not able to look, they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me”

People stopped believing in witchcraft after that. It became much safer for me to perform my work in the years that followed. The devil continued to visit for many years, on his travels around old England. I still catch a glimpse of him every now and then. We no longer talk, it’s safer for us both that way.

The Making of Cley hill

“There once was a man called the Devil,

Who walked a long way with a shovel.

He walked to Devizes,

Which hurted his thighses

So he made a big hill and went home”

Once upon an old road, the devil, while on his travels, paid a visit to the town of Devizes. Upon entering the town he discovered that all the people in the town had converted to Christianity.

‘I can’t have this’ he said ‘I must put a stop to this nonsense before it spreads to the other towns’

He continued on his travels, all the while with the idea of Devizes playing on his mind. It was only upon his arrival in Somerset that he came up with an idea.

‘I will bury the town of Devizes under a pile of earth. That’ll teach everyone a lesson!’

So he stole a huge sack from a nearby farm and got to work filling it with soil.

It was quite a long journey back to Devizes and the Devil wasn’t one for paying too much attention, and so, here’s the thing – he got lost.

Luckily there was a man walking towards him, so he stopped him to ask directions. He was an old looking man with white hair and a long beard.

‘excuse me, sir’ said the Devil. I’m looking for Devizes, am I heading the right way?’

The man looked down at the holes in his boots  and back up at the devil.

‘You know’ he said ‘I’ve been looking for Devizes for quite some time myself. I forget how long, but my beard was black at the time’.

This threw the Devil into a rage and so he dumped his sack at the side of the road, burying the man underneath it.

And thus Cley hill was born. Sometimes in the gloom of the early evening people have been known to catch a glimpse of the Devil, still wandering around and muttering to himself about the whereabouts of the town of Devizes.