May Day ‘Dew’ Potion from Launcetown
A May Day ‘Dew’ Potion from Launcetown, Cornwall.
A respectable tradesman’s wife in Launceston tells me that the townspeople here say that a swelling in the neck may be cured by the patients going before sunrise on the first of May to the grave of the last young man (if the patient be a woman), to that of the last young woman (if a man) who had been buried in the churchyard, and applying the dew, gathered by passing the hand three times from the head to the foot of the grave, to the part affected by the ailment. I may as well add that the common notion of improving the complexion by washing the face with the early dew in the fields on the first of May prevails in these parts (East Cornwall), and they say that a child who is weak in the back may be cured by drawing him over the grass wet with the morning dew. The experiment must be thrice performed, that is, on the mornings of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of May.—(H. G. T., Notes and Queries, 14th December, 1850.)
Doing something three times is a classic Celtic practice. The article does not say what direction the child is pulled; usually that is important. One goes with the sun (clockwise or east–south–west) for attraction and against the sun (counter–clockwise, or west–south–east) for banishing.