Over the years, people have explored many different ways of making themselves happy. At least, they've tried to make themselves happy. For some, it's money and status. For others, it's the pursuit of enjoyable pastimes. However, one of the more peculiar ways of attempting to achieve happiness is by using spells and charms, or by the practise of long-forgotten folk customs. This kind of thing was common in the Middle Ages when people would pop down to the local priest's for blessings. Some of the more interesting spells and customs are as follows:
These beautiful objects are reputed to be very lucky and to have the power to spread joy (they're also very nice in apple crumble). On a full moon, buy some cinnamon sticks and bring them home with candlelight. Tie three or four together with rough string or cord, then place them in the heart of your home, on a coffee table, shelf or mantelpiece and rub them between your palms with your fingers each day for a week. At the end of this period luck will visit bringing you an unexpected happy event. If that doesn't work, make an apple crumble.
Children are told that getting a lump of coal in your stocking at Christmas is a bad thing, but, according to believers, coal can be used as a powerful charm. Rub a piece of coal with a cloth and polish it a little, thinking of how it had been nurtured by the bosom of the Earth for thousands of years before coming to your hand. Next, spit on it and then place it in the fire to burn, adding pine needles or a cone plus holly and mistletoe. Watch it glow as it slowly catches fire and envisage your year unfolding with a glow of happiness and luck in all things. You have now just created a powerful blessing on all your affairs.
This doesn't have to be a champagne cork but it does need to be from a bottle. When a bottle is shared and the occasion is a happy one, take the cork from the bottle, making a wish that the pleasure you feel at this happy event is repeated, placing a coin in a slit on the top of the cork as you do so. Sleep with the cork under the pillow and then place it in your pocket for the next day. Rub the cork any day thereafter (it's advisable not to rub the cork too vigorously as this may elicit looks of disgust from passers-by) whenever you wish to hear from the people that shared the bottle with you. Do not wish for love, but rather, continuing happiness; corks symbolise buoyancy, not love.
Banging your elbows used to be a lucky sign in the past, as those that did so did all they could to concentrate on happiness to distract themselves from the pain of a knocked elbow. The custom, therefore, is this: as you bang one elbow, knock the other one lightly for good luck saying, 'To this elbow I do no harm, for happiness is in the crook of my arm'. Then grip both elbows with the opposite hands and smile. (However, if you do this while also vigorously rubbing the coin in the cork that's deep in your pocket - see above - there's a very good chance that you'll be locked up.) It was believed that this elbow custom would make two good things happen that day.
If you have an umbrella opened in your house it is supposed to represent the sun being blocked out of the house, thus giving it bad luck. To cancel this, open and close it quickly twice more (three times in total), and then take it outside to show the sun. Bring the umbrella back in unopened and then sprinkle sugar on it. Sweetness will rain on the house for the next week.
On the first blue sky after a period of grey, open your arms wide and ask that the joy that the good weather brings be repeated with joy in other things. Light a sky blue candle and wish once more for pleasure and happiness but do not be specific about any one wished thing. If you do this you will be granted happiness in one important thing before the week is up. If not, you'll have done a very good impression of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. All for nothing.
Any item of new silver should be dealt with as follows to bring happiness in all things. Take a new silver object (it must be 100% silver) out under the full moon, allowing the moonlight to glint upon it. Ask the object to witness the resolution of your dreams then place it on your pillow. The next morning show the object to the sun and ask that joy and golden laughter follow you daily while you carry your silver friend. Next, put it into a small blue pouch and then keep it close to you. Every time you realise that you have had good luck, give it a pat - it will be a permanent talisman for happiness.
Tree of Happiness
One tree in your garden should be a tree1 of happiness and it should be grown for this purpose alone. Choose a tree that makes you smile, and then choose a spot where it will flourish. Write the name of your love, your house and yourself on a piece of card (any order) and slip it under the roots. Water the tree with wine and ask for happiness to be bestowed all around you and the realisation of three dreams over time.
As the tree grows, so should your joy and happiness - but remember to talk to the spirits of the tree from time to time.
At Christmas the wassail bowl2 is a remnant of an ancient tradition of carrying good cheer from home to home, to ensure a happy year ahead.
In the days before Christmas, invite a few friends round to a candle-lit wassail party to join in a combined wish for happiness and luck which will affect all. Dress in white (this is essential because all colours combine to make white so it is supposed to be a powerful symbol) and women should also wear ribbons and carry rosemary. Men too should have rosemary but they don't need to wear the ribbons. Fill the bowl with spiced cider or mulled wine then one appointed person should carry the bowl round and people should help themselves to a glass of the drink, adding some of their rosemary before they drink it.
Together raise your glasses and drink to good cheer, good company and a year of plenty. Take in the candles, then bow to the people on either side of you. It is also believed that pouring the remnants of the bowl round the tree and having a rosemary candle lighted next to it for the first month of the New Year, will make the spell last longer.