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Posts Tagged ‘La Roche d’Orgères’

The Magical Forest is a place steeped in legends; a land of enchantment, of magical fountains and mysterious lakes, standing stones and dolmens, fairies, giants, sorcerors and druids. This is the home of Viviane, the enchantress, the Lady of the Lake, the realm of Merlin and Morgan le Fey…


The little village I live nearest to, was known as an outpost of paganism, long after the rest of France was converted to Christianity. The situation was so dire, that a priory was built in the C13th, by the Knights Hospitaller, on the site of an old pagan shrine and healing spring, in an attempt to save the ‘credulous’ and ‘primitive’ people. I now live in the remnants of that priory.

Overlooking my house to the North, stands a huge and mysterious granite rock, known to be the domain of a Fairy Queen named Quasnon (or Couesnon). Hidden in her chamber, and guarded by black, hairy dwarves, lie inestimable treasures.
Many locals, over the centuries, have encountered these dwarves near the rocks on the night of the full moon, and although unpredictable and mischievous, they can be helpful, some carrying messages across great distances, ‘faster than the wind’ (this in the days before telephones…), some plaiting horses manes, others sweeping your house by night, or preparing cream for your breakfast.

Even better, if, for example, a ploughman happened to need a team of oxen to work his fields the next day, he would go to the foot of the rock at dusk and ask for « two oxen capable of doing four days work in a day, for tomorrow ». The next day at dawn, a team of black oxen would be waiting already yoked. He must, however, give them names or they would be wild and unruly!
At the end of the day, they would return to the rock. But the ploughman must remember to put 5 coins in the little bowl hanging from the yoke…

As for the fairies…Couesnon their Queen helps those who have lost something. Utter the words, « Ah, si j’avais celui des fées de la Roche ! » (Oh, if only I had that which the fairies of the Rock have!) and the wish would be granted!

 

One day, a peasant named Lormière, on his way to work bringing in the harvest, met upon the road a sorceror who was known to have dealings with the devil and to work enchantments and other ‘marvels’. He mocked Lormière for working so hard for nothing, when under the Rock lay a treasure so valuable that he would never have to work again if he were to find it. All he had to do was wait for nightfall, and not be afraid of anything that he might see.

Lormière didn’t believe him, and forgot all about this strange meeting. A year later, however, in the same spot, he once again encountered this sorceror. This time, he was convinced.
That night, at the right time, he set to work, digging beneath the rock. He dug so hard and so well, that eventually, he succeeded in finding the treasure of silver. Overcome with joy, suddenly he saw a three footed hare sitting upon the rock that was balanced above the treasure and was afraid… Since then, no one has ever seen the treasure.
Poor Lormière! Believing that the fairies would bring their silver out every Christmas at midnight, to ‘air’ it, he decided to seize it for himself. But this time, he found it guarded by two fierce dogs. Baring their teeth, they tried to devour him. He ran for his life!

 

In another tale of Couesnon and her court, a fairy came calling on a woman, living nearby and spent the long winter nights with her, keeping her company whilst her husband was away. She would come in each evening, through the chimney, settle into the corner and watch her. The woman grew increasingly tired of her fairy visitor, and together with her husband concocted a plan to get rid of her.
One evening, the husband dressed in the clothes of his wife and took her place at the fireside, pretending to spin. And so it was… That night,the fairy came down the chimney as usual. She looked at the spinning wheel, turning as usual, but producing no thread…In a low voice, she whispered: « The Beautiful one of the evenings, turned and fed her spinning wheel and on the spindle appeared a thread, but this one turns and feeds the spinning wheel, but on the spindle nothing appears. »

The pretend spinner leapt to his feet and demanded the name of the fairy. « I am called Me-Myself » she replied.
In the same moment, the master of the house threw fire on the fairy. She fled up the chimney crying out « I’m burning! I’m burning! »

Since that time, no one has ever seen fairies again here.

Or have they…? Coming up: Part 2. ‘The return of the Fairies’



 

 

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