Old Story New Twist

Disclaimer: None of the spells in this story have been tested.

A Short Background
The year was 1235, King Henry III granted a charter to Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England to hold an annual fair beginning on August 15 and ending on September 29 of each year.
The fair was built around trade vendors selling their wares which also created the need for food vendors to serve the people.
Musicians, jugglers, and storytellers also found their way to the fair to entertain the crowds.
In medieval times, storytelling was done in the oral tradition. The storyteller and the listeners are physically close, often seated together in a circle. Through the telling of stories people developed a connection to one another. The story-teller reveals and shares their experiences through their telling.
The flexibility of oral storytelling allows the listener to incorporate their own personality and as a result, they share their own experiences as well.
As these stories were handed down from generation to generation they changed. One such story was “The Elfin Knight”

The Elfin Knight
The story of the Elfin Knight has been misinterpreted over the years. Part of the reason is that the language has changed over time; another reason this ballad has been misunderstood is because people neglect to acknowledge the time period and the Pagan culture of that time.
This is an alternative interpretation of that story which later was turned into a ballad.

The Elfin Knight
author unknown

Maiden Roslin, sits by her window awaiting for the rise of the full moon. In the distance, she hears the song of the Elfin Knight. Upon sight of the full moon, she chants a love spell to bring her soul mate to her.
If there be a perfect match
This work tonight will surely catch
The perfect one who is meant to be
Will find his way home to me
In perfect love and perfect trust
I send this out but not in lust
This spell will guide us to unite
Free will remains with us tonight
As the maidens’ spell traveled on the southern wind, the Elfin Knight blew his horn into the northern sky. No sooner had the music and spell collided in the sky, when the Elfin Knight felt the need to comply. He appeared by her bed, and this is what he said:
A perfect match, we may be
Before we wed, to this you must agree
Answer these riddles three:
Make me a cambric shirt,
without seams nor needlework
Find me an acre of land
between salt water and the sea strands
Reap it with a sickle of leather
and gather it all in a bunch of heather
Maiden Roslin gave her reply. I will answer your riddles by and by, thou however in exchange must journey to the faire four days hence, bring me these herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme whence.
The Elfin Knight put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a bracelet. He placed it on the maidens’ wrist and said:
With good fortune now be filled,
so is it willed, your needs fulfilled
May you possess the success you so deserve, luck be secure
Long be good fortune, firm may your luck endure.
To which the maiden replied:
By the light of Lady Moon
Reach thy destination soon
The trip shall be safe and worry free
As I will it, so mote it be.
And they parted ways to carry out their tasks.
The Elfin Knights’ Riddles
Make me a cambric shirt, without seams nor needlework.
Cambric was the most expensive fabric of the 14th century. Only very experienced seamstresses worked with cambric; one mistake could very easily ruin the fabric beyond repair. It requires a great deal of commitment of time and energy.
But how can one make a shirt without seams nor needlework? Remember, this is a riddle, a misleading puzzling question presented as a problem to be solved. Nothing is as it seems in a riddle.
The cambric shirt represents the Elfin Knight; he is noble and honorable and held in high regard.
Although needlework is what holds cloth together, the idiomatic phrase, “to needle someone’ means to criticize or provoke someone in a persistent, irritating manner. Furthermore, when sewing a shirt, seams are created to hide the rough edges of the cloth.

The Elfin Knight wants the maiden to be committed to the relationship. He doesn’t want to be ‘needled’ into changing, he doesn’t want to hide who he is; he wants the maiden to love him for who he is and not what she wants him to be.
Find me an acre of land between salt water and the sea strands.
In the 14th century, an acre was not defined as a specific amount of land but rather a broad expanse or great quantity. A broad expanse such as the growth of a women’s abdomen when pregnant. The fetus is surrounded by amniotic fluid (salt water) and the mothers’ uterus (the sea strands).
The Elfin Knight wants the maiden to mother his children.
Reap it with a sickle of leather and gather it all in a bunch of heather.
Elves live by their own code of ethics and just as other cultures they strive to instill their offspring with the importance of following the code of ethics.
The eighth code in the Elvin Codex is Conscientious; it is important to show self-discipline, act dutifully and aim for achievement as well as planning behavior rather than being spontaneous and being dependable. Just like all cultures, Elves strive to instill their code of ethics in their children. To reap means to receive a reward or benefit as a consequence of one’s actions.
A Sickle of Leather is a carefully placed leather belt when disciplining children. The correct way to use a belt is to hit hard enough to sting but not hard enough to bruise. (remember this is the 14th century when whipping a child was common place)
Heather is called “The Flower of Passion” It is a symbol of passionate love, sacrifice, and self-control. It offers us the gift of seeing clearly what is really happening in any given situation, being able to take a step back and witness in an objective way. Keeping heather in the house attracts friendly spirits and brings peace to the household.
The Elfin Knight wants his children to be raised with discipline to become responsible adults; however he also wants the children to feel loved.
The Maidens’ Bespoken Desire
The Elfin Knight knew the maiden wanted him to journey to Scarborough Faire to purchase her requested herbs as it was the only faire within the distance of four days.
Before he started his journey, he went home to get his haversack and filled it with all the essentials he would need for his trip.
While walking toward the faire, he collected leaves and sticks; stones and seeds. At dusk, he found a place to settle for the evening. He cleared a circular space in the woods and started a campfire. Then he ate a dinner of wild mushrooms, walnuts and stinging nettles. Upon completion of his meal, he cast a circle; he pulled sweetgrass from his haversack to smudge his space. Then he called the quarters.
Spirit of the East I do summon, stir, and call you up to protect me i.
in my rite breathe into me the spirit of the pure joy of life.
Hail and Welcome.
Spirit of the South I do summon, stir, and call you up to protect me in my rite. Kindle within me the flame of spiritual awakening.
Hail and Welcome.
Spirit of the West I do summon, stir, and call you up to protect me in my rite. Water my deepest roots that I may find peace of mind.
Hail and Welcome.
Spirit of the North I do summon, stir, and call you up to protect me in my rite Nourish me so that my hopes may grow to fruition
Hail and Welcome.
I conceive this Circle as a place of contemplation and protection. Blessed by the Spirits. So mote it be!
After the Spirits arrived, the Elfin Knight walked the circle, sprinkling salt on the perimeter saying,
Clear, clear, clear this space
Negative energy be banished from this place
Cast out all harm, spoil and pain
Only positive shall remain
As I will it, so mote it be.
Then he walked to the eastern arc of his circle, made a small hole in the dirt, placed a seed in the hole and covered it with dirt. He said:
“This little plant needs to grow,
Through the dirt may this water flow,
Imbue it with healing properties,
So that it may grow properly.
May it grow uninhibited,
and its beauty be elicited.
Let it grow with strengthened will,
Until you hear the song of the whippoorwill
I speak this spell with heart and mind,
So bring to me what I seek to find.”
As he watered the plant he said
“Today I sow, tomorrow I reap,” three times.
When the seed was planted, honor and respect were paid to the Spirits and he closed the circle.
“May the Spirits of this place have been nourished as much as their presence has nourished me. Spirits, I give you thanks. May the blessings I have received stay with me through the night, to nourish, strengthen and sustain me until we meet again.
Spirit of the North thank you for your presence and protection, take with you my blessings
Hail and Farewell.
Spirit of the West thank you for your presence and protection, take with you my blessings
Hail and Farewell.
Spirit of the South thank you for your presence and protection, take with you my blessings
Hail and Farewell.
Spirit of theEast thank you for your presence and protection, take with you my blessings
Hail and Farewell.
I undo this circle and leave this place as it was before
As I will it, so mote it be!”
Then he lay down to sleep. While he slept, Demeter, the goddess of plants visited him in a dream. She showed him a cottage full of children working and playing as she spoke:
This is the house that rosemary built,
Where fennel, dill and thyme are frequently spilt
Here in lives the sage and the queen
Where bunches of parsley continuously glean.
Your maiden wants to mother your children.
In the morning, the Elfin Knight awoke with a smile. He ate breakfast of acorn pancakes and berries; then checked on his parsley plant and began to reap what he had sown. He thanked the Spirits, packed up his belongings, swept away the salt and said,
‘As I will it, so mote it be”
Then he set out on the second day of his journey. Just as he had done the previous day, the Elfin Knight collected feathers and flowers; moss and bark.Once again he stopped to make camp as the sunset. He cast a circle for protection, had a dinner of Lambs Quarters, Fiddlehead Ferns and Wild Carrots. Then he decided to grow some sage.
When he lay down to sleep, Demeter paid him another visit. She showed him a family sharing a meal. The children were sharing their whimsical activities of the day, the mother was smiling at her family and the father was listening intently to his children as they spoke.
Once again Demeter recited her poem:
This is the house that rosemary built,
Where fennel, dill and thyme are frequently spilt
Here in lives the sage and the queen
Where bunches of sage continuously glean.
Your maiden wants to know that you are dependable.
When the Elfin Knight awoke, he ate breakfast of pawpaws, strawberries, and thistle root. He checked on his sage plant, reaped what he had sown the previous evening. He thanked the Spirits, packed up his belongings, swept away the salt and said,
‘As I will it, so mote it be”
And so began the third day of his journey.
The Elfin Knight felt refreshed; he felt like he hadn’t a care in the world. He decided to walk at a more leisurely pace and enjoy his travels. He heard the birds singing and a babbling brook racing to the sea. He saw tall trees reaching for the sky, and the squirrels jumping through the branches of the trees. By mid-afternoon, the Elfin Knight was ready to take a break by the brook and fish for his dinner.
As sunset approached, he gathered the fish he had caught and set out to find a place to camp for the night. He cast a circle, made a campfire, and cooked a meal of fish, wild mushrooms and cattail roots. This evening he decided to grow some rosemary.
He then lay down to sleep.
While he slept, once again Demeter visited him in a dream. She showed him a farm where the boys were out in the field working the land, the girls were in the kitchen cooking the evening meal and the mother sitting by the hearth darning the socks.
Once again she recited her poem:
This is the house that rosemary built,
Where fennel, dill and thyme are frequently spilt
Here in lives the sage and the queen
Where bunches of rosemary continuously glean.
Your maiden wants a nuclear family filled with happiness and harmony.
In the morning, the Elfin Knight trekked through the forest collecting blueberries for his breakfast all the while whistling a happy tune.
He ate his berries, thanked the Spirits, packed up his belongings, swept closed the circle and set out on the fourth day of his journey.
As the Elfin Knight journeyed toward the faire, he collected dandelions and milk thistle; timothy grass and clover. It wasn’t long before dusk started to sneak up on the Elfin Knight and it was time to cast a circle and set up camp.
The Elfin Knight had a dinner of dandelion salad, with chicory and mint and a pint of sassafras tea. After resting a while, he planted some thyme.
Then he laid down to sleep. While he slept, once again Demeter visited him in a dream. She showed him a family sitting around a campfire telling stories, singing songs and reminiscing of the good times that were had by everyone.

Once again she recited her poem:
“This is the house that rosemary built,
Where fennel, dill and thyme are frequently spilt
Here in lives the sage and the queen
Where bunches of thyme continuously glean.”
Your maiden wants you to know that she wants the family to live in a home where everyone will always have fond memories and be happy to return home.
The Elfin Knight awoke to a bright sunshine day. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. He was excited to get on his way to the faire. First, he needed to reap the rosemary that had grown over night and then clear his circle.
It wasn’t long before he arrived at Scarborough Faire. The very first stall he stopped to see was the stall selling Scotch Eggs. He purchased two of them and a pint of ale and walked through the Faire. He purchased new moccasins for himself and a variety of oils to replenish his supply. It wasn’t long before he happened upon a stall that was selling gossamer shawls. When he saw them, he knew instantly that he needed to purchase one for the maiden. The vender wrapped the shawl in paper and gave it to the Elvin Knight who placed it carefully in his haversack. He stopped by the stables and bartered for a horse, then he headed home.
He wanted to get home as soon as possible. He mounted the horse and rode until dusk. He found a safe place to camp for the night. He cast a circle. Watered, fed and blanketed the horse before eating his own dinner.
After dinner, he closed the circle and looked through his wares. As he stared at the gossamer shawl, he decided to enchant it with a flying spell.
He pulled out his cauldron and blended these magick herbs:
2 parts Mandrake root
1 part Hellebore
1 part Nightshade
3 parts Henbane
1 part Hemlock
4 parts Wolfsbane
He mashed and tore and mixed them well: when he was done, he anointed the shawl with the potion and recited:
Spirits remembered, Spirits unfound
There is no peace upon the ground
I ask of you just one true plea
Please give me wings to set me free
With hope and will I cast this spell
This magic shawl I now compel
He gently folded the shawl, re-wrapped it in paper and gently placed it in his haversack. Then he settled himself on the ground and drifted off to sleep.
The Elfin Knight awoke early the next morning to a light mist. He was anxious to be on his way back to see the maiden. He quickly got ready to leave.
It wasn’t long before the sun came out and made the rest of the journey pleasant.
As the sun started to set, he debated whether he should stop for the night or continue through the night. Although, he wouldn’t arrive home until very late at night, he decided to continue his trek.
When he arrived at the maiden’s home, he knocked on the door. The maiden opened the door and scolded him for calling at such a late hour. The Elfin Knight apologized and explained that he was anxious to see her and he brought her back a gift.
He showed her the herbs that he had grown and the shawl he bought for her. Then he told her how he enchanted the shawl so she could fly.
The maiden was so happy, she quickly forgave him and gave him a kiss.Then she told him that she solved his riddles and shared her answers.
The Elfin Knight asked her if she would agree to the terms and she said she couldn’t agree more.
The Elfin Knight kissed her and then they hugged.

And They Lived . . . . .


These are beautiful stories :heart: do you happen to have a link to where you found these stories? I’d love to read more!


Oh… I would love to know where to find these too! :heart_eyes:


Truth be told, the title of the story is ‘The Elfin Knight’. It was written in 1425. No one knows who wrote it as it is a tale that has been told orally for many centuries before anyone wrote it down. The first time I heard the story, Simon and Garfunkle sang it as “Are You Going To Scarborough Faire?” People always say the song is about an unrequitted love, but I never believed it, so I researched the story. While researching I found bits and pieces and hobbled together the gist of the story and then added some color to make it my own. :slight_smile: Then I thought I would share it because that’s what I do.


I love it! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Thank you :grinning:


It seems like the older the tale, the more versions there are out there- kind of like a very very long and old game of Telephone :laughing:

I think it’s awesome that you took the time to piece together different retellings of the tale to find the version that feels right to you. Thank you so much for sharing this, @sara32! :heart:

Now all we need is someone to read this ASMR-style with a campfire crackling in the background- it would be pretty close to continuing the oral tradition, just in the modern-day style! :fire::blush:


@TheTravelWitch_Bry ~ Thank you for reading my story. I like your comparison of storytelling to the game of Telephone.
If you would like to read record the story with a campfire in the background and post it somewhere for all to enjoy, you have my blessing.


I think it’s cool! Thank you for sharing it with us :blush: Scarborough Faire is one of my favorite songs :laughing: but I’ve only ever heard the version by Celtic Woman. I’ll have to look up some other versions!


The pleasure is all mine, Sara- thank you so much again for sharing it! I always love a good tale or legend, especially the older ones. It feels like a bit of history being kept alive every time it is retold :scroll: :sparkles:

Thank you- you are really kind to open up the offer! :heart: I’m not very experienced with making videos, I’m afraid, but with your permission we can leave it here for any talented folks in the forum who may feel called to bringing the story to life. It certainly would be a neat one to listen to :fire::blush:

Thanks again and blessed be! :two_hearts:


Of course, anyone who wishes to use the story has my blessing. :smiley:


A very good read.
I can picture a traveling group stopping for the night. They light the fire and gather around it share tales


Thank you :slight_smile:


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