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King Willie he sailed over the raging foam
. He wooed a wife and he brought her home. He wooed her for her long and golden hair. His mother wrought a mighty care.
 A weary spell she's laid on her She'd be with child for many long years But this poor child she'd never bear And in her bower she lies in pain King Willie at her bedhead he did stand And down his cheeks salten tears did run. King Willie back to his mother did run And he's gone there as a begging son - Saying my true love has this noble steed The likes of which you n'er did see. On every part of this horse's mane There's hanging 50 silver bells and ten

. This goodly gift shall be your own If you'll turn back to my own true love That she might bear my baby son. No of this child she'll never lighter be Nor from sickness will she e'er be free - But she will die and she will turn to clay And you will wed with another maid. Then sighing said this weary man, As he returned to his home again, I wish my life was at an end. King Willie back to his mother did run And he's gone there as a begging son - Saying my true love has this golden girdle With jewels stitched all around the middle. 

On every part of this girdle's hem There's hanging 50 silver bells and ten. 

This goodly gift shall be your own 
If you'll turn back to my own true love 
That she might bear my baby son. 

No of this child she'll never lighter be Nor from sickness will she e'er be free - But she will die and she will turn to clay And you will wed with another maid. Then sighing said this weary man, As he returned to his home again, I wish my life was at an end. Then up and spoke his noble queen 
She told King Willie of a plan That she might bear their baby son
. She said you must get down to the market place
 - And you must buy a loaf of wax - And you must shape it as a babe that is to nurse
 - And you must make two eyes of glass. 

Invite your mother to the christening day Then you must stand there close as you can be 
All for to hear what the witch does say
. King willie he did get to the market place
 - And he did buy a loaf of wax
 - And he did shape it as a babe that is to nurse
 - And he did make two eyes of glass. 

He asked his mother to the christening day
 - Then he did stand there close as he could be 
All for to hear what the witch did say
. O how she stormed and how she swore
. She spied a babe where none had been before.

 

Said, who was it untied the nine witch knots
 Braided amongst his lady's locks?
 And who was it took out the combs of care 
Braided amongst his lady's hair? 
And who was it the master kid did slay
 That ran and slept underneath her bed?
 And who was it untied her left shoe string?
 And who was it that let her lighter be
 That she might bear this little baby? And it was Willie untied the nine witch knots
 Braided amongst his lady's locks. 
And it was Willie took out the combs of care
 Braided amongst his lady's hair
. And it was Willie the master kid did slay
. And it was Willie untied her left shoe string And it was Willie that let her lighter be. And she did bear a baby boy - And bright the blessings that be them upon.

11.

about

Another in Strange Familiars podcast series on the paranormal elements of traditional ballads. Strange Familiars episode 281 explores "The Witch Mother" (aka "Wilie's Lady").

This ballad describes a vicious curse placed by Willie's mother, upon his wife. Interestingly, all the ingredients of the curse are given within the song - as well as the method of the curse's undoing.

Joining us to help break down this ballad - and especially the elements of the curse described - is Barbara from the 6 Degrees of John Keel podcast: 6degreesofjohnkeel.com

This podcast was a patron episode (available to Strange Familiars patrons www.patreon.com/StrangeFamiliars as part of their subscription) - however we have made it available to purchase here for non-subscribers.

Find more Strange Familiars at: www.strangefamiliars.com or wherever you listen to podcasts.

credits

released December 11, 2021

Strange Familiars podcast created, recorded, mixed, and edited by Timothy Renner.

Podcast hosts: Alison and Timothy Renner with guest host, Barbara Fisher.

"The Witch Mother" song - traditional, arranged and performed by Timothy Renner.

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Stone Breath Red Lion, Pennsylvania

Stone Breath is not new. It is cracked. Broken. Imperfect. Hidden. Weathered by the seasons.

We sing of ghosts and of forgotten paths through forest and fallow field.

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