Samhain: Gatherings and Games 1.5

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In yet another variation, a woman would throw a blue ball of yarn out a window and chant the Lord’s Prayer in reverse while rewrapping the yarn and gazing out the window looking for the ghostly figure of her future partner. The yarn ball divination sometimes took place with presumed faery participation. In one version, someone threw an entire string of unravelled blue yarn into a limekiln. This person then rewound it until he or she felt resistance from inside the kiln. If nothing tugged, the diviner might die unmarried.

In another version, an unwed miller might perform this divination with the help of brownies called Killmovlis that specialized in mills. While often these creatures appeared to live to annoy the miller, they also seemed protective of the mill itself and sometimes did help with the work. At midnight on Halloween, the miller, seeking the name of his future wife, threw the ball of yarn in a kiln and again rewrapped until he felt resistance. The miller assumed the tension came from a Killmovli taking hold of the other end of the yarn inside the kiln. The miller would call “what holds?” and the brownie would, from his hiding space, snort the name of the future spouse