sunwise turn

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A motion imitating the path of the sun, thought to bring good fortune or to ward off evil in most of Celtic tradition, as in early traditions elsewhere in Europe. A person makes a sunwise turn around an object, building, or monument by first heading towards the sun, i.e. south, always keeping the object passed at the right; clockwise. The belief in the powers of the sunwise turn appears in the oldest literature and continues through Christian to modern times. When Medb begins her campaign against Ulster in the Táin Bó Cuailnge [Cattle Raid of Cooley], her charioteer makes one sunwise turn to offset the prophesied evil. In medieval times the pious made ‘holy rounds’ by certain sacred stones, wells, trees, fires, etc. In 1703 Martin Martin observed that Hebridean fishermen first rowed their boats in a sunwise turn before setting out to sea. OIr. dessel; ModIr. deiseal; Hiberno-Eng. deshel; ScG deiseal; Manx jeshal; Corn. gans an howl.

Subjects: Religion.

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