Sunday Legends-Habetrot

I like it when I randomly pick a legend off of my list (I do actually have a physical list, by the way) and it ends up being something that’s relevant.

Today is the last day of the Tour de Fleece, and we’re talking about a spinning legend. I’m not sure if she counts as ‘fey’, so I’m hesitant to put this in the Beautiful Ones series, but I’m not sure where she fits otherwise, either.

The habetrot is one of three spirits related to the spinning preparation of fiber. She has a deformed lip from wetting fiber, while her sister/sister spirit has a deformed foot from treadling and the third a deformed thumb from drafting. I had a swollen thumb for years from the weight of a clarinet, I can believe it. Luckily none of my body parts seem to be reacting to spinning quite yet.

The habetrot is an entity from the Scottish-English border, but similar stories appear in other European countries which suggests either the presence of similar concerns or cultural diffusion (but Katie, cultural diffusion NEVER happens!…sorry, I’ve been talking myth politics too much lately). Spirits like the habetrot don’t get a lot of traction anymore because handspinning is effectively a hobby in most western countries, but at one point, the presence of a hand spinner was a necessity if you wanted things like clothing. The usage of a spinner is sort of silently reflected in many of these stories-the habetrot could heal through some convaluted practices, and some of the Russian folk spirits are exceptionally helpful so long as the knitting and spinning are kept in good order.

There’s not a lot to go on, but there’s more than for a deity like, say, Cernunnos (I got to sit a class on Cernunnos by the writer of Raise the Horns a couple of weeks ago. I do love me my horned gods), and it may be that there’s some interaction like our buddies Cernunnos and Herne going on here, in that we may be making stuff up as we go along and that’s okay too. When you have sources telling me that her shape was an octagon, but not a lot of solid myths outside of superstitions like clothes out of her wool healing the wearer, I fear that there’s a lot of conjecture going on. But that’s okay. I’m not one for stagnant myths.

*Speaking of which, I have seen writers link her as an aspect of Nicnevin, which does make her one of the Beautiful Ones. I…suppose it’s possible that she’s a hag aspect of another spirit or deity, but I think that it’s also just as possible that the habetrot is her own being, since hearth spirits are so prominent in so many European mythologies.





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