The Magic of a Kiss: Legends and Myths
By Faith Knight
"You may conquer with the sword, but you are conquered by a kiss."
— Daniel Heinsius (1580-1655)
The legends and myths surrounding the kiss are many. Those most familiar may well be the ones in which an explanation has remained the most elusive. But no more!
Below you will find a few of the more common legends and myths; tales that have been spun and re-spun for centuries. Read on and enjoy!
Kissing the Blarney Stone
The Blarney Stone is a stone set in the wall of the Blarney Castle tower in the Irish Village of Blarney. The castle was built in 1446 by Cormac Laidhiv McCarthy (Lord of Muskerry) — its walls are 18 feet thick (necessary to thwart attacks by Cromwellians and William III's troops).
Kissing the stone is supposed to bring the kisser the "gift of gab." But it's hard to reach — it's between the main castle wall & the parapet and kissers have to lie on their backs, then bend over backward, holding iron bars for support. It looks dangerous and can be, if you fall. We suggest you stretch by touching your toes for at least 30 seconds before you make the attempt. That way your back muscles are prepared for the shock of the backward pull.
The origins of the Blarney Stone's magical properties aren't clear. One legend says that an old woman cast a spell on the stone to reward a king who had saved her from drowning. Kissing the stone while under the spell gave the king the ability to speak sweetly and convincingly.
Another legend tells that the stone was given to Cormac McCarthy by Robert the Bruce in 1314 thanking him for his support in the Battle of Bannockburn. In an argument over the general rule of Queen Elizabeth I, the queen told McCarthy that he was giving her "a lot of blarney". Thus the legend was born.
Kissing Under the Mistletoe
There are many beliefs surrounding this plant, which makes it one of the most intriguing of the kissing legends. In 18th century England it was believed the mistletoe could make or break a woman's marital prospects.
A mistletoe in England would be hanging in a doorway in the shape of a ball. It would be brightly decorated and otherwise enticing. A woman standing under such an irresistable ornament would just have to be kissed!
But this kiss would be unlike no other, because as legend has it, it could lead to a deep romance (or at least a long-term relationship). However, if for some reason no one kisses the woman under the mistletoe, she would not be free to marry for at least a year!
The origin of the belief that the mistletoe had magical powers, began in pre-Christian Europe. It was said to have the power to ward off theft from fairies, unlock the secrets of dreams and to promote fertility.
In one particular legend, the mistletoe was the sacred plant of Frigga, the goddess of love and the god Balder's mother. Balder had a dream that he died, which disturbed Frigga since all life on Earth would cease if this dream were to come true. She begged all things on Earth to bring no harm to her son, but she forgot the mistletoe. Her enemy Hoder devised a scheme to use the plant to kill Balder.
The son did come back to life however, through his mother's efforts, and her tears were said to have transformed into the white berries of the mistletoe. She later proclaimed that all who pass under the plant would have no harm come to them, only a kiss, a token of love.
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