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Joan the Wad

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Joan the Wad

Joan the Wad is a mythological character in Cornish folklore. Specifically, she is the Queen of the Pixies (or Piskeys), fictional tiny creatures usually associated with the area of Cornwall and Devon.[1]

Etymology

Wad is an Eastern Cornwall colloquial term term for torch or bundle of straw.[1][2][3]

Folklore

Joan the Wad has been associated with Jack o' the Lantern, the King of the Pixies.[1] The two may also be considered will-o'-the-wisp type characters who lead travelers astray on lonely moors, hence the rhyme:[4][2][5]

Jack-the-lantern, Joan-the-wad,
That tickled the maid and made her mad,
Light me home, the weather's bad.[2][5]

However, Joan is also thought use her Wad (Torch) to light the way to safety and good luck, as another rhyme says:

Good fortune will nod, if you carry upon you Joan the Wad.[1][5]

And another,

Sometimes high, sometimes low and sometimes in the sod. If you want luck well enow, then keep near Joan the Wad.

Iconography

Joan the Wad is often depicted naked and associated with fire and water elements.[1]

In the last century, there has been a thriving cottage industry in Joan the Wad lucky charms.[1] People will carry small figures of Joan the Wad for good luck, a small collection of antique figures is housed at the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle.[6] Her image also appears on door knockers to serve as a protective spirit. [1]

References


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