Blessings and blood

Although on page 150 of Blood, Bread, and Roses it says that the word blessings comes from “blood songs” neither Debbi Grenn nor author Judy Grahn can come up with a source for this. Perhaps in a vernacular or old German dialect? Meanwhile Barbara Walker, who remains a fascinating source as long as we double check her voluminous entries, has what seems a solid source for the word blessings on page 110 of The Encyclopedia of Women’s Myths and Secrets. “From Old English bletsain, earlier bleodswean, ‘to sanctify with shedding of blood.’” Her source is Michael Harrison, The Roots of Witchcraft, Secaucus, NJ, Citadel Press, 1974. page 129. Walker continues, “It was the custom to consecrate altars by sprinkling them with blood, and to ‘bless’ individuals by marking them with blood, as is still the custom of foxhunters who ‘blood’ new members of the club after a kill.”

Nevertheless we love the sound of “blood songs”, especially as special songs were and are sung in honor of first menstruation and women’s bleeding times.

The Editors