This bawdy, but not too bawdy, song migrated into the tradition from early 19th century broadsides & chapbooks. It was collected by Henry Hammond in Poole, Dorset, from J Penny in October 1906.
In 2007 the Museum of Witchcraft commissioned a compilation of Songs of Witchcraft & Magic & The Astrologer appeared on it. The liner notes had an insight into the song:
“The deceptively simple song is an intriguing snapshot of the world of 19th century urban cunning folk. It exploits to the full the irony of the collision between the uncanny and the mundane. It gives the cunning man a certain glamour—a hint at contact with the Otherworld—even while it humorously makes the point that he specialises in telling young women’s fortunes, with all that implies.”
The song also reflects the fact that many young women were interested in divination. There are numerous records of folk-magic practices that enabled them to predict their romantic prospects.
All part & parcel of Cunning Folk
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