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I've seen "turn thrice widdershins" (or variations thereof, such as "turn around thrice widdershins") several times online (1, 2, 3). It seems to be Gaelic in origin, having to do with fairies or witchcraft, but I can't find any concrete information about where this phrase actually came from or how it's significant.

Any idea as to the origins of this?

marked as duplicate by Andrew Leach Mar 19 '17 at 11:04

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  • I'm getting the impression this traces farther back than this book... – bwDraco Mar 19 '17 at 1:47
  • paganspath.com/magik/widdershins.htm "Celtic Pagans would walk three times around someone they wished to give a blessing to in a clockwise motion." – Bob Mar 19 '17 at 1:48
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    [James Og] is indyttit, that in the year forsaid or thairabout, haiving corne to drey, to have borrrouit fyr from hs nychtbour, haiffing of his avine than presently, and to haue taine ane birne of the corne on his bak, and careit it thrie tymmis woodersonis aboue the kill. [my emphasis] —‘Notes by Mr. John Ros, minister at Lumphanan, regarding certain persons accusit of witchcraft.’ Printed in The Miscellany of the Spalding Club, I.XLIX. , 1841, p. 189 under the date 1597. OED 1 gives earlier citations for 'widdershins' involving 'turning' nine times. . . . – StoneyB Mar 19 '17 at 2:10
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    But I doubt you're going to find the "origin" of the phrase, which might have occurred at any time after the practice started, and is unlikely to have been recorded. And the origin of the practice is off-topic here. – StoneyB Mar 19 '17 at 2:14

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