Out walking the dogs along the Bollin today you could almost see the water weeds growing by the minute. When we were children my mum would always tell us to watch out for Ginny Greenteeth if we went near water with this sort of long flowing weed. She was a sort of bogey-woman with long nails, sharp green teeth and green flowing hair, who would snatch you up and take you down into the water.
I have an idea that she was specifically developed by mothers to prevent small children playing in water that was too deep or fast for them, and which had plenty of leg tangling weed. I can imagine that if you got caught up in the stuff it must feel like someone was grabbing at your legs and pulling you down.
Ginny Greenteeth is an interesting survivor of a time when every piece of water had a guardian spirit, or goddess attached to it. Mostly the folk memory survives in Holy Wells, and Springs, and in characters such as the Lady of the Lake.
In the days when there were few if any bridges it must have been particularly important to placate the water spirits if you wanted to cross a stretch of water. Rivers, particulary the place where two or more converged, were recognised to be liminal places where the everyday world and the otherworld came close and interacted.
These days I think we don’t recognise the power of water, how a river or stream can change character completely in a matter of minutes – think of Boscastle.