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Widdershins (sometimes withershins, widershins or widderschynnes) means counterclockwise. Literally, it means to take a course opposite the apparent motion of the sun viewed from the Northern Hemisphere (the centre of this imaginary clock is the ground the viewer stands upon). It comes from Middle Low German weddersinnes, literally "against the way" (i.e. "in the opposite direction"), from widersinnen "to go against", from Old High German elements widar "against" and sinnen "to travel, go", The term "widdershins" was especially common in Lowland Scots, and was known in Scottish Gaelic as tuathal, which uses the same root as tuath meaning "north", the opposite of widdershins is deiseil or sunwise. In the southern hemisphere, the sun goes anti-clockwise, but in the northern hemisphere, it goes clockwise, which is where the term "sunwise" originates from. Because the sun played a highly important role in primitive religion, to go against it was considered very bad luck for sun-venerating traditions.

It was considered unlucky in former times in Britain to travel in an anticlockwise (anti sun wise) direction around a church and a number of folk myths make reference to this superstition, e.g. Childe Rowland, where the protagonist and his sister are transported to Elfland after his sister runs widdershins round a church. There is also a reference to this in Dorothy Sayers's novels The Nine Tailors and Clouds of Witness ("True, O King, and as this isn't a church, there's no harm in going round it widdershins"). Witches supposedly dance in a widdershins direction.

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