Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 9, 1898.djvu/109
II. — Fish bewitching Milk.
If milk was accidentally spilt on the brink of a river, or at the border of a loch, while milking, and flowed into the water, it was believed that the "Macha dhubh," i.e. Trout-mother, would bewitch it, if it even got a taste of it in the water. I distinctly remember to have seen, in my young days, great care taken to prevent milk so split getting into the water by speedily mixing it up with earth. The "Macha dhubh" is an abnormally large trout, darker than the ordinary trout.
"Both men and women in those islands, and in the neighbouring mainland, affirm that the increase of milk is likewise taken away by trouts ; and the way to recover this damage is by taking a live trout and pouring milk into its mouth, which they say doth perfectly curdle if it was taken away by trouts, but otherwise they say it is not." — Vide Martin's Western Isles, p. 121.
III. — Killing a Serpent, a good Omen.
It was an old superstition which many people firmly believed, that if one on setting out on a journey happened to meet a serpent in his path, and succeeded in killing it, his expedition was to be a prosperous one. He was to be equally successful in surmounting every difiiculty that might meet him, and conquer every enemy that he might have to encounter till he returned home. In one word, he might now go on his way with a light heart, for he was sure of good luck.
IV. — Charm against a Serpent's Bite.
The charm consisted in remembering to repeat on St. Bride's day : "La Fhèill Brighde thig an rìbhinn (serpent) as an toll ; na beanamsa ris an rìbhinn agus na beanadh an rìbhinti rium." (" On St. Bride's day the nymph (serpent) comes out of the hole ; let me not touch the nymph, and let not the nymph touch me.") In olden times it was believed that if one repeated the words of the above rhyme on St. Bride's day, it would act as a charm against serpents' bites till next St. Bride's day. "Rìbhinn" signifies a nymph or princess-like young female. It was an ancient custom, on special occasions, to employ a euphemism of this sort, as an olive-branch, to get into the good graces of the object desired to be conciliated and to charm the Genii who