Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/413

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


Old-World Survivals in Ross-shire. 371

found which suited the requirements ; the stone floor in the room where the child was first seized was opened up at the exact spot where the seizure took place. The unfortunate animal was sealed down and buried alive, after which an incantation was muttered over it by a " wise woman." ^

Whether the fates were propitiated, and the recovery of the child was due to this rite, or to the Uisge Or in which it was bathed, I am, of course, unable to state with any certainty. And Uisge Or, or water into which a piece of gold has been thrown, is a universal panacea for all the ills that flesh is heir to, almost outrivalling another universal remedy, also an uisge, whose precise name it is, perhaps, superfluous to mention. Sometimes it is known as Long John. I have seen Uisge Or given internally as a medicine, used as a lotion ; given to cattle, dogs, and even sick chickens. And, of course, everybody knows that a new-born baby should be bathed for the first time in Uisge Or as a protection against the fairies. As to the gold thrown into the water (here an incantation, varying accord- ing to the complaint to be treated, is also necessary)," any-

' [The following extract from a letter of Mr. J. G. Frazerto the Editor may be quoted here: " This morning, 17th November [1902], I have received a letter from Bragar, in the island of Lewis, which contains some notes on the local folklore. Amongst other things, a sixpence obtained from a seventh son is supposed to be a cure for scrofula, boils, and carbuncles. ' The seventh son blesses the sixpence, dips it three times in water, this water the patient must drink ; this is repeated three days in succession, and the sixpence is suspended round the patient's neck.' Again, my correspondent writes : ' The cure for epileptic fits is more barbarous, and to my knowledge was used not three months ago in Barvas (4} miles from here). A black cock (the barn-door variety), without a light-coloured feather, is buried alive on the spot where the patient experienced his or her first fit ; that is all, and the cure is effected by [inducing] the evil spirit causing epilepsy to leave the patient and enter into the body of the cock.'" See also Folk-Lore, vol. xi., p. 446 (text and note 2.) Ed.]

- Mr. Carmichael's Cannina Gadelica contains a number of incantations for specific complaints, which doubtless were used along with Uisge Or. But in my district the usual way is simply to sprinkle with the Uisge in the Name of the Trinity, the same as in the Baptismal rite. For new-born babies the

2 B 2