Scottish Folk magic and the dead (part three) – folk charms, herbs for the dead and second sight

by Scott

The mist the dew, the dew the mist
The mist, the dew, in the eye of my love
In the eye of my love,
Thou who didst open the young eye
Close it tonight in the sleep of death
In the sleep of death
– the road to the isles 1927

This series explores our ancestors experience with the dead and folk magic. Veneration of the dead was born from encounters with the Neolithic landscape, dualism of Roman and later Christian thinking and smatterings of Norse fatalism and anglo-saxon pragmatism. All Scottish folk magic stems from this cultural intertwining. The role of the dead and the impact on the lives of Scottish people and their folk practices is written large.

In the introduction we explored basics of belief. In part one death and funeral customs, fear of the restless dead and funeral rites. In part two we explored the function of the dead as familiars of witches in the 16th century onwards.

In this last part we explore operational techniques and folk charms calling on the dead to heal, protect, hinder, curse and to become an emissary. Different folk magic practices are discussed from Scottish, Roman, Norse, Anglo-Saxon and in a lesser extent Greek and Russian. These curated examples illustrate the survival of the use of the dead in Scottish folk magic.

This is by no means an exhaustive sampler. I have not referenced academically as this isn’t a journal article. Where appropriate I’ve signposted to other sources. There are footnotes found by clicking on 1 which expand on the topic. Where I can I have commented on the surviving practices and potential historic influences. Also, the writing doesn’t flow so well. We are discussing a list of approaches. I apologise for this in advance.

Introduction

Robert Burns, speaking of Groses’ visit to Scotland, humorously suggests he deals in the black arts. 2 The Black Art is Nigromancy’s more northern name and involves exorcism; the art, or ability of expelling daemons, or evil spirits from haunted houses or persons bewitched. 3 This definition captures the popular imagination. Conjuring notions of black robed folk stalking cairn or graveyard at night.  Summoning shades of daemons and dead from obscure incense smoke. 4 Folk magic relating to the dead and the Sidhe in Scotland is not so dramatic.

Cailleachs eye

SECOND SIGHT IN SCOTLAND

The glosses of high German refer to awakening the dead as hellruna or hellrun from the terms hel “death, hell” and the verb rūnen to “murmer”. Old English galdre is the word used for the incantation for the dead to return. Examples of this can be found in the Edda and The Incantation of Groa. In Gaelic, necromancy translates to  aog-dhruidheachd (death or ghost sorcery). It might also link to taghairm which according to etymology could roughly translate to “spectre call or cry” or the idea of a “spirits echo”. These terms all point toward the use of incantations, call, whispered charms or songs to the dead. Whether or not these are descriptive terms we can only guess at. However, some folk in Scotland don’t need to call on the dead. They are always present.

Second sight or second-hand sight in Gaelic is known as dà-shealladah (or taibhsearachd). Dà-shealladah refers to the ability to see two worlds at the same time. The world of the dead and living. Second sight comes to people in different ways. According to tradition the sithean (the people of the otherworld) would give the seer the sight for some purpose. Evidence from the witch trials suggests the sight was offered in times of need. More unusually the gift of second sight could be associated with some deformity or disability of the person from birth. These were considered marks of the otherworld. I constantly find the link between the otherworld and disability a fascinating one and one seldom explored.

Having second sight was considered unfortunate. It is not a psychic gift. It’s doesn’t rely on personal energy. It’s also not clairvoyance or spiritualism.  The lore states, the talent is granted by the otherworld almost exclusively. However, the sight allowed the seer to foresee the outcomes of people far away or due to die. For this reason it is confused with fortune telling or true dreaming which are different things.

Those with the sight are known as Taibshear (he who is spectre haunted or literally “wraith seer”). These Taibshear would see the Taibhs (spectres/wraiths) of people living (tamhasg) or dead (tannasg). The Taibh might show how they were going to or had already died. For example, they might be covered in water, gleaming of phosphorous, in grave clothes or wrapped in a shroud. This would show the person drowned/ is about to drown or die. Different Taibshear would interpret these scenes differently, as skill permitted.

It takes ability to manage the curse of second sight. Failure to manage it correctly might cause the Taibhsear to be taibhsearan (spectre haunted). Where the dead force the taibhsear to keep them ‘company by night’. Which is a nice phrase for haunted and stalked by the dead.  This ‘company by night’ would drive the seer mad on occasion. Understandably, authentic Taibshear take precautions to prevent this. For example, they won’t walk down the middle of the road or path at night least they are “run over” by some phantom. There are other indications someone is a genuine Taibhsear. I will not repeat them here to honour the tradition. Needless to say, today just as then, frauds are easy to spot.

Scottish folk magic practices provided those without the sight ways to get it. They might undertake a rite known as the Taghairn. 5 The Taghairn we refer to is the roasting of live cats over a number of days. Usually up to 7 or more. The operator of the ritual couldn’t sleep or eat whilst constantly turning the spit with the live cat on it. As soon the cat died another live cat must be put in its place and the work continued. Eventually cat spirits would arrive to torment the operator. Trying to drive him mad and get him to stop. If he continued despite them the rite would culminate in the arrival of a cat-sith. This “demon” would be able to bargain with the operator for anything he wished including the second sight in return for stopping the slaughter and torture. According to the lore those who carried out this ritual met very grisly fates. The last Taghairn ceremony was performed on Mull in the beginning of the seventeenth century. Supposedly recorded in the London Literary Gazette. You can read more in Martin, Martin (1716). A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland (2nd ed.). pp. 110–113.

Other practices to call on the dead were not so horrific. Some of these are still found in the folk magic manuscripts of our ancestors.

Cailleachs eye

The Black books

Svartkonstbok – a black book

A number of folk magic approaches are available to call on the dead. Examples are given of extensive use of the dead from our Norse cousins in the book ‘Graveyard Wonderers’ by Tom Johnson. 6 His book explores folk practice  from the “Black Art Books” – svartkonstbok focussed on the dead and they coloured the Scottish diaspora.

Svartkonstbok or Black Art Books, 7 contained many charms. Not all of them focussed on the dead. Professor Owen Davies has demonstrated the English response to this pan-European folk magic culture bears many similarities to its neighbours: both in practice and in the presence of the phenomenon of the Black Art Book. I’m not sure the same can be said for Scotland due to illiteracy the further North. However, Bishop Nicholson does give us a mechanism for transmission in the lowlands stating “our borderers are not, at this day, utter strangers to the black art of their ancestors. I met with a gentleman in the neighbourhood who showed me a book of spells and magical receipts, taken two or three days before in the pocket of one of our moss-troppers” (Camdens Britannia; Cumberland). 8

These books detail different techniques folk use to gain some benefit over their situation. They express survivals of older beliefs around the role of the dead yet are influenced by Christian religious thinking.  Calls to god and the saints intermingling with older belief around runes, ranns and charms. A demonstration of the melting pot of influences found in Europe and Scotland and loss of a separate indigenous ways of life.

Cailleachs eye

THE DEAD AS INTERMEDIARY

In this series, we’ve  discussed the dead operating as familiars. There are a number of examples I have come across enabling folk magic practitioners to gain this ability. For example:

Procuring the Service of a Dead Person

The Sámi Adolf said to take three hairs from a corpse, then say:

You who rest here
in whose name you now sleep
with this you shall give to me power to hear what I wish
you shall only follow me
you are the servant of my spirit
in the name of all the Saints
until the beginning of judgement day”.
Recite aloud at 12 o’clock at night.

Cross then + + + times over the coffin. 9

A more complicated example follows:

To Procure for Yourself Spirits

‘Take unleavened bread that was baked on Sunday morning or Saturday evening; either before or after the rising of the sun. Take just a crust and three new sewing needles made of thorn. Put the needles in a triangle in the bread and put three shillings worth of quicksilver into a prepared leather pouch that is sewn tight. (it’s unclear what we do with the bread, ed). Then late on Saturday evening go to the churchyard and lay the pouch under a headstone of a man and say slowly: –

‘Up and meet me. in the way that I shall order next Saturday evening!’

The next Saturday evening, go there, touch the pouch and repeat:

‘Up and meet me. in the way that I shall order next Saturday evening!’

On the third Saturday is said:

‘Up
in the name of God
the Father
the Son
and of the Holy Ghost
and come to meet me here
next Saturday night at midnight
in the form of a fly upon my window
then I shall take you into my service.’

Have a suitable little bottle to hand, cork it well and wrap it up and keep it with you so that you can catch the fly. When you want to know something, take the bottle in your hand, put it to your ear and speak slowly, then you will immediately get the right answer. Do not ask too much all at once, because then the fly will tire and suffer.

N.B. Look out that the bottle doesn’t break, because then the spirit will get loose, and that will cost you your life.

An example from the grimoire tradition following a ceremonial process can be found in the Discoverie of Witchcraft, Book XV, by Reginald Scot. It has the calling to god, threats and instructions to the spirit you’d expect. However, what we are interested is the first part. It begins with:

“first fast and pray for three days and abstain from all “filthinesse”; go to one that is newly buried, such a one as killed himself or destroyed himself wilfully or else get thee promise of one that shall be hanged and let him swear an oath to thee after his body is dead that his spirit will come to thee and do thee true service as thy commandments in all days hours and minuts. And let no persons see they doings but thy fellow. And about eleven a clock in the night go to a place where he was buried and say with a bold faith and heart desire to have the spirit come that thou do call for, thy fellow having a candle in one hand and a crystal stone in his right hand…”

The departed would appear in the crystal stone in the image of a 12 year old boy. The ceremony continues and uses the spirit of the departed soul as an intermediary to enable the ceremonial magician to enlist the aid of the ‘fairy’ Sibylia.

Scots example is interesting. The spirit is a person who has committed suicide or has been killed because of a crime.  This is a direct link to the idea of the restless dead we discussed in part one. It’s also of note the dead is strictly used to obtain the help of a “fairy”. In this role of emissary it relates to some of the experiences we read in the witch trails as seen in part two.

In the Scandinavian example, we have the idea of the spirit escaping and taking revenge. Similarly as the restless dead were believed to. We have examples of liminal times such as midnight or eleven leading to midnight. The days seem significant in a lot of the examples. Thursday was the best day to work with the dead for the Norse. Here we have Saturday mentioned, which is unusual.

Cailleachs eye

THE DEAD USED IN HEALING

The reverence for the dead in Scotland has left its traces in folk practice. It’s clear there is an existing belief that ancestors or the dead could affect a cure for people who approached them. Corpse parts were highly valued as amulets and periapt’s. For example, we have from Greece “… a bit of a child’s navel, shut up in something of silver or gold with salt, is a periapt which will make the patient at ease entirely”. There were many Anglo-Saxon laws against bewitching by means of the dead. Evidenced in the canons of Edgar and the penitential of Egbert which expressly forbid sacrilege at the grave and “witchcraft” by means of the dead.

We have instructions on how to create talismans from dead body parts offering protection:

A Particular Bone

human finger bone

The left ring finger of a corpse is good as a protective amulet. This finger of a dead man is a singularly good amulet of protection. If carried, no one can injure or shoot the bearer for a period of one day and one night. If a bullet is heading for the body, then it will rebound back and fall down harmlessly.

It is the spirit of the bone who receives the bullet.

The surest protective amulet is the left collar bone of the corpse of an aged man, as long as one buys it properly and this should be done on a Thursday night during the waning moon.

Another example of the dead being used to bring on a delayed birth from our Anglo-Saxon ancestors is found below:

‘Let the woman who cannot bring forth her child go to the grave of a wise man, and step three times over the grave and then say these words three time:

“This be my cure for the loathsome late-birth
This be my cure for the grievous swart-birth
This be my cure for the loathsome lame-birth.”

Interestingly, the lore we previously discussed stepping over an “unshriven” grave, would cause someone to become barren or unable to conceive. In this case the grave is one that belongs to a wise man and brings forth the birth.

Other charms involve using human ashes to apply externally to cure different diseases. A man’s burnt bones were a highly esteemed Scottish cure for Epilepsy or the ‘fits’. There are records of a collier’s wife as late as 1865 applying to a sexton for “ever so small portion of human skull for the purpose of grating it similar to ginger”. This she would use to cure epilepsy.

In a similar vein, we have examples of charms using the dead to help cure people from a burn. The below comes from Scotland:

A dead wife out of the grave arose
And through the sea she swimmed
Through the water wade to the cradle
God save the barin – burnt sair
Het fire, cool soon in God’s name”

Another example:

“Here come I to cure a burnt sore
If the dead knew what the living endure
The burnt sore would burn no more”

We have other practices where illness is passed into hill, hap, stone or sea. Places where the dead/Sídhe were thought to live. There are salves made from plants that help cure different elf shot and other maladies caused by the unseen. These plants would need gathered from grave or the side of the Sídhe mounds. Some of these balms could also help one see the dead and grant second sight.

Cailleachs eye

PLANT CHARMS AND THE DEAD

“When I take you
the one who lies in this grave,
do not deny me this root
that I take for plentiful blessings
rather give me your power and blessing
rest soundly in your Grave
I wish you no ill.
work peacefully in God’s name.”
Afterwards keep the root indoors.

– (Halmdahl. The Book of Healing. item No.58.)

Scottish folk lore has many references to plants, the dead and the other world. Still today people refuse to mix white and red flowers in the same vase in a hospital. We’ve examined the role of turf squares, Rowan and Birch wood played in the funeral rites of Scotland. Birch was strewn for the funeral procession and considered a sign of good fortune if it grew entwined with dog rose over lovers’ graves. 10 Rowan 11 or Elder were planted over graves to prevent the dead from rising. One such Rowan was planted over the grave of bowed Davie O’wuddus, the woodhouse Dwarf, who sir Walter Scot used as the model for his story The Black Dwarf.

Butter wort – Bog violet

Trailing pearl wort (Sagina procumbens) or bog violet (Mothan in Gaelic – Pinguicula vulgaris) were hung over doors where corpses awaited burial along with an iron nail imbedded in the lintel.

There are links to fumigation with Juniper branches or Pine candles (made from resin soaked pine wood not wax) to protect from evil spirits at Hogmanay or a new borns’ saining respectively. The fumigation with Juniper is a harsh exercise. All the windows and doors would be closed and juniper burnt till it smoked in each room. People in the house would cough and sputter. Only when they couldn’t handle the smoke any longer were the windows and doors open. The same process carried out in the barns and other buildings. A step removed from modern smudging.  12 Our more Gaelic cousins would use club moss to protect from spirits and yarrow as protective charms. Examples of the folk Rann (or charm) behind these activities can be found in the Carmina Gadelica.

Folk charms from the 16th century detail the creation of plant salves. These would allow you to see the dead or into the other world when rubbed on the eyes. These were called fairy ointments or balms and could be made as follows:

“take the jhuice of Dill, vervaine and Sy Johns Grease and anoint your eyes for three days and you shall see spirits visible” (Old MSS, Rapheal 1832)

Another recipe goes:

“Take a pint of sallet oyle and put it into a vial glasse; and first wash it with rosewater and marygolde water; the flowers to be gathered toward the east. Wash it till the oyle becomes white, then put into the glasse, and then put there to the budde of youn hazle, and the thyme must be gathered neare the side of a hill where faeries use to be; and take the grasse of a faerie throne; then all those put into the oyle in the glasse and sette it to dissolve three dayes in the sunne and then keep it for thy use.”13

We have a similar recipe from the leech books of the Anglo-Saxon’s though space doesn’t permit discussion. In our first recipe, the plants used are considered protective because they were used to thwart demons. Known as fuga daemonum (demon repelling). They were often picked at certain times as the second recipe describes (such as new moon in July or St Johns day or directions etc.) They could be hung in the house or carried in ligatures 14 on your person to prevent evil spirits or misfortune. 15 The second recipe points to an almost impossible set of circumstances to create it.  16 Though this isn’t unusual in the folk lore tales indicating a paradoxical deeper meaning.

I think it’s revealing how some plants in Scotland – Pine, Juniper, Rowan, Elder link to Norse heritage and Scottish folk tales and folk magic uses. As far as I am aware other plants such as the Mothan or butterwort, Pearl wort, Club moss link to our island heritage. These are unique to the diaspora of Scotland. Whereas, we have the comparatively modern use of St Johns wort, Vervain and Dill being discussed as part of the protective powers of plants.

Cailleachs eye

TO CURSE THE DEPARTED OR CREATE RESTLESS DEAD

We have previously explored examples of an unshriven corpse causing crops to blight or creating hungry grass. People could “unshrive” or un-sanctify a corpse past death. This would be a feared act, it would cause the victim to become restless and know no peace. An example of this practice comes from Russia, who hold similar beliefs to the Norse about the restless dead:

“One must secretly at sunset, go to a grave of a person known to have died unshriven, carrying a hen’s egg and an axe with a steel tied to it. Ask the corpse’s permission to take earth from his head and offer him a gift of a white swan (symbolised by the egg) and ask for his help. Go home without looking back stand on a stone near your home and draw a circle around the stone with the axe whilst reciting the protective spell “Save servant NN from the enemy” then throw the axe to the north and after a while fetch it and untie the steel. At a convenient opportunity throw the earth at the breast of the victim whilst reciting the spell “as NN died unshriven so may you die unshriven”

Throwing the cursed earth at the victim meant they would become unshriven and become the restless dead. A horrible fate for those who believed in the Christian god. It was not uncommon in the middle ages for the dead to be held on trial with this as an end result. An example of this practice is found in  Pope Formosus who was dug up, put on trial, condemned and his remains thrown in the Tiber. Similarly, permission to mutilate bodies has been found in Roman law.  Those who were in debt were exhumed and their corpse thrown to the dogs, cut into pieces or left for the birds. Comparable law and treatment is found in Germany and Norway. Mutilation of corpses forms obstacles to ritual burial. Ritual burial was required, as part of the right way of things we have discussed at length. Without the proper order followed the dead would become restless. And very angry.

The use of human bones is referred to in the Black Books and other folk magic practices. Following the above logic, to have and use part of a corpse would mean the dead person would become unshriven, unblessed and in turn restless. If restless, they could be at the bidding of the person who commands the body part. A risky game. The restless dead, whose bone was used, would take revenge when the folk practitioner died if they didn’t replace it. This does however present a new method by which folk magic of the departed works. It also means if you have a large collection of skulls and body parts you are potentially dealing with many restless dead wondering around your house.

Cailleachs eye

TO CURSE THE LIVING WITH THE DEAD

The dead could be used to get revenge. In Rome, it was not uncommon to find lead tablets inscribed with charms and requests would be interred in the grave of the dead person. Similar Norse cursing tablets have been found. We have a similar survival relating to the creation of the Corp Chre or Corp Chreadh – clay corpse or clay poppet: 17

“He being farther demandyd to whate ende the sprites yn the likenes of Todes and the pictures of man or woman made yn wax or claye to whate ende they serve he saithe that theire temperature of pictures made yn wax cawse the ptie [party] to contynewe sick ii hole yeres … as for pictures of claye, their confection is after this manner: ye must take the yerthe of a newe made grave, the ribbe bone of a dedde man or woman  bornyd (burned) to ashes of a woman for a woman and of a man for a man, and a balck athercobbe (spider) with also the inner pithe of an elder (tree) tempered yn warm water wherein todes must be first washed.” (Emphasis my own).

corp Chre or Corp Chreadh – clay poppet

Similarly, we have a use of body parts and particular plants in a Love Charm from the Carmina Gadelica:

It is not love knowledge to thee
To draw water through a reed,
But the love of him [her] thou choosest,
With his Avarmth to draw to thee.
Arise thou early on the day of the Lord,
To the broad flat flag
Take with thee the biretta of a priest, {foxglove]
And the pinnacled canopy. {butterbur]
Lift them on thy shoulder in a wooden shovel,
Get thee nine stems of ferns Cut with an axe,
The three bones of an old man,
That have been drawn from the grave,

Burn them on a fire of faggots,
And make them all into ashes.
Shake it in the very breast of thy lover,
Against the sting of the north wind.
And I will vow, and warrant thee.
That man [woman] will never leave thee.

The lucky bones are the joint of the big toe of the right foot and the nail joints of the left foot of an old man. These are said to be the first part of the human body to decay. It is also reminiscent of the Paticular Bone charm. 18

Conclusion

We have explored examples of the dead in Scottish folk magic from many perspectives in this series. This final part is a very brief sampler of the different charms and practices involving them. It helps to bring the previous ideas to life. It demonstrates the survival the power of the dead has across the different cultures. For the astute among you it also offers a number of different keys to explore in your own practice. These influences have and will continue to affect Scotland profoundly.  That is one thing i can be certain of.

So what does all this mean? The role the dead play has been maligned and sidelined. This 3-part series has encouraged exploration into the role the dead have in Scottish folk magic, everyday life and other seldom explored areas. The practices which ignore the role the dead play, yet focus on Scottish traditions are the lesser for it. Putting the dead to the fringes, I suggest, is a deliberate attempt by Christianity and “religions of the soul” to keep their foothold on our day-to-day life. This shouldn’t be a concern that folk practitioners have who are grounded in authentic and genuine approaches to the surround and community.

Folk practices dedicated to the restless dead invalidate the idea of the Christian soul. Practices that speak to ancestors and call on the dead demonstrate there is no such thing as an incorruptible soul as Christians perceive it.  Practices involving the dead would have been a deviation and heresy of highest order to the kirk. We should be wary of religious orders or hierarchies which promise to save your soul through application of their methods or bring you closer to their god head through application of their way. The way to honour and mange our dead is open to all of us. There is no need for graded orders, secret societies or “the spooky made manifest”. 19

What is known as ‘black arts’ were once common place practices of a community focused around the idea of ancestor veneration. They aren’t black or an art. They are a way of life long forgotten. The dead were once an community concern and not only for the learned or the clerics of their time. Now we sanctify and disinfect them away in fridges to be buried with sometimes never a word.

I admit there are areas of my thinking throughout this series which are ineffectual, need more evidence and closer examination. I admit whole heartedly there could be more evidence brought to bear to some of the discussion. Where there is bias i hope I have owned up to it. I have, however, tried to present an unbiased exploration to the best of my current ability and for a web-based format. I hope it’s been informative?  These writings, associated hypothesis and theories represent the tip of an iceberg in this area. The beginning of a journey. One I hope that others will start to explore and search for evidence in this fascinating area of Scottish folk practice.

I’d like to wish you an amazing Samhuinn and thanks so much to your committed reading of this series.

If you chose to pursue any of these ideas in your own practice, Sealbh math dhuit!

Cailleachs eye

Footnotes are below.


  1. these are footnotes

  2. From the complete political works of Burns in “on the late captain Grose’s penegrations Thro Scotland.”

  3. Taken from the Glossary of Archaic and Provincial Words, A Supplement to the Dictionaries of the English Language

  4. This series has already explored the links between the dead, demons and the sidhe. If you haven’t read the other parts it would be best to, as some of the leaps in logic I won’t be going into in massive detail

  5. The Taghairn could refer to the divination practice of man wrapped in a freshly slaughtered ox hide and left behind a waterfall or on the edge of the tide. However, we are not discussing this here

  6. If you can get hold of his PHD thesis I would very much recommend reading it

  7. Called in Danish Cyprianer and which Peukert calls in German Haus ‘Piiterlitteratur

  8. A moss troopper is similar to a border reiver, a bandit or raider would be a modern term for them.

  9. Usually, the Wise One sought the service of a spirit until a bone was returned, or perhaps until the practitioner passed from the Land of the Living into the Kingdom of Death. Here, however, the spirit must serve the Wise One’s long after his death. until the morning of Judgement Day (Halmdahl, Book of Healing. item No. 88 being acquired from Adolf Lundkvist, a Sámi in September 1936).

  10. Meaning death had not divided the lovers

  11. Used for the poles to carry the coffin.

  12. Interesting the Scottish use of Juniper is similar to the Nepalese puja ceremonies. Linking Juniper to other magico-religious rites.

  13. From Paul Huson’s mastering herbalism though I feel throne should maybe be thorn?

  14. What people would recognise as mojo bags today though unrelated.

  15. There are tales of folk with the second sight being cured of this affliction by carrying St Johns wort on them for a year. This may be related to the story of St Columba and the frightened Shepard. A potential motif of the power of Christ St Columba) over the dead (the second sight)

  16. How does one get grass from a fairy throne for instance?

  17. English in origin I think. This could be related to the moonpaste of Isobel Gowdie. The only recipe I have for moonpaste comes from Arabic magic and is different.

  18. The term old man was also used to refer to the southernwood, which is called ‘lus an t-seann duine,‘ the plant of the old man but highly unlikely it refers to it here.

  19. As i write this the phrase “No gods, no kings. Only man” comes to mind.

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7 comments

Tameika 1st December 2017 - 8:11 pm

I have really enjoyed your entire series, and have shared it to my local community. Thank you for sharing your insight and opening my mind a little further. Bright Blessings <3

Reply
stephen 16th April 2018 - 3:44 am

Wow this is amazing… I am very impressed. As a Scottish neo pagan I find this 100% fascinating. Nice work, amazing

Reply
Scott 30th April 2018 - 5:05 pm

Glad you enjoyed it Stephen.

Reply
skot jones 25th June 2019 - 11:39 pm

Many thanks for the wonderful work you put in, however, one conclusion isn’t clear to me, the idea of folk practice being at odds with the Christian idea of an incorruptible soul. Can you explain why you find this to be? It isn’t obvious to me. Thanks again.

Reply
Scott 23rd July 2019 - 3:17 pm

hi and thanks for your question. Gosh my writing was from while ago now and I’m trying to put myself into the writing again to remember what i was thinking. I think the idea that an incorruptible soul is that it would go to either heaven or hell or purgatory and if this was the case we wouldn’t be able to bring it back or communicate with it. It woudl be elsewhere or waiting for the apocalypse and end times somewhere …

Reply
Dale 19th April 2020 - 10:20 pm

I enjoyed that sliver of your brain that you shared with us. Utterly fascinating. It seems that the northern isles version of paganism utilizes their herbs as helpers to the point of almost personifying them. I also find this in the ATR spirituality. What are your thoughts on how a person may come to know these helpers this way?

Reply
Scott 28th April 2020 - 12:15 pm

Hey Dale, there’s lots of ways to do that depending on your tradition. We have lore and stories passed down and the clues are there but also hanging with plants and using whatever sight you have to explore them in a deeper can be grand. I’ve written a wee bit about this if you search the site for terroir (I think) you should find it.

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