The Doric Columns
In days gone by, people living in
and a number of seafaring rules were adhered to. Many of the superstitions aimed
at warding off
started as tall tales or legends, and developed into tradition over time Sailors
would observe many traditions that varied from
on the deck to steering clear of
people. This bizarre tradition started as it was believed that people with
would bring bad luck to a journey. However the bad luck could be avoided by
speaking to the person before they had a chance to say anything. “So
make sure you say ‘hello’ to any
A large repertoire of taboos and superstitions were observed in the fishing communities. Some beliefs were local, but many were common to all European seafarers. Some animals and their common names were taboo, in particular the rabbit, the hare and the salmon, “red fish” for salmon and “langlugs” for the hare, and inadvertent use of the wrong word would provoke the response “cauld iron” and the touching of the nearest piece of ferrous metal. Many of these superstitions can be traced back to belief in witchcraft, and a collective term for them in Scots – “freets” – is derived from the word fruit, meaning the good essence in an object that could be stolen by a Witch or Evil spirit. What is interesting is that these superstitions, which were once probably much more prevalent in society at large, survived longer in the fishing communities. Things that fell to the floor always meant something special – a prewarning of the arrival of someone. Different kinds of objects could not be put on the table or used inside the house. When these taboos were inadvertently broken by children, my mothers always had to “touch wood”. Mother’s had special gifts in fortunetelling from tealeaves soon were widely spread outside our community.
Fish Wives never walk but in single file, and they have a superstitious dread of being counted, a fear of which the mischievous boys of Aberdeen availed themselves to annoy them by calling as they pass:- One, Two, Three - what a lot of Fisher Nannies I see. A salutation equally dreaded by them is the cry 'Baud’s fit in yer creel,’ i.e. there's a hares foot is in your creel. This saying derives its meaning from the circumstance that a hare was seen to run through their 'fish town’ on the evening preceding a day on which a great number of their people were lost at sea.
To point at their boats with the fore-finger is the surest way of offending them.
“if tempted to gather up timber it was considered prudent to “borrow” such wood from them. A stolen piece of wood built into a ship is thought to make a vessel sail faster.” (thus evading the pursuers of their property)
Such superstitions would be upheld by regular definition on occurrences and would often become ritualistic in a family and compel members to observe them to extreme in their day to day living disciplines and thus create lifetime habits
Bogles, Spirits and Goblins
Black Donald - the devil - who cannot disguise his cloven feet.
Boobrie - water-bird of the Scottish Highlands.
Brownie - good-natured, invisible brown elves or household goblins. The younger version of the "Girl Guides" in Britain at least, are called "Brownies" for that very reason!
Clootie - another Scottish name for the Devil. The name comes from cloot, meaning one division of a cleft hoof.
Fachan - one leg, one arm and one eye.
Fionn - Scottish/Pictish magician, warrior and poet.
Ghillie Dhu - a solitary Scottish elf.
Kelpie - a water devil.
Lothian - Lothian traditionally takes its name from King Lot and father of Mordred.
Monster of Loch Ness - mythical? Surely not.... First seen by St Columba in 565AD
Red Cap - lives on the Scottish Border in ancient ruins of castles.
Scotia - a goddess but frequently portrayed as an old hag!
Selkie - a marine creature in the shape of a seal.
Shellycoat - a Scottish bogeyman who haunts the rivers and streams. He is covered with shells, which rattle when he moves.
Sidhe the Gaelic name for fairies in both Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland.
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