Friday, 13 August 2010

Aaagh!! A Witch!

Aaaaggh, it's Friday the 13th! The number 13 has appeared several times today in the archive; in prices, customer numbers, comments on the At Home With Faber Blog and other random numbers. I'm getting a taxi home and hiding under the covers until midnight.

We are also photocopying a lot of folklore documents today including this witchy tale from a Northern Isle:

A Sanday Witch.

There used to be a boat that carried cargo, sheep and, if there was room,  passengers between the North end of Sanday and North Ronaldsay.

One day, a woman came to the boat and asked for passage to North Ronaldsay. The boat was already very full and it was not considered safe to take the woman on board, so she was refused. The woman became very angry and hurried back to her home.

There was cream in her kirn, and she looked out a man's cap and floated it on the cream. She then went to the fireside, sat down, and began to make what a servant girl in the house described as 'funny noises'. She did this for some time, then asked the servant girl to take a look to see if the cap was still afloat. It was, so the old lady redoubled her efforts. The second time that she instructed the servant girl to look at the cap it had sunk to the bottom of the kirn, so the woman relaxed and said that it was fine.

As for the boatsmen, they had started out in perfect weather and had a good voyage, but as they were approaching the North Ronaldsay shore, a sudden squall of wind capsized the heavily loaded boat and it SANK. They were so near the shore that no lives were lost, and everyone managed to get ashore safely, but when they heard what the woman had done they were of the opinion that, if she had not taken so long to work out her piece of sorcery, they might well have lost their lives.

Her power was much feared from this time and she was never again refused a passage.

I disapprove of this, as it is just encouraging bad behaviour. Let it be known that should any spells, hexes or voodoo curses be directed towards any members of staff here at the Orkney Library and Archive, it may well affect your borrowing privileges, photocopying charges and the use of any of our staggering array of facilities.

Tale taken from the Ernest Walker Marwick collection reference D31/1/5/15

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