Friday, May 14, 2010
Scottish Birthing Custom or Superstition?
If you ever heard someone say writing a book is easy, they're lying.
If you are my friend, family member or even a frequent reviewer of this blog, you know this writer loves everything Scotland. I can't seem to get enough of their rich history. I love reading about their customs and traditions. It was tremendously helpful while I was writing Highland Savior. Sometimes the best ideas come from these books.
Whether researching the Campbells or MacGregor's, I came upon some pretty interesting customs along the way. One of them that stood out to me was a birthing custom or some would call it a superstition. I'll let you to decide.
There was an ancient custom in the Western Isles around the 1600's. A man would carry fire in his right hand and form a fiery circle around the belongings of a particular family i.e. houses, corn, cattle. The same concept was used around children until they were christened. This ritual would repeat both morning and at night.
It was spoken that this ritual was an effective means to preserve both the mother and the child from the power of evil spirits. Some people thought that evil spirits were always around during that time to cause mischief and sometimes carry away the infant. Once the spirits carry away the child, they replace them with a changeling. Changelings are an idea that fairies stole children and left changelings in their place. These "replacements" were only supposed to live 18-20 years.
In order to keep the evil spirits at bay, some believe the bairn was never to be alone. Someone would always sit by the cradle because once you left the bairn unattended, the evil spirits may pull an old switch-a-roo. Silver was also used as a deterrent in the cradle to keep these evil spirits at bay. Mmmm...I thought that was just for werewolves.