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Scotland, Harris - The Testimonies of Ann Macneil & Angus Macleod

Identifier

013981

Type of Spiritual Experience

Hallucination

Number of hallucinations: 2

Background

A description of the experience

The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, [1911]

Two testimonies, one from Ann Macneil, in the year 1865, the other from  Angus Macleod of Harris, in 1877. In relation to their belief in fairies the anti-clerical bias of the reciters is worth noting :--

'That is as I heard when a hairy little fellow upon the knee of my mother. My mother was full of stories and songs of music and chanting. My two ears never heard musical fingers more preferable for me to hear than the chanting of my mother. If there were quarrels among children, as there were, and as there will be, my beloved mother would set us to dance there and then. She herself or one of the other crofter women of the townland would sing to us the mouth-music we would dance there till we were seven times tired. A stream of sweat would be falling from us before we stopped--hairful little lassies and stumpy little fellows. These are scattered to-day! scattered to-day over the wide world!

The people of those times were full of music and dancing stories and traditions. The clerics have extinguished these. May ill befall them! And what have the clerics put in their place? Beliefs about creeds, and disputations about denominations and churches! May lateness be their lot! It is they who have put the cross round the heads and the entanglements round the feet of the people. The people of the Gaeldom of to-day are anear perishing for lack of the famous feats of their fathers. The black clerics have suppressed every noble custom among the people of the Gaeldom--precious customs that will never return, no never again return.' (Now follows what the Reciters heard upon the knee of their mother):--

'"I have never seen a man fairy nor a woman fairy, but my mother saw a troop of them. She herself and the other maidens of the townland were once out upon the summer sheiling (grazing). They were milking the cows, in the evening gloaming, when they observed a flock of fairies reeling and setting upon the green plain in front of the knoll. And, oh King! but it was they the fairies themselves that had the right to the dancing, and not the children of men! Bell-helmets of blue silk covered their heads, and garments of green satin covered their bodies, and sandals of yellow membrane covered their feet. Their heavy brown hair was streaming down their waist, and its lustre was of the fair golden sun of summer. Their skin was as white as the swan of the wave, and their voice was as melodious as the mavis of the wood, and they themselves were as beauteous of feature and as lithe of form as a picture, while their step was as light and stately and their minds as sportive as the little red hind of the hill. The damsel children of the shelling-fold never saw sight but them, no never sight but them, never aught so beautiful.

'"There is not a wave of prosperity upon the fairies of the knoll, no, not a wave. There is no growth nor increase, no death nor withering upon the fairies. Seed unfortunate they! They went away from the Paradise with the One of the Great Pride. When the Father commanded the doors closed down and up, the intermediate fairies had no alternative but to leap into the holes of the earth, where they are, and where they will be."

This is what I heard upon the knee of my beloved mother. Blessings be with her ever evermore!'

The source of the experience

Celtic

Concepts, symbols and science items

Concepts

Fairy

Symbols

Fairy

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

References