Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  Celtic  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 29



O dream of a white horse fortells the coming of a letter.

To dream of a horse forewarns the arrival of a stranger.

To dream of swine indicates something is coming to cause much annoyance. To dream of eggs has the same meaning.

To dream of fresh fish means the arrival of children into the world.

To dream of butter indicates coming luck.

To dream of fruit or any sort of crop in season has the same meaning, but dreaming of such out of season means bad fortune.

To dream of fire is a prelude to the reception of "hasty news," often of a distressing kind.

To dream of water means coming disease.

To dream of losing a tooth forewarns of the loss of a friend. 1

To dream of being bitten by dogs or cats is interpreted as the plotting of enemies.

To dream of one who is dead has the meaning that unsettled weather is at hand.

For one unmarried to dream of being dead is looked upon as approaching marriage.

To dream of loosing the shoes is indicative of coming misfortune, but to dream of receiving a pair of new shoes means gaining a new friend.

To dream of seeing one smeared with blood is looked upon as a warning that an accident is to happen to the person, or that death is at hand.

When one is setting out on any undertaking the staff was thrown to find out whether there would be success or not. The staff was taken by the end and thrown as high as possible, and

p. 30

in such a way as to turn over and over lengthwise. If the head of the staff fell in the direction in which the journey was to be undertaken, there would be success. Servants, on setting out to a feeing market, threw the staff to divine in what direction they were to go for the next half-year. They were to go in the direction in which the head of the staff lay when it fell.

It is accounted unlucky to turn back to the house when you set out on any business. 1

When one is on a visit, if, on leaving, anything is forgotten, the saying is that the guest will soon return.

It is a common saying that it is only after a seven years' friendship one ought to stir the fire in a friend's house. To do so without being asked is looked upon by many as bad manners.

It is quite the etiquette with many of the common people, when sitting at fable with one of a higher rank, not to begin eating till the one of higher rank has begun.

Many, on calling at a house of the better class on business with the master or mistress, had a very strong dislike to tell their names, when asked by the servant who admitted them, that it might be given to the one on whom the call was made. Sometimes the name was positively refused, although there was no reason to suspect that admission would not be granted if the name were known.

If the "byke o’ the crook" or "the shalls" are turned towards the door when a new female servant makes her arrival, she will in no long time leave the service. The first work she is set to do is to fetch water from the well.

If one was rather suddenly seized with a craving for food, accompanied with a feeling of faintness, or if one seemed to eat more heartily than usual, it was attributed to going over what was called "a hungry hillock."

In cooking any dish, if the cooking seemed to require longer time than usual, it was said that there was "hungry folk's meat" in the pot.

In cooking, all the stirring must be done from left to right. Stirring food "the vrang wye" brought on bowel complaint.

p. 31

The cakes, when served up, had to be laid on the trencher with what was called "the right side" uppermost. The right side was the side that was uppermost when placed first on the "girdle" to be baked. To have placed cakes with the wrong side uppermost before any one was accounted an insult. Tradition has it that it was only to the traitor who betrayed Wallace to the English and to his descendants that cakes were served up in this way. Hence the proverb:--"Turn the bannock wi a fause Mentieth."

Many had a habit of putting a little straw into the brogue, or shoe, or boot in later times, as a sole to keep the foot warm. When the "shoe wisp," as it was commonly called, was used up, it was spit upon, and cast into the fire to be burned. On no account was it to be thrown into the dung-pit.

In dressing, the right stocking must be put on first, as well as the right shoe. Many clung most scrupulously to this habit. 1

When one put on a piece of new dress, a coin of the realm, called "hansel," had to be put into one of the pockets. 2 When one put on a piece of new dress, a kiss was given to and taken from the wearer, and was called the "beverage o’ the new claes." When a boy or a girl wearing a piece of new dress entered a neighbour's house something was given as "hansel."

If a button was sewed on to a piece of dress, or a single stitch put into it, on Sunday, the devil undid the work at night.

It was accounted lucky to keep a crooked sixpence in the purse or pocket. 3

It was unlucky to make a present of a knife or a pair of scissors, or any sharp or sharp-pointed instrument. It cut asunder friendship and love. 4

It was accounted unlucky to sing before breakfast. Hence the saying:--

"Sing afore breakfast,
Greet aifter ’t."  5

A tea-stalk floating in the cup indicated a stranger. It was taken from the cup and tested with the teeth whether soft or

p. 32

hard. If soft, the stranger was a female; if hard, a male. It was then put on the back of the left hand and struck three times with the back of the right. The left hand was then held up and slightly shaken. if the tea-stalk fell off, the stranger was not to arrive; if it stuck, the stranger would arrive.

A small black speck on the wick of a burning candle portends the arrival of a letter.

A film of carbon on the rib of a grate in which a fire is burning is regarded as the forerunner of a letter.

The small fiery spots that sometimes appear on the bottom of a pot just lifted off the fire went by the name of "sodgers," and were looked upon as men fighting, and as indicative of war.

The wife took from her husband's pocket a five-pound note. He missed it, and questioned the wife. She denied the charge, and at the same time cast suspicion upon a servant girl. The husband consulted a canny man. He wrote a secret formula on a slip of paper, folded it, tied it with a thread, and gave it to the man with instructions to kindle a fire after all the members of the household wore fast asleep, and to hang the charm in the "crook" over the fire when it was burning brightly, and as near the flame as possible, so as not to burn it. The man faithfully carried out his instructions. No long time passed till his wife jumped in pain and fear from her bed, confessed the theft, and restored the note. She never enjoyed sound health afterwards. The charm took effect only if the note had not been changed.

A nobleman was at one time driving in his carriage near Banff. The horses at first became restive, and then they stood stock-still, and no amount of lashing or coaxing would make them move. They had been arrested. The wise woman of the district was sent for in all haste. She came, and in a short time the arrestment was taken off, and the horses went on in their usual style.


There was among many a strong reluctance to report a theft to the magistrate, or to give any clue to the detection of a thief. To do so was accounted unlucky. It was also looked upon as a source of mishap to get back anything that had been stolen, and

p. 33

to keep it in possession. A five-pound note disappeared from a house. Suspicion fell upon a woman of somewhat doubtful honesty, and some of the members of the owner's household, much against his will, charged her with the theft. She denied. So manifest however was the crime that a friend of the woman paid back part of the money. This caused so much annoyance to the owner, that he could not rest in peace till he had given away in charity the whole sum that had been paid back. "I'll hae nae stoun faangs i’ the hoose," said the man.


29:1 Cf. Henderson, p. 111.

30:1 Cf. Henderson, p. 117.

31:1 Cf. F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 12 (48).

31:2 Cf. Henderson, p. 119.

31:3 Cf. Henderson, p. 112.

31:4 Cf. Henderson, pp. 117, 118, and F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 12 (43).

31:5 Cf. Henderson, p. 113, and F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 11 (34).

Next: Chapter VIII. Leechcraft