of Dunkeld and Tayside Region
do we throw a coin in the River Tay or the River Forth for
luck ? The origin and significance of many of our customs,
superstitions and sayings are now unknown to us. Even such things
as guising, dookin for apples, washing our faces in May
dew, bonfires and turnip lanterns, these are not merely games
or frolics; they are relics of ancient rites.
truth is, we are still very much encompassed by the customs
of the ancient past. These are many and strangethey begin
with our birth and end only with death and burial. The curious
customs associated with weddingsespecially the weddings
of fisher and country folkwould need a web site to themselves!
which, we still have our lucky charms, our silver coins, our
white heather. We no longer venerate the oak, like the Druids,
as the symbol of the Supreme Power, whose spirit emanated in
the mistletoe fruit. But mistletoe berries still play a prominent
part in the festive fun of Hogmanay.
no longer believe that Sir Johns Wort (St. Columbas
axillary flower, and often used in Midsummer Eve celebrations)
will ward off the fairies, but now believe it will ward off
depression. The rowan-tree (a protection against witches) still
grows alongside many a cottage door, as well as alongside many
ancient sites of pagan worship. You see, the past is inextricably
bound up with the present.
survive in our most modern communities. Think of the number
thirteen, fear of going under ladders, looking at the new moon
through glass, black cats, bringing hawthorn or wild cherry
blossom into the house, spilling salt.
we have ourselves witnessed in modern politics and war, the
magical powers of a leader can still be impressed
on the mass of the people by ritual performance and symbols.
So it looks as if the magical attitude in human affairs is far
from dying out.
may no longer worship the sun, but sun-worship is not entirely
forgotten. We may not venerate our river gods, but when we open
the salmon-fishing season by breaking a bottle of whisky over
the bow of a boat, are we not endeavouring (with this great
sacrifice!) to solicit the favour of Tatha, the ancient goddess
of our greatest river?
to Dunkeld History