Many visitors come to Scotland wishing to hear stories of ghosts and other such supernatural beings. As a Celtic nation we are awash with tales and legends of fey creatures, witches and shadowy spirits. Several of our castles harbour at least one ghost and our monster in Loch Ness is famed the world over.
Other water spirits include Selkies which take human form when on land and are often mistaken for seals. Ask our guides which tree provides the best protection against witches and why you should never caress another water creature, the fearsome Kelpie. Sculptor, Andy Scott’s, “Kelpies” rearing over Falkirk’s Helix Park embody these magnificent and powerful creatures as Clydesdale horses.
In Scotland we have water in abundance and we live always close by it. An old druidic belief that the Gods live between the water and the sky has led to islands being used as burial grounds and the tradition of Clootie Wells where an offering to the goddess can be left on a tree beside a water source.
Hallowe’en, in particular, has always been a time when the portals between the temporal and supernatural worlds are open and folk tales abound of strange events at this time. Our national bard Robert Burns wrote of Tam o’Shanter and his unnerving encounter with a coven of witches on Hallowe’en by the ruins of Alloway Kirk in Ayrshire. Scotland’s Hallowe’en tradition has its roots in the mists of time. A guide can tell you why even today children go out guising and explain about dooking for apples.
New Year has long been a time of celebration in Scotland, when to ensure the best of luck for the following 12 months the “First Foot” should always arrive with his black bun, his coal and his whisky. Also in mid-winter, other rituals involve fire as with the Clavie at Burghead on the old New Year and the dazzling Fireball ceremony in Stonehaven after the bells on December 31st. Both evoke, perhaps, the ancients’ need to recall the sun in mid-winter.