Wednesday 17 August 2011

A Charm to Avert the Evil Eye

Evil Eye / Droch-Shùil
Another example of the use of a thread cure used as a charm to avert the evil eye, or droch-shùil, was collected by Alexander Carmichael on 10 April 1875, from the recitation of Fionnghal NicLeòid, Flora MacLeod, a cottar, from Carnan, Ìochdar, South Uist. Immediately following the charm, the reciter then goes on to describe the actions that made such a charm efficacious. In effect, what she is describing is the method used to produce uisge-airgid, or silver-water, a cure used most commonly to heal cattle that had been subjected to the pervasive influence of the evil eye. The charmer would sprinkle the water over the animal, or in some cases, the person so affected, while reciting the verse and, if done correctly, this would relieve the sick animal or person which, according to the testimony, would make the charmer ill for the next twenty-four hours. This is most likely an example of what may be described as sympathetic magic. In recompense for such a service the charmer would require to be paid even it was merely something as insignificant like a pin.

Ni mis[e] air obair ri shuil
A uc[hd] Phead[air] a uc[hd] Phoil
A uc[hd] Phadra mhin na feaist
Is gach math ga math gan tig
Ga be rinn a t suil dhuit
Gun till i eir fhein
Gun till eir a dhaoine
Gun till eir a sprei[dh]
Eir a chaillich mhiongaich
Mhangaich bheur-luirg
Dh-eirich sa mhaduin[n]
A suil na seilbh a seilbh
na toin
Nar a lethi le a buaile fhein
A chuid nach ich na fith
ich dhi
gun ich na h eoin i
4 rin[n] an t suil dhuit.
Fear agus bean gill & ni[gh]ean
3 eile thileas e A[n] t Ath[air] s mac
agus an Spiord naomh.
Anothers – Goes ere sunrise
to a well where the living & the dead
pass – a spring that does not
dry. She puts the cuman sun-
wise round the well & strikes the
bot[tom] on the water say an ainm an
A[thai]r sa Mhi[c] san Sp[iorad] n[aomh] amen.
This is done 3 times. She then
lifts a small quant[ity] of water
a glassful will suffice. Then
3 leugagan beaga bronach
from the edge or bot[tom] of the
well. She throws on over the
guala thoisgeul left saying
Rosad [ag]us farmad na bhas
deoi[gh] a bheo’aich [bheothaich] (no’n duine)
sin a lai[gh] eir a siod. She then
brings home the 2 other & silver
 (1/-) (6d is broken money & will not
do) or a brooch in the water
which she bri[n]gs home sprinkles
it on the animal saying an
ainm an A[thai]r sa Mhic san
Sp[iorad] N[aoimh]. The illness then
leaves (a greim?) the sick
and goes to the expert which
makes her sick & vomiting
for 24 hours. She w[ou]ld re-
quire to be well paid – some
thing must be given her – even
a pin.

Carmina Gadelica, ii, pp. 56–57.
CW111/89 & 90, ff. 20v–21r.
Image: Evil Eye / Droch-Shùil.

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Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4

Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4
Stone whorls collected by Alexander Carmichael, held by West Highland Museum (ref. WHM 1992 13 2.4). [©]