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TomasFlannabhra
July 1st, 2008, 03:24 PM
???

Seren_
July 1st, 2008, 04:04 PM
There's this: (http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/ffcc/ffcc122.htm)

”Placing iron about the bed, burning leather in the room, giving mother and child the milk of a cow which has eaten of the mothan, pearl-wort (Pinguicula vulgaris), a plant of virtue, and similar means were taken to ensure their safety. If the watching-women neglected these precautions, the mother of child or both were spirited away to the fairy bower.”

All to ensure their protection against The Good Folk until mother and baby could be kirked/baptised.

I can think of plenty of examples of milk being used in offerings, or milk products as part of blessings if that's any help...But nothing else milk specific springs to mind unless milk is the object of blessing or lustration...

Seren_
July 1st, 2008, 06:12 PM
Thanks, Seren. I'd be interested in anything you have that features milk products as part of blessings, indeed.

OK, this is what I have to hand, but I haven't gone through it and referenced it yet. I should have notes to hand, though, if you need any, though Carmina Gadelica, The Silver Bough and The Gaelic Otherworld are likely places to look first ;) Or Kevin Danaher, for Irish stuff:

For general offerings:


Milk

Milk was an extremely important product to the economy in Scotland and Ireland so it’s no surprise that it is a common offering. It was poured on the ground to the faeries or spirits who were believed to inhabit certain places, like fairy knolls or prehistoric mounds that were believed to be gateways to the Otherworld and the abodes of the Good Folk or gods, and in Ireland a little milk was left on the table at night for any faeries who might enter the house when everyone was sleeping.


In Scotland, the Gruagach was a spirit that was believed to look after the herds when the dairymaid could not be with them, and traditionally a libation of milk was left to them each Sunday in order to thank it for safeguarding the herd and to ensure it continued to do so. Another source, from Evans-Wentz, says that milk was poured to the fairies each night and failure to observe this resulted in the best cow of the herd being ‘taken’ by them:


"An elder in my church knew a woman who was accustomed, in milking her cows, to offer libations to the fairies. The woman was later converted to Christ and gave up the practice, and as a result one of her cows was taken by the fairies. Then she revived the practice."


Some sources mention the offering was poured onto a flat, round, hollowed stone in the fields where the cows were grazed. In the Highlands, such a stone was called Leac na Gruagaich, or ‘Flagstone of the Gruagach.’


In Ireland, whatever milk was spilled on the ground during milking was said to be for the fairies, "for faeries need a little milk". A little milk was poured to them after the cows had been milked in the field as well.


Caudle

Caudle is a custard-like drink made from milk, eggs and a little oatmeal, although modern recipes tend to also include a little sugar and other flavourings like nutmeg and whisky. It was usually made for the Beltane festivities in Scotland, and was drunk at the bonfire along with the bannocks that were made specially for the occasion. Libations were made at the same time, or else poured into a hollowed stone as with milk for the Gruagach.


Cheese and butter

As dairy products, cheese and butter were a good choice of offerings to help ensure future abundance. At certain festivals, such as Beltane in Scotland, the cheese might be of a specific sort, since it was traditional to eat sheep’s cheese and copious amounts of butter with the bannocks that had been specially made for the day.


Cheese and butter also formed part of an offering to the faeries in order to encourage them to give a healthy baby back to the parents when they suspected it had been taken away, with a sickly faery ‘changeling’ child left in its place.


When butter had been churned in Ireland, "the knife which is run through the butter in drying it must not be scraped clean, for what sticks to it belongs to the fairies. Out of three pounds of butter, for example, an ounce or two would be left for the faeries," Evans-Wentz records. Sometimes after churning the butter was mixed with herbs and then put in a wooden vessel and placed in a bog to ‘mature’ it, and it seems likely that many of the bog butters that have been found are the result of this practice, rather than being votive deposits.


On the mountain of Minchmuir, Peebleshire, it was traditional to throw cheese into the spring there, called the Cheese Well, as an offering to the Good Folk, "to whom it was consecrated". Similar fairy wells can be found throughout Scotland, with buttons, pins and other items being left instead.


Butter was a particularly appropriate offering to Brigid on the eve of her festival.


Porridge

In times of short supply of seaweed in parts of Scotland, large quantities of buttery porridge were poured into the sea on the Thursday before Easter to encourage a good crop of seaweed (used for food and fertiliser) on the shore. The porridge would be poured into the sea from the headlands around the island near to the areas of the coast where seaweed was usually most abundant.


Porridge was also offered in Ireland in shallow pits in the earth at Samhain, reminiscent of the Dagda’s feat of eating huge amounts of porridge (his favourite dish) from a large dugout pit at this time in The Second Battle of Mag Tured, thanks to the Fomorian’s efforts to try and make him insult their hospitality by failing to finish the meal that was provided for him.


On the eve of Imbolc porridge might also be left outside for Brigid, in Ireland.

Seren_
July 1st, 2008, 06:17 PM
Also, baptismal context specific, and again as yet unreferenced but probably look-up-able:


Dairy produce figures greatly in these baptismal rites, as well as in fairy lore in general. Cheese was regarded as being particularly potent protection, and it was carried by travellers to help keep them on the right path and not be misled by the thick mists that were common in the Highlands and Islands.

In some fishing communities, a basket of bread and cheese was placed on the mother's bed (or under the pillow) while a fir-candle was taken around the bed - or whirled where that wasn't possible - three times, while these words were repeated: “May the Almichty debar a' ill fae this umman, an be aboot ir, an bliss ir an ir bairn.”

The cheese and bread was then shared out, particularly to those present who were unmarried who were then supposed to put the cheese under their pillows to evoke dreams. In Protestant communities, Bibles might be used instead of cheese and bread, since such things were considered to be too pagan. In most recorded cases, however, the cheese figured in the rituals that took place after the newborn infant was baptised at church.

Upon returning home, they were sometimes placed in baskets half-filled with bread and cheese (that were covered with a fresh linen cloth), and then the oldest member of the family would lift the basket up and carry it three times round the fire and then hold it over the fire for a few seconds. The infant would then be returned to its cradle, and the bread and cheese was shared out amongst the people present.

Rather than being specifically performed to protect the infant from being taken by the fairies, this type of rite was carried out to ensure health and prosperity for the whole family (and anyone else present) in the year to come. It was part of a feast invariably called the merry meht, fáisd baisidh or cuirm baistidh, where the cheese, called the cryin kebback and bread played an important role. In some parts of Scotland, a “cryin' bannock” was also specially made, and guests would take a piece for their own luck as well as the mother and babe's.

Whisky was also usually drunk and it was considered to be extremely bad form for a guest to leave their glass untouched, bringing bad luck to the family. In some cases, the infant would be passed around sunwise in a circle, with each person uttering some form of blessing for the child.

Carmichael notes that it was desirable to say such a blessing in the form of a rhyme, something original - for “Verse lives when prose has perished,” - but Gregor records that where whisky was drunk to the health of the babe (in Scots, rather than Gaelic-specific communities), certain phrases were used like “Wissin the company's gueede health, an grace and growan to the bairn - or else “Fattenan an battenan tae the bairn.”

odubhain
July 1st, 2008, 10:17 PM
Oh, I'm well-aware of those uses for milk/ milk products. What I meant by milk products as part of blessings was if they were used in a manner like juniper or holy water i.e to bless, purify, protect, promote health, ward illness, etc. More along the lines of what you presented with the cheese and bread in the baptismal rites.

I've been doing some further searching online and in books...nothing has really come up on the subject as of yet.

I know of a traditional Irish form of Fairy doctoring that uses crannchur, incantations to the Sun, fire, water, witch hazel powder and sprigs, and a magical working within a circle to effect a cure for whatever ails you. This was provided by Patrick Logan in his _the Old Gods, the Facts about Irish Fairies_ (whose source was Lady Wilde and Sir Wiliam Wilde).

It uses water as the fluid for the potion. Would you be interested in that?

There's always the accounts of milk baths for healing and curing poisons.

Searles O'Dubhain

skilly-nilly
July 2nd, 2008, 10:06 AM
I know of a traditional Irish form of Fairy doctoring that uses crannchur, incantations to the Sun, fire, water, witch hazel powder and sprigs, and a magical working within a circle to effect a cure for whatever ails you. This was provided by Patrick Logan in his _the Old Gods, the Facts about Irish Fairies_ (whose source was Lady Wilde and Sir Wiliam Wilde).

It uses water as the fluid for the potion. Would you be interested in that?

There's always the accounts of milk baths for healing and curing poisons.

Searles O'Dubhain

My dictionary (and googling) translates "crannchur" as 'the casting of lots' or as 'the lottery'---- how does this connect to milk?

I looked up the 'milk' references in The Year in Ireland but they all seem to be about protecting the cows and their supply of milk rather than (going in the other direction) offering of or lustration with milk. On Crom Dubh's Sunday, he reports, butter was thrown in Lough Keeran in Mayo but to insure good production of milk/milk products, not because of an inherent Magical quality in butter (or milk).

_Banbha_
July 7th, 2008, 12:17 AM
Does anyone know of instances in either Ireland or Scotland where milk was used in rituals of blessing or lustration?

I know of one instance in Ireland where milk was used in baptismal rites for the wealthy, but I'm looking for more than that.

Thanks in advance!

I've never heard of anything beyond the baptismal font where I've heard of things like blessed sea water being used too. I can't add anything beyond what Seren posted and have found in my readings more along the lines of what skilly-nilly mentions: Protecting the cows, the flow of milk, increasing the flow of milk.

Slightly off topic but the chapter on Butter (20) in _Passing the Time in Ballymenone_ by Henry Glassie is worth a read on this. Most particularly on "The Wee Woman," a tiny charm found in a bog that brings luck and protects one families dairy.

odubhain
July 7th, 2008, 07:44 AM
My dictionary (and googling) translates "crannchur" as 'the casting of lots' or as 'the lottery'---- how does this connect to milk?

The ritual involved placing three pieces of witch hazel in a bowl of water and acting on which pieces sank and which pieces floated. This is a form of crannchur (selecting or deciding through lots). It makes no difference if the lots are floated, cast or selected from a bag. The idea is that one of the three is indicated by the deities or spirits invoked for the ritual.

The ritual also involved charring the wood in a fire before using the water. A circle was drawn using one of the charred pieces for the rest of the working. It doesn't connect to milk but it does connect to water. I suppose one could extend it to milk in the same way that baptism and healing bathes were extended to milk. Another connection between milk and fires is the way that cattle were run over embers and between fires. The original practice of this was said to have been done to singe the white cows so that they would appear brown or dark avoiding the tax/tribute imposed by the Formorii on white cattle. It's my contention that this is one reason that Luis (Ogham for Rowan) is said to be a "friend of cattle" (cara ceathra).

Searles O'Dubhain

skilly-nilly
July 7th, 2008, 10:03 AM
Slightly off topic but the chapter on Butter (20) in _Passing the Time in Ballymenone_ by Henry Glassie is worth a read on this. Most particularly on "The Wee Woman," a tiny charm found in a bog that brings luck and protects one families dairy.

Sounds like a great book, and I put it on my to-buy list!!