Open main menu

Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/95

This page needs to be proofread.

Something very much the same took place every year on May-day at Home, a village on the fringe of Dartmoor. But it has been discontinued of late years.

About 1869, in Moray, a herd of cattle was attacked with murrain, and one was sacrificed by burying alive.

Dr Mitchell says that in the North-west Highlands and Isles of Scotland, to cure epilepsy, a black cock must be buried alive with a lock of the patient's hair and some parings of his nails. "This is a cruel and barbarous thing, but it is much more than that: it is a sacrifice deliberately and consciously offered in order to propitiate a supernatural power and effect the expulsion of the demon which is believed to have possession of the unfortunate epileptic. The ceremonies which attend the sacrifice leave little doubt as to its origin, or as to its past and present significance. It is nearly always gone about in a secret and solemn manner--in such a way as will just tend to secure its important object. A special superhuman agency, who is not the God of the Christians, is acknowledged and appealed to, and an effort is made to avert his malevolence. The whole idea and procedure are as truly heathenish as anything to be found among the savage nations of