Balder the Beautiful, Volume I. eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 545 pages of information about Balder the Beautiful, Volume I..

[793] John Ramsay, of Ochtertyre, Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth Century, edited by Alexander Allardyce (Edinburgh and London, 1888), ii. 446 sq. As to the custom of cutting off the leg of a diseased animal and hanging it up in the house, see above, p. 296, note 1.

[794] (Sir) Arthur Mitchell, A.M., M.D., On Various Superstitions in the North-West Highlands and Islands of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1862), p. 12 (reprinted from the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. iv.).

[795] County Folk-lore, vol. v. Lincolnshire, collected by Mrs. Gutch and Mabel Peacock (London, 1908), p. 75, quoting Rev. R.M.  Heanley, “The Vikings:  traces of their Folklore in Marshland,” a paper read before the Viking Club, London, and printed in its Saga-Book, vol. iii.  Part i.  Jan. 1902.  The wicken-tree is the mountain-ash or rowan free, which is a very efficient, or at all events a very popular protective against witchcraft.  See County Folk-lore, vol. v. Lincolnshire, pp. 26 sq., 98 sq.; Mabel Peacock, “The Folklore of Lincolnshire,” Folk-lore, xii. (1901) p. 175; J.G.  Campbell, Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland (Glasgow, 1902), pp. 11 sq.; Rev. Walter Gregor, Notes on the Folk-lore of the North-East of Scotland (London, 1881), p. 188.  See further The Scapegoat, pp. 266 sq.



Sec. 1. On the Fire-festivals in general

[General resemblance of the European fire-festivals to each other.]

The foregoing survey of the popular fire-festivals of Europe suggests some general observations.  In the first place we can hardly help being struck by the resemblance which the ceremonies bear to each other, at whatever time of the year and in whatever part of Europe they are celebrated.  The custom of kindling great bonfires, leaping over them, and driving cattle through or round them would seem to have been practically universal throughout Europe, and the same may be said of the processions or races with blazing torches round fields, orchards, pastures, or cattle-stalls.  Less widespread are the customs of hurling lighted discs into the air[796] and trundling a burning wheel down hill;[797] for to judge by the evidence which I have collected these modes of distributing the beneficial influence of the fire have been confined in the main to Central Europe.  The ceremonial of the Yule log is distinguished from that of the other fire-festivals by the privacy and domesticity which characterize it; but, as we have already seen, this distinction may well be due simply to the rough weather of midwinter, which is apt not only to render a public assembly in the open air disagreeable, but also at any moment to defeat the object of the assembly

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