Folklore provided explanation for events beyond reason, or those simply feared. Particularly renowned for their superstition were seafarers, hopeful of attracting good luck or avoiding bad. Every telling on dark stormy nights at a ceilidh, would enhance the ferocity of the creature, the peril of the myth, or the wisdom in the superstition.
Revelling in the turbulent white waters of a storm, 'the blue men of the minch', attempt to lure sailors to disaster - a mythical challenge still facing sailors today. A sharp tongue, skill with riddles and ability in having the last word is considered a sailors only escape.
Somewhat gentler, are tales of the romantic selkies who must take care if they shed their sealskin ashore, preventing them from returning to the sea. Mermaids are believed to leave gifts ashore, a Mermaids purse (dogfish egg sack) and toenails (the painted top shell), to offer inspiration to the islands craftspeople.
'Whistling up the wind' is considered unlucky, summoning a gale that may lead to the loss of the boat. Blood spilt at sea will turn away the white fish shoal. Mackerel should be eaten from tail to head or fish will turn their heads to escape the nets. Seagulls are believed to be the souls of lost seamen. The thread of these superstitions are woven through our daily culture, our songs, our literature, art and craft enriching them with a romantic mystic.
On our maps, place names like The Fairy Pools, Fairy Glen and the Fairy Bridge, where a fairy princess left her mortal husband Chief of the Clan Macleod from nearby Dunvegan Castle to return to the land of the Faerie, perpetuate, ensuring these stories remain vibrant and alive, retold to entertain in the true island spirit.
Musicians, The Peatbog Faeries, took their name from such folklore, and a pub in the south of the island was named after the legendry 'Saucy Mary' a Norse Princess who married a MacKinnon chief called Findanus. Living at Dun Haakon they stretched a heavy chain across the waters at Kyle and so levied a toll on all passing ships.
Highlanders and islanders have always been considered as gifted with second sight. The Brahan Seer or 'Coinneach Odhar' described by the authorities as the 'perpetual enchanter' had many astounding insights which are considered to have come to fruition.
... so take care where you whistle and watch out for your encounter with the otherworld.