Home Manx LifeCharms The Fairy Woman

The Fairy Woman

by Ber Weyde

There used to be a wise old woman living near St. John’s on the Isle of Man, who was making charms against witchcraft, and curing many things with herbs and charms.

There was a couple that had been married many years, but had no family, and they were getting old at the time when a young couple went to live with them.

When their first baby was born, the young wife was nearly out of her mind, for she saw this childless woman coming to the bedside in the night and pulling the baby away from her. She got her husband to lie the floor side but she was little better; so the man consulted this wise old woman, and she went to gather some herbs, and when she came back she said it was the woman living in the house with them, and that she did not wish them any harm, but that she coveted the baby. That was the cause of her spirit coming in the night, when her body was asleep, and she did not know anything about it.

The fairy woman gave him some herbs, and told him to boil them a certain time, and wash the baby in some of the water, and to sprinkle the mother and the bed with some of the water, and then to empty the whole of the water and herbs that remained in a running stream. And he did all she told him to do and the mother and child got on very well, and she never saw the woman coming to the bedside nor pulling the baby away after that.

Note:  In older times, Healers on the Isle of Man who used herbs and charms were often given the title ‘Fairy’ e.g. Chalse Teare of Ballawhane was know as a Fairy Doctor, and a healer in this story is known as a Fairy Woman.

(source: Manx Notes & Queries (1904) edited by Charles Roeder; photograph http://bit.ly/2JhJ2sA)

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