In Scotland there is an ancient tradition of telling stories, eye to eye, mind to mind and heart to heart. There is no doubt that this is the way they should be told. For this is when the magic happens. When they come alive in the soul of the listener. Like the tellers of old, I had always resisted making recordings but the need to keep the old folktales alive won the battle. I have a YouTube channel ROWAN MORRISON - STORYTELLING WISE WOMAN that hosts more of my recordings. When I am not out swimming with the selkies, I will put up more recordings.
ORKNEY WITCH CHARM
In the 1880s, folklorist Walter Traill Dennison documented a complex ritual carried out by a witch to pledge herself to the powers of Darkness. When the moon was full, they would go to the shore at midnight, and turn three times against the sun before lying down on the devil’s place. The liminal place where land meets sea. The witch would then stretch out their arms and legs, and place stones beside each of them. Further stones were also placed by the head, the chest and over the heart. Once enclosed by the circle of seven stones, the witch spoke the words in the charm aloud.
After speaking these words, they turned onto their left side, arose, and flung the stones used in the ritual into the sea. The Orcadian scholar Hugh Marwick, suspected elements of the rite - the ebb, the anticlockwise turns, and the positioning of the stones - represented an actual Orcadian tradition. However, he believed that certain lines did not fit with the rest of the charm and concluded that they were added later to impart an air of "evil" to the incantation.
After speaking the full charm. I have recorded the lines that were believed to be the original parts as a chant. In case you’re wondering, the term Wallowa is a Scottish term for the devil. It is believed to refer to the Old Norse "volva" (prophetess) which connects it with older pagan elements found throughout Orkney folklore that calls on power of the "great dark witch".
(Information taken from www.orkneyjar.com)
This was filmed in Wemyss Caves in Fife for the International Storytelling Festival 2020. It explores the strange world of the superstitious seafarer and finishes with my version of a tale from Shetland, that I call Sailors Ghost.
This film explores the folklore of the mythical mermaid and finishes with my version of a well know traditional folktale called Johnny Croy and his Mermaid Wife. Filmed in the Wemyss Caves for the International Storytelling Festival 2020.
This film explores folklore of my most loved shapeshifting creature, the selkie and finishes with my version of a traditional tale called The Seal Killer. Filmed in the Wemyss Caves for the International Storytelling Festival 2020.
Rowan Morrison doesn't just tell a story. She becomes the story, and she weaves her listeners into the magic of that. (Ursula Aerts)