Thursday, May 25, 2017

Feet, Shoes and Superstition : Spooky Scotland: Green, Grey, and White Ladies

Scotland is widely thought to be one of the most haunted countries in the World. There are reputedly more ghosts, ghouls, banshees and long-leggety beasties than anywhere else. Reference to spectres stretch back centuries, and have their roots in the mists of time. From brutal murders and injustice to crimes of passion and unrequited love, the hereafter is full of spirits attached to the place where it happened or so the para-normalists would have us believe.

Acceptance of ghosts and ghoulies is all rather Celtic with the common belief we walk not only with the dead but also the unborn. That is what the Festival of Samhain is all about (The Mid-Winter Festival from Halloween to Hogmanay). Most Jock Tampson’s bairns take it with a pinch of salt and like Robert Burns as he wrote Tam O’ Shanter, we roar with laughter at the gullibility of others. It is however always good for the tourists and there are plenty of Scottish castles and stately homes with famous ghosts (some of which you can stay in).

Lady ghosts are the most commonly reported in haunted castles. They fall mainly into three catagories: Green, grey or white ladies.

Green ladies are peculiar to Scotland and most are called ‘Jeanie.’ There are two varieties: the most frequently seen is a benevolent slender young woman with long flaxen hair who wears a long green gown which reaches the ground. Sometimes called a gruagach or a brownie they are friendly water spirits. The others are demons or glaistigs and have hairy goat like bodies with cloven hooves for feet. The long gown covers their hideous body. Good Green ladies help protect the home and family. Bad Green Ladies, usually spirits of a previous mistress, prefer to be alone and dislike dogs.

Many historical buildings have Green Ladies:-
Ardblair Castle, Balgonie Castle, Ballindalloch Castle, Comlongon Castle, Crathes Castle; Dalzell House in Motherwell, Dunstaffnage Castle, Argyll, Fernie Castle , Fyvie Castle, Knock Castle (Isle of Skye), Skipness Castle near Loch Fyne, Stirling Castle, Tulloch Castle Hotel, Dingwall, Scotland.

Grey Ladies are the ghosts of women who died violently for the sake of love or through the heartless actions of a family member. They are tragic figures and wander endlessly forever lost. Historical buildings have Grey Ladies include:-

Brodick Castle , Dalhousie Castle Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh, Dalzell House, Motherwell, Dryburgh Abbey Hotel, south of Melrose, Fyvie Castle, near Turiff, Aberdeenshire, Glamis Castle, Angus

The White Lady (or Weeping Woman) is associated with some local legend of tragedy. Common theme is losing or being betrayed by a husband, boyfriend or fiancé. In some myths, the women have murdered their children after betrayal by their spouse, followed by suicide. White Ladies do not have any special powers, other than being visible to some. Like the Irish banshee they do foretell a death. And are most often seen by children and elders. Popular belief says if a child sees a White Lady, that she will bless it and protect it throughout its life. In contrast, when an older person sights a white lady it foretells their death i.e. usually a peaceful and painless death after a long life, surrounded by friends and family.

Historical buildings have White Ladies:-
Castle Huntly, Dalzell House, Motherwell, Drumlanrig Castle

"Oh, ye'll tak' the high road, and I'll tak' the low road,
And I'll get to Scotland afore ye;
But me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond."

An old belief was when a Scotsman died in a foreign land, their spirits would return to their place of birth by an underground fairway called “The Low Road.” This was also the route taken by the 'fairies' and ‘little people.' The lyrics to the traditional air, Loch Lomond is thought to refer to two Scottish soldiers from Bonnie Prince Charlie's army, who were imprisoned in Carlisle gaol, after the retreat in 1745. One soldier was to be released so that he could return home to Scotland by the High Road; the other was to be executed at dawn. He in turn would travel home more quickly as a Dead Soul by way of the Low Road.

Reviewed 14/02/2016

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