Most of you will have heard of James George Frazer's hugely influential book The Golden Bough, acknowledged by Yeats, Eliot, WCW, Pound, Lawrence and many others as deeply important to their work.
Well The Silver Bough is also written by a Scot. First published in 1956 and authored by F. Marian (no less!) McNeill, it explores Scottish folklore and folk belief and is packed with treasures, local stories, etymology of place-names, history, history of religion and religious and Druidic practices. Also full of gorgeous words like 'skeely' and 'gowpens' as in from this short extract:
"In Orkney, sea-water was used in a rite to bring butter. The skeely woman, or charmer, went to the shore with a pail and waited until nine waves had rolled in. At the reflux of the last, she took three gowpens of water (a gowpen is as much as can be held in cupped hands) and carried them home in her pail. The water was put into the churn with the milk and ensured a good supply of butter."I love all the folklore from Lewis, the stories are link to my ancestors. I remember when I was a child there used to be a 'fairy well' on the beach near my grandparents house in Lewis. I used to search it out on my holidays, a little circle of stones on a huge Atlantic beach where fresh water bubbled up from under the ground.