Thursday, July 14, 2011

Orkney Charm for Becoming a Witch

Standing stones in Orkney
While recording the rapidly disappearing folklore and traditions of Sanday in the 1880s, folklorist Walter Traill Dennison documented the ritual carried out by aspiring witches to gain their magical powers.

The witch had to first wait for a full moon. Then she would go to a solitary beach at midnight where she had to turn widdershins three times before lying prostrate on the ebb - the area between the limits of high and low tide.

She then had to stretch out her arms and legs, and place stones beside them. Further stones were also placed at her head, on her chest and over her heart.

Once enclosed by the circle of seven stones, the witch spoke aloud:
O' Mester King o' a' that's ill,
Come fill me wi' the Warlock Skill,
An' I shall serve wi' all me will.
Trow tak me gin I sinno!
Trow tak me gin I winno!
Trow tak me whin I cinno!
Come tak me noo, an tak me a',
Tak lights an' liver, pluck an' ga,
Tak me, tak me, noo I say,
Fae de how o' da heed, tae da tip o' da tae.
Tak a' dats oot an' in o' me.
Tak hare an hide an a' tae thee.
Tak hert, an harns, flesh, bleud an banes,
Tak a' atween the seeven stanes,
I' de name o' da muckle black Wallowa!

"The person must lie quiet for a little time after repeating the Incantation. Then opening his eyes he should turn on his left side, arise, and fling the stones used in the operation into the sea. Each stone must be flung singly; and with the throwing of each a certain malediction [unrecorded] was said."
Here is a rough modern interpretation of the Orkney charm.
Oh Master King of all that's ill,
Come fill me with the Witches' Skill
And I shall serve [you] with all my will.
Troll take me if I sin!
Troll take me if I fly!
Troll take me when I cannot!
Come take me now, and take me all,
Take eyes and liver, organs and feet
Take me, take me, now I say!
From the brow of the head, to the tip of the toe.
Take all that’s out and in of me.
Take hair and hide and all to thee.
Take heart and brains, flesh, blood and bones
Take all between the seven stones!
In the name of the great black Witch Goddess!


  1. For the unrecorded malediction recited during flinging the stones, may I suggest: "Troll take these stones and witch's bones!" I'm looking forward to my next trip to the beach.

  2. Beaches would be important liminal spaces in Orkney, and even in many places in America. Not so much where we live, which is surround by farmland. I'm thinking that an adaptation for landlocked Witches might be a crossroads rite, flinging the seven stones far into a field.

  3. I am thinking of a beach near St. Augustine, where you and I and my partner once wandered...

  4. That was one of the best nights of my life, and a memory I will cherish for as long as my neurons will allow.

  5. Hi,

    I'd like to politely correct your translation of a couple of the terms used in this chant - I am an Orcadian myself and I have in the past used a version of this rite on the beaches of Sanday - the tradition of Granderie has not entirely died-out here yet :)

    Sinno roughly equals "shall not"

    Winno likewise is roughly "will not"

    Translating "Trow" as "Troll" is reasonable enough but it is important to realise that Trow can mean many things in local dialect and Trows are often *very* different from Scandinavian trolls. Often the term is used loosely to mean something akin to a "spirit" which might cover anything from a "fairy" to one of the "undead".

    Best wishes and keep up the good work on your excellent site.


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