I count myself lucky to live in a beautiful part of Scotland, steeped in legend and folklore. This is, after all The Old North, land of the Gododdin of legend; this is the land of Merlin and Thomas the Rhymer; William Wallace led the fight for Scotland’s liberty from the forests of Ettrick and the fairy folk held court in the lair of the Green Man. Peaceful now, it was not always so.
Here’s another tale taken from George Sinclair’s Satan’s Invisible World Discovered, and it isn’t a very happy one. In Relation XXXII, Sinclair tells the tale of Demonic possession in the Borderlands, this time, the town of Galashiels some three hundred and forty years ago – more or less.
The Minister in Galashiels, a Mister Wilkie, was sitting in the manse one night, when there was a thunderous hammering on his door. His servant, answering the door, ushered in a local man of some standing, respectable in every way and not given to flights of fancy. A Godly sort, one could say. The Gentleman, in an anxious state, begged the Minister to attend to his household, where his niece, Margaret, was being vexed by a terror that only Wilkie, a man of God, could end.
The poor Mister Wilson claimed that the Devil was at his house with phantom knocking shaking the building, even when his poor family tried to gather together at prayer! All this terrible, awesome activity seemed to be centred around his niece, Margaret.
The man and the Minister rushed to the house where they – and many witnesses – were shocked to see that Margaret, having been put to bed and soundly asleep, was lifted up by forces unseen, hovering above her bed. Many strong men – who happened to be there at the time, apparently – were not able to pull her down.
The story goes on, with many other uncanny events taking place, presumably in the sight of the Minister. Margaret’s body was shaken by forces unseen and loud, scratching sounds echoed throughout the rooms of the house with no obvious cause.
On waking, Margaret claimed that the Devil had spoken with her, offering her gifts. At this point, the Minister seems to imply molestations of a more earthly nature, which the uncle loudly protested against, but Sinclair’s text is unclear in parts – so best not to dwell on this too much, perhaps.
“After much trouble of this kind, and much noise and talking…the woman went to Edinburgh and the torments ceased.”
The Devil seems to have tried his best to deter Margaret from church-going and other Godly things, and it’s only at that point that Sinclair mentions she is 12 years old.
Then, Margaret went somewhere else. After that, she married, then she died.
And, like many of the Relations in the book. The story ends abruptly. Like this one.