Fairy raids

On the last night of every quarter, especially the nights before Beltane and Hallowmas, Faeries were known to leave their home and wander in our world, taking away whomsoever of the human race they find helpless, or unguarded and unwary. They may be encountered any time, but on these stated occasions men are to be particularly on their guard.

On Fridays they obtrusively enter houses, and have even the impudence, it is said, to lift the lid off the pot to see what the family have on the fire for dinner.

Any Fairy story, told on this day, should be prefixed by saying, `a blessing attend their departing and traveling! this day is Friday and they will not hear us’. No one should call the day by its proper name of Friday but `the day of yonder town’.

The Fairy Raid – Carrying Off a Changeling – Midsummer Eve by Noel Patons

They are said to come always from the west. They are admitted into houses, however well guarded otherwise, by the little hand-made cake, the last of the baking, called the Fallaid bannock, unless there has been a hole put through it with the finger, or a piece is broken off it, or a live coal is put on top of it by the water in which men’s feet have been washed; by the fire, unless it be properly `raked’ i.e. covered up to keep it alive for the night; or by the band of the spinning wheel, if left stretched on the wheel.

The reason assigned for taking water into the house at night was that the Fairies would suck the sleeper’s blood if they found no water in to quench their thirst. The water in which feet were washed, unless thrown out, or a burning peat were put in it, let them in, and was used by them to plash about all night.

Unless the band was taken off the spinning wheel, particularly on the Saturday evenings, they came after the inmates of the house had retired to rest and used the wheel. Sounds of busy work were heard, but in the morning no work was found done, and possibly the wheel was disarranged.