The following charms were collected in Sanday by a Doctor Wood, in 1836. They would have originally been passed down generation to generation orally, so we are fortunate they were collected.
For the healing of people and animals:
Father, Son and Holy Ghost
Bitten sall they be
Wah haif bitten thee
Care to their near vein
Until thou get’st thy health again!
Mend thou in God’s name
To stop bleeding (substitute nose for whichever part is bleeding):
Three virgins came across from Jordan Land
Each with a bloody knife in her hand
Stem blood, stem! Setherley stand!
Bloody nose in God’s name mend!
Peter sat on a marble stone weeping
Christ came past and said what ails thee Peter?
O my lord, my God! My tooth doth ache!
Arise o Peter, go thy way – thy tooth shall ache no more.
To relieve the pain of a burn:
Telling out the Swey
A dead wife out of the grave arose
And thro the sea she swimmed; through the water wad to the cradle
God save the bairn burnt sair
Get fire cool soon in God’s name!
Forespoken water is blessed holy water. Forespoken grass is a particular (unnamed) herb or weed which is put into the water during the repetition of the charm, and either drunk or used to wash the afflicted area.
For the healing of sprains:
The Wristing Thread
Our Saviour rade
His foal’s foot slade
Our Saviour licht it down
Sinew to sinew, vein to vein
Joint to joint, and bare to bare
Mend thou in God’s name!
Gray, A. 2000. Circle of Light, after Sanday Church History
Photo: St Olaf’s Episcopal in Kirkwall, prior to construction of the steeple. Image Orkney library & archive