Sep 242015

Minnie Merran

The Witch as a Black Dog


A witch, desirous of injuring a neighbor, changed herself into a black dog and made her way into the neighbor’s ben-end-o’-the-hoose, where she would certainly have created serious disturbance if an old man in the family had not recognized her by a peculiar formation of the eyelids, which, it seems, she could not discard from her canine appearance.

Seizing the tongs, the worthy patriarch brought them down upon the black dog’s back with might and main. “Tak’ doo yon, Minnie Merran (the witch’s name), he cried, “an bear doo da weight o’ dis auld airm as lang as doo leeves.”

The dog ran howling and limping out of the house, and when next the witch was seen, she who hitherto had walked upright and with the dignity of a Norna, leant upon a stick, and had a hump upon her back. She said she had fallen from a height, and was afraid her spine was broken. But folk called it “the mark o’ auld Jockie’s taings.”

  • Source: Examples of Printed Folk-Lore Concerning the Orkney and Shetland Islands, collected by G. F. Black and edited by Northcote W. Thomas: County Folk-Lore, vol. 3, printed extracts, no. 5 (London: Published for the Folk-Lore Society by David Nutt, 1903), p. 53.
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