Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sligachan - the Fairy Stream

You have to keep in mind that it was a freezing day in the Scottish highlands when we huddled against each other for warmth down by Sligachan, a mountain stream frequented by the fae. Also, I'd already been told the story of the place by someone who'd travelled with Haggis a few week's back so I knew what was coming... (anticipation is a killer)....

Many many years ago, okay more like centuries, there were two feuding clans.... The daughter of of the chieftans was a bonnie lass and her fair face was more than enough to turn any man's head. Her father at last settled on marrying her to one of the lads from the other clan in order to end the feuding between them. The night before her wedding she went riding one last time as a free woman and galloped through the heather. In the darkness though her horse stumbled and she was throne. Her face struck a rock as she fell and its cruel edge destroyed one of her eyes.
In great pain she made her way home to her father; he was horrified - noone would want to marry such a disfigured woman! He comforted her as best as he could and warned her that the next day she could not allow anyone to lift her veil until after the marriage ceremony was complete.
The next day dawned with beautiful clear skies and there was great merriment and jesting regarding the wedding, although this covered an underlying tension as the feud was not easily put aside. The lovely bride walked down the aisle and took her place next to her husband-to-be. Eager to gaze upon her beauty (and wanting to steal a kiss before the ceremony) he lifted up her veil before she could stop him.
Taken aback he screamed at the unexpected visage that he saw. The rest of his clan realizing that they had been decived turned upon her father's clan and a general brawl ensued.

The poor girl fled from the chapel weeping and grieving. At last she sank to her knees near the Sligachan stream and continued to cry noisily. The Fairy King had been sleeping behind a large rock when his slumber was disturbed by her loud tears. At last he could bear it no longer and, jumping to his feet, he appeared to the girl. He asked her gently what was wrong and in-between her sobs she explained the whole story to him.
'Ah child, never fear, I can help you. The stream by which you sit is a magical stream and can restore your beauty to you. You need simply to hold your face beneath its waters for seven seconds.'

She followed his instructions and though she could detect no difference she walked back to her village afterwards.
As she walked glumly back to her father she realized that every head turned to watch her as she went. The glamour of the fairies meant that every man that saw her thought that she was the most beautiful woman alive.

And of course the stream is still magical; all that you need to do to gain eternal beauty is to lie down on the black rocks and plunge your face into the icy waters for seven seconds.
[note that this is also recommended as a hangover cure!]


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