Halloween Tales From Orkney: ‘Casting In The Glass’

As a time of magic Halloween throughout the ages in the islands has had its fair amount of spells cast around it, as in this account from Evie in 1931.

“Old customs die hard, it is said, but many ancient and interesting ones have passed into disuse – which is a pity – especially the mirth provoking diversions practised during our festivals which gave great happiness to young and old.

Halloween associated with ‘spooks’ was a night of charms and spells, many of the ceremonies indulged in being still remembered.

Perhaps the most fascinating charm was ‘casting in the glass’ which was kept up after many of the other old practices had ceased.

An egg was chosen by one whose fortune was to be read, and broken into a glass half full of water. After a short time the albumen (which part only was used) formed peculiar shapes in the water, and one of the party who was supposed to have second sight, or who had a vivid imagination, read through the pictures in the glass the future of the person whose fortune was being told, sometimes uncanny readings being made.

If one drank from the tumbler one would soon meet his future partner.

A very happy time was spent engaging in those customs, and as everybody gathered round the peat fires songs were sung, riddles given, the evening usually ending up with a feast of story telling, in which ghosts, witches and fairies figured.

Halloween pranks now are very tame, and in most country places the evening passes unobserved except where there are youngsters who may indulge in ducking for apples. In towns there are fancy dress dances and other meetings of a social kind, and the 31st of October may be said to be the beginning of dances and concerts.”

The Orkney Herald and Advertiser November 4th 1931

Also in this series:

white and brown ceramic vase
Photo by Sohel Patel on Pexels.com

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