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The Witch of Laggan

In the Highlands of Scotland

 

In the Highlands of Scotland, a legend of the Witch of Laggan is told to children, although the legend is not for children at all. Nor is this single malt whiskey, distilled near the very same Forest of Gaick, where the Witch of Laggan roamed – her heart as black as Cú Dhub whisky.

 

Loch Laggan

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The legend tells of the Wife of Laggan, who, without anyone knowing, is also the Witch of Laggan. Having been seduced by The Evil One, she has murdered many good men – one of them the noble MacGillichallum of Razay, who, along with a friend, are sworn enemies of witchcraft.

The legend says, that on the very same night as MacGillichallum of Razay is killed, his friend, the Hunter, is warming himself in his hunting hut in the Forrest of Gaick, alongside him his two Black Dogs. The Witch, in the shape of a poor weather-beaten cat, comes to the hut asking the Hunter for shelter. Sitting at the fire, the cat begins to grow in size, taking on the appearance of the Witch, whom the Hunter recognises at the Wife of Laggan. She has come to the hut to kill the Hunter, and had it not been for the two Black Dogs, she would have succeeded. The two Black Dogs fight the Witch, who flees the hut, now in the shape of a Raven. The two dogs, bleeding and exhausted from the struggle, return to the Hunter’s hut, and expire at his feet.

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Dalarossie church

The Hunter now goes to the Wife of Laggan’s house, where he finds all her neighbours mourning. He discovers the Wife of Laggan on her deathbed, but The Hunter, now knowing that the Witch and the Wife of Laggan are one and the same, exposes her identity to the mourners, by stripping away her cover, exposing the wounds inflicted upon her that very same day by the two Black Dogs. She then admits to her sins, before dying in agony with her confessions on her lip.Witch_blackfill

At the same time a traveller is making his way home through the forest of Monalea, when he encounters a woman in black, desperately and out of breath, asking the traveller how far away she is from the churchyard of Dalarossie.

A few miles later two Black Dogs run by him with great speed, as if perusing the scent of a track, and soon after the traveller encounters a Dark Rider on a fine black steed, who asks him if he has seen a woman in black, as well as two Black Dogs. The traveller answers in the affirmative, and continues on his way, but before reaching home, he yet again meets the Dark Rider,
this time with the foresaid woman on the bow of his saddle; one dog fixed in her thigh, the other one in her breast. The Dark Rider tells how he and the dogs caught the woman just before entering the churchyard.Witch blackfill

Upon his return, the traveller learns of the fate of the Wife of Laggan, and soon understands that the woman he met in the forest was in fact her spirit trying to salvage herself from the infernal spirits by flying to the churchyard of Dalarossie – a place so sacred that, upon entering, a witch is immediately dissolved from her ties with The Evil himself. But alas, it seemed that the Wife of Laggan was to late.

Indeed, not a legend to be told to children, but nevertheless as true as Cú Dhub whisky is black.

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