Loch-mo-Naire pilgrimage, and the serpent
Loch-mo-Naire, a lake in Strathnavon, Sutherlandshire, famous for its supposed miraculous healing qualities, was a site of pilgrimage for the lame, sick, impotent, and mentally ill. At midnight, these faithful unfortunates would gather on the shore of the loch to drink from its sanative waters, strip naked, and walk backwards into the loch. After immersing themselves three times, they would throw offerings of silver coins into the depths.
An old tradition informs us how the loch obtained its wondrous qualities and its name. Long, long ago, an old woman had somehow come to own some bright crystals, which, when placed in water, had miraculous powers of rendering the liquid an infallible cure for all "the ills to which flesh is heir". As the fame of these wonder-working pebbles soon spread far and wide, it soon attracted the greed of a member of the neighbouring Gordon clan, who made up his mind to secure the miraculous crystals for the Gordons' exclusive use.
To this end, Gordon feigned sickness, but the moment he presented himself to the crone, she divined his intention and fled. Escape, however, was impossible, because she was old and her pursuer had youth and swiftness on his side ...
Categories: folklore, calendar-customs, scotland, dragon, legend