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May 31st 1690

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How to deal with those having 'The Sight'

Robert Kirk in his treatise ‘The secret Commonwealth’ deals in one section with ‘seers’ or those with second sight. He gives instructions to the novice.

“The usual method for a curious person to get a transient sight of this otherwise invisible crew of subterranians is to put his left foot under the Wizard’s right foot and the Seer’s hand is put on to the enquirers head who is to look over the Wizard’s right shoulder. Then he will see a multitude of wights, like furious hardy men, flocking to him hastily from all quarters, as thick as atoms in the air; which are no nonentities or phantasms but realities appearing to a stable man in his awaking sense and enduring a rational trial of their being. These through fear strike him breathless and speechless. The seer also trains his scholar by telling of the gradations of nature ordered by a wise providence that as the sights of bats and owls transcends that of shrews and moles so the visive faculties of men are clearer than those of owls; as eagles, lynxes and cats are brighter than those of men. And again, that men of the second sight (being designed to give warnings against secret engines) surpass the ordinary visions of other men; do perceive things that that for their smallness and subtilty and secrecy are invisible to others though daily conversant with them. Some have this second sight transmitted from father to son through the whole familu without their consent or others teaching proceeding only from a bounty of providence it seems, or other secret virtue in the womb of the parent which increases until the seventh son be born.

The minor sort of Seers prognosticate many future events, only for a month’s space, from the shoulder bone of a sheep on which a knife never came, for as before is said, iron hinders all the operations of those who travel in the intrigues of these hidden dominions. By looking into the bone they will tell if whoredom be committed in the owner’s house, what money the master of the sheep had; if any will die out of the house that month; if any cattle there will take a trake (illness) as if a planet struck. Then they will prescribe a preservative and prevention.

It is notoriously known what in Killin within Perthshire, fell tragically out with a yeoman that lived hard by, who coming into a company within an ale house, where a Seer sat at table, rose to go out of the house, and being asked the reason of his haste, told that the entrant man should die within two days; at which news the entrant stabbed the Seer and was himself executed two days after for the fact.” 

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