luck thee niver noo in Vore,Cin man hear tale o' Teran
Rampagan' on da ocean
floor, Fur folk ir little carin
Hoo tullyas or brullyas. Fowt wi' de great
'swordship gae lordship, Tae ane or else the tither."
Old Orcadian Verse
A personification of the forces that affect everyday life, the myth of the Mither
o' the Sea is possibly one of the oldest surviving strands of Orcadian folklore.
In this case, the Sea Mither represents the benign force of the summer sea - "mither"
being the Orcadian pronunciation of "mother".
Sea Mither was said to grant life to every living thing, bringing warmth to the
oceans and calming the storms that were the sorrow of many an Orkney family.
as in all good tales, the forces of good must have a bitter nemesis. The Sea Mither
was no exception.
She had a very powerful,
and hostile, rival in Teran, the spirit of winter. Teran's screaming voice was
heard in the fury of the winter gales and his anger seen in the mountainous waves
that crashed against the coastline.
The spring struggle
spring, around the vernal equinox, the Sea Mither was thought to return to Orkney
to take up her summer residence in the sea.
always prompted the beginning of the "Vore Tullye" - the Spring Struggle
- a fierce battle against Teran that lasted for weeks and manifested itself in
devastating storms that churned the sea into a boiling froth.
the result of this conflict was always a foregone conclusion. The Sea Mither had
returned, refreshed and strong, and would always triumph over her adversary.
overcome, Teran was bound firmly at the bottom of the sea and thus began the Sea
Mither's beneficent reign.
She would immediately set to
work restoring the damage caused by Teran.
his violent storms and calmed the raging sea. Warmth and life returned to the
water, interrupted only by the occasional squall, caused by Teran as he struggled
to break his magical bonds.
The autumn tumult
as winter approached and the equinox grew near, the Sea Mither, exhausted by her
labours over the summer, was forced to confront Teran again.
free of his shackles, another battle - the "Gore Vellye" or Autumn Tumult
- ensued. But this time, Teran would emerge victorious, gripping the islands once
more in a terrible embrace.
His foe banished, Teran would
once again reign supreme and for a while every living creature had to submit to
his tyrannous rule.
During these dreadful days of winter,
the Sea Mither was said to be able to hear the cries of every drowning man, consoling
herself in the knowledge that, when spring arrived, she would return, refreshed
and invincible, and prevail again.