O I forbid you, maidens a’,
That wear gowd on your hair,
To come or gae by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.
She had na pu’d a double rose,
A rose but only twa,
Till upon then started young Tam Lin,
Says, Lady, thou’s pu nae mae.
With these words in the ballad of Tam Lin, countless wise old Scottish parents have warned their children against the dangers of being abducted by the faeries. But what do you do if you’re a reckless soul who wants to play with them?
They certainly want to play with you. Time hangs heavy when you’re an ageless being from the mists of myth and history. Especially Sunday afternoons. Oh, there are the diversions of the Seelie Court to keep them entertained. Fairies love to trip a jig or gavotte at the faery balls. There’s always gossip to be heard there, too. And merry tales, and beautiful music. Still, the fairies get tired holding their balls all the time. So to spice up the dreary aeons, they like to abduct a human for a time. They’ll play games with them, then send them back home with a handful of gold that’ll vanish by morning. Sometimes, however, they like to keep their toys…
Tam Linn warns us against plucking roses, or wearing gold in our hair, for fear of catching the faeries’ eye. So, logically, if you WANT to play with the faeries, you should carry a rose, or put gold in your hair. That’s bound to work. If you did it this Sunday at 1pm in Inverleith Park, the chances of being carried off by them would be substantially increased.
Be warned, though: play with them as you will, dance and cavort, even befriend them, if such a thing be possible, but two things you must never do:
Eat NOT of their Food. Drink NOT of their Wine! Should they offer, you must refuse!
If you do not, you shall be bound to them for a year and a day (or at least Sundays and Thursdays for the next month and a half!), trapped in their Court, becoming ever more like them, until you are forgotten and lost to your friends and family. One day, certainly, you shall emerge again, but changed beyond recognition, displaced in time. You could walk down the very street you used to live on and not a soul of your kin would know you a’more.
No, best to be safe. Best to stay away from Inverleith Park this Sunday afternoon, away from its pond certainly, and whatever you do, pluck not the rose, wear no gold in your hair. For that way lies only foolishness and lost time…