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Beaton’s Prayer

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The Beatons were a clan of physicians who flourished in the area of the Kingdom of Dalriada (which eventually became the “Lordship of the Isles and the Kingdom of Man”) – essentially the region of Scotland and Northern Ireland occupied today by Argyll and Bute, the mid and southern Hebrides, and the Ulster counties east of the Bann Rivers – centred on Loch Finlaggan on the Island of Islay.

By the Middle Ages, the Beatons seem to have settled largely around Skye, via Armagh, but most islands and clans had Beaton physicians who dispensed a sophisticated medicine using Al-Razi’s Pharmacopoeia and Ibn Sina’s Qanoun. They had acquired their skills, it would appear, in Islamic Spain.

This prayer is famous in Gaelic Scotland, largely because of the incongruous, but evocative, phrase “mar an t-uisge air druim a’ gheòidh”/”like the rain on the goose’s back”. I have taken some liberties with the translation, substituting “the Unseen” for sìthichean. This word appears usually as “the fairies”, but it doesn’t really mean that: the best translation would probably be “the Jinn”, as the sìdhe and its inhabitant sìthichean in Celtic belief correspond fairly closely to that world identified as such in Islam. But it’s a good prayer, and one that Muslims could happily use:

Ùrnaigh a’ Pheutanaich

(grace said by Farquhar Beaton, who fl c 1750-c 1850)

O Thì bheannaichte, cùm ruinn, agus cuidich leinn, agus na tuiteadh do ghràs oirnn mar an t-uisge air druim a’ gheòidh. An uair a bhios fear ‘na éiginn air gob rubha, cuidich féin leis; agus bi mun cuairt duinn air tìr, agus maille ruinn. Gléidh an t-aosda agus an t-òga, ar mnathan agus ar pàisdean, ar spréidh agus ar feudal, o chumhachd agus o cheannas nan sìthichean, agus o mhì-rùn gach droch shùla. Bitheadh slighe réidh romhainn, agus crìoch shona air ar turas.

Beaton’s Prayer

O Blessed One, provide for us, and help us, and let not Thy Grace fall on us like the rain on the goose’s back. When a man is in danger on the point of a promontory, do thou succour him; and be about us on land, and along with us. Preserve the old and the young, our womenfolk and our children, our sheep and our cattle, from the power and from the dominion of the Unseen, and from the malice of every evil eye. Let a smooth path be before us, and a happy end to our journey.

Written by David Rosser Owen

June 28, 2008 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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