Saucer of Milk, Page 8
It is customary to kick the naked body of a sick person in the driveway of emergency intake, right?
I’m sure Stan will be fine.
As for today’s folklore on saucers of milk, we come to the inspiration for this story. It sprang from my reading of Irish Fairy and Folk Tales, a classic compendium edited by no less than William Butler Yeats. Introducing the trooping fairies, he comments:
On the other hand, there is much evidence to prove them fallen angels. Witness the nature of the creatures, their caprice, their way of being good to the good and evil to the evil, having every charm but conscience — consistency. Beings so quickly offended that you must not speak much about them at all, and never call them anything but the “gentry”, or else daoine maithe, which in English means good people, yet so easily pleased, they will do their best to keep misfortune away from you, if you leave a little milk for them on the window-sill over night. On the whole, the popular belief tells us most about them, telling us how they fell, and yet were not lost, because their evil was wholly without malice.
(You can read the whole thing online, but I preferred the print version I grabbed from my library.)
That got me wondering about this legend and its connection to our habit of feeding stray cats. Sure, enough I learned of the Cat Sith, or Cat Sidhe, depending on your spelling preference.
On the night of Samhain (our Halloween), everyone was to leave a saucer of milk for the cait sidhe. When the cait sidhe came by your house, he would either leave blessings as a thank you for the treat or curse your cows because you didn’t leave him the treat.
Fetch himself gets his name from Irish folklore, so I thought I’d play with this concept as part of his origin story. Of course, it would be a mistake to view Fetch as completely Irish in origin (he has some Russian antecedents, too). In fact, like a lot of us in the Americas, he’s a hodge-podge of many different Old World roots. File your complaints about possible appropriation with your nearest arse.