in scandinavian folklore
, a carrier was a being that witches would utilize to steal wool
. much like an animal familiar
from british witchcraft
mythos, the carrier would perform mischievous tasks for its "mother
" without fail. however, there was one major difference: a carrier was not a gift from the devil
but rather something the woman had to make herself.
one way to make a carrier was to steal a dead man
's rib "on Whitsun
morning, soon after he has been buried," and then wrap it in wool or yarn. some legends say that the wool had to be plucked from between the shoulders of a widow's sheep
. after wrapping the rib, the woman would place the object between her breasts
next she would go to communion
three times to receive bread and wine
, which she would secretly dribble onto the carrier. the first time
wine was dribbled, the carrier would remain still. the second time, it would stir. the third time, it would be so full of life
that it would try to "leap out of her bosom."
carriers were supposedly nourished on their mothers' blood. the woman would prick the inside of her thigh, and magically something akin to a witch's tit
would form. the carrier would spend most of its time up the woman's skirt
, feeding. some women, alternately, kept their carriers in barrels or keg
now for the fun part: stealing.
typically, women would send out their carriers to suck the milk from neighbors' cows
. the carrier, having a mouth at both ends, was said to stretch itself around the cow to suck two teats at once. when it was full it would come home and sit in the window saying, "Full belly, Mummy
!" or "Churn lid off, Mummy!" The witch would then take the lid off the butter churn
and say, "Sick it up, dear son!
" or "Spew in the churn, little rogue!
" the carrier would then cough up all the milk into the churn.
sometimes the carrier would suck up more milk than it could handle and spit some up on the way home. people have claimed to see this "carrier's spew
" on the moors
. it was actually probably just a yellowish-white fungus.
if a woman was revealed
to be a carrier's mother, she would usually be promptly destroyed along with her pet
. the carrier would be chased into her skirts, which would then be tied up so that the thing
could not escape. both would then be burned.
Scandinavian Folktales, edited by Jacqueline Simpson. good book.