The Evil Stroke
There are two very different schools of thought on the “Evil Stroke,” also known as the, “Fairy Stroke.”
The first views the stroke as a tragedy. Whenever a baby wasted away, and no doctor could intervene, the child was called “stricken,” either from “fairy arrows,” or, “elf-heads.” Loved ones believed the child would not live to see the next Midsummer’s Day (June 24). It was common to call such children, “not right,” or even “crabbed,” because no one wanted to use the phrase “fairy struck.” Ireland had the same divided perspectives on the phenomenon.
The other belief fell to the opposite end of the spectrum. Practitioners of this believed the “stroke,” wasn’t entirely negative. You didn’t receive it later by accident or choice; it was something that you were born with. Those who had such power did not use it of their own volition. This power was instinctive, and no one could control it.
People with the stroke could render another person or animal paralyzed. The person with the stroke could render a rabid animal or attacker harmless. In some locales, it was even considered lucky to have a child with such a gift. The family’s livestock was always healthy and there were always plenty of luxury items, like fresh butter.
Only the individual who made them that way could restore any person or animal afflicted with this paralysis. Many were too afraid to undo what they’d inadvertently done. Sometimes the person could stop the paralysis, but was so afraid of social exile or repercussions, they wouldn’t.
Thomas Hood. Hood’s magazine and comic miscellany. Volume 10, 1848.
Lady Jane Francesca, Elgee Wilde. Ancient Legends,mystic Charms,and Superstitions of Ireland: With Sketches of the Irish Past. Ticknor and Company, 1888.