Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Kelpie

Lost little pony standing there
So handsome, black and sleek
But you my dear must beware
His interest your flesh will pique
He'll drag you down to waters deep
And then drown you for his dinner
Those left on land will start to weep
When he leaves nothing but your liver
                                                ~ Morrigan Aoife  


The Kelpie is a shape-shifting supernatural water spirit or Water Horse, from Celtic folklore that is believed to haunt the rivers and streams of Scotland and Ireland. The name Kelpie may have derived from the Scottish Gaelic cailpeach or colpach meaning heifer or colt.

Kelpies are an amphibious species and are connected to bodies of water in a magical way. They have the ability to live underwater and in many legends, they sink under the surface of their own body of water and appear to never resurface.  The Kelpie is also said to warn of impending storms by wailing and howling, which would carry on through the tempest.

Although generally assigned to the faerie realm, Kelpies are solitary creatures, not often seen with other faeries.  Like other creatures of Scottish Folklore the tales of the Kelpie vary by region.  Legends tell of two common forms these shape shifters may possess: A human male and a beautiful majestic horse.  Examples of other not-so-common forms are: a handsome horse with a fish-like tail, a horse with his hooves on backwards, a shaggy man covered in horse hair, a human male with hooves, a human female, often called a Water Wraith.    

Like many Celtic spirits, the Kelpie is a trickster who leads humans astray.  Its most common guise is the form of a young, sleek, handsome horse whose hide is typically black or green as glass with a jet black mane and tail although in some stories it is white or golden yellow. Its skin is said to be like that of a seal, smooth but cold as death when touched.

It appears often as a lost pony (although its mane is constantly dripping water) it uses this form to lure humans, especially children, into the water to drown and eat them. The water horse encourages children and weary travelers to ride on its back which tales say could actually lengthen to make room for as many as 20 children.

Although it may look like a gentle pony once its careless victims fall into its trap, the water horse's skin becomes sticky and the horse will rear and charge head long into the deepest part of the water, dragging the humans stuck to his body on their final ride into water where he would drown and devour them—except the heart or liver. When plunging into the water, a Kelpie slaps his tail hard against the surface, making a tremendous banging sound, and disappears under the water to devour his prey.

Malevolent in nature Kelpies have an insatiable appetite for humans and are widely known for drowning and eating their human victims but other legends tell of Kelpies stealing human girls to take as wives, never to see their families again. Still others say the Kelpie is not always male, but may also take the form of a beautiful human woman. These female Kelpies created illusions to keep themselves hidden, keeping only their eyes above water to scout the surface. In this instance, the female Kelpie is often referred to as a Water Wraith and is most often seen clothed in a green dress, but make no mistake she is just as treacherous as a male Kelpie.
One of the other forms assumed by the Kelpie is that of a hairy humanoid, who would leap out from the riverside vegetation to attack passing travelers. Their grip is said to be like that of a vice, crushing the life out of anybody unfortunate enough to come within the Kelpies clutches.
There is one way in which a Kelpie can be defeated and tamed; the Kelpie's power of shape shifting resides in its bridle, and anybody who could possess such a bridle could force the Kelpie to submit to their will. A Kelpie in subjugation is highly prized; it can be used for hard labor as it has the strength of at least 10 horses and the endurance of many more.  It is tireless, works like a demon, and has such stamina it can carry its rider endlessly.
However, the fairy races are always dangerous captives, especially those as malignant as the Kelpie and unfortunately, at the end of each day the Kelpie must claim one human victim.
There is only one thing that can truly stop a Kelpie. Though they live in moving water, Kelpies cannot be exposed to still water of any kind: puddle water, rain or tap water, or non-fizzy bottled water. Travelers usually pack a small bottle of puddle water as a form of protection.
While in human form Kelpies are said to always be dripping wet or have water reeds or seaweed in their hair. They must always have something that connects them to the water which often gives them away.
In the event that a Kelpie mated with a mortal horse, its offspring would have golden wishing hooves. However, when approached by a human the offspring would drown them in the nearest body of water.  Other legends say that it is not the Kelpie itself which lures and kills travelers but that it is the resulting offspring from a Kelpie and a mortal horse breeding, which actually kill people.  
Although not found in the original folktales, some believe Kelpies aid water mills and dispose of trash in the sea. Others believe Kelpies may hate humans for ruining their home.  

Also not part of the original tale is that someone who mentions Christ's name after being trapped will be thrown off the water horse and that a Kelpie can be caught only by trapping it with a bridle that is engraved or adorned with a cross. These new additions are believed to be an attempt by the church to incorporate Celtic lore into religious beliefs to make them more appealing to potential converts.

Other unconfirmed tidbits are that Kelpies tend to come out mostly in November and that they will not come unless summoned, or to eat. It is also mentioned that Kelpies could use their magical powers to cause streams and lochs to flood overwhelming passers-by. Yet another tale said Kelpies have backward hooves and could change form between horse and water.

These foul tempered Fae are rarely seen today, a fact which most would consider a blessing since humans are the favored meal of these cannibalistic faeries.

** There are many mythological creatures similar to the Kelpie, the color of these water horses may differ to those of the Scottish Kelpie and they may only appear during certain times of the day or night.
A list of these Water Horses include:
The Nuggle or Nuggies  from Orkney, and a Shoopiltee, or Njogel, or Tangi from Shetland.
On the Isle of Man, the Kelpie is known as the Cabbyl-Ushtey (Manx Gaelic for "water horse", compare to Irish Capall Uisge) or the Glashtin.
 In Wales, a similar creature is the Ceffyl Dŵr.
In Scandinavian folklore, it is known by the name Bäckahästen, - The Brook Horse.
 In Norway it is called Nøkken, where the horse shape is often used, but is not its true form.
The Cornish call them Shoney which is derived from the Norse name sjofn, meaning a 'Goddess of the Sea'.
 In the Faroe Islands it is called Nykur and in Iceland it is called Nykur, Nickers  or Nennir.
Another similar water horse appearing in the mythology of Scotland and Ireland is the Each Uisge or Fauth," a sea-dwelling creature that often takes the form of a handsome man. Also in Ireland, a faerie known as the Phooka is said to take the shape of a horse and induces children to mount him. He is then said to plunge with them over a precipice killing them.
 In Greek mythology, Poseidon is the god of the oceans and of horses, and took the form of a horse to seduce Demeter.
Sorry about the late night posting my family is in chaos, my niece Heather Barns was hit by a car today as she walked home from school. She is in critical condition. Please consider adding her to your prayers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Evil looking face
Judge him not by looks alone
Kind and gentle heart
                                               ~Morrigan Aoife

The Wulver is found in Scottish folklore and is said to inhabit the Shetland Islands located off the Northeast coast of Scotland. Although they are often called werewolves, legends show that they are quite different; unlike a true werewolf the Wulver is not a shape shifter and according to the majority of tales was never a human being.  The Wulver makes his home in a cave dug out of the side of a steep knowe, half-way up a hill. Being solitary creatures the Wulver prefer to keep to themselves and are no threat to humans. This evil-looking but harmless creature is not aggressive if left in peace and will only attack, hurt, or kill humans in self-defense. They are gentle, kind-hearted beings that should be treated with respect and left alone.  The last reported sighting of a Wulver was in the early 20th century.

The Wulver is a creature similar to a human in that they walk upright, however they have a wolf's head and their skinny bodies are covered in short brown hair.  These creatures are built for speed and use it to evade predators such as the Kelpie or aggressive humans. Having no venom glands, the bites of the Wulver will not transform humans into a werewolf. Many accounts tell of Wulvers having intelligence similar to that of humans and it is possible but not confirmed by a large number of reports that they may also be stronger than humans and have a mouth filled with sharp teeth or fangs.

Wulvers are fond of fishing and are sometimes called the Fishing Werewolf. They can create fishing supplies out of resources that surround them, either stealing or making them by hand. They are frequently spotted fishing for their daily meal of Sillaks and Piltaks while perched upon a small rock known as a "Wulver's Stane which is located in a deep water loch. Wulvers are patient creatures and can spend hours upon hours catching fish. Wulvers are also powerful swimmers and use their speed to catch fast moving fish in the rivers and small lochs nearby.

The Scottish Wulver is considered kind hearted and will often beckon to lost travelers and guide them to nearby towns and villages. This peace-loving creature demonstrated a benevolent side as well and was frequently observed leaving a few extra fish on the windowsills or porches of homes of starving families.

Two pronounced superstitions surround the Wulver; the first being that a Wulver may lead a person to treasure buried amongst ancient ruins. Conversely the other relates Wulvers with supernatural canines such as Hell Hounds, Black Dogs and Galley Trots as omens of eminent death.

**  The ancient Celts believed that the Wulver evolved from wolves, and that the Wulver symbolizes the in-between stage of man and wolf.

**  Today some of the more scientific minded humans have tried to explain away the existence of the Wulvers stating that there are conditions such as hypertrichosis also termed "Werewolf Syndrome" (excessive hair growth over the entire body) which could explain the tales of the Wulver.  Another not-so-popular theory is a rare mental disorder called clinical lycanthropy, in which an affected person has a delusional belief that they are transforming into another animal, although not always a wolf.

Centuries ago the Shetland Islands were quite isolated and families carrying these genetic conditions could have married into one another passing the genes on. If there is truth to this belief it may explain the kind heartedness of the Wulver, for they are not werewolves but actually men and woman who were outcasts due to their inherited medical conditions.

* * They're closely related to the dog headed people known as the Cynocephali. Part of this same family also includes a similar un-hostile werewolf, the Faoladh of Ireland.  Tales of the Faoladh spoke of how they protect children and stand guard over wounded men.

Thursday, October 18, 2012



It is all written down in Scottish lore
How she leaves the ocean for the shore
To lure a seaman to his ultimate fate
Or marry him and secure her mate
Soon she'll tire of the land-dwelling life
She'll have no desire to be anyone's wife
So she'll slip away back into the ocean  
Never mindful of a mother's devotion
But her children grow, as all kids do
Tending to the sea of majestic blue
Males become captains in terrific tales
Their boats infamous beneath their sails
                                                        ~ Morrigan Aoife

(pronounced kee-ask) * (although some pronounce it cask)

Known in Scottish Gaelic as maighdean na tuinne ("maid of the wave") or maighdean mhara ("maid of the sea").

This mermaid-type creature found in Scottish mythology is described as having the upper torso of a beautiful young woman and the lower portion or tail of a grilse (a salmon).

The Ceasg inhabits the lakes and waterways of the Scottish highlands. Similar to the lore of Mermaids and Sirens, which are found in many other cultures throughout the world, contact with this super natural creature many be perilous. They have been known to seduce sailors and lure them into the sea, presumably drowning them. However if quoted specifically the tales say only that "the sailors never returned home."

The best defense against a Ceasg or mermaid is to simply ignore them and quietly leave the area. However if one should approach, in the very least show them respect. Do not look them in the eye or listen to their song and do not go with them should they ask.

If captured the Ceasg has the ability to grant three wishes in exchange for her release, after which she will disappear.  She can only be overcome by the destruction of her soul, which according to Scottish folklore was kept safely somewhere else in a super-secret place outside of her body, such as in an object or land feature.

Ceasg are curious about humanity. They are known to carry on love affairs with human males and can take human form in order to marry a mortal. Unfortunately the marriage usually does not last. The call of the water is too strong and eventually the Ceasg will return to her watery domain.  The male offspring of a Ceasg and a mortal are believed to grow to be excellent sailors.

** One report said the Ceasg swallows lured sailors whole, however the writer was quick to point out that the thought was utterly ridicules since Ceasg have half-woman and half-grilse attributes meaning that she has a "human-sized" mouth.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ghillie Dhu

Though Solitary they would like to stay
They may help those who lose their way
But don't misjudge these dark haired fae
Or you'll be the one that they betray!

Hiding their green skin and hazel eyes
Moss and leaves are their disguise
Entering their forest would be unwise
Offend them and get a big surprise!
                                                                                             ~ Morrigan Aoife

Ghillie Dhu (Scottish) or Gille Dubh (Irish)

Pronounced (Gill-e Doobh)

In Scottish Gaelic, Ghillie Dhu can be translated as dark haired lad or dark servant.

Found in Scottish folklore this faerie, most often depicted as an elf or sprite, is the guardian spirit of the trees. The Ghillie Dhu is a solitary spirit who tasks himself with protecting the woodlands surrounding his home from destruction preformed by man or nature.

The Ghillie Dhu primarily resides in Ross-shire near Gairloch and Loch a Druing. He is typically found in birch groves, his preferred species of tree. Although he is most active at night, he is not spoken of as being nocturnal. When he does sleep he does so upon the ground in a warm round nest created from plant fiber. His diet consisits of berries and nuts.

Tales of the Ghillie Dhu tell of a small,slight, dark haired Fae with light green skin who cleverly disguises himself in clothes (frequently a coat) covered in foliage. His attire may either be brown or green depending on the season and is reportedly woven from grasses, leaves and moss.

The height of these wee Fae seems to be a matter of debate as some sources indicate that their stature is 7" while others say they can grow as tall as 36" (3 feet).

Additionally one account spoke of this creature as having wild hair black as a moonless night and eyes the deepest brown of a hazel nut. This account also states 'Tis said his skin color changes from green to brown with the seasons.

Stories also conflict in regard to the nature of this Fae. Some claim he is a notoriously shy and harmless sprite who prefers to avoid contact with humans. Although contact is not advised, they are occasionally contacted by lost humans whom they comfort and redirect homeward.

Others stories tell of a darker side, in which the Ghillie Dhu dislike human beings. Stories surrounding these tales warn people traveling in the enchanted woods at night that they must be careful not to be grabbed by the long green arms of the Ghillie Dhu for they will drag the travelers off to fairyland where they will be forever enslaved. The Ghillie Dhu is said to be kind to children however, if offended by an adult human the wee man could decide to reach out his thin, long arms and crush the offender in an angry embrace, leaving the human to rot into earthy compost.

Scottish forests were once heavily populated by the Ghillie Dhu but are now becoming rare. Some have chosen to migrate in search of areas with greater isolation, the ones that remained in Scotland are presumed to have either died out or intermarried with other more domestic varieties of faeries, loosing their Ghillie Dhu attributes after a few generations of offspring.

Interestingly enough, some believe that the Ghillie Dhu that chose a path of human contact have evolved into the most well-known and loved fairies, The Tooth Fairy. Thereby by choosing a role that allowed them to exercise their love and wish to care for human children while still maintaining a shy distance. This variation of Ghillie Dhu live in backyards and parks and only visit the children by night in order to collect their teeth which they use to cast protective magic for the child.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Hill Trow Vs The Sea Trow

Contention built,
The battle began.
Fae blood was spilt
And divided the clan.
One family stayed
Their cousins withdrew
A steep price was paid
when one became two
Into the water
Some of them fled
Better than slaughter
Was what they had said
But life wasn't fair
Mutations took place
They grew seaweed-like hair
And sport a monkey's face.
                                       ~ Morrigan Aoife

The Trow:

Folklore places these creatures off the coast of Scotland, on or in the waters surrounding the Orkney and Shetland Islands.

There are two distinct types: The Hill Trow and The Sea Trow.

Legend has it that at one time these "cousins"; dwelled together on the islands but a feud broke out between them and the Sea Trows were banished from the land. The reason for the feud has been forgotten over time and like many legends has become lost to it's people.

The Hill Trow -

These land dwelling troll-like fairy creatures are shy and mischievous. They are described as small grotesque creatures with short, squat, round, and misshapen bodies. Nocturnal in nature, they leave their Trowie Knowes (earthen mound dwellings) and prowl around in the night. The Trow enjoys aggravating humans and may enter a household to hide miscellaneous items in odd places or break things while the inhabitants sleep. Folktales tell of their fondness for music and their habit of kidnapping musicians or luring them to their Howes.

Only certain "gifted individuals" have the power to see these Fae. The Trow are invisible to most, however normal mortals can see the Trow if they are touching one of the "gifted".

*Some tales declare that a Trow can pass for an old, wrinkled or deformed human. However they are quick to point out that a Trow is considerably shorter than the average sized man.

Trowie Knowes are earthen mound dwellings locally known as Howes or Knowes. The halls of these Trow dwellings are adorned with decorations of gold, silver, and other precious materials. Deep inside the safety of these magical halls, the Trow satisfy their passion for music and dancing and only the finest food and drink are served at their tables.

The Sea Trow -

These creatures inhabit the waters surrounding the Orkney and Shetland Islands.

Folklore depicts the Sea Trow as the ugliest creature imaginable. This Fae is said to have a head that slopes to a sharp angle at the top with matted hair like seaweed that falls around it's monkey-like face. It's skin is shriveled and scaly and it's trunk boasts huge unwieldy limbs with webbed fingers and round flat feet.

The Sea Trow is notoriously stupid and lazy. Rather than catch fish for himself, he prefers to lie on the sea bed and watch the mortal fisherman's lines. When a fish is hooked, the Sea Trow will quickly unhook it and devour it, leaving the fisherman empty-handed. When the fish are not biting the Sea Trow will satisfy his hunger by removing the bait from the fisherman's hook.

Because of the Sea Trows lack of intelligence, this prank, like many of the other tricks they play upon the few humans they encounter is dangerous and often backfires. Sea Trow is sometimes hooked and reeled up to the surface where he either terrifies the fisherman or endures the punishment for his trickery.

The Sea Trow is fond of returning to land. His favorite onshore haunt is the "foreshore", the area of ground between high and low water. Although he may wish to extend his onshore wanderings further inland, his grotesque shape, and clumsy and slow waddling movements make it impossible to do so safely for fear of his deadly enemies, his cousins, the land dwelling Hill Trows.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sorting Out The Various Versions Leanan Sidhe

You may have noticed the blog has undergone a face lift. Now that I am no longer posting the prompts from DWP, it was time to change things up and give the blog some fantasy elements and a bit of Celtic Flavor. 

Today's feature:  A little known Fae with two vast distinctions in lore ..............

From deep within the old stone well,
The Sidhe came to claim a mate.
For her glamour the poor lad fell,
And unknowingly sealed his fate.
Now he creates great works of art,
While she insures they never part.
This dark Fae inspires her loved one,
But in the end he'll be undone.
                                            ~ Morrigan Aoife

Leanan Sidhe (Lah-nan Shee-uh) Irish / Leannan Sith (Lahn-nan Shee) Scottish Gaelic /  Lhiannan Shee (Lan-awn Shee)

The name comes from the Gaelic words for Sweetheart, Lover, Concubine, Barrow and Fairy-Mound.

Scottish Meaning: Barrow Lover, Spirit Mate, or Fairy Sweetheart.

A woman of the Aos Si who takes a human for a lover. The Leanan Sidhe is most often depicted as a beautiful muse. As long as the Leanan Sidhe is pleased with her mortal mate she offers inspiration to the artist in exchange for their love and complete devotion. This frequently results in madness and premature death for the artist. Therefore, lovers of the Leanan Sidhe are said to live brief, though highly inspired lives. However if the Leanan Sidhe is offended or spurned the fairy could take action with unpleasant results.

* Aos Si (ees shee)  - A supernatural race in Irish (Daoine Sidhe) and Scottish mythology (Daoine Sith), similar to fairies or elves. They are said to live underground in in the fairy mounds, across the western sea, or an invisible world that coexists with the world of humans. They are often called the people of the mounds, the people of the barrow, or the fairy folk. The Scottish variation, Daoine Sith, are also often denoted as being the ancestors, the spirits of nature, or gods and goddesses.

Leanhuan Sidhe / Leanhuan Shee

Meaning: Fairy Mistress, Inspiration of Faeries.

The Leanhuan Sidhe is similar to the Leanan Sidhe in that she also seeks the love of mortals. However her lore is considerably more malicious, she is said to be an evil, mysterious and sometimes even blood-sucking Fae.

The Leanhuan Sidhe resides in a natural environment and haunts wells and springs. When the Leanhuan Sidhe finds a potential lover, she appears to him as an irresistible beauty but remains invisible to all others. If the human refuses her, then she must be his slave, however if he consents, then he is hers, and can only escape by finding another to take his place.

The Leanhuan Sidhe survives on the life force of her lover like a vampire, draining him of his vitality and spirit (through sexual acts) and causing him to waste away. However she is a dark and powerful muse who bestows the gift of inspiration upon her lover in return for his sacrifice, giving him the ability to create works of art, music or poetry with a great depth of feeling. The price of her dark gift is the sorrow and heartbreak that is born out of his obsession.

The Leanhuan Sidhe will not allow her lover to remain on earth for long and the artists will most often die at a young age. Although, Death is said to be no escape from her. There are some that believe the Leanhuan Sidhe fears iron, those people also believe that she may be harmed or killed by it.

While a few sources did have some conflicting information about this seldom discussed Fae -for instance one suggests that both variations of this Fae only have red hair - the above description seems to reflect the general consensus on how to distinguish between the two variations of these Gaelic Muses. If you have something that you would like to share regarding the Leanan Sidhe or the Leanhuan Sidhe please do it in the comments box below.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Oh, the many hats I wear.

Like most mothers, on any given day I may wear more hats than Dr. Seuss's famous character Bartholomew Cubbins. 

But being a good Fashionista, I have my wardrobe staples. The hats I wear most often are the strong and dependable parent, the faithful and understanding wife, the creative writer, the compassionate friend and scholarly disability service advocate.

However recently, I was given yet another hat to manage, although it is going to take some getting use to, I now don upon my head the hat of Nonnina (Italian for Little Grandmother).

With this new title and fun-loving hat comes great responsibility. The first of which is to host a baby shower to welcome the families new arrival. 

I've decided on a sea life themed shower because the babies room will be decorated in sea creatures.  It's been difficult to find "under the sea" items but they are out there if you look hard enough and don't fear spending a small fortune.

Although party planning is not my forte, I have spent a multitude of hours searching out ocean themed foods and these are only some of the dishes guests of our modern co-ed shower can expect to be served  on Sunday October 21st.

Baby In A Blanket

Pearly Bites  - Clam Cookies

Beach Ball Fruit Platter

Jello Ocean Fish

The Chip Dip

Rubber Duckie Punch

Star Fish Cookies

Star Fish Peanut Butter Fudge

Cucumber Whale for the Veggie Trays

Crabby Apples

Eel shaped Pizza

Other foods that can't be changed to suit our under sea party,  like meatballs and spaghetti salad, will be served in beach pails with shovels (Similar to below). I think it's going to be really cute.

So if you have been wondering where I am or what I'm doing, This is how I have been spending my time. I'm very excited to begin my hunt for undersea decorations now. My daughter and I tried making anemones using a DIY site but instead of using a clear plastic cup and a candle to make the cute sea creatures below

We made A Kitchen Fire ...... DOH!