irish mythology

F is for Fear dearg

Today’s journey takes us to Ireland to search out a creature that starts with the letter F.

Name: Fear dearg, also known as far darrig (means “Red Man”)

Type: Solitary fairy (a classification of fairies who live alone and tend to be malicious and wicked)

Origin: Irish mythology

Description: The fear dearg lives up to its name in that he wears a red cap and coat. The Fairy and Folk Tales of Irish Peasantry book points out that they tend to be “most sluttish, slouching, jeering, mischievous phantoms.” And it goes on to say that the fear dearg “busies himself with practical joking, especially with gruesome joking.”

Interesting Fact: This fairy is used in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series in Divine Misdemeanors as well as in the Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon book series’s “The Callahan Touch” which has a character who is a mix of fear dearg and pooka.

Have you heard of the fear dearg/far darrig before? If so where?

Bloody Bones

Today’s Into the Paranormal topic is on Bloody Bones, a mythological creature from Irish mythology. It also goes by the names Rawhead and Bloody-Bones, Tommy Rawhead, or Rawhead. He tends to live near ponds or other forms of water. Although, Ruth Tongue in Somerset Folklore says he “lived in a dark cupboard, usually under the stairs. If you were heroic enough to peep through a crack you would get a glimpse of the dreadful, crouching creature, with blood running down his face, seated waiting on a pile of raw bones that had belonged to children who told lies or said bad words.”

Other mentions I’ve seen of how he looks are that he can change his form to what he chooses, he’s very tall and grotesque, and several others.

What else? Yep! You guessed it. He’s basically a boogeyman to scare children into behaving. I first heard about him through the book Bloody Bones by Laurell K. Hamilton, and it seems like he’s in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files graphic novel, Welcome to the Jungle. I haven’t read that yet.

Interesting Tidbit:

  • The first cited mention in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1550 as “Hobgoblin, Rawhed, and Bloody-bone.”
  • It’s said the stories of Bloody Bones were most common in Lancashire and Yorkshire, UK and then the tales traveled to North America, specifically the South.
  • For a list of Bloody Bones mentions in pop culture, click here.
And before I go, here’s a clip from Supernatural the awesome TV show where Sam and Dean fight Rawhead.  http://youtu.be/XEkMe2Jze28 Sorry, I can’t embed the video.
So what do you think of Bloody Bones? Have you heard of him before?

Alp Luachra

Hi everyone! A short Into the Paranormal post today since I’m hard at work writing Book 2 of the Hacked Investigations series! If you haven’t yet, I’d love if you could vote for Techno Crazed for Goodreads Best Book Covers 2011. Thank you to everyone who has so far! I really appreciate the support.

Anyways, today we’re stepping into Irish mythology to look at the Alp Luachra, an evil and very greedy fairy. They are often found by the side of a stream when a person falls asleep. Aside from that, they’re invisible. They take the form of a newt and crawl down the sleeping person’s throat to eat the contents in their stomach. Regardless of how much they eat, they’re always hungry.

In the book Beside the Fire by Douglas Hyde, he tells about someone who got rid of an Alp Luachra by eating a lot of salted meat without anything to drink before falling asleep by the stream. The fairy crawled down the man’s throat, only to scramble into the water due to thirst. Here’s a link to the story, if you’d like to read it.

What do you think of the Alp Luachra? Does it make you think twice about sleeping beside a stream?

S is for Selkie

Source and more Selkie stamps

Selkies are from Irish, Icelandic, Faroese, and Scottish folklore. They are shapeshifters that change between seal and human by shedding, or putting on, their seal skin.

Originating from the Orkney and Shetland islands off the coast of Scotland, where the word selkie is Scots for “seal,” the myths were spread by fishermen and traders across the rest of England. Similar stories of these creatures are found in Norway, Sweden and with the Chinook people of North America with some variations.

Most of the stories involving selkies are mournful love stories and ballads. The summation of the most common is a fisherman sees a selkie, and he takes for her as his wife, while secretly hiding her seal pelt. She thinks she’s lost it forever and is sad because she longs for the sea and life as a seal, but they live happily and have several children. One of the children find the seal skin and ask what it is, and then the selkie puts it on and rushes back to the ocean. She’s sorrowful again, but this time because she misses her husband and children. A very interesting Faroese variation is located here.

Other variations include male selkies who have great power to seduce women. For women to come into contact with them, they have to cry seven tears into the sea. Typically, the children of these couplings have webbed fingers and toes as an indication of their origin. Also, according to Wikipedia.org, “The MacCodrum clan of North Uist claim descent from selkies and have been known as Sliochd nan Ron, the ‘Offspring of the Seals’ for many generations.”

Examples of selkies in literature, games, songs, and television & movies are located here. These include the movie Ondine, which I haven’t seen yet but now I really want to!

So, what are your thoughts on Selkies? Have you read, watched, or played something with one in it?

B is for Banshee

Today’s topic for the A to Z Challenge is Banshee, also know as bean-sidhe from Irish mythology. She’s an Irish woman who appears in different guises, typically a beautiful woman or an old hag. She is typically noted to live by a river where she washes the clothes of the person that will die. Her wail has traditionally been tied to foretelling a death of an important person from the established families, typically one from which they’re tied to by magic or duty.

In more recent descriptions, the banshees have taken alternative forms with their wailing. Some describe banshees as taking a more vampiric approach, renewing their lifelike appearances and extending their unlife by sucking the very moisture and life out of the air, and anyone happening to be nearby, leaving behind dried dust of the unfortunate witnesses to her wailing.

Others portray her as a tormented woman who returns after her death to haunt those who caused her passing. In these stories, the maiden appears to be a complete mute, but when she opens her mouth, she kills those nearby through fright, or if they’re lucky, and at an extended distance, her wail ages their appearances by years.

One Depiction of a Banshee.

Interesting Tidbits:

  • There are records of banshees going as far back as 1380 from Seán Mac Craith’s Cathréim Thoirdealbhaigh (Triumphs of Turlough).
  • Banshees can appear in other forms as well such as the hooded crow, stoat, hare, or weasel. Each of those animals are associated with witchcraft in Ireland.
  • In American Folklore, there’s been several stories about banshees from the Tar River in Edgecomb, North Carolina. But those tend to depict her as a ghoul than Irish Folklore.

What are your thoughts on Banshees?