Field Guide to the Races of Faerie This is a rough guide, intended for first year students. We will begin with the humanoid races. The designations given are deliberately general; more exact descriptions will be studied in later classes.
HUMANOID RACES - Heights Sprite: 12 in < Pictsie: 12 in < Hob : 18 in - 3 ft. Hobgoblin : 18 in - 3 ft. Dwarf : 3 - 5 ft. Goblin : 3 - 6 ft. Man : 5 - 7 ft. Elf : 5 - 7 ft. Ogre: 7 - 9 ft. Giant : 9 - 18 ft.
In my kimuro journal, I write a series of updates, or reports, originating from a neighbourhood which borders on Faerie, in the person of the keeper of a dragon hatchery called Na Gurnaidh. This past summer, I wrote of the visit from several young people who were planning to attend a sgoil dubh - a school for magic. I often write of Arthur Spiderwick as a member of the establishment and have mentioned before that he teaches a class or two at the Academy of Magic. I imagine that the above is a handout for the first lesson in the first-year class of that course.
A common motif in the United States is the "Three Wise (or foolish) Monkeys" - see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. (There's a fourth one that is occasionally depicted with its hands crossed in its lap "have no fun" - but that's just plain silliness.) Yesterday, I learned from whence this image came; from Japanese art. The three monkeys are named, Mizaru has his hands over his eyes. Kikazaru covers his ears. Iwazaru is the one with his hand over his mouth. (ref - Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures)
In Western culture, the three monkeys are depicted as fools - the Three Stooges often mimed them. Westerners believe - strongly - that what you don't know can hurt you (especially if it is dangerous or bad). Buddhists, on the other hand, strive to keep their minds pure, free from gossip, slander, seduction and desire (okay, so maybe that Western 4th monkey isn't so far from the initial ideal).
The wise monkeys are a pun on the maxim "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". The saying in Japanese is "mizaru, kikazaru, iwazaru" (the three names given to the apes) - literally "don't see, don't hear, don't speak". -zaru is an archaic negative verb conjunction that is pronounced the same as saru, which means monkey.
One possible explanation for the number of monkeys in the famous art (three instead of four) might have to do Japanese folklore. The God of the Roads (Saruta Hito no Mikoto aka Koshin) had for attendants "the Three Mystic Apes" (Sambiki Saru). It was believed that during the Koshin festival, celebrated once every 16 years, all of ones bad deeds might be reported to heaven - unless one did something to avoid that happening.
Wikipedia reports that Mahatma Gandhi felt the lesson of the Three Wise Monkeys important enough that he kept a small statue of the three as a reminder - all the more striking because he eschewed possessions as a matter of belief.
Personally, I never really thought much about the history of the Three Wise Monkeys. Now .... As a product of Western Culture, I understand the dangers of willfully ignoring evil and danger, of not warning others of those dangers, of not taking action against them. But as a Christian, it seems that the maxim has a lot going for it. I suppose that it's like so much in life - you need balance. The three wise monkeys in ordinary, everyday are an encouragement against indulging in petty gossip and backstabbing. But in the face of true evil - they are a symbol of foolish self-ignorance. It's one thing to willfully destroy the reputation of a giddy, fun-loving young person, but quite another to ignore the creepy menace of a sociopath operating next-door.
Ape Mountain/ City of the Apes Ape Mountain On an island somewhere in the Indian Ocean, so called because of the numerous monkeys that are found there, hardly four inches high, with yellow eyes, black face and a lions' mane. They assault ships that dock in the island's harbour, stealing everything that they can find.
Should the traveller escape the monkey's clutches, a greater danger awaits him on the mountain slopes. Here stands a castle inhabited by a creature reminiscent of a human being but as tall as a palm tree and black from head to foot, with blazing eyes, tusks like those of a wild boar, a mouth as deep as a well, lips like those of a camel hanging over his chest, ears like watermelons hovering over his shoulders and nails like lion's claws. His main dish is human flesh, and visitors should therefore avoid all contact with him.
City of the Apes
On the coast of the Indian Ocean, where lofty houses overlook the sea. Its name derives from the ape population in the surrounding area. Every night the apes invade the city, sack it and kill every human being they can find. To avoid being slaughtered, the inhabitants leave at dusk through their back doors that open onto the sea and spend the night in small ships which the apes cannot reach. These same apes, however, are also the cause of the city's prosperity, because in the daytime, when the apes retreat into the mountains, the inhabitants follow them with baskets full of stones with which they pelt the beasts; to defend themselves, the apes throw back coconuts. These are collected by the inhabitants of the city and sold for a large profit to the many other cities on the coast.
(Anonymous, The Arabian Nights, 14th-16th cen. AD)
Aisling - boggart attack Had a dream this morning. [the dream]I was working at an elementary school, helping out, and rec'd a request from the most beloved teacher at the school to come to her classroom for some special project. I went in early and was helping out in a general way while she was out of the room when word came to us that she'd been in an accident. At the time, she was dead but I guess my mind didn't like that outcome and changed it to injured.
Then I was at her house, helping while she recovered. There were a number of small, potentially dangerous accidents and her children were upset, fearful, wanting adult supervision at all time.
She had a bottle of strong medication that had to be kept from her children. I was sitting quietly in a corner of the living room listening as she read to her two kids, close to an open closet filled with shelves. The medicine was stored in there and a carafe of wine. With the eyes of my dream character, I saw the medicine bottle fall off the upper shelf and land above the carafe of wine, and that the stopper was off it. I got up to get it but not before some of the medicine dripped into the wine. But when I finished putting the medicine away, the stopper was back on the carafe. The teacher and her husband didn't believe me when I told them that the wine was contaminated by the medicine because there was no way that the stopper could have come off by itself and it was so clearly still on and sealed.
So I asked if the house had a reputation for being haunted. On being told (with an expression of surprise) that that very room was supposed to have been the site of some paranormal events, I leaned into the closet and shouted, "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, may God bless you." There was a roar from the closet and a furious rapping and knocking commenced. I turned to the family and wryly told them that their home was haunted - by a boggart.
Why a boggart and not a ghost? Because in my mind, ghosts cannot affect physical matter and poltergeist is just another word for boggart. A boggart is a type of hobgoblin; malicious, angry, prone to dangerous pranks and booby-traps - like the poisoned wine. A boggart is one of the Yosling, in my story, one of the low fey, but one that is conditioned to tolerate the presence of iron.
I suppose I should include another category in the profiling lists, referring to the ability to tolerate iron.
Selkie image - a Caribbean Selkie Even though it isn't traditional that selkies have a transitional form, I like this picture. The human half looks like someone who could change into a seal; she's plump, bright, cheerful, playful. And the colouring is lovely.
According to the English chronicler John of Bromton, sometime in the earlier half of the 12th c the cellar of a monastery in the bishopric of Treves was haunted by an elf.
One morning when the butler entered the cellar, he was mortified to find a whole cask of wine had been emptied during the night, most of the contents spilt out on the floor. The butler chid his servant, locked the door of the cellar and took the key away with him, but the next day, he found that yet another cask of wine had been spoilt and spilt.
The butler went to the father abbot who proceeded to go down to the cellar where he blessed the casks with holy water after which he locked the cellar door and sealed it with the seal of the abbey - taking the key into his own possession. The next morning, he found a small black elf stuck fast to one of the casks.
The abbot took the elf, clothed him in the habit of a monk and kept him in the school of the monastery; where he never grew any bigger.
One day, an abbot from a neighbouring monastery came to examine the scholars, hearing the story, he counselled his brother abbot that he could no longer keep the devil in his house. The moment the monkish habit was removed from the elf, he vanished - never to be seen again.
Friar Rush Definitions genius locus - a spirit attached to a particular place brownie - a household spirit (genius locus) known both for the playing of pranks and the helping of chores boggart - a household prankster (genius locus) with a vicious and low sense of fun, potentially dangerous; some sources claim that a boggart is a brownie which has been wronged and has become bitter and angry as a result abbey lubber ** - a genius locus attached to a public house (inn, hotel, pub, tavern, monastery, etc), noted for gluttony and pranks buttery spirit ** - see abbey lubber
In the narrative, the devilan abbey lubber enters a monastery posing as a man called Bruder Rausch (Broder Ruus and variants, in the English version Frier Rush; the Early Modern German Rusche, Rausch is the term for a loud swooshing noise).
Acting as a prankster, Friar Rush causes various episodes of commotion among the monks. Working in the kitchen, Friar Rush takes to organizing women for the abbot and the other monks every night. On one occasion, he is about to chastised by the cook for being delayed. Rush throws the cook into a boiling cauldron and takes his place, working to the satisfaction of the monks for seven years, but constantly causing strife among them.
Rush's demonic identity is finally discovered by the abbot, who expels him from the monastery by means of the sacred mass. In the High German version, Rush then travels to England and possesses the king's daughter. He is again exorcized after the abbot is called in from Saxony for the purpose, who banishes the demon inside a hill near the monastery.*
Another source, found at google books (http://books.google.com/books?id=R8A4AAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false), reports that Friar Rush at one point made a number of staves which he told the brother monks were so that they could defend themselves in cases of danger. Then Rush began to make trouble among the monks, inciting them to jealousy and lust for a particular woman, such that the monks went secretly to Rush for a stave. At matins, one night, there arose a great fray, with every man among them pulling out his stave and striking his perceived rival. To increase the confusion, Rush blew out all the candles and rushed among the combatants, striking them at random and, finally, tossing a great bench among them so that many were downed with broken bones. Then he returned with lights and pretended to be concerned, offering them comfort and helping them to their beds.
He was revealed when a peasant overheard him boasting of his mis-deeds to his fellow spirits. The abbot "conjured" him into the shape of a horse and banished him from the abbey. He ended up in England, possessing the king of England's daughter. Forced to reveal his identity, he boasted that only the abbot of the old monastery had any power over him - so the abbot was sent for, he forced Rush back into the shape of a horse, locking him in that shape and forcing Rush to carry him over the ocean to Denmark. However, according to Katharine Briggs **, the monks were so shocked to find a "devil" in their midst that they reformed and led virtuous lives thereafter (thereby starving the soi-distant Friar Rush, perhaps?). She says that the Prior it was who unmasked him and drove him out and that he ended up as a will-o'-the-wisp. Notes * Notice that his reign of folly lasts seven years. * Friar Rush "organises" women for the abbot and other monks - it doesn't appear that they protest his "services" - the abbey lubber (and buttery spirit) can only prosper when the management is corrupt - when those running the properties are honest and fair, the spirit starves - unable to prosper. Is it possible that the abbey lubber/ buttery spirit is a form of boggart? * I am disappointed that there is no real indication of how the abbot expels him, but it sounds like magic to me. * the phouka of Ireland is another sort of prankster spirit that can transform into a horse or man. * from wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friar_Rush ** Abbey Lubbers, Banshees & Boggarts: An illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies by Katharine Briggs c@ 1979 interesting reference http://www.bartleby.com/81/ - Dictionary of Phrase and Fable Giving the Derivation, Source, or Origin of Common Phrases, Allusions, and Words That Have a Tale to Tell
Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable comprises over 18,000 entries that reveal the etymologies, trace the origins and otherwise catalog “words with a tale to tell.”
NEW EDITION, REVISED, CORRECTED AND ENLARGED
PHILADELPHIA: HENRY ALTEMUS, 1898 NEW YORK: BARTLEBY.COM, 2000
How the Strait of Reathainn Got Its Name I don't really understand how the Scottish Gaels came up with the names for their stories - they seem to miss the point in my opinion. In my mind, I call this story "Real Men Don't Eat Greens".
I regret any errors that may be found in this retelling of the tale. I injured the middle finger on my right hand quite badly last week, which makes typing rather difficult.
Once there was a man who managed to get on the wrong side of the king. His wife was dead; he lived alone with his daughter.
One day, the king called for the man to come before him. When the man went up to the castle, the king said, "You'll come back tomorrow, and you'll answer the question I put to you. The question is, what is the most plenteous thing in all the world?"
The Feinne came over to Scotland from Ireland and they drove out the Scandanavians, who fled away to sea. When Alba was won, they debated going back to Ireland, but Cumal said no. "I say that if you reach Ireland the king would rather see you burned on a hill than face you. He could could not keep you there. Better keep the realm you have won; make your schemes and plans; make a king of the best man, and let us stay where we are."
Now the Feinne were all of one kindred and blood, and they themselves did not know who was chief amongst them. They sought amongst themselves to find the man of the best head. Cumal himself was the best at answering questions and making plans and he had the blood of kings running in his veins. Therefore, they chose him to be Rìgh Na Fèinne, king of the Feinn.
There was a great war between the Lochlannaich (Scandinavians) and the Irish about Scotland, and the tribute which the Lochlannaich imposed upon Ireland and Scotland both. The cess was hard to bear and grievous to the Irish king.
The Lochlannaich were great strong men and used to come in summer and harvet, eating and spoiling all that the people of the lands were storing up for another year.
The power of Christ compels you Belief in fairies and changelings long persisted in Ireland and to combat it, the Catholic Church promoted the belief that the power of the priest was superior to that of fairies. That all it took was the sign of the cross or the touch of a priest's stole to put the fairies to flight. But even those in the priesthood were not entirely safe from fairy mischief.
Unh-hunh, Unh-hunh I promised yesterday that I would tell the story of how the Devil came up with the words "Unh-hunh" according to African-American folklore. It comes from Jane Yolen's Favorite Folktales from around the World, p. 471. It's even shorter than yesterday's tale, so I'm not doing a cut today.
The Word the Devil Made Up Afro-American (Florida)
The old Devil looked around Hell one day and saw that his place was short of help, so he thought he'd run up to Heaven and kidnap some angels to keep things running till he got reinforcements from Miami.
Well, he slipped up behind a great crowd of angels on the outskirts of Heaven and stuffed a couple of thousand in his mouth, a few hundred under each arm, and wrapped his tail around another thousand. And he darted off toward Hell.
When he was flying low over the earth looking for a place to land, a man looked up and saw the Devil and asked him, "Old Devil, I see you have a load of angels. Are you going back for more!"
Devil opened his mouth and told him, "Yeah," and all the little angels flew out of his mouth and went back to Heaven. While he was trying to catch them, he lost all the others. So he had to go back after another load.
He was flying low again and the same man saw him and said, "Old Devil, I see you got another load of angels."
Devil nodded his head and mumbled, "Unh hunh," and that's why we say it that way today.
A Humourous Haunted House Tale Here's a short but fun tale from Mary E. Lyons' Raw Head, Bloody Bones: African-American Tales of the Supernatural (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1991). It's a book for kids, but full of great notes on African and African-American folklore, as well as an extensive bibliography on African folklore, African-American folklore, and African-American history. kimuro, you should definitely add it to your high school library's folklore section. Anyway, here's the story:
Once upon a time, when crofters lived at Druim-Uachdair, in Badenoch, a poor widow at the end of a severe Spring was in great straits. She went to a neighbour, and begged her, for the love of God, to give her as much meal as would make porridge for herself and her children.
"The Devil a grain have I," said the other woman. (Am fear mór gràinne agam.)
"God bless my share, mother," said her little boy, who was sitting at the hearth. (Dhia beannachd mo chuid, a mhàthair.)
The poor woman went away sore-hearted ; and presently there came to the house she had left no less a visitor than the Fear Mór, whose name has just been mentioned. He immediately went to the meal-chest, and proceeded to take it out in handfuls, saying "This my share and yours, that for little Donald." (Seo mo chuid-sa, 's do chuid fhéin ; sid cuid Dònullain.) For every two handfuls he put in a bag, one handful he left. Having finished the work, he went out, emptied the sack into the burn, and disappeared in a cloud of smoke!
from A Collection of Gaelic Proverbs and Familiar Sayings edited by Alexander Nicolson (1882) This tale reminds me of the story in Chaucer's Canterbury tales, about the Devil traveling with the tax collector. IIRC, though, in that story, the person who says "To the Devil with ..." whatever, has to really mean it in order for the Devil to take it to Hell with him.
The fact is, although the visitor is identified as the Devil, the sense of fair-play involved feels more like one of the OtherFolk than the Evil One.
This is the story told by Ruairidh MacIlleathain in this weeks' Litir do Luchd-Ionnsachaidh - Letter for Gaelic Learners. I did a Google search to try to find more information and could find nothing. I thought perhaps this story would be as unknown to others as it is to me.
( Kitty RankinCollapse ) Something that strikes me on the reading of this is to wonder about her ladyship. That Kitty's side of the story is known sort of indicates to me that perhaps Kitty wasn't quite as discreet as she should have been. If it was known that her ladyship had asked Kitty to raise the storm and then the storm was raised, well, the question might be asked if perhaps the lady might have sought a witch more willing to do the dirty job. So, perhaps, she wasn't so much angry as afraid.
On the other hand, I think the so-called lady was a complete and utter contemptible piece of trash without honour or sense or any scrap of good-breeding. My sympathies are completely for Kitty!
I recently read the second volume (Kith) of Holly Black's new graphic novel series The Good Neighbors. As a student of folklore, I recommend it; she knows the old stories and doesn't hide the blood and pain of them. Personally, I find the main characters less than appealing - they're all teenagers of a sort I rather dislike - self-absorbed, self-important, judgemental and full of angst.
The first book, Kin, opened with a re-telling of the murder of Bridget Cleary. Bridget was an Irish woman who died in 1895, killed by her husband under the assumption that she was a changeling and only by destroying that could he get her back. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridget_Cleary) I've written of the different tests and trials inflicted on changelings, Holly Black and her artist show them.
This second book, Kith, tells the story from the other side, of a man who was stolen away by the faeries and not returned. Or rather, there was a chance that he could be rescued, but he wasn't because the one he trusted above all others to help him ... betrayed him. Because she had married again in his absence.
A few weeks back, my Gaelic language lesson was the story of Bodach Dubh na Mòr-bheinn, which I interpret as The Black Bogeyman of the Big Mountain. The tale is also given sometimes as "The Giant of Morven", but whatever the name, it's not one I've run across before, and I thought it might be new to some of you as well.
Morven is a mountain in Cataibh, in the Highlands of Scotland, the highest in Scotland in fact, well deserving of the name (Mòr-bheinn means "Big Mountain"). Near to it is the farming town of Braemore. This is a tale that they tell in Braemore.