Today I’m going to write about legends and folklore, because what’s better than reading about culture and history in the form of creepy stories….Ammi right?
One: The Willow Tree
In English folklore, Willow trees were believed to be extremely sinister. They were capable of uprooting themselves and stalking people who were passing by, which would be both amusing and terrifying. Is this what would happen to you if you stopped reading my blog? Hard to say.
Two: Caillagh ny Groamagh or (the readable version) ‘The Old Woman of Gloominess’
Apparently there’s a Highland and an Irish version of this story, as well as the Manx version, but in them all, the Caillagh is a weather spirit. She’s also basically the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil. If St. Bride’s Day (which is today, February 1st) has nice weather, she comes out to gather sticks to warm her through the summer. If it’s rainy, she stays in, which is a good omen for the rest of the year’s weather.
Three: Kate Crackernuts
This is a tale of enchantment and disenchantment and fairies’ power over humans. To quickly sum it up for you (and get to the part I like), there was a king and a queen who both had a daughter named Kate. However, the king’s Kate was way prettier, so the queen was mad and sent her hen-wife to use magic to make her ugly. The first few times the hen-wife tried this though, Kate was eating something, so the spell didn’t work. So basically the moral of the story is: eating = protection from all harm.
This is a Bogey or Bogey-Beast creature common around Leeds, of which different descriptions are given. Most say that Padfoot is a black dog. Sometimes associated with death, and other times considered as a guardian or protector.
I’m sure that J. K. Rowling had none of this in mind when choosing this as a nickname for Sirius Black. It’s not like the name Sirius is also the name of the “Dog Star”, the brightest star in the Canis Major constellation. oH wAiT.
Five: Red Cap
This dude was one of the worst of the old Border Goblins. He lived in old ruined towers and castles where wicked deeds had been done, and he delighted in re-dying his red cap in human blood. Which is a pretty creepy pastime. Human strength had little effect on him, but quoting Scripture or holding a cross up for him to see would make him vanish.
Six: Aughisky (agh-iski), the water horse
The Aughiska were once common and used to come out of the water—particularly in November—and gallop nearby. If someone could catch one, it would be faster than any normal horse, but it could only be ridden inland. As soon as they caught sight of salt water or smelled it, they would go straight for it, dragging their riders in with them and devouring them underwater.
But other than that, they made great horses.
If you’re interested in reading more folklore, I got most of this information from Katharine Briggs’s An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures (affiliate link), and you can also find old folklore books on the internet that are free to download, like this.