“When writers die they become books, which is, after all, not too bad an incarnation.”
— Jorge Luis Borges
“Allegorical, metaphorical, metonymic, literal. Literature’s four seasons”
— Eleanor Catton
* A helpful guide I discovered all about Irish myths and spooks. Courtesy of gaelickitsune on tumblr.
Aos Sí: Irish term meaning “people of the mound”, they’re comparatively your faeries and elves of Irish mythology. Some believe they are the living survivors of the Tuatha Dé Danann. They’re fiercely territorial of their little mound homes and can either be really, really pretty or really, really ugly. They’re often referred to not by name, but as “Fair Folk” or “Good Neighbors”. Never, ever piss them off.
Cat Sidhe: Cat Sidhe are faerie cats, often black with white spots on their chests. They haunted Scotland, but a few Irish tales tell of witches who could turn into these cats a total of nine times (nine lives?). The Cat Sidhe were large as dogs and were believed to be able to steal souls by passing over a dead body before burial. Irusan was a cat sidhe the size of an ox, and once took a satirical poet for a wild ride before Saint Ciaran killed it with a hot poker.
Badb: Part of the trio of war goddesses called Morrígna with sisters Macha and Morrígan, Badb, meaning “crow”, was responsible for cleaning bodies up after battle. Her appearance meant imminent bloodshed, death of an important person, and/or mass confusion in soldiers that she would use to turn victories in her favor. She and her sisters fought the Battles of Mag Tuired, driving away the Fir Bolg army and the Formorians. In short: total badass.
Merrow: The Irish mermaid. They were said to be very benevolent, charming, modest and affectionate, capable of attachment and companionship with humans. It is believed that they wore caps or capes that would allow them to live underwater, and taking a cap/cape of a merrow would render them unable to return to the sea. Merrow, unlike regular mermaids, were also capable of “shedding” their skin to become more beautiful beings. They also like to sing.
Púca: Also called a phooka, these are the chaotic neutral creatures of the Irish mythos world. They were known to rot fruit and also offer great advice. They are primarily shapeshifters, taking a variety of forms both scary as heck and really really pretty. The forms they took are always said to be dark in color. Púcas are partial to equine forms and have known to entice riders onto its back for a wild but friendly romp, unlike the Kelpie, which just eats its riders after drowning them.
Faoladh: My all-time favorite Irish creature. Faoladh are Irish werewolves. Unlike their english neighbors, Faoladh weren’t seen as cursed and could change into wolves at will. Faoladh of Ossory (Kilkenny) were known to operate in male/female pairs and would spend several years in wolf form before returning to human life together, replaced in work by a younger couple. They are the guardians and protectors of children, wounded men, and lost people. They weren’t above killing sheep or cattle while in wolf form for a meal, and the evidence remained quite plainly on them in human form. Later on, the story of an Irish King being cursed by God made the Faoladh a little less reputable.
Dullahan: Dullahan are headless riders, often carrying their decapitated cranium beneath one arm. They are said to have wild eyes and a grin that goes from ear to ear, and they use the spine of a human skeleton as a whip (What the WHAT). Their carriages were made of dismembered body parts and general darkness. Where they stop riding is where a person is doomed to die, and when they say the human’s name, that person dies instantly.
Gancanagh: An Irish male faerie known as the “Love-Talker”. He’s a dirty little devil related to the Leprechaun that likes seducing human women. Apparently the sex was great, but ultimately the woman would fall into some sort of ruin, whether it be financial or scandal or generally having their lives turn out awful. He was always carrying a dudeen—Irish pipe—and was a pretty chill guy personality-wise. You just don’t ever want to meet him—it’s really bad luck.
Love is easiest
For whomever loves the least.
The Least never worries.
He never paces circles
Hard and flat into the carpet,
Fraught with fear that I may disappear.
The Least never misses most.
He may think of me sporadically,
In moments dull and lonely
But not in his smiling revelry—
Never in his triumphs or his joys.
The Least never needs.
Not as I need.
Not all the time
Only when it suits him;
Only when the night puts on his cloak.
The Least loves guiltless and carefree.
Abandoning his watch of me,
Brings no bullet ache into his heart
Nor raging river streams from his eyes.
No, he shall feel vacantly free.
He is absolved of all sin—
Love only whispered to him.
Yes, love is easiest
For whomever loves the least.
Too bad I love the most,
It has cost me everything.
Originally posted on It's A Small Film World, After All!:
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Why It’s A Staff Pick:
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Originally posted on Stanton's Sheet Music:
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“Looming and phosphorescent against the dark,
Words, always words.”
— Charles Wright, from “Cryopexy”