Gwragedd Annwn

The famous Lake Maidens of Wales, their name means ‘Otherwordly women’. While many fairies who make their homes in bodies of water are at best mercurial and at worst murderous, the Gwragedd Annwn have a good reputation for kindness and gentle ways. They appear as beautiful young women and are known to make good wives when they marry human men, although like many fairy wives they usually leave if the man violates a taboo relating to them.

In many stories of these Lake Maidens this taboo has to do with the husband striking the wife three times. Even if they are forced to leave their family such fairy women stay involved with their children, and one Welsh family renowned for their medical knowledge claimed it had come from a long-distant Gwragedd Annwn ancestor. The Gwragedd Annwn are strongly associated with cattle, both Earthly cows and Otherworldy ones, which may be seen as symbols of abundance and blessing.

Corrigans (Korrigans)

A type of fairy found in Brittany that is less of a specific kind of being so much as a general category of beings is the Corrigan. They might be loosely compared to the generic English idea of elves as small, mischievous creatures. Corrigans are social fairies who live in groups and enjoy dancing; where they dance mushroom rings are said to appear.  They wear white exclusively and are the size of young children, but look like an adult in miniature.

Corrigans can be very cruel to humans in their power and they are usually less inclined to aid people, but are not always hostile towards them and will sometimes help around homes or farms. They are nocturnal fairies and only emerge at dusk and during the night-time. In most ways they are exactly like all other Celtic fairies: they are known to steal human children, to punish those who spy on them or repeat their secrets, and to reward those who please them.

Corrigans have beautiful hair and red flashing eyes. They are sometimes described as important princesses or druidesses who were opposed to Christianity when the Apostles came to convert Brittany. They hate priests, churches, and especially the Virgin Mary. They can predict the future, change shape, and move at lightning speed.

Like sirens and mermaids, they sing and comb their long hair, and they haunt fountains and water wells. They have the power of making men fall in love with them, but they then kill the ones who do. In many popular tales, they are eager to deceive the imprudent mortals who see them dancing or looking after a treasure, and fond of stealing human children, substituting them with changelings. On the night of 31 October (Samhain), they are said to be lurking near dolmens (a megalithic tomb with a large flat stone laid on upright ones, found chiefly in Britain and France) waiting for victims.

Trows

A term found in the Shetland and Orkney Islands of Scotland, likely imported to there from Norse areas during occupation periods. Possibly a variant of the word trolls. Trow is considered roughly synonymous to other Scottish terms for fairies including sighean.

In some folklore Trows are described as very human in appearance, although they may appear old, shrivelled, or physically deformed. In other stories, however, they are described as clearly inhuman, unattractive, and twisted, even in sometimes appearing as a mix of human and horse. They are often described in unflattering terms as having oversized feet, large noses, flat faces, and short limbs. They can range in height from three to six feet depending on the story. They are often said to dress in grey, although sometimes they appear in green, red, white, or black.

It was claimed that the witches in these areas dealt with the trows, much as we see the witches in other areas dealing with fairies, and as in other areas the trows were known for shooting magical arrows that caused illness and death and for swapping changelings for beings they wanted.  In Shetland the Trows prefer night time and fear the sun which traps them on earth until it sets.  Like some other kinds of fairies Trows will make themselves welcome in human homes at night while the inhabitants are sleeping, coming in to sit by the fireside; they are known to dislike people who lock their doors for this reason.  Trows live in mounds that are often called knowes and like other fairies they will steal humans, most often brides, and enjoy music and causing mischief.

 

Tanngrisrnir and Tanngnjostr (Thor’s Goats)

Tanngrisrnir and Tanngnjostr

Tanngrisrnir and Tanngnjostr were the goats of Thor. They pulled Thor’s chariot across the sky. Everytime Thor crossed the sky with his goat-drawn chariot, there came the sound of thunder. 

In Norse mythology, Thor killed his goats for the food. And in the following day, he would resurrect his goats with his Mjolnir hammer. 

The symbol of Tanngrisrnir and Tanngnjostr also presented Thor and his presence. The goats symbolised the boundless endless and the masculinity. Modern archaeologists have excavated Viking artifact of the goats (as pictured).

Size of Faeries

The size of fairies is an often debated subject, yet folklore paints a clear, if varied, image of them. While modern depictions tend to favour small, childlike imagery looking at the wider scope of material we find everything from miniscule ant sized beings to gigantic fairies twice as tall (or more) than humans. The most common depictions fall into two main categories: those that are around 2 feet tall and those that are the height of an average human being.


What we find in many of the stories and ballads is that fairies look very much like human beings except that they have an aura of Otherworldliness to them or in some other intangible way project their fairy qualities. As Andrew Lang puts it:

“There seems little in the characteristics of these fairies of romance to distinguish them from human beings, except their supernatural knowledge and power. They are not often represented as diminutive in stature, and seem to be subject to such human passions as love, jealousy, envy, and revenge…The People of Peace (Daoine Shie [sic]) of Ireland and Scotland are usually of ordinary stature, indeed not to be recognized as varying from mankind except by their proceedings…” (Andrew Lang, 1910).”

The Children of Loki

Loki the most complicated Norse character and the giantess Angrboda (“She who Brings Anguish”) had three notorious children. His first son was the Jormungandr the Midgard Serpent, the second daughter was Hel the Queen of Helheim, and the last one was Wolf Fenrir the God of Destruction.

Jormungandr

Jormungandr was also known as the Midgard Serpent. He was cast into the deep ocean by Odin the Allfather as a precaution against the Ragnarok. Deep under the ocean laid Jormungandr who quickly grew large enough to encircle the whole Midgard. Jormungandr held his own tail in his mouth. He was the sworn enemy of Thor. These two (Jormungandr and Thor) had encountered each other once before the days of Ragnarok. 

As Ragnarok was looming large, Jormungandr raised from the ocean and accompanied Loki’s army to enter Asgard. This Midgard Serpent had his last battle with Thor and got killed by the blow from Mjölnir hammer. Thor, unfortunately, was slain by the venom of the dead Jormungandr.

Hel

The only daughter of Loki, Hel, was banished into the land of Helheim located deep under the root of Yggdrasil tree. There, Hel built up her own kingdom of the dead and presided over that place. She was the queen of the deceased and the land of Helheim. According to the myth, if one soul belonged to Hel, without her permission, that soul could not do anything but serve in the land of Helheim. No one could ever interfere with this practice, even Odin the Allfather.

Hel joined the army of the Jotun to battle against Aesir gods. She brought the dead alongside.

Fenrir

Hardly could any villain in Norse myth rival the reputation of Wolf Fenrir. Fenrir was the worst nightmare to the Norse gods because Fenrir was predicted to swallow Odin in Ragnarok. As the gods scared that this scenario would come into being, they decided to raise the wolf by themselves. When the wolf grew up at an incredible speed, they bound Fenrir with a magical fetter. Fenrir then was sent to a middle-of-no-where place until he broke free on the threshold of Ragnarok.

In Ragnarok, Fenrir and his father, Loki, led the giant army to fight against the gods. Fenrir opened his enormous mouth with his jaw stretching from heaven to earth and swallowing anything that hindered him. When battling with Odin, Fenrir gained the upper hand and swallowed the god, proving the prophecy to be true.

Other Children of Loki

Sleipnir – Sleipnir was the result of one-night chase between Loki and a stallion Svadilfari. This happened when Loki wanted to prevent Svadilfari from finishing building Asgard Wall. Loki in disguise as a mare seduced Svadilfari to distract the stallion from finishing its task. As a result, a little horse was brought to life. Sleipnir was his name. And in fact, Loki was the mother of Sleipnir horse. Yes, Loki was the mother! Sleipnir horse then was given to Odin the Allfather by Loki. Sleipnir was a true treasure as he could travel not only on land but also over the sea and through the air. Odin rode Sleipnir into the battle of Ragnarok where he met Wolf Fenrir.

Nari and Vali – these two children of Loki had little material about them. The most well-known tale about these two was in the Punishment of Loki. The ironic story told that Vali in the form of a wolf killed his brother Nari. The gods used the entrails of Nari to bind Loki to the rocks as Loki’s most severe punishment for causing trouble to the gods.

Fairy Path

A Fairy Path or Fairy Road is the route by which the fairies regularly travel between any two locations. These paths can be found in many places and are invisible to anyone without the Second Sight, unless they happen to catch the Fairy folk unaware. Fairy Paths are often said to stretch between known fairy hills or locations but may also be found in more obscure locations.

It is considered very bad luck to build on a fairy path and those who do so always suffer for it one way or another. In the most benign cases the building will suffer from disturbances, often at night, as the fairies pass through the building following their accustomed route. As one source says:

When the house happens to have been built in a fairy track, the doors on the front and back, or the windows if they are in the line of the track, cannot be kept closed at night, for the fairies must march through.

In other instances attempts at building would be destroyed as soon as they were begun by being knocked down and a noted method of testing for a fairy path by those who “could not see them was to put up posts where the building was meant to go and see if they remained standing the next day. In extreme cases the person attempting to build might be killed or suffer extreme misfortune.

The Welsh Tylwyth Teg (“Fair Family”) have fairy paths as the Irish and Scottish fairies do, although their reputation is more dangerous. As one anecdotal source says:

“…the Tylwyth Teg have paths (precisely like those reserved for the Irish good people or for the Breton dead), and that it is death to a mortal while walking in one of these paths to meet the Tylwyth Teg.”

The fairies were known to move their homes at certain times of year, notably on the quarter days, and when they did so they would travel along these fairy paths to get from one hill to another. At any time of year, however, a Fairy Path could be perilous.

Faun

Fauns are mythical creatures with both human and goat features. They are notorious for their love of the forest, music, and beautiful women, and they are generally charming to the people they encounter as they trot along their happy, woodland paths.

Fauns are a peculiar, chimeric race: half goat, half human. With horns, hairy legs, hooves, and a twitchy tail, they might not sound like the loveliest characters, but they have their own undeniable charm. You can’t help but love their faces, which combine pointy ears and a head full of woolly curls with youthful features, sparkling eyes, and a roguish smile.

Above the waist, these woodland creatures have handsome male bodies with lithe limbs. Below the waist, they have two goat legs, which make them extremely nimble dancers. While they’re not especially fond of clothing, they like to adorn themselves with crowns of leaves and berries from their woodland home, especially before one of their legendary parties.

Fauns are merry creatures, and they have a talent for brightening the hearts of others. If you are waylaid by a group of them, you can be sure that you’re not going to get away any time soon. The little creatures will lure you into their festivities with their dancing, jokes, and delicious food.

Of course, they are best known for their flute playing. With just a small, wooden flute, they can hypnotize you with fantastic melodies. Hardly anyone can resist a Faun with a flute, and in truth, the power of their flutes has led some of them to act up, luring travelers into the forest, where they get lost, or stealing the hearts of beautiful maidens away from the rest of the world.

In Greek culture, Fauns are associated with Pan, the god of shepherds, mountain wilds, meadowlands, wooded groves, fertility, and rustic music. They join Pan in his merrymaking and act as his servants when he needs aid. In return, Pan has gifted them with his trademark musical instrument, the pan-flute. Like many Greek gods, Pan was eventually handed down into Roman culture under a new name, Faunus. His troop of Fauns made this transition with him.

Fauns and satyrs are commonly confused because they have some striking similarities in appearance and personality. However, they are separate creatures. Satyrs are followers of Dionysus, the god of harvest, wine-making, and ecstasy. Like Fauns, they love music, women, and parties, but they are far less innocent than their light-hearted cousins. Satyrs are crafty creatures, and they can be downright destructive when they are bent on enjoying themselves, no matter the cost. They are also less physically charming than their woodland cousins. Their faces are less human, and their lower bodies are mightier, more like a horse or a donkey than a harmless, furry goat.

Fauns were popular characters in both Greek and Roman mythology. They are mentioned in ancient texts that describe the gods’ grandest parties, and they are frequently written into the entourage of lovers who pursue nymphs. For example, they follow in the march of Bacchus, a half-god who wandered the earth teaching men how to cultivate vineyards before making a glorious march home to Greece, and in the myth of Vertumnus and Pomona, they are competitors against Vertumnus for the beautiful Pomona’s heart.

During the Hellenistic period, the mythical revelers became popular models for statues. In some of these statues, they were portrayed without any goat-like features, appearing as soft, romantic young men with flutes or beautiful women. The most famous of these statues is the Barberini Faun, which shows a young, handsome man exhausted after a long party.

Fauns were revitalized during the Romantic period, when fairytales gained wild popularity. They were separated from the old Gods of Greek and Roman mythology and became independent, magical creatures of the forest.

One of the Romantic period’s most famous authors, Nathaniel Hawthorne, nodded to the mythical creatures with his acclaimed novel The Marble Faun, while poet Stephane Mallarme composed a masterpiece around the charming chimera with “L’apres-midi d’un Faune.” This poem later inspired both a symphony composition and a ballet.

Remarkably, Fauns have changed very little from their early Greek play-days to their appearances in modern literature. Although they seem to have gotten out from under Pan’s thumb, they still have the same rustically charming appearance, fun-loving temper, and musical talent.

Today’s most famous Faun is Mr. Tumnus, a flute-playing creature who welcomes Lucy Pevensie to the world of Narnia. Mr. Tumnus captures an age-old personality, acting both as an agent of mischief and as a kind-hearted guide for Lucy, the human girl who has captured his fancy.

Shtriga

The Shtriga was a vampire-like witch that was found in Albania. The creature was similar to the Strigon, which was a witch found among the southern Slavs, the strigoi of Romania, and the vjeshtitza of Montenegro.

The Shtriga usually took the form of a woman who lived undetected in the community. She was difficult to identify, although a sure sign was a young girl’s hair turning white.

The vampire witch attacked her prey at night, usually in the form of an animal, such as a moth, fly, or bee.

In order to catch a Shtriga, two methods can be attempted:

~ On a day when the community gathered in the church, a cross made of pig bones could be fastened to the doors. Any Shtriga inside would be trapped and unable to pass the barrier.

~ If one followed a suspected Shtriga at night, one could see her vomit blood at some point after she sucked the blood of her victims. The vomited blood could be bottled and turned into an amulet to ward against witches.

Legend of the Shtriga:

According to legend, only the shtriga herself could cure those she had drained (often by spitting in their mouths), and those who were not cured inevitably sickened and died.

The name can be used to express that a person is evil. According to Northern Albanian folklore, a woman is not born a witch; she becomes one, often because she is childless or made evil by envy.   A strong belief in God could make people immune to a witch as He would protect them.

Usually, shtriga were described as old or middle-aged women with grey, pale green, or pale blue eyes (called white eyes or pale eyes) and a crooked nose. Their stare would make people uncomfortable, and people were supposed to avoid looking them directly in the eyes because they have the evil eye.  To ward off a witch, people could take a pinch of salt in their fingers and touch their (closed) eyes, mouth, heart and the opposite part of the heart and the pit of the stomach and then throw the salt in direct flames saying “syt i dalçin syt i plaçin” or just whisper 3–6 times “syt i dalçin syt i plaçin” or “plast syri keq.”

In some regions of Albania, people have used garlic to send away the evil eye or they have placed a puppet in a house being built to catch the evil. Newborns, children or beautiful girls have been said to catch the evil eye more easily, so in some Albanian regions when meeting such a person, especially a newborn, for the first time, people might say “masha’allah” and touch the child’s nose to show their benevolence and so that the evil eye would not catch the child.

Edith Durham recorded several methods traditionally considered effective for defending oneself from shtriga. A cross made of pig bone could be placed at the entrance of a church on Easter Sunday, rendering any shtriga inside unable to leave. They could then be captured and killed at the threshold as they vainly attempted to pass. She further recorded the story that after draining blood from a victim, the shtriga would generally go off into the woods and regurgitate it. If a silver coin were to be soaked in that blood and wrapped in cloth, it would become an amulet offering permanent protection from any shtriga.

In Catholic legend, it is said that shtriga can be destroyed using holy water with a cross in it, and in Islamic myth it is said that shtriga can be sent away or killed by reciting verses from the Qur’an, specifically Ayatul Kursi 225 sura Al-Baqara, and spitting water on the shtriga.

The Slavic Vampire

The Slavic vampire was not always the symbol of evil that it came to be in the nineteenth century European literature.

The Slavic vampire was originally the product of an irregularity within community life, such as problems with burial practices, death, or birth. People who had a violent death, people who committed suicide, or people who died of an accident became vampires.

Most Slavic cultures had a set of ritual activities that were to be followed after a death for for days following the death. Deviation of that ritual could result in the deceased becoming a vampire.

People who were excommunicated or deviated from the church would cause vampirism.

Problems at birth could also cause vampirism. In the Slavic culture, certain days of the year frowned upon intercourse, and children conceived on these days would become a vampire. Bulgarians believed that children who died before baptism would become an ustrel, which is a vampire who would attack and drink the blood of livestock. The Kashubs believed that children born with teeth or a caul would become a vampire after death.

The Slavic society offered many causes of vampires, and the belief the community members could become a vampire after being attacked or brought on by waves brought about vampire hysteria.

If a person is suspected to become a vampire, the community could take pre-burial actions to prevent the vampire from awakening. Religious objects were placed in the coffin. Plants such as the mountain ash would be left in the grave. Seeds were spilled in the grave, on top of the grave, and on the road from the graveyard. In extreme cases, the body was pierced with thorns or a stake. A wooden block may be placed under the chin to prevent the vampire from eating its burial clothes, or the clothes may be nailed on the outside of the coffin.

If a dead person was thought to be a vampire, the body would be dug up and examined for signs of a vampire. If the dead was a vampire, the body would appear lifelike, the joints would be pliable, blood would ooze from the mouth or other body openings, hair and fingernail growth would be seen, and the body may appear bloated (being filled with blood).

In order to destroy a vampire, the body would be staked with wood or metal. The object would be driven into the head, heart, or stomach of the body. In severe cases, the body would be decapitated. A priest, would also, repeat the ritual activities of the funeral service, sprinkling holy water on the body, or performing an exoricism.