26 November 2009

58 Unusual Names of Fairies, Demons, and Other Mythical and Imaginary Beings

. . . Happy Turkey Day to all! Here's a few of the more interesting fairies and demons from my large collection.

1. Abeyoyo (ah-bay-YO-yo). a ferocious giant. Africa.

2. Aughisky. a water spirit that preys on cattle. Ireland.

3. Balkin. a mountain spirit. Orkney Islands, Scotland.

4. banshee (BAN-she) a wailing, female spirit attached to a specific family: she wails just prior to the death of a family member. Celtic, Scottish and Irish.

5. the Baobhan Sith. a type of monster or malevolent spirit, often appearing as a beautiful woman, known to suck blood. Highland Scotland.

6. bargus. a frightening ghost draped in clanking chains. Yorkshire and South Lancashire, England

7. Bodachan Sabhaill (Scottish: little old man of the barn). a friendly fairy who threshes corn and binds straw for old men. Highland Scotland.

8. boggart. a mischievous fairy, known for making noise, throwing objects about and like behavior. Yorkshire and northern England. Called a bwca in Wales, a bogle in Scotland, a poltergeist in Germany. (In the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling, a boggart appears in the form of whatever its victim fears most. See clutterbumph.)

9. Brollachan (Gaelic: shapeless thing). a monster born of a fuath.

10. brownie. a small, rag-clothed fairy or spirit that haunts a specific place; to give a brownie clothes is bad luck. Northern England and Scotland.

11. Ca Sith (Scottish: fairy dog). a monstrous spirit dog, the size of a bull, with a green coat. Scotland.

12. Cait Sith (Scottish: fairy cat). a monstrous black cat owned by the fairies. Scotland.

13. clutterbumph. a scary thing that is not there until you imagine it: whatever is just above the worst thing you can think of, that is what a clutterbumph looks like. (From the book Manxmouse by Paul Gallico, a book which J. K. Rowling said was one of her favorites, which possibly inspired her version of a boggart in the Harry Potter books.)

14. Coblynau (Welsh: goblins). friendly beings who inhabit mines: they stand about two feet tall, dress like miners and are helpful to miners. Wales.

15. Deva (DAY-vah) (India: shining one). general term for any type of nature spirit.

16. dvergr. Norse word for dwarf: they were believed to live in rocks and were skilled in metalworking.

17. Ellylldan (Welsh: will o' the wisp). local name for friendly fairies. Wales.

18. Fear Dearg. (Irish: red man). a red-clothed spirit whose visit brings good luck. Munster, Ireland.

19. Fenodyree / Phynoderee / Phynnodderee. name for a local fairy similar to a brownie. Isle of Man.

20. fetch. a double of a living man; when seen it means death. Ireland.

21. Firbolg. a non-cannibal giant. Ireland.

22. Fomorian. a giant known for throwing huge stones, blamed for the boulders seen scattered about Scotland.

23. fuath (FOO-ah). a group of malignant water spirits. Sutherland, Scotland.

24. Gally-Trot. a spirit in the shape of a large white dog, known for chasing anyone who runs from it. Suffolk, England.

25. Ghillie Dhu (Scottish: black servant). a friendly, domestic, solitary fairy who is helpful in finding lost children. Scotland.

26. the Glaistig. a fairy woman, clothed in green, known for being kind to children but also for misleading travelers. Highland Scotland.

27. the Glashtin. a mischievous fairy. Isle of Man.

28. Grindylow (GRIN-dee-loh). a malevolent water spirit. Yorkshire. (J. K. Rowling included these in the Harry Potter books; they live in the lake near Hogwarts School.)

29. the Grogan. the brownie as it is known in Ireland.

30. the Gwragedd Annwn. beautiful, friendly female spirits who inhabit lakes. Wales. The singular is Gwraig (Welsh: lady of the lake).

31. Gwydion. the wizard king of the fairies. North Wales.

32. Habetrot. queen of the spinning fairies, patroness of human spinners, generally described as very industrious and friendly but not too attractive. Scottish Borderlands.

33. the Hag of Winter. a spirit woman, the personification of winter, she is fearsome, withered, and has only one eye. Called Gentle Annie in Leicester, Black Annis in northern England, and the Cailleach Bheur in the Scottish Highlands. (John Milton called her the Blue Meagre Hag.)

34. the Hedley Kow. a monster that haunts the village of Hedley, Northumberland, England, known for transforming itself into the shape of a man, woman, horse or other beast, and for causing harm to the unwary.

35. Hraesvelger (corpse swallower). in Norse mythology, a giant wearing eagle plumage who produces the wind.

36. incubus. (ING-kyoo-bus). a male demon that preys on young women in their sleep.

37. Jenny Greenteeth. a female water spirit known for dragging people under the water to their deaths. A green scum on the surface of the water indicates her presence. Lancashire, England.

38. J├Âtunn. (Anglo-Saxon: eoten). in Norse mythology, a giant.

39. Kadaicha Man (Aborigine tribe Luritja: retribution man). a fearful being who chases wrongdoers to deliver justice. He walks without leaving tracks. Australia.

40. Kobold. a mining spirit. Germany.

41. Kooshd'aa K'aa. (land otter or land otter man). A malignant being who can change himself into a human being, another animal, or anything. Children who might wander off alone are warned that the Kooshd'aa K'aa would wait from them, put them in a trance and take them away. Tlingit Indians of Alaska.

42. Llamhigyn y Dwr (Welsh: the water leaper). a malevolent water spirit known for stealing fishermen's bait and for dragging sheep into the water to eat.

43. the Loireag. a female spirit, patroness of weavers and fullers (ones who beat or press cloth to increase its bulk). Highland Scotland.

44. merfolk. water spirits, including mermaids and mermen, said to very beautiful and playful, with fishtails in the place of legs.

45. the Muileartach. a hideous, one-eyed water hag of enormous size. Highland Scotland.

46. Nuckelavee. a mythical water monster, half horse and half man. Scotland.

47. the Peallaidh (Scottish: the shaggy one). chief of the Urisks. Perthshire, Scotland.

48. peerie. local term for fairy. Shetland Isles.

49. the Pellings. a race of half-human fairies, children of a fairy mother (Penelope) and human father, who dwell in Corwrion Lake. Wales.

50. pooka. a type of fairy or spirit that always appears in animal form. Ireland. (Make famous as a six foot tall invisible rabbit in the movie and play "Harvey.")

51. the Ratchet. a demonic hound, known for hunting in packs in the sky and howling before the death of a human.

52. silkie / silky / selkie / selky. a seal-like water spirit able to change his form into a man. Scotland.

53. spriggan. the ghost of a giant, usually found guarding the giant's buried treasure, usually tiny but able to grow enormous, considered to be very dangerous. Cornwall, England.

54. Tom Tit Tot. name of a particularly mischievous fairy in England. Known in Scotland as Whuppity Stoorie, in Wales as Trwtyn a Trotyn, in Cornwall as the Devil Terrytop, in Germany as Rumpelstiltzkin.

55. Tylwyth Teg (Welsh: Fair Family). local name for a group of fair-haired, larger-than-human-sized fairies.

56. the Urisk. a group of hobgoblins. Perthshire, Scotland.

57. Valkyrie (VAL-kee-ree) (chooser of the slain). in Norse mythology, one of a troop of goddesses who serve in Valhalla, land of fallen heroes, and carry out errands for Odin, king of the gods.

58. worm. general term for monstrous being akin to a dragon. England.


Select bibliography:

The Personnel of Fairyland: A Short Account of the Fairy People of Great Britain for Those Who Tell Stories to Children, by K. M. Briggs. Detroit: Singing Tree Press, 1971, reprint of Oxford: Alden Press, 1953.

The Kingdom of Faerie, by Geoffrey Hodson. London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1927, and, Fairies at Work and at Play, Observed by Geoffrey Hodson. London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1947.

Norse Mythology, Or, the Religion of our Forefathers, by Rasmus Bjorn Anderson. Chicago, S. C. Griggs & Company, 2nd edition, 1876.

Tlingit Stories, by Marie Ackerman. Anchorage, Alaska: AMU Press, 1975.


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