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Posts Tagged ‘irish’

This post is all grown up and ready to drink!  Twenty-one posts, nearly every week, (I said nearly damn it!)  I really didn’t think I’d stick with it this long.

 

In honor of the completely arbitrary number of 21, drinking and booze in general, let’s go back to Ireland for another of the many fey creatures running about.  Yes I know, there seems to be no end of the buggers.  I promise you something more exotic next week, but at least for now I’ll stick with the obscure.   Let’s talk clurichauns.

 

Clurichauns look like a lot of the fey, at least a lot of the traditional fey, which is to say small and ugly.  Sure enough, they look like little more than old men, short and potbellied.  They often have long beards or pipes, buckles on their shoes and little fine caps, and they are always, always drunk.  I’ve been told more than once that the name translates out to ‘walking thirst’, but I haven’t ever been able to confirm that.  Essentially, all the bastards do is drink, and drink, and drink.

 

Some folklorists see them as the night form of the leprechaun.  That is to say that by day the hard working leprechauns cobble for elderly shoemakers, but by night they switch forms and personalities completely as they hang up their tools and go on a bender.  And although I can buy that leprechauns can occasionally let their freak flag fly, they are usually depicted as merry drunks. Mostly the clurichauns range on the surly end of the drunkard spectrum.  Think the leprechaun other leprechauns wouldn’t want to share a Guinness with and you’ve come close.  Only don’t tell a clurichaun I made such a comparison, I don’t want him pissed off that I called him a ruddy little shoemaker.

 

Like many of the fey, how a clurichaun treats you largely depends on how you treat it.  Make an honest deal with it, give it a shot from your flask, especially your last, and it will treat you kindly.  Treat it badly, and you might as well join the priesthood for all the fun you are going to have from that point on.  As a supernatural creature with affinity to booze, the clurichaun can do all sorts of nasty tricks.  Teleport all your booze into his stomach, spoil wine, make whiskey sprout the grains it was made from.  What’s worse, though some fey wander and some attach themselves to families, the clurichaun tends to attach himself to a specific place.  Like your wine cellar, or your favorite bar.  They stick around just like that one drunk that the kindly bartender doesn’t have the heart to kick out into the street.  They stick around for as long as they were welcome, and then some.  Or if they are angry until they drive everybody else away.  In the latter case, the fastest I’ve heard them leaving is about fifty years, and they can last longer if they set up their own still.

 

Now, the clurichauns will never pay for their booze exactly, but they can grant wishes to a certain extent.  They seem to know where the leprechauns keep their fairy gold, though that may be because the legends have gotten intermingled.  They can also divine for underground treasures like many other dwarfish creatures.  Of course, just because they can do something, doesn’t mean they will do it.  I have run into a couple of stories of them being bound in iron and forced to deliver on their promises for their freedom, but that seems like an almost guaranteed way to piss one off.  And even if it forgets where you live, can you imagine stumbling around Ireland with a pissed-off, drunken fairy and a few shovels?  You better pack a lunch boyo, cause it’s going to be a long treasure hunt.

 

Wait, I forgot to mention that in proper lush fashion, they never walk when they can hitch a ride.  They usually hitch that ride on a passing dog or sheep.  So make that a pissed-off, drunken, sheep-riding fairy.   Yeah, good luck with that trip.

 

If they decide they like your cellar or home, they will protect you from the same things they cause when pissed off.  No one will steal your wine, and it will never spoil.  Of course they will probably drink more than these services are worth, but since I’ve never found a good way to get rid of the things except run away and leave them to dry up, you might as well put up with them.
Or put iron fillings in their scotch if you are desperate, and a complete gods bedamned heathen.

 

Writing prompts:

 

An evil and cunning beer company trying to trick clurichauns into their rival’s breweries.

 

A clurichaun in a frat house.  I don’t know if this is the best idea ever, or the worst, but I’d love to see it done.

 

The first time a clurichaun is tricked into trying a non-alcoholic beer.

 

 

 

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Okay, so last post I announced my new jewelry store, Dual Seed Studios http://www.etsy.com/shop/DualSeedStudios/about/  and you all should check it out.  I’ll probably have to do a post on just what “Dual Seed” means to me and why I chose it, no it’s not as dirty as you might think.  But this isn’t time for that, this is a time for myth and folklore and things that go bump in the night.  Or things that go bump in the bedroom.  In honor of my own obsessive endeavors, let’s look at two different sources of inspiration.  The muses and the leanan-sidhe.

Muses are so popular that I didn’t want to do a full post just on them, because much of it you might already know.  Nine women, born of Zeus, who represent all the arts and sciences of the ancient world.   Traditionally, they inspire artists and creators within their fields.

… Or do they.  First of all, since I’m focusing on things that people might not have heard about the muses, originally there were only three of them, and they had nothing at all to do with Zeus.  Some said they were born of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth.  Others made them out to be more like water nymphs, born from springs and occasionally man made fountains.  We’ve already talked about nymphs and their semi-divine nature, and the connection between muses and fountains stays in the background long after the three become nine.

Also, originally they were sources of inspiration, but they didn’t have specific areas or arts to personify.  They sort of leaked inspiration like a leaky faucet, giving it to whoever they were closest too.  This included lovers of course, but in some darker tales it didn’t necessarily need to be willing lovers.  That’s right, some people took inspiration from muses, along with anything else they wanted, and do we really expect a ditzy hyper-nymph to be able to put up much of a fight?  Maybe the pantheon of muses expanded when more generations of Muses were born, and maybe they started hanging out with Zeus and Apollo and such for a bit of protection.  Not that you could trust those two infamous womanizers around anyone with a bit of curves. Even calling Zeus ‘daddy’ is likely just to turn the nasty horndog on more.

Then, in another part of the world but maybe just as old a concept, there is the leanan sidhe (no, that was not an awkward segue, shut up!)  One of the Irish (sometimes Scottish) fey, she is a beautiful and powerful creature who grants inspiration to her lovers.  Willing lovers only this time, anyone who tried to force himself on a leanan sighe is going to lose more than his balls.

Even when the leanan sighe has a new beau, the artist  in question is doomed to suffer.  The leanan sidhe is absolutely the worst of girlfriends.  She demands all your love and attention even as she insists you work on your art.  And even when you are a dutiful lover, she quite often drives you into complete madness.  The candle that burns brightest slips a bloody cog, to mix a metaphor.  Literally, almost all of the lovers, read victims, of the leanan sidhe live brilliant, and short, lives.  Usually ending with them gibbering in madness, overwhelmed either by faerie glamour or forced inspiration.  Uncontrolled ideas bubbling up through the brain pan can be just as dangerous as supernatural sex, probably more so.

Later mythologies have the leanan sidhe as kind of a vampire who feeds on her lovers’ life forces. She probably gets more of a boost from their love.  She doesn’t need to drain her little pets, but I bet she gets a giggle out of the self destructive path the little mad bastards cut through their lives.  There are always more desperate artists to fill her bed.

Now I talk about the leanan-sidhe as a singular figure, and to be honest the older myths have it as a type of fey, with lots of the ‘barrow lovers’ as the name loosely translates too, running about and causing brilliant but short lives.  More recently, in popular media especially, she is becoming a singular figure, and I’m kind of waiting to see if that happens more and more with the other old fey.  I’m wondering if the human story will condense several old myths together, much like they’ve done with various pantheons, until we have the Redcap, the Dionne Sidhe (singular), instead of a bunch of the buggers running around.

It’s also fascinating the connection between sex, inspiration, and water.   Those three things get combined far more than just these two examples.  The apsara of India are supernatural dancers who seduce and inspire gods and men alike, often causing at least trouble in their marriage beds.  They follow music wherever it is, and are connected with waters and clouds.  Saraswati, godess of knowledge and arts, gets linked to flowing water and pure water sources as well.  Of course the Roman goddesses of fountains are poor knock off copies of the muses (like everything else in Rome), but how many seers, male and female, scry through water for their inspirations throughout history?

On a personal note, though the original three muses were mostly focused on poetry and song, I always liked the idea of nine muses who covered art, history, and science.  There is a huge gap in modern times between art and science that really just doesn’t need to exist.  Both require inspiration, dedication, and a bit of bloody luck.  Why not search for that luck in the form of a beautiful nymph?  Men have found inspiration in far worse things.

Okay, insert obligatory joke of muses being all ‘wet’ here, goodnight folks.

 

Writing Prompts

Two thousand years in the future, what ‘arts and sciences’ exist and what muses have provenance?

Women’s lib, a muse goes into business for herself.  Maybe using an artist as a tool and ghost writer.

Modern psychological drugs versus leanan sidhe madness magic, who wins?  Certainly not the poor bipolar artist stuck in between.

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All right lads and lassies, hold onto your hats, your knickers, and your first born because this is going to be a doozy.  Ready for it?  I’m going to try and tackle the fey, head on and without a helmet.
Oh boy oh boy.   The fey, the fairies, good folk, fair ones, wee folk, the gentry, whatever you want to call them including ‘oi, put down that sheep!’.  You thought my post on dragons had a lot of ground to cover?  If ever there was a rambling, brambling group, it was the fey.
Why?  Because the fey aren’t a type of creature, not a species.  It’s easier to think of the fey as their own class taxonomically speaking.   Maybe their own phylum, but I’ll stick with class for now.   The fey are a loosely connected bunch of creatures, most of them vaguely humanoid or humanish in appearance, that covers everything from pixies to bridge trolls.  Many of them are shapeshifters, and even the once that don’t have powerful illusions called glamour that are absolutely real to all your senses.The problem is, no one is quite sure what the connection between the many types of fey is, other than they are considered fey.  They have fey glamour and tap fey magic, so they are fey. Circular logic is nothing when thinking of the fey, mobius logic is a distinct possibility.
But lack of logic has never stopped me before, so let’s try it like this.  First and the most obvious thing about the fey, they were born of Earth, in fact they are often a lot more earthy than most humans.   Many fey have associations with nature and natural functions, some tie their various courts and organizations in with the seasons.  Even the ones that live in human homes and cities tend to be a bit… rustic.   Angels come form heaven, vampires are infected or cursed, the Egyptian gods are probably aliens form another dimension, but the fey are 100% earth born stock.
Next fact, the fey mostly don’t live here anymore.
Yep, I’m just going right to that.  Sad to say that most people who see fairy lights or belive in a fairy under every rosebush are probably about five-hundred years too late.  Oh, the fey are said to visit, usually slipping over during twilight or dusk, but they don’t stay long.  They pop up in groves of ash, oak, and thorn, or slip through a mirror, or hop through a ring of mushrooms. They visit some old haunts and cause some mischief and are gone again.  Some cultures still believe in household fey, fey that are used to humans and make themselves useful, and these varieties seem to stick around to modern day.  Hell, Icelandic elves are still living inside boulders and rescuing politicians from car accidents.  (True story.)   Mostly though, the fey are off in Faerie, a realm they evacuated too sometime in the last 1500 years or so.
See, the humans more or less kicked their asses when it comes to who owns this planet.  Cold iron drives away fey and fey influences, and many of the places that early man held holy were special to the fey as well. Those same places that various incarnations of the Christian church have done their level best to destroy.
And yes, Iron has much to answer for, but Monotheism has more.  Many of the older fey were respected bordering on worshiped by the tribes of men they encountered.  Early pagans didn’t see them as gods most of the time, but they sure were invited to all the best rituals and parties.  Which meant that the Church hated them along with anything remotely pagan, at least anything they couldn’t steal for thier own.Anything worshiped but not God was instantly of the devil, and the Church has tried to connect the fey and demons for centuries, despite the two having very different origins.  In some accounts fey were angels who wouldn’t fight on either side during the war between Lucifer and God, but damn does that story get applied to a lot of random critters that the Church wants to try to cram into their mythology.  Holy water and crosses don’t really seem to bother anything but the weakest fey, not unless those crosses are made of iron.
Which, ahem, doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t any dealings between the fey and demon-kind.  Fey were earthly remember, true children of the elements.  Finding and/or crafting a whole plane of existence to slip away to, what we now refer to as Faerie, isn’t exactly an earthly talent.  But it is something that might be attributed to ex-angels.   There are a few legends of Faerie owing tithe to Hell, payment for help rendered in escaping man and iron.   Basically, the fey chose the wrong bloody sub-contractors when building their new home, and have been over the barrel for it ever since.
Here is where I pause and try to show another perspective.  Modern historians attribute many of the fey myths to the Picts.   Not that the Picts started the stories, but that the Picts, or maybe the tribes before them, were the fey.  That as the Romans swarmed over the land, the Picts retreated to the hills and became ‘hidden folk.’   Odd and rustic figures that were only seen in fleeting glances, keeping odd customs and revels that weren’t well understood.
Is there some validity to this perspective?  Absolutely.  A lot of our fairy myth comes from Ireland, and from oral traditions that we have absolutely no way of dating.  We don’t know if fey stories were told of the Picts or by the Picts.  We certainly know that Roman steel was the bane to Pictish bronze.   Some of the old Irish myths, like the Daione Sidhe, the tall elegant fairies that heavily influenced Shakespeare and Tolkien alike, definitely have some older roots.  The people of the Hill could refer to the burial mounds of the picts as much as to the mythical creatures that are said to live beneath the mounds.
Still, the myths are more widespread than the picts were.  In fact, many cultures have ‘fey-like’ figures in their folklore.  From the small people with wings kind, to the more esoteric and wide spread.  I prefer to think of the fey as a race older than humanity, that existed for a time along side, till they saw where their futures were headed and decided to bug out.  This is not at all as an odd concept as it sounds, and can be found in cultures from the Philippines to the Southwest United States.
Another thing that has largely changed over time, the original fey were seen as very clannish, tribal, or outright independant. (Yes, like the early picts and other pagans, I said there was validity in the perspective.) Put three humans together to talk, and you’ll get four different opinions.  Put three fey together, and you’d get eighteen.   It was only in Medieval Europe, after the fey were off in their own realm, that they seemed to adopt a feudal system with courts and courtiers.  Maybe this was the humans putting their own politics on their folklore.  Maybe once they were in a new land, the fey found that Faerie needed a King, because the King is the land and all that.  Maybe a war with Hell forced the tribes to unite, in a way the Picts never managed, and once united the old ways faded away for fairy kind just like it does with mortal folk.
Considering that most fey seem to have the memories of goldfish, and the record keeping capacity of deranged third graders, I doubt even they would know the answers to those questions.   Chances are, it’s a combination of all of the above.
How you deal with a fey largely depends on if you are in their world, or if they are in yours.  If you are in Faerie proper, chances are you are in big trouble.  In fact, you’re already screwed.  Yes, you.  Take my knowledge without so much as a gift in return?  Oh boy how you’d owe me if I played by the rules.   Faerie is broken, time and space are mashed together with illusion and intent.  It’s not as malleable as the dream realms and not as vindictive as Hell, but if you break the rules you could find yourself stuck serving some fey lord for seven by seven years.   Seven years, that stretch like seven hundred in the mortal realm.   Never take a gift in Faerie, not so much as directions without a clear waiver of debt.  Don’t eat the food, don’t drink the wine.  Dance at your own peril.  If you are on a path, walk it, don’t deviate and don’t go running off into the woods.  Never thank a fairy, thanking implies debt.   Never rob from one
Unless you think you are clever or mad enough to break the rules, in which case more power to you.  Good luck. At very least you’ll provide a source of laughter.
If the fey is in your territory, you’ve got about as much power as they do in the reverse situation.  Anything from an iron nail to a four leaf clover can ward them off, red thread can burn them, and if you think you are under glamour, the fairy version of illusion and enchantment, you can try turning your coat inside out to confuse their spells. Some fey seem unable to tell a straight lie, and almost all are bound by their word spoken three times. Fey stick to their rules, if you know the type of fey you can figure out what rules to adhere too, but those are pretty good guidelines.  You’ll also tend to have better luck with a bowl of whiskey than a bowl of cream, those Irish roots are strong.
Just remember, fey are not human.  They don’t think like humans.  They don’t even think like humans think they think.  They can be callous or kind, cold or hot, merry and mad.  Few of them have much respect for humans.  You live too short to have any real perspective or merit.Many of them carry a great deal of jealousy and disdain.  You inherited their home, through your ancestors being bigger bastards in the evolutionary game.  If you are lucky, you might be a source of fascination.  If you are unlucky, you might just be a toy, and a very breakable one at that.

Writing prompts
Obvious one, the bronze age humans have to split earth instead of the fey.
The fey aren’t picts, they are Neanderthal, and they want their planet back.
Fairy glamour is tapped for better virtual reality.  The virtual world wide web runs off fairy blood.

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