Posts Tagged ‘legends’

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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Whoopsy daisy, it’s almost nine p.m. and I haven’t done my weekly Monster Monday.  Bad John, bad writer, no keepy schedule no get the scotchy.

Seriously though it’s been an odd week, but I promised myself I’d keep to my deadlines and so I shall.   Here is a quicky post on a creature about as different from the leyak of last week as you can get.  Something as adorable and absurd as the pengallan was grotesque.  Let’s talk about the barometz, also known as vegetable lambs and tartary sheep.

Frankly, I absolutely love these guys.   Imagine a plant that looks a bit like a large cabbage, that unfolds until a little lambs head pops up.  Rather than being a grotesque mockery, the lamb is cute as a button, bahs at you once or twice, and then blooms like a flower giving wooly birth.  After some time you’ve got a young lamb attached to its vegetable roots by a viney umbilical cord, and the wee sheep starts grazing on the grasses around it.

Okay, so maybe it’s just a tiny bit creepy.

I really can’t make up this stuff.  In many of the old depictions the lambs slept on the top of the stalks, just like sunflowers, only you know wooly and with hooves dangling.  The stalk would bend down when they fed, and it was important not to let them over feed. If they ate all the grass in the area the barometz would starve and the plant would die with it.  Cutting the stalk/umbilical cord also killed both plant and sheep. Likewise you had to watch out for wolves and bears, who found sheep that couldn’t run away quite tempting.  Or maybe the wolves just wanted to try vegetarianism, tartary lambs count right?  Unless you are one of those people who say things like ‘I don’t eat anything with a face.’

The only way to eat the lamb without killing the plant was to wait for it to die of old age and drop off on its own. This happens once a season. So in those accounts the flora sheep must age faster than their pure fauna cousins, but with proper tending I imagine you could make a barometz plant last you years.  I’ve never heard of the barometz making seeds, but one must assume there is some form of reproduction.  Maybe you need a very specialized gardener to both breed and cross-pollinate, or a very disturbing type of bee.

The barometz was said to be from central Asia, an exotic location for most of medieval Europe.  In a way, barometz was linked to cotton.  People said that the best cotton came not from regular cotton plants, but from vegetable lambs that were allowed to grow fat for harvest.  The wooly fern is also often called after the barometz, as its wooly rhizomes do look like a lamb all curled up and waiting to sprout.  However, there are similar stories in the world.  The most closely linked would be the water sheep of China, which are very similar to barometz except more gourd-like than cabbage.  There are even reports of some Jewish folklore in which a similar creature could be harvested and have their bones used for prophecy.

Now, I don’t usually do plugs for other media, but I’m mildly fascinated that the barometz does show up now and again in popular culture.   For an obscure bit of lore, I’ve seen it in videogames and comics and TV shows.  I saw it recently on a webcomic called Skin Deep, just in the background of an odd occult shop.  It appears in the Fantastical Creatures tarot, an odd collection of old lore. It even showed up in a show called Lost Girl and they used the bones for a full on vision quest, just like the old Jewish legend.   I’m amazed how such a silly little creature has, shall we say, taken root in our culture.

Yeah, I couldn’t help myself.

I’m a bahhhhhd boy.


Writing prompts.

Barometz gardening, there has to be some fascinating stories in a profession that combines horticulture and shepherding.

Bonsai barometz, the bite sized treats.

Come up with your own plant/animal hybrids.  Squash schnauzers and papaya parakeets all around.  Just no sea cucumbers, cause those things are disgusting.

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