Quaerentes in Extremis
Scottish Faeries and other Creatures
And they are elfin manners
Who stand at prow and helm;
By mortal eye unseen, they hie
From many an airy realm.
Many supernatural creatures dot the Scottish highlands. Some are downright scary while others are absolutely evil. There are said to be similarities between Scottish and Irish supernatural creatures, it could be because they have the same Celtic root.
Fairies in Scotland are capable of appearing in practically any shape or size, but they are usually have quite small human shapes. The females are very beautiful but at the same time show intense, sometime vicious, ill will or hatred towards mortals. The Fairy Queen is described as wearing green and riding a horse with silver bells plaited into its’ mane.
In old Scotland, there was no doubt that there were only two groups of faeries: the Gude Fairies and the Wicked Wichts. In the former category was the Seelie Court (the good or blessed court), a host of faeries who were benefactors to humans, giving bread, seeds, and comfort to the needy. These faeries might give secret help in threshing, weaving, and household chores, and were generally kind — but they were strict in their demands for appropriate reparation. The Unseelie Court, by contrast, were fearsome creatures, inflicting various harms and ills on man and beast alike. Here is a partial list of Scottish faeries:
ASHRAYS: Sea ghosts are also known as Asrais or water lovers. They once heavily populated Scotland’s seas, however they have been seen infrequently in recent years. These creatures are both male and female. Their bodies are very translucent, giving them the appearance that they are a sea ghost. They cannot live on land and are completely nocturnal. They can be found underwater.
BAISD BHEULACH: A shapeshifting demon who haunted the Odail Pass on the Isle of Skye. Its’ howls could be heard in throughout the night. (Infernal)
BAOBHAN SITH: Would make you want to dash away as far as was possible. A particularly evil and dangerous female vampire from the highlands of Scotland who preyed on unwary travelers in the glens and mountains.
BEAN NIGHE: The bean nighe (pronounced “ben-neeyah”), can be seen at the side of desolate streams and pools washing the blood stained clothing of those who are about to meet their maker. The clothing she washes takes different forms depending upon the legend. Sometimes it is burial shrouds, others it is the bloodstained clothing of those who will soon die. Unlike the Irish version bean sidhe (banshee), who is very beautiful, she is extremely ugly. She is sometimes described as having a single nostril, one large buck tooth, and extremely long breasts, which she must throw over her shoulders to prevent them getting in the way of her washing.
Her long stringy hair is partially covered with a hood and a white gown or shroud is her main wardrobe. Dressed in green, she was a small in stature and had webbed feet.
Though she was seen as an evil portent in the Scottish tradition, she was not always a portent of one’s own death as in the Irish version. If she was approached in the correct way she would grant wishes. All one had to do was get between her and the water. Then one would be given the opportunity to ask three wishes and three questions. But there was a catch, the three questions would have to be given truthfully in return in the form of traditional exchange between humans and supernatural creatures.
BLUE MEN OF THE MINCH: Water spirits that haunted the strait called the Minch, located between the Shiant Islands and Long Island in the Highlands. They lived in clans in underwater caves and were blamed for shipwrecks.
BODACH (“old man”) This was a bogeyman or monster spirit that was said to slip down the chimney and steal or terrorize little children. He would prod, poke, pinch, pull and in general disturb the child until he had them reeling with nightmares. According to the stories of most parents, the bodach would only bother bad or naughty children. A good defense would be to put salt in the hearth before bedtime. The bodach will not cross salt.
BODACHAN SABHAILL (LITTLE OLD MAN OF THE BARN): A spirit who haunted barns in Scotland. Much like the brownie, he would occupy his time doing farm chores.
BOOBRIE: A gigantic black bird which is supposed to have lived in the lochs of Argyllshire. It had webbed feet and fed on cattle. (Magic)
BOOMAN: The name of a brownie in Shetland and Orkney.
BROLLACAN: Scots Gaelic for shapeless thing. A creature of the night.
BROWN MAN OF THE MUIRS: A supernatural guardian of the wild creatures from the border region of Scotland. He wore brown clothes and had a shock of frizzy red hair and wild looking eyes.
BROWNIES: Small, shaggy, brown man who wears tattered clothes and works as a ‘house faerie’ or domestic servant. If he is given a gift of clothing by the master of the household, he is simultaneously granted freedom. However, this greatly offends him.
BUACHAILLEEN: Small faeries that resemble tiny, young men. They wear pointed red hats and can shapeshift; Buachailleen can be found in Ireland and Scotland.
BOOKA: The Scottish version of the brownie, however, bookas are not as submissive as brownies; they can be very vindictive and even evil.
CAILLEACH BHUER (BLUE HAG): A blue faced hag found in the Scottish Highlands. She is ill-tempered and dangerous and is seen with a crow on her left shoulder. Associated with winter she was reborn on every All Hallow’s Eve and she brought along winter and winter snows. She carried a magical staff which froze the ground with every tap. She also guarded animals in winter.
CAIT SITH: Fairy cat who haunted the highland region. As big as a dog, the cait sith was completely black apart from one white spot on it’s breast. Just like a real jungle cat, the cait sith could be dangerous when seen face to face.
CAOINEAG (THE WEEPER): A banshee-like spirit attached to the clans of the Highlands who could be heard wailing at the bottom of waterfalls before there is death or catastrophe within the clan.
CAOINTEACH: The Argyll version of the washer woman at the ford, a banshee who foretells death in a clan.
CEASG: A Highland mermaid who if captured would grant three wishes.
CIUTHACH: A cave dwelling spirit from the Highlands.
COLIUNN GUN CHEANN (THE HEADLESS TRUNK): A huge, hulking monster with no head who haunted the Macdonald lands. Travelers would often be found left mutilated by the creature. The creature was banished after defeat by a clan member.
CRODH MARA: Highland fairy water cattle.
CU SITH: Faerie dogs that can be seen crossing the wastelands at night. They are known in England as Black Angus, in Wales as cwn annwn (white dogs) and in Germany as Gabriel’s hounds. The dog was green with long shaggy hair. It was roughly the size of a large calf. A very dangerous creature to encounter it was capable of hunting in silence. It would let out three barks which could be heard from miles around. It was usually black or white with red ears.
CUACHAG: A dangerous river sprite who haunts Glen Cuaich in Invernesshire.
DIREACH: A monster with one leg and one arm who haunts Glen Etive. (Magic)
DOONIE: A shape-shifting Scottish faery who could take the form of a pony or an old man or woman.
DUNTERS: Known to haunt castles and fortresses of the borders. They make the constant sound of beating flax. It has been said that these spirits are the memories of foundation sacrifices; a custom that was practiced within written history. (Magic or Infernal)
EACH UISGE (AUGHISKY): They were shape shifters who sometimes came in the guise of a fine horse or a pony. Simi liar to the Kelpie, but far more dangerous. They inhabit lochs and seas and eat their victims after tearing them into pieces.
FACHAN (PEG-LEG-JACK): A Highland spirit with one of everything (one eye, one leg, one arm, one hand, one tooth…).
FIDEAL: A Highland water demon who inhabits Loch Na Fideil near Gairloch. The creature was known to drag women and children under the water and devour them.
FUATH (FUATHAN): A generic term for Scottish water spirits who dwell in the sea, in rivers, and in fresh water and sea lochs.
GEANCANACH: They are the guardians of the home hearth, although they sometimes enjoy playing pranks.
GENTLE ANNIS: A spirit said to cause the gales in the Firth of Cromarty.
GHILLIE DHU (GILLE DUBH): Solitary faeries with black hair who live in trees and wear clothing made of leaves and moss. A benevolent fairy who is said to haunt a birch grove at the end of Loch Druing near Gairloch. Ghillie Dhu are about 7" tall, have light green skin and wild black hair, and are thin beings with long arms and fingers. They wear clothing made from sewn together leaves and knitted grass and mosses.
The ghillie dhu were once very shy, docile creatures that lived alone in birch trees protecting the woods around them from destruction by man or nature. They lived upon berries and nuts and created warm round nests from plant fiber, however, as their habitat in the Scottish forest dwindled, the ghillie dhu not only became more accustomed to man – though remaining terribly shy and silent – but also began sending emigrants to other parts of the world.
GLASTIGS (WATER IMP): They had the upper half of a woman and the lower half of a goat. They could appear in human as well as animal form. Their skin was grey and hair golden and long. They wore green colored clothes which were in the form of long robes which camouflaged their lower goat half. A glaistig frequents lonely lochs and rivers in the highlands of Scotland. Sometimes The glaistig is described as half-earth, and half water sprite, although in the Gaelic language her name literally meant a ‘water imp’.
GROGAN (GRUAGACH): A Highland brownie who helped around the farm.
HEATHER PIXIES: Like other pixies, the Heather Pixies have clear or golden auras and delicate translucent wings. But these faeries are attracted to the moors and the heather that covers them. They are not adverse to human contact but do not seek us out. They have a pranksterish nature about them. They are active all year. They live in fields of heather or on the moors of the Scottish Lowlands. If you wish to approach them do so slowly and let them know that you want to befriend them. Their magical and ritual help is undetermined
HABETROT: A border faery associated with spinning yarn.
HENKIES: One version of the Orkney and Shetland trow.
JOINT EATER: An invisible faery who sits next to people and eats their food so that they gain no benefit from it.
KELPIE: A water faerie who likes to mount unsuspecting humans and dash them into the water. It sometimes takes the form of a horse and sometimes of a hairy man. Kelpies are faeries who live in water, especially the lochs of Scotland. They are small bulbous shaped faeries with huge teeth and pointed ears. They are sly, stupid, and very foul tempered. They are cannibalistic were once densely populated the North Sea and the lochs of Scotland. They fed on deer, other faeries and humans who ventured too close to their abodes. They would appear as seahorses and entice humans to ride them so that they could drown them. They could also shapeshift into very handsome young men in order to lure women but they were unable to change their hair which would appear as seaweed. Their principal home is in Loch Ness which is sacred to them.
LOIREAG: A water and spinning fairy from the Hebrides.
LUIDEAG: A dangerous water spirit who haunts the loch of the Black Trout on the Isle of Skye.
LY ERG: This is a singular faery whose element is water. Their is only one of him and he can be easily distinguished since he dresses like a soldier. He is easy to spot from other soldiers due to his small size and his red right hand. He is a portent of death if you see him except with him you have a second chance. If seen he will stop on a road or path and challenge you with a raising of his red right hand. The best thing to do is to retreat since if you fight him you will die within a fortnight. His red hand is result of those who he has killed in combat. He has not been seen in years. He can be found on lonely roadsides near water.
MOROOL: A Shetland sea monster with many eyes. (Magic)
MUILEARTEACH: A blue faced hag who takes several forms. She is similar to cailleach bheur.
NUGGIE: A water sprite.
NUGGLE(NOGGLE): The Shetland version of the water horse. It was often associated with water mills.
NUCKELAVEE: It’s home was in the sea, but it frequently ventured on land to feast upon humans. A hideous creature, part horse and part man, with long sinewy arms. He had no skin and his muscle structure and veins could be clearly seen. The nuckelavee had an aversion to fresh water.
PEALLAIDH: A Perthshire water monster. (Magic)
POWRIES: Indistinguishable from the red caps. They haunted the border regions.
PUCK (ROBIN GOODFELLOW): Puck, or Robin Goodfellow has a flute made from a willow twig, he accompanies fairies on their moonlight dances.
PUDDLEFOOT: A Perthshire water spirit who haunted a pool near Pitlochry.
RED CAP: One of the most dangerous supernatural creatures, they haunt the castles and watchtowers of the border regions. They are murderous and kill by rolling boulders or tearing at people with their sharp claws.
ROANE: Roanes are water Elementals or mermen who take the form of seals. They are the gentlest of all the fey folk. Not evil enough for Hell nor pure enough for Heaven, these once human creatures have been banished to the loneliness of the sea. The roanes have a natural human form, and live underwater or on deserted skerries, wearing seal-skins which enable them to pass through the waters from one region to another. Both male and female roanes are hauntingly beautiful with dark, liquid eyes and a sensual grace that never fails to catch the eye of amorous humans. Their desire for the sea though is overwhelming, so they rarely remain with their human lovers.
SEELIE (BLESSED): These trooping faeries are benevolent towards humans, but will readily avenge any injury or insult.
SHELLYCOAT: A male water spirit from the border region. They wore shells and could be dangerous.
SHONY: A sea spirit from the Isle of Lewis. (Magic)
SHOOPILTEE: A water horse from the Shetland Isles. They took the appearance of a small horse. (Magic)
SELKIE: Shape-shifting sea-fairies usually in the form of bright eyed seals. They are said to come on land in human form where they would dance, especially on full moon nights.
SLAUGH (THE HOST): The name of the Unseelie Court or the evil fairies in the folklore of Scotland. The name means the Host, which is a euphemism to avoid invoking them with the mention of their name and deter them from inflicting harm. They are believed to be the Fallen Angels that roam the midnight skies of the earth searching for lost souls. The slaugh are also believed to be responsible for causing sickness and death among domestic animals and to lead humans astray. They are the band of the unsanctified dead who fly above the earth, stealing mortals away and taking enormous pleasure in harming humans. It is said that they have no means of reproduction, so instead they enslave mortals that they think will never be missed and then carry them along to become a part of their band. (Infernal?)
SLUGG: The Pictish/Scottish fairy of the Highlands and Host of the Unforgiven Dead. The most formidable of the Highland faeries. Related to the Irish/Celtic sluagh. (Infernal?)
SPUNKIES: The lowland name for the Will o’ the Wisp.
TANGIE: A shape shifting sea spirit from the Orkney and Shetland Isles.
TARRANS: Supposed to be the spirits of babies who have died without baptism. They manifested as lights.
TROWS: These squat, round, misshapen faeries with no legs are found in the Shetland and Orkney Islands. They are not wicked but love to prowl about in the night and move and hide things in odd places. They are most active at night. They move about by rolling on their bulbous forms or bouncing like rubber balls. It is doubtful if they will ever aid humans in rituals.
UILBHEIST: These faeries are found in the sea around the Orkney and Shetland Islands and they guard the inlets and waters around their rocky coasts. They were brought to Scotland by the Norse. They appear as multiheaded sea monsters. Their purpose seems to be the protection of the islands and not the destruction of sailors and ships. To contact them try calling out to them in a ritual or going to them in the seas of Faeryland. They may lend their help to rituals and spells involving the physical and environmental protection of the northern lands of Scotland.
UNSEELIE COURT: These Faeries are never favorable to humans and are either solitary evil faeries or are one of a band of faeries called the slaugh.
URISK: The urisk is a Scottish solitary faery who haunts lonely pools. He will often seek out human companionship but his peculiar appearance terrifies those he approaches. The urisk is part human and part goat. He lives in the Scottish Highlands in waterfalls. At times, the urisk will help farmers with their tasks. Although they are not evil creatures, they will sometimes terrorize mortals by following them to lonely, dark places.
WATER WRAITHS: Female water spirits who drag mortals down into the depths. They dress in green and have withered faces. (Magic/Infernal)
WIGHT: A very hardy supernatural being or creature. Every tree has a wight who is its guardian. Every wight has the basic Undead powers. It cannot be stunned, knocked unconscious or, poisoned. It is immune to darkness and fear spells. It can see in total darkness. The wight is known for its hunched stance and shifty eyes which can be seen darting from shadow to shadow. This pale skinned race is rightly distrusted. Driven by greed, they have evolved into a race of thieves and bandits. Most other races shun them to the point of exile because of their devious nature and insatiable lust for wealth. Often persecuted when seen, they leave their burrows mainly at night, hoarding treasure when ever they can. (Magic/Infernal)
WILL O’THE WISP: Malevolent spirits either of the dead or non human intelligence. A fairy who appears at night in lonely places carrying a lantern. It uses this light to cause travelers to lose their way. They are famed for luring unwary travelers into dangerous situations. They were also the mysterious lights that were said to lead travelers from the well-trodden paths into dangerous and treacherous waters. This phenomenon is also known as Jack-o’-Lantern, the Hobby Lantern, or the Lantern Man. Often seen at night as a ghostly, flickering, light out over the marshlands, this could possibly be the result of spontaneous ignition of gases produced by dead plants.
WULVER: A Shetland supernatural creature with the body of man and a wolfs head. They are said to be benevolent. (Magic)