Spirits & Folklore

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Spirits & Folklore
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 1

I personally love folktales and folklore. I thought a thread to share some that we've either came across or had handed down to us, would be fun!

My ancestors are Scottish and Irish, so I have plenty of stories about the fae, the banshee, etc. That said, please keep in mind these are views and opinions shared by my family and not to be taken as anything more. This is but the folktales and beliefs held by my family and ancestors in regards to the beings discussed below.

The Banshee:

Now, from what my relatives have told me, she doesn't actually scream, at least she never did where my family was concerned. The Banshee's cry is actually her calling out to you in some way. You can either hear the voice of someone you know calling you, or you will hear a woman calling your name. If you hear her calling, someone you know is fated to pass away. It can be the person's voice she called in that will pass on, or another friend or relative.

You may also see the banshee. She will appear as a beautiful woman dressed in a white, flowing gown. Again, if you see her someone you know will soon pass away.

Many of my relatives, my father included, claim to have either seen her or heard her. Each time, a family member or close family friend would pass away shortly after.

Once, my father said he once saw her come out of a bedroom on the second floor and go down the stairs. At first he thought it was his mother, but when he called to her, she was in bed. He looked at the clock and noted that it was around 11:00pm. That night, one of his friends passed away and a woman that lived up the street (a family friend) passed away at around the same time he saw the woman.

The Black Dog:

According to the stories I was told, the black dog is a large black dog that is about the size of a cow. It has red eyes and gives off an ominous aura, so to speak.

The dog was said to appear to those fated to die. The person was destined for a not so pleasant afterlife. The dog would appear to them while they were out walking or it would be seen though their windows just sitting and watching them.

A few days later, the person would pass away. Upon the persons death, the dog would either be seen or its howl would be head, sometimes a combination of the two. After the person passed away, the dog would come to claim their soul and take it to the underworld.

It may go by another name, this I am unsure of, but my family simply referred to it as the black dog. I have heard stories about it from other areas of Europe as well, so I don't think this particular story/entity was seen by just the Scottish and the Irish.

The Wee Folk:

The Fae, Wee Folk, and whatever else you'd like to call them were often seen as guardians by my family. While some of them could be mischievous and down right nasty, many of them were viewed as household spirits and guardians. Small treats and gifts were often left for them as a show of appreciation and goodwill. One of the most common ones left to them was sweet breads with honey.My family also saw them as nature spirits that would help with or hinder the growth and fertility of crops, depending on how they felt or if you'd slighted them in some way.

On a related note, from what I was told, and from what I have found from personal experience, the Wee Folk really only let you see them if they want you to see them. A lucky few would spy them as small, glowing golden orbs.

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Re: Spirits & Folklore
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 2

Raw Head, Bloody Bones

Of all of the tall tales and ghoulish stories that I've come across, this is probably one of my favorites. There are several different versions of this story. The earliest seems to appear in 1548 in Great Britain. It was a tale used to frighten children. In some stories it was a demon that lurked in ponds and dragged children into the depths to drown them. It was a cautionary tale; warning children to stay away from the murky waters.

F. W. Jones states in Old Cornwall , that the creature, Old Bloody Bones, lived in Knockers Hole, near Baldhu. In this version it was a malevolent spirit that was attracted to the area by a massacre that supposedly occurred there.

Ruth Tongue mentioned it in Somerset Folklore , and said it lived in dark cupboards or under the stairs. In this story it acted as a sort of boogeyman that came to punish bad children.

In some areas of the Southern U.S the creature has become two separate entities entirely. Raw Head is a bloody skull that has had the skin stripped away. It snaps and bites at anyone unfortunate enough to cross its path. Bloody Bones is a headless skeleton that dances around. In one story a gossip has his head torn off by the monster as a punishment for his slanderous ways.

In a story written by S. E. Schlosser, Raw Head is a razorback boar that is the companion of an old conjure woman. The boar is killed and later comes back for revenge.

The versions and retelling of this particular story seem to travel around the globe and cover several regions.

The version I heard, as a child, was that it was some type of creature/evil being (boogeyman, essentially) that would come and take away children that lied or misbehaved. It would eat them and sleep on a pile of their bones.

As stated, there are other widely differing variations from a lot of locations on what it is and how it functioned. A fun, scary read either way, I think.

Its even had poetry and nursery rhymes written about it.

Resources and References:

  • https://public.oed.com/blog/raw-head-bloody-bones-and-other-terrors-of-the-nursery/

  • https://deepsouthmag.com/2014/10/17/bloody-bones-a-history-of-southern-scares/

  • http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/07/raw_head_and_bloody_bones.html

  • https://www.urbanghostsmedia.com/2016/11/rawhead-bloody-bones-bogeyman/

  • https://maskofreason.wordpress.com/the-book-of-mysteries/know-your-ghosts/europe/rawhead-and-bloody-bones

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Re: Spirits & Folklore
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 3

The Knockers or Knackers

Other known names:

  • Bucca - Cornwall
  • Bwca - Wales
  • Tommyknockers - U.S
  • Berggeister - Germany

In some folklore, they were believed to be the earliest inhabitants of Wales and taught the early human societies how to mine. They were said to stand only about 2 feet tall in height, dress like the other miners did, and take food that was left unattended.

The Knockers have played both a malevolent and benevolent role in folklore. Some stories say that their knockings are warnings to the miners that a cave-in or some other mine disaster will soon follow. The ghosts of their fellow miners were coming to warn the living to watch out for danger. However, others say that they are mischievous imps that knock and tap on the mine supports to send them tumbling down onto the miners heads. They were also said to pinch the miners, make off with their tools, and knock their hardhats off of their heads.

When Cornish miners made their way over to Pennsylvania in the 1820s, they brought their stories of the knockers with them. In some of these stories, the Knockers or Knackers could bring good luck and wealth, but when they were angered or misbehaved they would bring nothing but trouble or misfortune.

My grandfather actually told me stories about these little fellows. He and his fellow miners believed strongly in their existence and would even leave a mine shaft if they heard the knocking sound, from fear of the shafts collapse.

Some would even leave small pieces of breads or portions of their lunch to appease the knockers and keep the miners in their good graces.

References and Resources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTB977dKMVM

http://theghosthuntuk.com/tommyknocker-legend-of-the-mines/

http://www.icysedgwick.com/knockers/

https://www.toptenz.net/10-interesting-facts-about-the-tommyknocker-legend.php

https://www.legendsofamerica.com/gh-tommyknockers/

http://mix1043fm.com/colorado-tommyknocker-legend/

https://www.abctales.com/story/annette-bromley/beware-tommyknockers-ancient-legend

http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/07/tommy_knockers.html

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Re: Spirits & Folklore
By:
Post # 4

This is great stuff. I always like reading and hearing about spirits, spooks, haints and other creatures of folklore.

Thank you.

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Re: Spirits & Folklore
By:
Post # 5
Thank you these are super interesting! I think I remember a bit of the black dog story but it could be another one similar to it-
it is a hellhound
it has a human face
stare at it once you have bad luck, twice for sickness, three times for death
it roams in a certain graveyard but I don't know where.
(Correct me if these are wrong!)
Also i have a question about the banshee, how did the screaming get tied with banshees?
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Re: Spirits & Folklore
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 6

I'd have to do some research on that. I know the old saying in my family was "He who hears the banshee cry will be the next to die." In a good portion of the stories I have read, the sound is like a keening or singing. In some stories the banshee is seen crying and washing bloody clothes in a stream.

I assume it depends on the location, region, etc as to what version of this you find.

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Re: Spirits & Folklore
By:
Post # 7

On the topic of the Black Dog, could be just coincidence but I didn't feel it to be so at the time. I was attending the funeral of an uncle, we were outside and as the gathering was thinning out and grouping up I looked out over the rest of the cemeteryand saw a large black dog running in the distance. Being a person very interested in lore and omens it struck me as having a meaning. I can still see it in my mind.

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Re: Spirits & Folklore
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 8

My dad had a friend that had an encounter with one as well. He kept moving things in his room and stripping the covers off of his bed. His wife asked him what was wrong and he said a black dog kept trying to get into bed with him. He ended up passing away that night from a heart attack.

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Re: Spirits & Folklore
By:
Post # 9
Very interesting topic. Reminds me of a Reddit thread I came across a few months ago.

Me being the curious person that I am, one thing i've always wondered about is how these various spirits do what they do without a physical body and what the limits of interaction with them is. Spirits that make sounds, for example.

As for the black dog, if someone felt it trying to get into bed with them, could they pet it? Not that you'd want to I'd imagine. I'm still confused about how something non-physical can feel solid. This is of course assuming that it's an actual spirit and not a hallucination.

I often joke that spirits leave me alone because they know I'd ask them all sorts of questions about how they do things without bodies. My guess is I'd either annoy them or they simply wouldn't know the answers. This is assuming that it's possible to have that sort of communication with some of them in the first place.
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Re: Spirits & Folklore
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 10

The Wampus Cat

Also Known As:

  • GallyWampus - Missouri
  • Whistling Wampus - Arkansas
  • Wampus or Wampas - Areas of Appalachia

There are a few different variations to this story.

Story One:

In this version of the story, a demon spirit, known as the Ewah,was terrorizing a Cherokee Tribe. The tribe leaders decided to send out their bravest and strongest warrior to kill the spirit. Unfortunately, the warrior fell victim to the beast.

To avenge her husband, his wife adorned herself in the pelt and mask of a mountain lion. She tracked the spirit down, and upon seeing her, the power of her mask turned the beasts power back against it and it clawed itself to pieces.

The leaders of her tribe declared her a spirit-talker and protector. Her spirit was then said to become that of the Wampus Cat, and she now protects and watches over the lands of her tribe.

Story Two:

In this story, a group of hunters were heading out on a hunt. Before they left, they went to a sacred place in the woods to perform a rite of forgiveness for the lives of the animals they were to hunt, and to ask for luck on their trip.

It was against the rules for the women of the tribe to see or be present at these meetings, but one young woman let her curiosity get the better of her. She dressed herself up in the pelt and mask of a mountain lion and followed the hunters to the sacred spot.

She was caught, unfortunately, and as punishment, one of the Shamans put a curse on her. She became a horrible mix of human and cat, and was doomed to stalk the hills and valleys alone, never allowed to rejoin human society. This was to be her eternal punishment.

Story Three:

In this version of the story, a witch would take on the form of a cat and prowl around her village at night. She would steal livestock and other supplies. When the villagers became suspicious of her, they decided to follow her one night.

They interrupted her transformation and she was forever stuck between the forms of a woman and a cat.

Other Versions of the Wampus Cat:

Other stories, including those that I was told as a child, said that this creature was an evil spirit that took the form of a panther. The beast would stock the hills and woodlands at night and let out a blood curdling howling sound. It had large, yellow eyes that would glow in the dark and could make a person go mad if they saw it.

A lot of the older generations were fearful to go into certain areas of woods at night, from fear that they would run into this creature.

Most believe that it was just a panther that roamed the area, back in those days, but the locals would disagree.

References & Resources:

http://www.appalachianhistory.net/2017/10/story-of-wampus-cat.html

https://northcarolinaghosts.com/mountains/wampus-cat/

https://www.astonishinglegends.com/astonishing-legends/2018/10/19/wampus-cat

http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/08/the_wampus_cat.html

http://appalachianmagazine.com/2017/03/31/have-you-ever-heard-of-appalachias-wampus-cat-legend/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMX1RlmSA8Q

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eckuw-DCBH0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pz0AEYXrv6U

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