Creatures of Samhain
As we look forward to celebrating Halloween, a festive season which is fast becoming as big as Christmas, we look backwards instead to the very origins of Halloween- Samhain. With many traditions such as trick or treating, listening to scary stories, munching on sweets and bobbing for apples
having roots in ancient Irish tradition, Irish folklore gave rise to a number of creatures associated with Samhain; creatures which we will be bringing to life this Halloween!!
A huge part of Celtic tradition, Samhain is a time in which the veils between this world and the next become very faint and the Otherworld creatures, normally hiding, come out to play and cause some ‘devilment! So join us in celebrating the Púca , the Morrígan , The Cailleach the Banshee and of course the great Tuatha Dé Danann.
A huge part of Samhain tradition is of course the púca. Careful now because looks can deceiving with this little fellow. Neither good nor bad, but somewhere in the middle bringing both fortune and sadness in equal measure, the púca is a master of disguise as he shape shifts his way through the Irish Country side. If lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him, people have reported that he looks like a hare but with
human features. But he similarly has been spotted taking on the appearance of horses, goats, cats, dogs, birds and hares- and sometimes all of these at once!
The Morrígan also known as Morrígu, is an extremely respected, mysterious and powerful creature in Irish mythology. Typically taking on the figure of a Queen dressed in black accompanied by her crow familiars, very often the Morrígan takes to the skies herself as a crow as she flies above battlegrounds foretelling doom, death or victory. While to her enemies she is a formidable creature, her presence was also seen as a positive upon warriors willing them into battle and commit great deeds of bravery to be sang about for generations to come.
The Tuatha Dé Danann
The Tuatha Dé Danann meaning the folk of the goddess Danu, also known by the earlier name Tuath Dé (tribe of the gods) are the Royalty of Irish mythology and rulers of the Otherworld. One of the first tribes to arrive in Ireland, while they are very secretive, these folk have been known to interact
with humans and within the human world often bartering with humans for various items in exchange for a glimpse of the Otherworld especially as their powers over humans become more pronounced the closer we get to Samhain. Like many of the creatures of Irish mythology The Tuatha Dé Danann are neither good nor bad but traditionally their rivals re the Fomorians who represent nature as her most destructive and harmful. But whatever you do, don’t be fooled and fall in love with a member of The Tuatha Dé Danann because once you descend into the Otherworld its hard to break the spell and all else is forgotten!
No celebration of Samhain would be complete without some mention to arguably Ireland’s most infamous mythological creature- The Banshee. Usually described as a short older woman dressed in a black cape covering her green dress, with her eyes red raw from crying she sadly combs her long white hair as it blows in the wind. Though she can also be described as a younger woman who lost her beloved before her wedding night, only certain families are followed by the Banshee from generation to generation signifying the death of one of the members. While the rest of our creatures bring both good and bad fortune, there can be no mistake. If you hear the wailing of the banshee or hear her ghostly keening, (long sorrowful crying) outside your window at night- It can only spell bad news!
Sharing both Irish and Scottish roots, the Cailleach or “divine hag,” you know Winter is on its way when she makes an appearance. Said to have
moulded the mountains and hills around rural Ireland, she carries a hammer for shaping the hills and valleys, and is said to be the mother of all the goddesses and gods. Kept extremely busy during the stormy and cold nights of winter she herds deer, fights spring until its ready to blossom and her
staff is said to have the ability to cause frost and ice to grow upon whatever it touches. Working with the goddess of spring Brìghde, the Cailleach is
seen as a seasonal deity or spirit, ruling the winter months between Samhain and Bealltainn.