Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Scotland's Kelpie...your final ride

Photo of Kelpie statue in Falkirk by Rosser 1954 via
Wikimedia Commons
It seems many of Scotland's legends center around water-centric supernatural beings. I suppose that makes sense as the land is surrounded on three sides by the sea and is dotted liberally with rivers and lakes (or, I should say, lochs.) One of these creatures that haunts the dreams (or nightmares) of Scottish folk is the Kelpie, sometimes called the Water Horse.

The Kelpie, 1913 by Herbert James Draper
The Kelpie appears as a beautiful black, gray, or white horse, notable for its smooth, cold, almost seal-like hide and always with its long mane dripping with water. It is said to lure folk onto its back and, once in place, the hapless riders find themselves stuck like glue and unable to jump ship when the Water Horse dives into the water. Then woe betide the poor riders because they are then taken to the bottom of the loch where their drowned bodies are eaten by the Kelpie. It's often said that children are the victims of the Water Horse, perhaps because children are drawn to the beauty of the horse-like creature. But...the Kelpie has another way of securing its prey. It is known to do a bit of shape-shifting--taking the form of a beautiful woman who
lures men to her side before transforming back into her true Water Horse self and pulling the men down into the depths of the cold water.

Kelpies are spoken of all over Scotland and are known by different names according to region. In Orkney they are called "Nuggles" (not to be confused with those unmagical "Muggles" of Harry Potter fame) and in the Shetland Islands they go by the wonderful name of "Shoopiltie."

Photo of Chapel House Black Magic by By V8Jess
 via Wikimedia Commons
So, if you're ever walking around a body of water in Scotland and you spy a handsome horse with a dripping mane (or a woman of unearthly beauty...probably nude according to all the illustrations I've seen) resist the temptation to get any closer!

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! 



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