Sadistic Supernatural Creatures November 18, 2016Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback
The Auld Lord was a creepy monster associated with Lowther in Westmorland (the old English county between Lancashire and Cumbria). The Auld Lord spent most of his time spinning around the countryside with headless outriders and running his coach down impossibly steep inclines. But when back at home at Lowther Hall his dark side would come out.
But all this galloping and jingling, by highways and byways, though it might strike a vague terror through the neighbouring hamlets, was a sort of innocent pastime, when compared with the fiendish pranks played by the evil spirit in the immediate locality of the Hall, its late dwelling place. The most diabolical acts are said to have been perpetrated there, for instance one morning four of the best carriage horses were found standing in the stable literally flayed alive, for they were still living, though their skins were hanging about their feet. At other times a fine horse or two would be found doubled up beneath its manger, for the poor equine race seems to have been especially obnoxious to the malevolent propensities of the ‘Auld Lord’.
Stuffing horses under mangers or lifting them onto the roofs of barns is the normal stuff of solitary fairies in England. It is part of their general habit of mischief. But here, in the skinning, we go beyond harmless fun to sadism. There is something horrific about the mutilation of horses: memories of the second branch of the Mabinogi. All this got Beach wondering. There must be other examples of supernatural atrocities. But not many come to mind in British tradition. Children-scaring bogeys, the kind that hide up chimneys, sometimes are said to punish kids, but no one really took them seriously; and punishments did not involve kids being skinned. Fairies steal babies or blight families, but there is little in the way of actual immediate physical damage; they do not, in any case, torture. Boggarts, trolls and the like scare the hell out of passers by, but not sure that they really hurt people. Poltergeists, a very modern category, sometimes cause fires. The only type of supernatural creature that has a reputation for hurting are the demons that sometimes skin (see above) or beat or otherwise make their victims bleed; or those that drown (Jenny Greenteeth). Can anyone go further and give examples of European or American supernatural creatures that actually sadistically kill or maim? Drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com There seem to be fewer than Beach would have expected. Perhaps a lot is left to the imagination: it is very rare for such horrors to be described.
AOD, 25 Nov 2016. [Embarrassed that I (Beach) didn’t see some of these particularly alien mutilation and elf shot. Great email. i still think some of these monsters lack real accounts of damage done – their scariness is abstract, still many are unquestionable!]
The obvious analogues for the horse-skinning Auld Lord are the sinister livestock-mutilating aliens (or, occasionally, government agents) of modern folklore. Though most closely associated with cattle, the case which catapulted the phenomenon to the forefront of popular consciousness was the 1967 death of a horse named Lady (initially reported as ‘Snippy’) outside of Alamosa, CO. How many of these incidents can be attributed to genuinely supernatural causes as opposed to the actions of more mundane predators or scavengers is left as an exercise for the reader.
Related are reports of alien abduction, which often involve mutilation in the form of invasive surgical-style procedures. Notable is that this vivisection is almost always reported to have been healed completely- perhaps leaving only an odd scar, burn, or divot- by the time of the alleged abductee’s return.
This nuance- the tendency to perform horrific mutilations only to heal them shortly afterwards- links them in turn to a number of other figures from different cultures throughout history. Notable is the account (in chapter 35 of the 1542 Relation of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca) of a bearded, cross-dressing, knife-wielding chthonic figure that the author referred to as ‘Mala Cosa’ or ‘Badthing’ that menaced a Native Amerdican group called the Avavares in what’s now Southern Texas, and- even more bizarrely- the depiction of a very young Jesus Christ’s repeated use of his powers to kill or blind those who had offended him, only to cure or revive them some time later in the (understandably apocryphal) Infancy Gospel of Thomas.
In more recent times, there’s the complex of urban myths common in the eastern US in which a local bridge or tunnel is said to be haunted by an axe-wielding entity with both human and animal characteristics- the Bunny Man of Virginia, the Goat-men of Maryland, Kentucky, and elsewhere, etc. These fiends- variously said to be costumed maniacs, the vengeful ghosts of abused circus freaks, the twisted results of satanic rites, or the products of Frankensteinian genetic experiments- are accused of all manner of assaults on human and animal victims, as lurid as the teenaged storytellers who perpetuate their legends can come up with.
Returning to Great Britain, we find the bizarre case of the steering-wheel-grabbing Hairy Hands of Dartmoor– a sinister pair of spectral appendages alleged to have been responsible for a string of automobile accidents on a stretch of road between Postbridge and Two Bridges in the early 1900s. Not as gorily sadistic as Auld Lord, perhaps, but deadly nonetheless.
And of course the Fair Folk themselves are far from unwilling to inflict permanent injury: among others, there’s the recurring motif- found in German, English, and Irish folklore- of fairies blinding or putting out the eye with which a gifted mortal is able to see them (multiple variants here); the ‘elf-shot‘ said to cause strokes, sudden pains, and other inexplicable and debilitating afflictions, and the blood-drenched antics of creatures like the Redcaps that haunt the Anglo-Scottish Border.
That great folklore expert Laura C writes in, 31 Dec 2016: A few more sadistic creatures to add to the beachcombing blog! 🙂
Down in Somerset there is the fearsome Bloody Bones. Wonderful quote here from Katharine Briggs The Fairies in Tradition and Literature: “This most unpleasant hobgoblin, as we were assured in my childhood, lived in a dark cupboard, usually under the stairs. If you were heroic enough to peep through a crack you would get a glimpse of the dreadful, crouching creature, with blood running down his face, seated waiting on a pile of raw bones that had belonged to children who told lies or said bad words. If you peeped through the keyhole he got you anyway.”
And not forgetting the infamous Cutty Dyer who terrorised the children of Ashburton, slitting throats and drinking blood!
They definitely fall into the category of Children scaring bogeys, but do appear to have been taken quite seriously locally!
Scotland also has its fair share too! Glaistigs especially seem rather sadistic, slaughtering men in bothys and drinking their blood. Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland by Hugh Miller includes a tale of a lady in green with a goblin child who would visit cottages during the night and wash her child in the blood of the youngest person of the house, who would be found dead the next morning.
Also there are tales of fae creatures luring people to their death for no apparent reason, like the Duergars of Northumberland, and Will O the Wisps, etc.
And not forgetting the trolls of Scandinavian can definitely be considered bloodthirsty in some tales, stealing humans and boiling them, breaking their limbs etc.
Lastly, I think the wild hunt itself can be considered somewhat of a sadistic bloodsport too!