“Don’t be bad or the Bogeyman will get you”, as many an exasperated mother told her naughty child . . . but who or what is the Bogeyman? Ask a hundred children to draw it, you will get a hundred vastly differing images returned. The Bogeyman is a creature of many forms and of no fixed form. It is the personification of all our most personal and intimate fears . . . and it is waiting for us now in the shadows.
Also known as: Bug-a-Boos, Bucca, Bugs, Bugans,
Boggle-Boos, Boo-Baggers, Bugges.
The word ‘Bodach’ roughly translates as
‘Old Man’, and his favourite hobbies include crawling down chimneys and
poking young children with his long bony fingers. Like the Bogeyman (and
also sometimes the Trows), the Bodach is said to steal away naughty children
in particular, but in the Scottish Highlands if any infant (either
originally naughty or nice) was believed to be a Changeling, then the
substitute child would likely be a Bodach. His strange aspect may raise some
suspicion, which could be initially shrugged off as many babies look a bit
odd - but due to his very mature tastes and his outspoken manner the Bodach
would soon reveal his true identity.
Also known as: Dobbies, Dobbs, Bobles,
Cloggies, Bodachan Sabhail.
The Bwbachs are stout, solitary Welsh Fays dressed in turbans and fur loin-clothes. They affiliate themselves to houses and not the inhabitants. Though they will tolerate the residing family as long as they keep a good fire and food, any visitors to the house are instantly regarded as intruders and will be briskly and vigorously sent running. If displeased, a Bwbach will likely cause a curse of bad luck to befall upon the household. Bwbachs will not bother to help with any chores, yet they still demand that the house be kept clean and cosy. The Bwciod are strange solitary Goblins who will also enter homes because of the warmth they offer. Though they will commonly block the heat of the fire reaching the family, they may rarely be seen as they constantly fidget and can move so fast as to be beyond a blur. Those who mange to grab more than a glimpse of a Bwciod describe them as being extremely thin with big feet and pointed noses and eyes that are a milky purple. Any attempts to move or remove a Bwciod will likely result in chaos.
Also known as: Tommy Rawhead, Old
Individual Dream-Weavers include The Sandman or Dustman, Billy Winker or Wee Willie Winkie, Old Shut-eye or Awd Luck-oiye, Nanny Button-Cap. These Nursery Bogies are most active come the night, when they move from house to house checking that the children are on the road to sleep. Here they will assist the passage up the wooden hill to the land of Nod by sprinkling magic milk or more frequently golden slumber dust or sand into the sleepy-heads’ eyes. This magic powder or balm opens the doors to dreams and all the strange adventures they entail. Some Dream-weavers are also concerned with setting adults away on their somnolent excursions.
Quite possibly the only Fay species to
regularly trade with mankind on an uncomplicated basis. When children lose
one of their milk teeth it is customary for them to leave it either on
their bedside table or under their pillow, then as they sleep the
redundant denture will be removed by the Tooth Fairy in exchange for a
coin. Though the Tooth Fairies are believed to live in social groups they
generally carry out this work singly and it is usually only the females
who collect. What they do with the harvested teeth is uncertain but it has
been suggested that they use them as building materials in their own
The Book Bogies are the creatures
responsible for attracting children to particular books and comics,
gripping their attention and escorting them on many special adventures.
They have transported generations of children to enchanted locations as
diverse as magical kingdoms, riverbanks, desert islands, jungles, alien
planets and many other strange places and times besides. They have invited
children to mingle with knights, pirates, super-heroes, dinosaurs,
outlaws, rascals, cowboys & Indians, Arabian Princes & Princesses
and many other exciting characters and to feel part of their adventures.
The Book Bogies bring the words and pages to life, though of course some
of the credit must go to the authors and artists also.
Jack Frost, who some have suggested is actually the King of the Snow Faeries, tends to be a solitary figure. He is primarily an environmental artist whose atmospheric landscapes can often be seen etched onto the glass of windows on a frosty morning. His many sculptures include the diverse attractive patterns of individual snowflakes, icicles, and the ice-rings sometimes seen in rivers and lakes. Despite his appearance, which may shock some, Jack Frost is not really a malevolent soul. However some of his designs such as the white windows he lays over bodies of water or the icicles he hangs from gutters and branches may be so delicate as to prove dangerous. He is also aware of the other hazards of winter and he will often alert children that they are not adequately attired for the harsh weather by touching their necks, noses, ears, hands and toes with his chilling breath and long icy fingers.
Father Christmas is a combination of both the Holly King (the personification of the Pagan winter festival of Yule and Santa Claus) and the Eastern saint Nicholas who represents the Christian Adventtide. He is both these things and more, a curious conglomerate of various Heathen and Christian motifs. Now only visiting the Celtic Isles on Christmas Eve, Father Christmas employs several Elves in the construction of gifts, and uses Reindeers to pull his flying sled. He was once accompanied by strange and ill-tempered dwarves such as Knecht Ruprecht and Black Peter, who would whip impatient, greedy and badly-behaved children with birch-wood canes.
The Easter Bunny is not actually a ‘bunny’ or rabbit at all, but is actually a hare. The hare was the sacred animal of Eostre (or Oestra or Ostera), the ancient Teutonic Goddess of the Spring Moon. At the time of the vernal equinox (March or April) the hares are famed for going ‘mad’ and it was at this time of the year that out of character for its species, one of Eostre’s hares laid an egg. Not just any old egg, but the Egg of New Life - the Easter Egg. But surely Easter is a Christian festival marking Jesus Christ’s resurrection after dying on the cross, and not ceremonial to a Pagan hare-headed goddess? Well, actually it’s both. Following debate at the Synod of Whitby in the 5th Century, the ‘Christian Easter’ is destined to fall roughly around the same time as the ‘Pagan Easter’ due to its association to the Judaic Passover which is also fixed by the lunar cycle. Both festivals could also be said to reflect new life, either Christ’s return from the dead or the blossom and birth of Spring. So it was not much of a stretch for the ascending Christian Church to merge both festivals. This is known as ‘assimilation’ and was a habit frequently employed in those times and these isles to ease and encourage rather than force the conversion of heathens. Perhaps it is a little surprising, however, that the pagan name was retained.
All artwork and text © Andrew L. Paciorek
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