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Also known as: Water Ogresses, Water Witches, Water Trolls, Drowning Faeries, River-Women, Fuath, Fuathan, Bean Fionn, Cuachag, Cailleach Uisge (Water-Hags).
The Groac’h are malevolent female spirits that inhabit ponds and, more commonly, rivers. These entities are an exceptional threat to human life and especially to children - indeed one of these fiends, Peg Powler (who inhabits the River Tees in County Durham and Cleveland in England), is said to place eye-catching trinkets on the riverbanks in order to lure children closer to the edge. As they wandered within her reach, she would then grasp their ankles and drag them under the surface of the water. (The River Skerne, a tributary of the Tees in Darlington, also harboured a Groac’h by the name of Nanny Powler.) Similar modus operandi and appetites are shared by other Groac’h - Jenny (or Ginny) Greenteeth, for instance, would frequent stagnant ponds as well as the different rivers running through the English counties of Cumbria, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire and Shropshire. In order to further assist and conceal her heinous activities, she would make good use of the thick blanket of algae and pond-weeds that tend to gather on still or slow running water.
Whilst individual Groac’h may be malevolent Water-Faeries or the embittered ghosts of drowned women, some are considered to be degenerated River Goddesses.


The Muilerteach

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Also known as: Muileratach, Muireartach, The Sea-Hag, Mother Carey, Old Woman of the Seas, The Cailleach Uisge.
The Muilerteach is the Goddess of the Sea, and is actually the sea itself personified. Sometimes calm and beguiling, at other times tempestuous and cruel, she was once extremely feared and revered by Scottish mariners and fishermen. Even today some might return their first catch of the day to the waters in order to keep the ‘Old Woman’ placated (as their Welsh counterparts once gave the same tribute to the mysterious spirit known as Bucca). Awareness of the Muilerteach went far beyond the sacrifice of a few fish however, as it was always feared that she would demand a more valued tribute. So profound was the terror inspired in the sea-trawling men, that many would not assist drowning men lest the Muilerteach decide to claim more lives in return.


Water Ogres

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Also known as: Necors, Nykers, Water Wolves, Fuath, Fifel, Afanc, Nekkers, Nikkisen, River-Men, Water Trolls, Orc-Thyrs.
There seem to be several different breeds of Water Ogre, some of which are entirely habitual to water and others who are amphibious and may also trek the land in search of victims. Nicky, Nicky Nye of the River Usk in Gwent, Wales (and possibly also encountered in Somerset, England) has also been rumoured to either snatch victims from small boats or to cause strong undercurrents in order to upturn the vessels.
The spring tide of the English River Trent was once widely known as the Aegir, especially in the region of Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, where it is potentially very dangerous. As such the Aegir was considered to be an Old God degenerated into a Water Ogre. Bitter at its fall from grace and in the absence of dutifully paid sacrifice, the Aegir is said to greedily claim at least three human lives each year. Other Water Ogres may likewise be dimly recalled or corrupted folk-memories of erstwhile Water Gods such as Mourie, Manawyddan, Manaan Mac Lir, Neptune and Teron.


Water Elven

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Also known as: Gwragedd Annwn, Gwagedd Annwfr, Gwraig, Ladies of the Lake, Lake Maidens, Water Maidens, Water Faeries, Be-Find, Morgans, Morgens.
It is considered that the Welsh Otherworld of Annwn (sometimes known as Annwfn or Annwvyn) can be reached beneath the surface of certain lakes. Here, in their submerged towns and villages, dwell the Gwragedd Annwn, stunning golden-haired Faerie maidens. They are not restricted to this watery abode, however, and there are several tales that tell of love affairs and marriages between these Water Elven and mortal men. Indeed they are said to make superb wives and mothers but certain conditions will be placed upon such a union. If the human husband breaks any of these instructions for whatever reason, be it through anger or arrogance, jest or mishap, then his Faerie bride will disappear never to return to his side. Though Water Elven are often regarded in purely feminine terms (and indeed the Ladies of the Lake from Arthurian tradition very likely belong to their kind), there are males of the species - though they are far less frequently encountered. The Gwragedd Annwn may be seen walking upon the surface, floating beneath the water or otherwise sailing in small golden boats.



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Also known as: Ashrays, Scarille, Dancers on the Mist.
The Asrai are a Fay species confined to water. During the day they remain in the depths, but they may be sighted below the surface on moonlit nights. They seem to be exclusively female, and exhibit a strange beauty. Some human men have been so filled with longing at the sight of an Asrai, it has been said that they have attempted to capture the being. However if caught, or even if exposed to sunlight, the Asrai will melt away into a pool of colour-reflective water. The Asrai may also sometimes be seen as they flit and dance upon the surface of the water as vague nocturnal maidens comprised of mist. The touch of an Asrai may be cold enough to burn or wither human skin. The Asrai have a delicate, almost translucent beauty, and may be witnessed as mist dancing above the surface of the water. Though individuals may be several hundred years old, they retain the appearance of young ladies. Their skin is pale and sometimes has a silvery sheen. They are generally naked, or clothed in ethereal robes. Their size generally seems to be of slight human proportions, but they can also be tiny. They seem unable to speak human languages. The Asrai are most prevalent in rivers and pools in Shropshire and Cheshire, England, and may also be encountered in Scotland.


Swan Maidens

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Not all swans may be what they first seem - some may shed their feathery coats at night and reveal themselves to be beautiful female Fays. If these coats are stolen, then the maidens will become trapped in humanoid form. If the thief is a human male, he may then take the maiden as a (possibly unwilling) bride. Should this occur, it raises the possibility that when the man least expects it a whole flight of swans will come to liberate their sister and her swanskin. Despite their usual serene demeanour, swans should not be underestimated, for should they become displeased they can prove themselves to be considerably powerful and aggressive creatures. Therefore any brigand and boor meddling in the life of a Swan Maiden could very likely come to sorely regret his actions. Other Swan Maidens though may be trapped in avian form as a result of a curse bestowed upon them. In Celtic myth it was customary for someone to embark upon and complete a series of heroic tasks on behalf of the Swan Maidens (and occasionally Swan Men), in order that their human form may again be resumed. The Celtic Goddess / Saint Bridget was also worshipped in some localities as being a Swan-Goddess.


Water Horses

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Water Horses can vary in temperament from shy, to mischievous, to downright nasty. Like the Scottish Kelpie, many will suddenly appear at bank-sides and encourage or force weary travellers onto their backs. Then they will suddenly charge at alarming pace into the nearby body of water and dump the startled human there. Normally an embarrassing soaking is the worst that will befall the hapless human, though some Water Horses will also drown their victims. The Irish Aughisky in particular will do this in order to feed upon their victims. The Welsh Ceffyl Dwr tend to buck the trend, and will often jump onto the backs of the weary human travellers themselves. Some Water Horses are also thought able to assume humanoid forms, usually either as small hairy men or as youths who initially seem very handsome, but on closer inspection have weed-encrusted hair, a musty smell about them and hooves instead of feet. The Manx Water Horses known as Glashans have gained a reputation for attempting to abduct or molest women. Sometimes Glashans would adopt the form of dapple foals or lambs or a more humanoid appearance and on occasions would assist farmers with manual labour in exchange for food. There are many differing local names for the Water Horses, and these creatures can vary somewhat in their habits and appearance depending on specific breed and location.



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Also known as: Selchies, Roane, Seal People, Seal Folk, Sea Faeries, Haaf-Fish, Finn-folk.
Whilst wearing their sleek fur coats the Selkies are indistinguishable from seals, yet at times they will shed these skins and appear as strangely beautiful humanoid creatures. Several love affairs between humans and Selkies have been rumoured; at least one of these relationships occurred as a result of a human man finding and hiding a shed seal skin, for deprived of this hide a Selkie cannot return to the sea. Upon the eventual retrieval of the enchanted garment this Selkie returned beneath the waves. Other Selkie / human romances, however, appear to have been built on genuine and mutual affection. At times the Selkie may adapt to a terrestrial life, but at others the mortal lover may have opted instead for life below the brine. These trysts could involve either a mortal woman falling for a Selkie male, or a male human and a Selkie maiden. Crossbreed offspring were sometimes born out of such unions. Whilst these mixed-race children that were delivered into our world do not seem to have inherited their Selkie parent’s acute amphibious ability, they are often regarded as having a deep respect, sympathy and understanding of the sea. In addition they may also be of an unusual though attractive appearance and may also exhibit some supernatural abilities such as healing or Second Sight (clairvoyance).



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Also known as: Sea Lions, Sea Kelpies, Blue Men, Haaf-Fish, Whistling Seals.
Despite their given names, these marine entities are possibly more closely related to the Selkies than to the Kelpies and land Trows. Some Sea Trows are said at times to appear to assume the form of strange horse-like creatures or seals, but it is uncertain whether their metamorphosis involves the Selkie practice of the shedding and redressing of an outer layer. Sea Trows however are more notorious in their humanoid form, as they are feared to stir up tempests in order to cause great mischief. However if they were challenged to a game of riddles, they would not be able to resist participating in such mind-play. Should the human mariner manage to outwit the Sea Trow in the art of conundrums, then on this occasion the entity would leave the vessel without causing further damage or harm. Following the advent of Christianity, many folk considered that the Sea Trows were Fallen Angels - the banished usurpers who following the Biblical war in Heaven plummeted, not into the bowels of Hell or to the earth, but instead directly into the seas. In Orcadian lore, a mythical isle known as Heather-Bleather (said to lie close to the Orkneys) was thought to be the domain of Sea-Trows and Selkies.



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Perhaps the most celebrated of aquatic entities are the Merpeople, especially the females known as Mermaids or sometimes as Sirens (males are known as Tritons or Mermen). These creatures have been reported in virtually every sea across the globe, and the waters surrounding Britain and Ireland are certainly no exception. At times the Mermaids may appear stunningly beautiful as they recline on coastal reefs, combing their long tresses. So exquisite are their visage and sometimes also their song, that they could inspire sailors into such yearning distraction that their ships could often be caused to disastrously run aground on rocks; indeed, some seafarers considered that the merest sighting of a Mermaid was a grim portent of doom. Other Mermaids would take a much deeper interest in human males and would lure beguiled men beneath the waves. Frequently the enamoured mortal would drown, either due to the Mermaid not appreciating fundamental differences between species or as a deliberate sequence of cause and effect. The fatalities would perhaps be engineered simply for sadistic, morbid humour or, in the case of the Seirenes of the Channel Islands, as a means of obtaining a source of food. Other Mermaids however display a more genuine attraction and kinder interest towards mankind. There are several differing sub-species of Mer-people to be found in Celtic waters.



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Also known as: Mara-Warra, Moruadh, Murrughach, Sea-Cows, Walrus-People, Muardachas.
The Merrows are a distinct breed of Irish Sea / Atlantic Merpeople whose genders also differentiate greatly. Whilst the males are friendly enough characters, in appearance they are generally considered to be gruesome. This opinion often seems to be held by their comparatively gorgeous females, as they have been known to fall in love with human males instead.
The name Muardacha is sometimes used as an alternative to Merrow, however it has also been specifically used to refer to other weird marine creatures having a fishes’ tail and the upper parts of cattle, goats or horses, rather than that of a human. Whilst it has been suggested that some alleged encounters with Muardachas (and other Merpeople species also) may have been mistaken sightings of natural creatures, such as dolphins or other marine mammals, the hybridisation of piscine and animal parts is perhaps also reminiscent of the ancient Fomorii.


All artwork and text © Andrew L. Paciorek