A Modern Bestiary – O is for Oak Men

1126931186_imefairy32 Yes, I know.  Oak is an Anglo-Saxon word.  But I would not complain of this to the Oak Men.  They are guardians of the oaks, and language is the least of it where they are concerned.  What they speak is older by far than any human tongue, or fae for that matter.

Some consider them dryads of a sort, but this is a serious error.  They are kin to tree spirits but partake too deeply of oaken strength and stubbornness to be classed with any nymph.  Too masculine, down to their roots.

oak-spirit  You may espy an Oak Man wherever a limb has been lost, especially if that branch has been lopped off by a human.  His purpose is healing where the tree is concerned, and vigilance toward the woodsman who would do such damage without permission.

The Oak Men, who are also known as the Inifri Duir, have scant patience with those who do not revere the trees or the creatures and plants who are sheltered by oak groves and forests.

tree_roots  The Oak Men can also be seen among tree roots, where they lurk in winter’s cold, often asleep yet ready to trip up or even seize and eat the feet of an unwary traveler.

The Oak Men are also called the Bodachan na Croibhe Moire, where a bodach is a herder, originally of cows, and Croibhe Moire refers to the heart of the great oak.  Thus they are in some sense tree herds, but for your own sake, do not address them as Ents.  They are unimpressed with Tolkien’s take on their ancient race, and not much inclined to mercy in any case.  Nor are their wives missing.

oak-woman  Indeed, the Oak Women have their own views on all matters to do with the forest, and their frustration with their husbands is often on display, as seen here.  But they are certainly not ‘missing’ much though the Inifri Duir might sometimes wish they were.

The Oak Men, you see, have a problem opposite that of the Macamores.  They are not jealous of any mortal men who may seduce their females.  Rather the Oak Men envy the Macamores their situation and speak longingly of the peace and quiet embracing the woods while the Oak Women pursue such delights.  What do they desire instead?  What do they lust after?

Man-caves.

awesome-man-caves1  Especially those equipped with a wet bar and Guinness on tap.  Exposure to such conveniences, and to televised rugby and soccer games, have utterly corrupted them.

So beware the Oak Men.  They’re common enough in California, whose Central Valley is dotted with magnificent valley oaks in addition to scrub and blue oaks of various kinds.  The valley oaks are protected by law, but since the Fall, many also have personal guardians.  And the Inifri Duir may be stubborn folk, but even they have been forced to adapt to changing conditions.

oak-man  Thus the ancient depictions, like the one shown here, are no longer reliable guides to their ways.

In olden times, the tree herders made much use of their mycelial side.  They are as closely linked to the fungus kingdom as the oaks because the trees themselves are dependent on fungiform networks in the soil and in rotting logs for recycled nutrients essential to the growth of seedlings and saplings.

Back then, the revenge taken by an offended Inifri Duir might have taken the form of a gift.  The Oak Man in question could assume a human’s form and present himself as a fellow traveler.  As a kindness, he might offer other travelers or weary woodsmen a fine-looking journey cake.  That cake, however, was commonly made from poisonous toadstools and glamoured to look appetizing.  Eat of it and you’d surely suffer an agonizing death…

amanita_muscaria_crop  …for the Oak Men would often use fly agaric mushrooms like these.  This toadstool’s scientific name is Amanita muscaria and the alkaloids it produces can destroy the human liver.  In fact, Amanita poisoning can only be cured by means of a liver transplant if no fae healer is at hand.

Now, however, the threat is even more serious for in their mad search for ESPN, cold beer, and recliners, in addition to revenge, they will often attempt to invade your home.

Therefore do not be deceived by the modern guises the Oak Men rely upon nowadays.  If you’ve been out in the woods, say, cutting down a Christmas tree or collecting fire wood, hunting deer, or clearing land for construction purposes, beware of hucksters who place themselves in your path but are only human in appearance.  For example:

savage_huckster  The man at the mall, offering to restore you to perfect health using various ‘natural’ all-organic remedies.

lottery-mega-millions  The man at your door or on the phone telling you that you’ve just won the lottery, although you never bought a ticket.  All you need do to collect your winnings is pay the man a small ‘handling’ fee.

used-car-salesman  The used car salesman who ends his pitch by inviting himself to your house on game day.

Do not give such men entry into your life, your wallet, or your house, and especially not your den.  Do not on any account eat their offerings whether it be home-brewed beverages or nutritional supplements or chips and dip!  Even if you should survive the initial encounter, you may never be able to evict them from your basement hideaway!

 

 

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A Modern Bestiary – N is for Nuckelavee

1126931186_imefairy32The Nuckelavee is horrid in pretty much every way, from its appearance to its manners to what I can only describe with any honesty as halitosis from Hell.

In general, the creature is a bit like a centaur in that a man’s torso is joined to a horse.  But the man is legless and the horse is rotting.  Neither have any skin to speak of, so white tendons, red muscles, and yellow blood vessels are all plainly visible.

nuckelavee___custom_action_figure_by_creaturesh-d567hbw  This version depicts the traditional form of the Nuckelavee, where the manlike half features a head with a single over-sized blood-red eye and elongated arms that can easily reach the ground and snatch up a hapless human.

Its overall red coloring is inaccurate, however, as the blood of the Nuckelavee is black, and the muscles therefore darker than what is shown here.  Nor does this image convey the pulsations of those blood vessels, which are sickening in their own right.  The nuckelavee is more a fae zombie than anything else.

The equine portion shown here is also poorly done as to musculature, though the fin-like extensions at the horse’s leg joints are fairly true to form.  There are some, in fact, who consider the creature a hybrid of the Scottish water-horse or kelpie and a demonic rider who may well hail from the Wild Hunt.

nuckelavee_concept_by_ruler_of_limbo-d5u9a28

This more modern version, though, is clearly wrong, deriving more from ancient Greek mythology than the traditional lore of the Orkneys.

Known for its hatred of humankind, there are those to this day who will not even speak its name for fear of summoning one of them.  The nuckelavee is particularly offended by those who burn seaweed on the beach in order to produce mounds of what was called kelp in the 1700s.  It is actually soda ash, an alkaline material used to ‘sweeten’ acidic soil, and to manufacture soap and glass.

kelpwifie

Here, a kelpwife tends a fiery kelp pit at the Ness o’ Brough in Sanday.

The pungent smoke smells nearly as bad as the nuckelavee‘s own toxic breath, and the creature is apt to respond by using its bad breath to set off epidemics and/or droughts, killing horses and cattle and crops in addition to humans.  One disease in particular is blamed on the angry fae – mortasheen, also known as glanders.  It kills horses by infecting the respiratory tract and causing ulcers that will not heal, and it can spread to men as well as other domesticated animals.

nuckelavee_by_verdego

This depiction renders the horse half far too hound-like, in my opinion, but the attitude shown is true to life.

Once found only among the Orkney Islands, an archipelago off the northern tip of Scotland, the nuckelavee have been displaced by war, by industrial development, by the spread of cold iron and human machines, and now, by the Fall itself.  Having largely retreated from this world into Faerie, some of them were then flung back through the doors between the worlds and landed in places where they’ve never been seen before.  That would include the coast of California, which is now in it’s 5th year of drought and where a peculiar wasting disease is afflicting the starfish in coastal waters.

A coincidence?  I think not!

There is, however, a way to escape the nuckelavee, should it attack.  For reasons I’ve always assumed are related to its lack of skin, the creature is repulsed by fresh water.  If you can splash it with the contents of your water bottle, it will flee.  If you can skip across to the other side of a freshwater stream, or jump into a lake, it will not continue its pursuit.

nuckalavee-with-hellboy  I do not recommend using this approach unless you too have a Fist From Hell.  Nor does gunfire seem to have much effect on the beast, perhaps because the creature is already dead and therefore cannot be killed.

In the Orkneys, it was the Mither o’ the Sea who kept a leash on the nuckelavee, confining him during the summer months while she worked to undo the harm wrought by Teran, the Orcadian spirit of winter.  Likewise, during the coldest parts of the year, the beast is kept in check by rainfall, which it abhors in equal measure.

seamither

The Mither has much in common with the Greek deity Circe.  However, She has not been seen since the Fall, and may have been trapped in Faerie, or lost to us altogether.

One thing is certain.  Global warming is rapidly increasing the severity and frequency of droughts in many parts of the world.  Reduced freshwater flow is shutting down municipal wells along the California seashore in places like Monterey.  In the San Francisco Bay and Delta, it is resulting in ever more salt water intrusion upriver from the bay.  This is exactly opposite what is needed to keep the nuckelavee at bay.

 

A Modern Bestiary – M is for Macamore

1126931186_imefairy32Macamore means “man of the sea” but you might just as well call them “pigs of the sea” for they are an unlovely lot.

While the female merrow is comely indeed and a siren in both form and feature, the male of the species is characterized by green hair and teeth, as they’ve never felt the need for dental hygiene.  Withal, they have a predator’s  cold eyes, often described as pig-like.  The macamore‘s nose is bulbous and a perpetual red from  his fondness for rum, while his limbs are misshapen by fin-like extensions from every joint.

merrow-and-fisherman

The female merrow is a kind of mermaid and fond of seducing lonely fishermen like this lad.  She is a more-than-willing companion, since her alternatives are less than attractive.

merman

You’d expect a macamore to look like this, wouldn’t you?  But you’d be wrong.

merrow_reejerey

At best he looks something like this.  And at worst…

merman-2

What’s more, if you look very closely, you’ll notice the absence of certain equipment commonly found among men but not mermen, whose form is fishlike in certain departments.  The difference can be disappointing, to say the least, once a merrow has tried life ashore and the pleasures to be had there.

mermaid-in-anger

“I’ve had it with halibut!  Where’s the beef?!”

So long as the merrow takes care not to lose her cohuleen druith, a magical cap that allows her to breathe underwater, then she is free to emerge from the sea and take up with mortal men.  Should it be lost, however, she would be doomed to a life on land, a life of sorrow as her young man ages and finally dies.  Eventually, she does likewise.

What does this little cap look like?  Well, it’s said to resemble a Spanish bullfighter’s montera, but that is ridiculous.

montera  No woman of my acquaintance would ever wear this monstrosity, human or fae!

Macamores wear them too, but in their case, it’s made from a yarmulke (no, they are not Jewish!  They are not even remotely kosher.  Like the rest of the Fallen, they are making do with what they can find here, and yarmulkes are metal-free).

Naturally, the preference shown by the female form for human companionship doesn’t sit well with the macamores.  Add their sexual frustrations to the stresses and strains of being stranded in this cold world, where the oceans are awash with plastic detritus, the sea floor is littered with nets and steel fish hooks, and factory ships strip the world of its finned wealth with no regard for the future – well, it’s a wonder they don’t simply go on a rampage at every turn.

Lately, things have been a bit strange.

For instance, it’s Dungeness crab season on the Pacific Coast.  Normally, this is a time of joyful abundance for San Francisco’s fishermen and sea food lovers too…

dungeness-crab-fishing

Not so much for the Dungeness crabs themselves…

crab-pots-1

And their escape attempts have suddenly become much more successful than usual because…

mafia-crab-with-a-gun-and-bullets-34795

That’s right – they’re packing!

The word is, the macamores have begun taking sides in the perennial contest between fishermen and their catch.  In some cases, that means mere pranks, but you can’t hand out a howitzer to a humpback whale or even itty bitty derringers to Dungeness crabs without setting off larger conflicts.

If you should encounter a macamore, I’d advise you to reel in your line.  Hang it up for the day and head for home, and when you get there, count your blessings.

 

 

 

 

A Modern Bestiary – L is for Llallogan

1126931186_imefairy32 Poor Lallogan – he’s been known by so many names.  Llallogan is the diminutive of Llallawg, his original name, but he’s also been called Lailoken and, in later years, Myrddin Wyllt (meaning Myrddin the Wild).  Which you may recognize as the Welsh form of Merlin.

wilder_mann-by-paulus-vischer-ca-1521  Wilder Mann by Paulus Vischer, ca. 1521 A.D.  This is how the Wild Man of the Woods is usually portrayed, nearly or completely nude, and terribly hairy.  A madman, of course, because who else would live like this? 

Sometimes the Wild Man is shown as something of a giant.

wild-man-from-the_fight_in_the_forest_hans_burgkmair_d-_a

The Fight in the Forest, a drawing by Hans Burgkmair, ca 1501 A.D.

The original, however, was the size of an ordinary man.  Perhaps a bit taller and more slender than most, Llallogan was a bard in the service of King Gwenddoleu in Strathclyde (yes, that’s in Scotland, not Wales).  In 573 A.D., Llallogan was present at the Battle of Arfderydd in which his king was killed.  In fact, as he told it to me very nearly a hundred years later, everybody was killed.  King Gwenddoleu’s rival was Rhydderch Hael of Strathclyde, who was not a forgiving soul.  He had every man jack of the defeated army slaughtered, leaving alive only Llallogan, so that the bard could tell the tale and terrify those who might want to oppose him.

merlin-by-alan-lee

Llallogan was not even particularly hairy, though he did wear furs and sometimes a mask with an animal’s face.

The whole thing was too much for Llallogan.  He developed what would be called, today, PTSD.  It drove him mad, and he took to the woods in hopes, I believe, of becoming an animal.  He no longer desired to be a man, having seen the darkest side of mankind.  And while he wandered, it is said that he also developed the gift of prophecy.

And then he met St. Kentigern.

I was not present at the time, so I cannot attest to the truth of the legend arising from that encounter, called Lailoken and St. Kentigern, but the saint apparently tried to help poor Llallogan find peace through prayer and simple comradeship.

merlin_and_st_kentigern_stobo_kirk

Eventually, he succeeded in converting Lllallogan to Christianity, an event commemorated here in a stained glass window at Stobo Kirk.

merlins_altarstone_stobo_kirk  And this is the altar stone at Stobo Kirk where Llallogan (or Myrddin) was baptized by St. Kentigern.

Baptism did not resolve Llallogan’s madness, however.  What St. Kentigern did not know was that Llallogan was a changeling.  Born of Faerie and traded for a human child, he did not know it himself, save that he never fit into society and found solace only in music.  Being fae, he was horrified far more than most by unnatural death, and murder en masse overwhelmed him.

Thus what he needed was comfort, calm, and training in the use of magic, so that he could attain control of the memories that troubled him so.  That was not my doing.  I merely transported the creature, for he was one by then, back to Faerie and put him in Oberon’s care.

His fae nature, of course, is what gave birth to the prophecies.  One, alas, concerned the man who tried so hard to help him – St. Kentigern.  On the very day mad Llallogan came to the saint and asked for the Sacrament of Baptism, he foretold St. Kentigern’s martyrdom, calling it a triple death.  This must have set the priest back on his heels a bit, but he carried out the rite.  Then, later that same day, he was captured by King Meldred’s men, all pagans.  They beat him with clubs and then threw him into the river Tweed where his body was impaled on a stake.  This, of course, did nothing for Llallogan’s peace of mind.  He blamed himself for the saint’s brutal murder, along with all those committed by Rhydderch Hael.

merlin_history  Much later, when he had somewhat recovered himself, Llallogan returned and settled in Wales and became an archetype well known from Arthurian legends.  His like is found nowadays in all manner of foot-thick fantasies and video games and TV shows and movies.  He remained what he was at heart, a stranger in a strange land, never quite part of this world. 

 

 

A Modern Bestiary – K is for Ki Du

1126931186_imefairy32I feel a certain fondness for the Ki Du, the great black dog of Brittany.  Dogs, in the main, are more forthright than humans, and far more loyal.

Not that the Ki Du is loyal to men or fae.  Much more, I would think, to the concepts of justice, of fairness, of worthy outcomes.  Which I must admit can be thin on the ground where either the fae or most humans are involved.

hound_hound_of_baskervilles

Sidney Paget’s illustration from Hound of the Baskervilles will give you some idea of what the Ki Du looks like, although even in fiction, Sherlock Holmes never encountered the actual Hound.

The Ki Du has a better reputation than the Hound of the Baskervilles or many another of his kin, for he is not malevolent.  Instead of attacking anyone, he merely brings a portent of death, and then accompanies the newly dead soul to the afterworld, a shepherd of sorts.

A darker cousin of his is the great black dog that haunted Newgate Prison for more than 400 years.  His habit was to appear just before executions there, gliding up and down the streets or crawling along on his belly at the top of the wall overlooking the gibbet.

newgate-dead-mans-alley

Tucked behind Newgate was a narrow alleyway known as ‘Deadman’s Walk’.  This passageway was used to convey condemned criminals as they were led towards their execution.  Today it’s known as ‘Amen Court’, a reference perhaps to the prayers of those facing the bitter end.

newgate_prison1_execution

Executions at Newgate Prison were considered holidays by the common folk and eagerly attended by those with no particular fear of the noose.

The Black Dog of Newgate first made its appearance in 1596, when  a man named Schoiler was sent to the prison for dabbling in witchcraft.

newgate-prisoner

Conditions inside Newgate Prison were so horrid it was called a ‘Portico to Hell’ by some and prisoners suffered great torments there, from beatings to disease and hunger.

Schoiler himself did not suffer for long.  He was imprisoned there during a famine in London, and was killed and eaten by starving fellow prisoners before he could be brought to trial. The dog appeared soon after, and tore into Newgate several nights in a row, ripping limbs off of prisoners and causing others to perish from pure fright.  The guilty parties, desperate to escape before the hellhound returned, then murdered a number of guards and broke out, but it did them no good.  The Black Dog hunted them down wherever they fled and administered its own brand of justice.

I mention this because of recent sightings of another black hound, this one distinguished by far more glowing red eyes than the usual…

hellhound-3

Perhaps all those extra eyes give this Hound greater insight into the failings of those he hunts.

The dog has been seen inside the fence at the prison hospital complex newly built outside of Stockton in response to court orders concerning the health care needs of inmates in California’s overcrowded state prisons.

stockton-prison-hospital

The so-called “California Health Care Facility” did not get off to a sterling start when it opened, lacking adequate staffing and many basic supplies, such as latex gloves.

Is the Ki Du coming around to guide ailing inmates into the afterlife?  Or avenge those who shouldn’t have died?  And would those people be the prisoners themselves?  Or their victims?

I don’t know but I, for one, would not get in his way.

 

 

A Modern Bestiary – J is for Jenny Greenteeth

1126931186_imefairy32She’s no friend of mine, Jenny Greenteeth.

For one thing, I cannot abide halitosis of a kind apt to peel the paint off the hulls of small boats and the walls of lakeside cottages.  Is it so much to ask that she brush those long sharp teeth of hers every decade or two?

I don’t mind her green skin.  It’s a natural hue, if not the most appealing.  Her long hair, too, is a feature claimed by many fae, though most of us keep it cleaner, and comb it with some regularity.

jenny_greenteeth_by_arwingxl

Something of a water hag, her appearance varies with her mood.  Here, Jenny is showing her irritability, hence the spiny character of her form.

Jenny Greenteeth, you see, doesn’t take well to noisy intrusions, and is apt to defend her watery home in the most direct of fashions.  Let an unwary child wander much too close to the edge of a pond or a stream and Jenny will probably snatch it up, pull it under, and drown the poor thing.

jenny-4

This is the sort of woodland pond Jenny favors, especially when it’s acquired a fine skin of green scum or duckweed, concealing its true depth.

Often called Peg Powler or Peg O’Nell, Jenny’s cousins include Jamaica’s River Mumma.

riva-muma-by_rpowell77-deviantart

The River Mumma sometimes looks more like a mermaid, but often enough relies upon a long eel’s tail to propel herself through the deeper waters.  She is far more fastidious than Jenny, however, taking care to bathe daily.  She then likes to sit upon a sunny rock and comb her long locks.  If you happen to see her doing this, however, I’d recommend slipping away again and granting the Mumma her privacy.  If you make a sound and she spots you and manages to lock her gaze to yours, well, then you’ll wish you had listened to my advice.

Another of Jenny Greenteeth’s kin:  the Japanese kappa.

illustrated_guide_to_12_types_of_kappa

Here, twelve kinds of kappa are illustrated.  As you’ll have noticed, the kappa more closely resemble their preferred victims, children, than the fish or eels that Jenny tends to imitate.  You can spot them, however, by means of the small pool of water cupped by the tops of their heads.

It’s less certain whether the bunyip of Australia might also be a relative, given the wide variations in form and size reported by both Aborigines and whites in that country.

bunyip_1935

The eyes portrayed here strike me as pure exaggeration.  And really, that mouth doesn’t even appear to have teeth!  Very unJennylike!

Here in the Sacramento-San Francisco River Delta, Jenny’s found herself a home, though.  There’s more than a thousand square miles of meandering waterways to choose from, and lately the droughts have greatly reduced water flow through the whole estuary, provoking blooms of toxic green algae humans call Microcystis.  The stuff turns still waters into pea soup and will poison those foolish enough to drink it or go swimming in it.  Together with the mats of water hyacinth that clog many sloughs and canals, it provides concealment for Jenny and many of her other cousins.

microcystis-bloom

One wonders if Jenny and her kin are actually encouraging blooms like this one in Lake Erie for the sake of added habitat, regardless of what it does to fish and farms and thirsty humans.

Best to provide some reserves in the wetlands, however.  When Jenny’s kind cannot find or create what they need, they’ve been known to make do in other ways – ways I’d rather not even contemplate!  I might have my complaints about human technology and their abominable obsession with cold iron but I will admit, I am rather fond of modern plumbing – so long as I don’t have to touch any metal bits.

jenny_greenteeth_by_richardpace-d4c0kp1

Leave Jenny Greenteeth nowhere to go, and she’ll make you regret it!

 

 

A Modern Bestiary – I is for Insealbhú

1126931186_imefairy32 It means “inauguration.”

If you’ve seen the word before, it was probably part of the Scottish phrase cloch insealbhú – referring to certain well-known inauguration stones.  The most famous, of course, would be the Stone of Scone.

stone of scone in westminster  Here it sits beneath the royal throne of the United Kingdom in Westminster Abbey, where it was last used to inaugurate the current Queen, Elizabeth II.

The stone itself is unprepossessing, to say the least.

The Stone of Destiny Stone of Scone Liath Fail Picture  Here, the stone has been cast in a pink light no Scotsman of my acquaintance would ever find acceptable.

The Stone of Scone was supposedly brought to Scotland from Ireland centuries ago and used to crown 34 Scottish kings.

Alexander_III_at scone abbey in 1249 Including Alexander III, seen here during his coronation at Scone Abbey in 1249 AD.  He is seated on the Stone of Destiny, and listening to a poet as he recites Alexander’s genealogy.

Then, in 1296 AD, along came Edward I, King of England.  He’d been asked to act as referee in a dispute over which of two Scottish cousins should succeed to the throne there.  His solution?  He named himself King of Scotland instead of either one!  And then he stole the Stone of Scone and installed it in Westminster Abbey.

Edward_I_of_England  Greedy sort…The Brits like to call this lad Edward the Great and Edward the Lawgiver.  Scotsmen recall his putting some 10,000 men, women and children to the sword when his troops overran Edinburgh.  Why?  Because they should have known better than to defy him in the first place.

The Stone of Scone has been returned to Scotland, however (in 1996 AD), and no one knows whether it will be used when the next king or queen is crowned.  I doubt it will make any difference, for this stone is lifeless.

stone of scone stolen  When the Stone of Scone was stolen by a band of Scottish nationalists on Christmas Day in 1950 … they managed to drop the damned thing and break it in two!

For yes – the stones are living creatures.   What else would explain the ancient legends about the original Lia Fail, which would scream or roar when the true king touched it?  Has anyone ever recorded the Stone of Destiny doing that upon the coronation of either Scottish or English monarchs?

Indeed, they have not, though a stone surely knows its own father and therefore his kinsmen.

Inauguration ceremonies, you see, originally involved a stone whose ‘presence’ was brought to this world from Faerie, although the ‘source’ remained on the other side of the doors between the worlds.  And the thing was not a coronation.  It was a wedding feast.  The new king spoke of his lands as his “betrothed” and all of the rituals were those of a banais righe.  The hilltop location of the inauguration site generally offered panoramic views of the lands in question, and yes, there was a chivaree followed by a wedding night.

maeve The new king would ‘plow his field’ in the time-honored fashion, and if he was lucky, his ‘betrothed’ would for one night take the form of a goddess, even the shape of Maeve, seen here.  If he were crude or rude or unlucky, well, it could be a long, cold encounter with an entity far harder and more determined than he.

This marriage was meant to bring fertility to lands on both sides of the doors between the worlds, and to produce a new insealbhú in this one.

lia fail 2  Thus the phallic shape of this Lia Fail, situated upon the sacred hill of Tara in Ireland.  Clearly, penetration had to be achieved in one direction or the other.

Other rites involve cloch insealbhú carved in the shape of footprints.

as-manx-as-the-hills-stone-of-destiny-manx-lia-fail

Here, for example, is the Lia Fail of the Isle of Manx.  The mere act of setting one’s foot within its cavity, however, is not enough to achieve consummation!  I won’t go into particulars, but leverage is involved and on a monumental scale.

I would advise avoiding close contact with any of the surviving cloch insealbhú, some of whom have become rather cranky of late thanks to the ever-increasing lifespans of royalty on this side of the doors between the worlds.  Look at the Queen of England.  The woman is 90 years old, and still going strong!  Which means that if the Stone of Scone had survived its ‘recovery’ by certain rash young men, and was a true cloch insealbhú, the poor thing would have gone without for more than 60 years.  It’s enough to make anyone temperamental!