Tag Archives: magic

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?


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!




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.


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.


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


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


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.


“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…


Not so much for the Dungeness crabs themselves…


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


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 – G is for Gan Ceann

   1126931186_imefairy32  I’d rather not even look at one.

To the Irish, the Gan Ceann is better known as the Dullahan, but in this country, he’s the source of all those stories about the Headless Horseman!

Dullahan 1 And that whip of his?  It’s made from a human spine.  You do not want to meet with the business end of it, as he is quite fond of snapping it into the eye of an onlooker, thereby removing the organ.

In most cases, the Gan Ceann rides a black horse and carries his head underneath his arm. The rider’s eyes are small, black, and beady, and they’re in constant motion.  The mouth, however, is locked into a death’s head grin that changes only when he speaks.

Dullahan 3 You do not want to hear him speak, because he can say only one word – the name of the person about to die.  Which might well be you.

Some say the rider is what remains of the ancient Celtic god known as Crom Dubh, or Black Crom.  And yes, this is the very same Crom that Conan worshipped in the stories written by that madman, Robert Howard.

conan  I wonder if Mr. Muscles has heard enough of “the lamentations of the women” yet.

In his heyday, Black Crom demanded human sacrifices each year during his festival, which was held at the end of August or in early September.  This much I can tell you is true.  For when St. Patrick (the much misnamed in my opinion) became a Christian missionary and then returned to Ireland, it was he who put an end to all that, along with the Red Serpent sect of the Druids.  St. Patrick’s purpose had little to do with religion, of course, but that is a tale for another day.

Crom-Dubh-by-Bryan-Perrin  The annual rites of Crom Dubh were a harvest festival of sorts, the crops including both wheat and human beings.

Defeated by St. Patrick and his henchmen, the worship of Crom Dubh was abolished early in the 6th century A.D., but some say that he still wanted his due and took to collecting souls himself, as the Gan Ceann, the Dullahan  or the Far Dorocha (meaning the Dark Man.)

The Gan Ceann will sometimes drive the Deaf Coach, and use it to collect more than one victim at a time.

dullahan 4

Only two horses are shown here…

The coach’s name comes from the Irish phrase coiste bodhar, meaning ‘deaf or silent coach’ because you won’t hear it until it’s upon you.  Normally drawn by six black horses, the coach can travel so fast the friction created by its movement often sets fire to the bushes along the sides of the road.

In any case, you cannot escape him.  All gates and doors will fly open at his approach to let the headless horseman through, no matter how thoroughly they are locked.

dullahan nightstalker  Since the Fall, however, the Gan Ceann has sometimes taken to riding motorcycles.  The upkeep is cheaper and he no longer gives a damn about how much noise he makes.

So how can you protect yourself from this fell creature?  Throw gold at him.  A coin, a necklace, a watch…anything made of gold.  The legends say it will scare him off, but that’s not true.  The Horseman isn’t afraid of gold.  He adores it, and while you are running hell for leather down the road, he will stop and pick it up.  That’s how he’s progressed from riding that cheap little Honda to this gold-plated Harley:

dullahan Harley

And yes, that is his girl friend.  Don’t even ask about the ruby slippers.

Magic & Murder


I’m Sathyllien, formerly a fairy queen.

1126931186_imefairy32 And this is what I used to look like.

I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here, though. Blogging is just not something the Fae ever do. It means using a laptop, an I-Pad, a smart phone or something, and that isn’t easy for us. Electricity? No. Downright poisonous. All kinds of metal involved in it, too.


                      This is what forged metal means to me.  No, thank you.

Waller thinks I can handle it, but he’s not entirely sane. He’s a cop. A detective. Old School, too. The kind that gets mad when the world won’t behave. The kind that grabs it by the scruff of the neck and drags it down the street, flailing and screaming all the way, and thinks he can put things to rights again if he kicks more ass than he kisses.

So… yeah. Frank’s an idealist, in spite of everything he’s seen, and chased, and bedded or busted.

……………..narnia ogre

              The day Frank arrested this fellow was… Interesting.

You’d think two decades on the job would beat that nonsense out of a man, but Frank Waller is nothing if not stubborn. Must be part hobgoblin. That could explain his balding head, and the pot belly too.

He’s not a fool about everything, though, and he thinks this blogging business might do me some good. Help me sort out my feelings about my being stranded here. About my daughter. Or the four hundred million little things about this world that offend me so greatly. At the very least, he’s hoping I’ll talk more freely about what I do. About crime scenes, and how you do forensics when there’s a dead elf or magic involved.

thZXPLCU3A  Swords.  Hate ’em!

I don’t think Frank understands how strange it is for any elf to do such work. We are so centered on life, on nurturing life in all its many forms and fostering its wild abundance… we can barely stand to even think about the dead. We are immortal, and death is what happens to humans.

Well, that’s how it used to be. Before the Fall. Before we were swept out of Faerie and cast away here, in this hard, alien world full of cold iron. Here, Death discovers us daily, and we deal it out in our turn.

The authorities here, though, take quite a dim view of most murder and mayhem, on which they hold some sort of copyright. Thus, eventually and in spite of my obvious deficits, I was enlisted to assist Waller in his murder investigations – the ones where magic is involved.

Policeman Holding Murder Weapon  Don’t even ask.

It wasn’t easy. I was not accustomed to their strictured methodology, bound as it is by rules and regulations of every kind. Still, the principles are the same as with any other branch of science. First, you must learn to see what’s there. What’s really there. That’s tricky enough with a normal crime scene, what with ballistics and blood spatter, butterfly knives and body parts. But what do you do when a glamour’s involved, or shape-shifting? What if your victim is totally transparent? What if it’s your suspect who is apparently made of glass?

Oops. Um, we’ll get to that later. I don’t think this machine is supposed to be smoking.