Monday, October 31, 2011

Water Folklore - The Kelpie

I play a twitter wordgame from time to time called Loqwacious where a word is posted every day and the players use that word in a clever, funny, poetic or other kind of tweet.  Today's word is "Kelpie".  I seem to have heard of a breed of dog called a kelpie, but wasn't sure this was the right word.  As it turns out, this is the secondary definition for this word, but the primary definition is rooted in folklore - water folklore to be more precise.  And much more sinister.  From Wikipedia the definition is:

"The horse's appearance is strong, powerful, and breathtaking. Its hide was supposed to be black (though in some stories it was white), and will appear to be a lost pony, but can be identified by its constantly dripping mane. Its skin is like that of a seal, smooth but is as cold as death when touched. Water horses are known to transform into beautiful women to lure men into their traps. It is understood that the nostril of the horse is what creates the illusion of grandeur.  It is wise to keep away from them.

The fable of the kelpie differs depending on the region where it is told. Other versions of the story describe the kelpie as "green as glass with a black mane and tail that curves over its back like a wheel" or that, even in human form, they are always dripping wet and/or have water weeds in their hair.

The water horse is a common form of the kelpie, said to lure humans, especially children, into the water to drown and eat them. It performs this act by encouraging children to ride on its back. Once its victims fall into its trap, the kelpie's skin becomes adhesive and it bears them into the river, dragging them to the bottom of the water and devouring them—except the heart or liver.

Similar creatures:

In Orkney a similar creature was called the nuggle, and in Shetland a similar creature was called the shoopiltee, the njogel, or the tangi. On the Isle of Man it is known as the cabbyl-ushtey (Manx Gaelic for "water horse", compare to Irish capall uisge) or the glashtin. In Wales, a similar creature is known as the Ceffyl Dŵr. It also appears in Scandinavian folklore where in Sweden it is known by the name Bäckahästen, the brook horse."

Here are a few of the Loqwacious tweets so far today - for a flavor of the game.  (When I play, I'm known as @wb1949)

@oldbuffalo:  a true kelpie likes her seafood pie with a little meat in it #lqw

@zenDecision:  Hear the loon 'neath Hallowed moon | See dripping blood and guts | as the unDead meet the Kelpie | & Fate reclaims what shall be #lqw

@wrobertswriter:  Mr. Ed was a kelpie. I know because he warned me not to swim for at least a half hour after eating.

My #lqw entry for "kelpie"?  I haven't played yet today.

Anyway, now you know the full story behind the infamous Kelpie!  And my story for not knowing of this water creature before?  Heck, I'm a groundwater manager.  Not only is there no kelp inside an aquifer, but the adhesive needed to take kids down there I'm sure does not exist!

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