In Scotland, a kelpie is a shape-shifting water spirit living in lakes and pools. They’re defined as demons appearing specifically in the shape of horses. However, some legends say they can also assume human form.
In human form, the kelpie still retains its hooves. Thus, the kelpie is seen as a malevolent entity. Almost every lake in Scotland has a story about a kelpie. The most well-known of these legends is the one about the kelpie of Loch Ness.
In the past, human sacrifices were made to appease the gods and spirits of the waters. In time, these practices led to belief in evil water horses. There are some legends, however, in which kelpies are seen in a more positive light – they’re said to protect small children from drowning in lakes. Kelpies are also known the warn young women to be wary of handsome strangers.
Kelpies are the most common water spirits in Scottish folklore and they live in both water and as well as on the land. In legends, they’re often depicted as strong and beautiful black horses which live in the deep pools of rivers in Scotland. Kelpies are also known for preying on the humans they encounter. In addition, the hooves of the kelpie are thought to be reversed – so they point backwards. In Aberdeenshire, the kelpie allegedly has a mane of serpents, while the kelpie of River Spey was known to be white and capable of singing.