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Freyja: Norse Mythology

Freya (Old Norse Freyja, “Lady”) is one of the preeminent goddesses in Norse mythology. She’s a member of the Vanir tribe of deities, but became a member of the Aesir gods after the Aesir-Vanir War. Her brother Freyr also became a member of the Aesir.

Freyja is the Norse goddess of love, fertility, beauty and fine material possessions. She is passionate and thrill-seeking and is often a “wild spirit” among the Aesir. Contrastingly, Freyja is also the archetype of the völva, a practitioner of seidr, a form of Norse magic and divination. It was Freyja who first taught the sedir to Odin, and eventually human witches learned the practice to. Her power over desire and prosperity, her knowledge and power are almost without equal – except Odin.

Freyja presides over the afterlife realm Folkvangr where she chooses half of the warriors slain in battle who dwell in her Hall, while Odin takes the first half of fallen warriors to dwell in Valhalla with him. Her role as battle leader and followed by the band of Valkyries who help decide the fates of men in battle.

Seidr is a form of pre-Christian Norse magic and shamanism that involves discerning the course of fate and working to bring about change – often by symbolically weaving new events into being. This power is incredibly useful in bringing about changes in human life.

In the Viking Age, the völva was an itinerant seeress and sorceress who traveled from town to town performing commissioned acts of seidr in exchange for lodging, food, and often other forms of compensation including clothing or anything she might need. Like other northern Eurasian shamans, her social status was highly ambiguous – she was exalted, needed, feared and scorned.

Freyja’s role amongst the gods is stated in the Ynglinga Saga with indirect hints elsewhere in the Eddas and sagas. In one tale, Freyja possesses falcon plumed cloak that allows the wearer to shift their shape into that of a falcon.

In the Germanic “politico-theological conception” based on the mythological model provided by the divine pair Frija and Woðanaz – deities who later became linked as Freyja/Frigg and Odin. In this Germanic concept, Woðanaz is the warband’s chieftain and Frija is its veleda (völva).

While late Old Norse literary sources form the basis of current knowledge of pre-Christian Germanic religions portray Freya and Frigg as being -at least nominally- distinct goddesses but the similarities between them run deep. Their differences are superficial and can potentially be explained by the Norse and Germanic tribes sharing close trade and marriage ties with Freya and Frigg split sometime before the conversion of Iceland to Christianity (around the year 1000 CE).

Freyja and Frigg are similarly accused of infidelity to their (similar) husbands. Alongside several mentions of free Freyja’s sexual practices in the Lokasenna and the Ynglinga Saga, Odin was once exiled from Asgard with his brothers Vili and Ve left in command. The two brothers apparently slept regularly with Frigg until Odin’s return. Many scholars have tried to differentiate between Freyja and Frigg by asserting that the former is more promiscuous and less steadfast than the latter.

Frigg is depicted as a völva herself. Once again in Lokasenna, after Loki slanders Frigg for her infidelity, Freyja warns him that Frigg knows the fate of all beings – a threat to perform seidr. Frigg’s weaving activities are likely an allusion to this role as well as the Norns are known to weave the fate of gods and men.

The name Freyja translates to “Lady” which is a title rather than a true name. In the Viking Age, Scandinavian and Icelandic wealthy women were sometimes called freyjur, the plural of freyja. The name “Frigg” means “beloved.” Frigg’s name therefore links her to love and desire which are areas that Freyja presides. Both goddesses fulfil the roles of the other: Frigg’s name is similar to the Freyja’s attributes.

Freyja’s most famous possession is her necklace the Brisingr forged by the dwarfs. While in the underground kingdom of the dwarfs, Freyja saw them create a necklace and she asked the dwarfs to give it to her. They refused at first but eventually gave it to her and the influence of her sexuality. Brisingr was once stolen by Loki but recovered by the god Heimdallr.

Freyja also has two large grey cats assumed to be lynxes which pull her chariot. Her role as the goddess of fertility is also shared with her brother Freyr and their shared close connection to the earth and the prosperity of crops. Her seemingly dual role as a battle goddess places her at the axes of life and death.

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The Anden Cóndor Myth

The Condor is a mythic Trickster figure in the legends of the local people of the Andes. There is a myth which accompanies the Condor recounted below from source unknown.

There was once a an old shepherd who lived with his beautiful young daughter in a little village at the top of the Andes. The girl pastured the sheep, llamas and other animals from her father’s farm while his wife tended to household chores.

Un expectantly, a young man visited her in the mountains. He went to see her every day and always so elegantly dressed as if he was attending a great gala in the Andes and a always wore a beautiful white scarf about his throat. The two got on very well and were vary careful to meet when she would attend to the livestock.

They became quick friends and at one of this visits he asked the girl if she would play a game. “If you pick me up, I’ll pick you up”. She trusted the man and lifted her in his turn, just as she and made for a quick leap into the sky, he transformed into turned into a magnificent condor and gently cradled the her in the cage of his talons and took her up to his nest inn the highest peaks of the Andes.

They lived together in his nest for a long time. He brought her food and took care of her and she fell in love with him and gave him and she had a beautiful baby. While the girl loved them both – husband and child- but she missed her father deeply and cried every night thinking about how lonely the poor old man would be.

One day she saw a humming bird passing by and asked him for help. The bird would go to the village and bring back her father to rescue her and her child and in reward the humming bird will have every flower in her father’s plot. The cheerful bird accepted.

The agreement met, trrudb e gone and the Condor had finished eating po youn nv g truth he returned to his nest and instead of his family he found two green frogs in their place. The humming bird was waiting for him there and told him that the girl and their son turn into ojos frogs right in front of his eyes and there was nothing he could do.

On the following day, her father arrived at that there with a dead donkey to distract the Condor while he rescued his daughter and her child.

Legend says that now the Condor watches over the Andes trying to find a new girl to bring to his nest and just once in a while when he sees someone as beautiful as the shepherd’s daughter he becomes an elegant young man and visits them trying to trick them into playing a game with him.

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Hell Hounds

Hellhounds are demons or evil spirits that take the form of a dog.

Throughout history and in numerous cultures there are creatures known as hellhounds which appear in mythology, legend and folklore – sometimes as guardians of forbidden areas or as sinister loners that spread death and misery wherever they tread.

A Hellhound is not a demon that takes the form of a wolf – this is more accurately known as a Warg or Worg – as the two terms are likely interchangeable.

Hellhounds date back at least as far as Ancient Greece with the legend of Cerberus, the three-headed guardian of the Underworld. The fearsome beast appeared in one of Hercules’ twelve tasks and remains a popular figure in fantasy fiction.

In the British Isles, the ghostly black dogs – often of inhuman size – is an ancient and almost always warning of death. The creatures are embodied in legendary monsters like the Black Shuck which served as the inspiration for the Hounds of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Japan has stories of the shapeshifting Kitsune, which were technically foxes. Koreans had an even more evil fox-spirit known as the Kumiho, which was almost always destructive, chaotic, and evil.

The Hellhound is a supernatural dog found in folklore. There is a wide variety of ominous and supernatural dogs occurring in mythologies around the world. The hellhound commonly has black fur, glowing red, or, sometimes, yellow eyes, with super strength or speed and ghostly or phantom characteristics, a foul odour, and sometimes even the ability to talk.

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Online Live Book Launch!!

Join me and author of Rarkyn’s Familiar Nikky Lee for a virtual book launch March 9th 19:30-20:30 AEDST (+11:00 UTC) for The Devil and the Loch Ard Gorge. A belated launch due to my extended illness but it’s finally time to celebrate this gothic horror novelette.

The virtual launch will be held live on Facebook and will remain available as a recording on my Facebook page. Nikky and I will discuss all things gothic horror, hauntings, traditional gothic literature and the history behind the ill-fated Loch Ard shipwreck in 1878 off the infamous southern Australian shipwreck coast.

The virtual book launch can be accessed here.

SIGNED copies of the The Devil and the Loch Ard Gorge are available for purchase via my Shop or kindle and paperback on Amazon here. SIGNED bookplates are also available from my Shop for overseas customers where postage from Australia is unfortunately prohibitive.

Hope to see you there and join the online discussion or via the discussion board!

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Bluebells Book Launch

A very late posting of the offical launch of Bluebells on October 2nd, 2022 at Conflux 16 Convention in Canberra. The book launch which had been delayed due to my health issues and extended hospital stays. So this was time to celebrate!

@Cat Sparks

We kicked off the launch with Zachary Ashford giving a great introduction to my writing career and focus so far: I’m an LGBTQI and disability author of numerous short stories in the horror and dark fantasy genres. Bluebells was my debut novella.

Zachary had a couple of questions on what inspired me to write Bluebells. The answers ranged from climate change, an interest in WWI, vampires and the Black Death and ‘Spanish fever’. Alternate history had always fascinated me and the question in my mind became what if the world had fallen into a post-apocalyptic state during WWI? What if the future we know, never happened?

@Cat Sparks

Zachary invited me to do a quick reading from Bluebells. I chose a passage near the end where the vampire Nicolas confronts and debates his humanity alongside his vampirism.

@Cat Sparks

A book signing and purchase option for copies of Bluebells followed and I had a lovely time meeting new and old friends while I signed copies.

@Cat Sparks
@Cat Sparks
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The Roggenmuhme

German folklore

Seeing parts of a rye crop suddenly move is according to old German folklore, not caused by the wind or animals, but by the Roggenmuhme, a witch-like monster who resides within rye fields. Literally translated, the name means ‘rye mother’.

Like many folklore and fairytales, it originated as a cautionary tale to discourage children from doing something they should not. In this case, playing often damaged the crops which affected the farmer’s harvest and livelihood).

According to folklore, the Roggenmuhme snatches kids and takes them away – never seen again. These monsters are also known to grab strands of rye and curse it, turning it black and poisonous (in reality, this is due to infection of the Claviceps purpurea parasitic fungus).

The Roggenmuhume wasn’t all bad: her blessing increased the fertility of the crops and improved the harvest. As such, some farmers would leave a section of the rye unharvested as a gift or offering to the her – a way to increase the harvest of the next year by pleasing her. She is also associated in some parts with rainfall (Regenmuhume – ‘rain mother’) and in pleasing her with offerings, a farmer could increase the chance of rainfall on his farm.

When those individuals did fight off the Roggenmuhume it was difficult. Her physical touch can inflict death or disease in her victims. In the Netherlands, she is also known as the ‘korenmoeder’ or ‘roggemoeder’. Dutch and Flemish folklore appear to have a male variant of the story, too. This creature is called the ‘korenpater’ or ‘rye priest’ and would take naughty children with him if they wandered through rye fields – never to be seen again.

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Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus was the son of Apollo, the Greek god of music and poetry. Eurydice was a beautiful nymph. Their tragic love story is about losing someone you love and having the opportunity to get them back if you can follow one simple rule.

Apollo is the Greek god of music and poetry and is most famous for playing the lyre – a musical instrument made of strings and a tortoise shell. Apollo gave his son Orpheus a lyre and taught him how to play.

Orpheus quickly learned how to play and soon could play more beautifully than his father. Wherever Orpheus played his lyre objects would come to life, and beings became entranced by the music. Orpheus had a true talent for music.

Orpheus was in the woods playing the lyre when he noticed a beautiful wood nymph Eurydice who had heard Orpheus playing and was drawn to his music. Likewise, Orpheus was drawn to the Eurydice’s beauty.

They had a beautiful ceremony with a festive celebration afterward.

Orpheus and Eurydice were overwhelmed by their love for each other and spent all their time together. They decided to get married and Hymenaios, the god of marriage blessed their matrimony but warned Orpheus and Eurydice that the harmony of their marriage would not last.

Eurydice was a beautiful and her beauty was obvious to more than just Orpheus. A shepherd named Aristaeus had noticed Eurydice and wanted her for himself. He hid in the bushes and waited for her, planning to kill Orpheus and take Eurydice as his own.

When Eurydice and Orpheus neared, Aristaeus’s hiding place, he jumped out and tackled Orpheus but was unable to kill him. Instead, Orpheus grabbed Eurydice and they ran through the woods away from Aristaeus. As they ran, Aristaeus chased them. Orpheus held Eurydice’s hand tight while they fled through the woods until he felt her fall and slip her hand let go of his.

When he turned around, Orpheus saw Eurydice had stepped on a venomous snake which had bitten her. As she was dying, Orpheus was unable to save her. Eurydice died from the venomous snakebite and descended to the underworld.

After Eurydice died, Orpheus was not the same anymore. He no longer enjoyed playing the lyre and he no longer enjoyed life. Orpheus wanted Eurydice back, and so he did the only thing he knew. He asked his father Apollo for help.

Orpheus asked Apollo to help him go into the underworld and retrieve his Eurydice. Apollo went to Hades, the god of the underworld, and told him that Orpheus wished to visit and requested the return of his wife, Eurydice.

Lyre in hand, Orpheus went into the underworld and found Hades. Orpheus played and sang for Hades and so all those in the underworld could hear. Everyone was so had moved by the beautiful song that Orpheus played especially for his Eurydice.

Hades agreed to let Orpheus take his Eurydice to the upper world under one condition: Orpheus had to lead Eurydice out of the underworld himself and could not look back at her for any reason.

Hades told Orpheus when Eurydice finally entered the light of the upper world, he could look at her but not while she was in the dark of the underworld. Hades warned that if Orpheus broke his request, Eurydice would be condemned to the underworld forever.

Orpheus was overjoyed that he could regain Eurydice and began leading her out of the underworld. As they neared the upper world, Orpheus could hear the land of the living above him and couldn’t contain his excitement. As he finally entered the light, he turned around to embrace his Eurydice, but she hadn’t yet emerged from the underworld. Eurydice was still in the dark when Orpheus turned around to her. At that moment, she was condemned to the underworld forever.

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Blathnat: Irish Mythology

Goddess of the Tuatha de Danann

Blathnat is an Irish goddess of abundance and tales of her appear in the Ulster Cycle describing her as the beautiful, scheming and unfaithful queen of the sorcerer Cu Roi.

The intense love affair between Blathnat and Cuchulainn led to the death of her husband, Cu Roi. A common theme, Blathnat was one of the many women of the Otherworld who caused great harm to the mortal men who fell in love with them.

Blathnat belonged to the god-like tribe of the Tuatha de Danann who were considered benign deities by the druids and Celtic tribes. She owned a huge cauldron of plenty which was pulled by three cows. The cauldron brought abundance wherever it went.

In the Ulster Cycle of mythology, the tragic love triangle between Blathnat, Cu Roi and Cuchulainn is told.

Blathnat lived happily with her father, Mend, in the Otherworld kingdom of Inis Fer Falga (known today as the Isle of Man) she was abducted during a raid by Cuchulainn and Cu Roi. The pair also stole the cauldron of plenty and the three cows belonging to Blathnat Inis.

Cuchulainn and Cu Roi fell in love with the beautiful Blathnat and quarrelled over her. Cu Roi claimed Blathnat as part of the booty of the raid and Cuchulainn refused to let Blathnat leave with Cu Roi.

Cu Roi was a powerful sorcerer and skilled warrior. He humiliated Cuchulainn by cutting off all his hair after burying him up to his shoulders in the ground. Cuchulainn watched with sadness as Cu Roi left with Blathnat and all the booty. Blathnat was taken to Cathair Chonroi which was Cur Roi’s fortress in Dingle Peninsula in modern County Kerry.

Although Blathnat became the queen of Cathair Chonroi and was treated well by her husband, Cu Roi, the Otherworld kingdom of Cathair Chonroi was a forbidding and lonely place with its castle on top of a high peak in the Slieve Mis mountains.The castle was impenetrable because Cu Roi used spells and magic to confound his enemies. The castle would whirl around at night and the entrance couldn’t be found by those seeking to do Cu Roi harm.

A year later, Blathnat met Cuchulainn when he paid a visit to the castle. Cu Roi was away but had instructed Blathnat to be hospitable to their guest. Very soon, Cuchulainn and Blathnat became lovers and plotted the murder of Cu Roi so they might live together.

Cu Roi was not an easy man to kill because his soul rested in the stomach of a salmon which lived in a stream in the Slieve mountains. Blathnat had learned the secret of Cu Roi’s mortality by constantly flattering him. Once she knew, she told Cuchulainn to kill the salmon first before trying to slay Cu Roi.

Cuchulainn waited at nightfall for a signal from Blathnat so he may enter the castle while Cu Roi lay asleep. When Blathnat poured milk into a stream following out of the castle, the two lovers escaped by running across the battlements of the castle. But Cu Roi’s poet, Ferchertne, saw Cuchulainn and Blathnat fleeing the castle and guessed what had occurred.

Blathnat led Cuchulainn to her husband’s bedroom door and Cuchulainn murdered Cu Roi with a sword while he slept.

Cu Roi’s poet grabbed Blathnat’s hand and hurled himself from the castle’s walls, taking Blathnat with him to the ground below. Cuchulainn could only watch in horror as Blathnat and Ferchertne died instantly.

Some years later, Cuchulainn met his death at the hand of Cu Roi’s son, Lugai, after conspiring with the warrior goddess Medb. Lugaid ensured Cuchulainn suffered an agonising death in revenge for the murder of his father.

The druids and Celts in Ireland regarded Blathnat as an evil woman of the Otherworld who willingly plotted to kill her husband, Cu Roi, with her lover, Cuchulainn.

The modern interpretation of Blathnat’s actions is a young woman forced to marry a ma she didn’t love and was rescued by her true love, Cuchulainn.

The truth of the matter likely lies somewhere between the two.

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Mirror Folklore

In folklore, a mirror is a doorway or portal through which spirits, including ghosts and demons can gain access to the physical world where demonic infestations and hauntings occur.

In prehistory, any shiny surface was regarded as a spirit doorway and used to summon spirits into the world. They also are used for seeing visions of the future.

Much of the folklore about mirrors is negative. They are viewed by some as “soul stealers” with the power to suck souls out from bodies. In the Greek myth of Narcissus, he sees his own reflection in water and falls in love with it, staring hopelessly until he dies.

In some Christian beliefs, the Devil and Demons can enter through mirrors to attack people.

There are also numerous beliefs about mirrors and the dead. In many folklores, when a person dies, all the mirrors in a house should be turned over because if the soul sees itself in a mirror, it will not rest or can become a vampire. Corpses seeing themselves in mirrors will also draw bad luck upon the household. In some cultural beliefs, where corpses are laid out in homes, people still believe that souls linger about the body until burial.

Another folk belief is if a person sees his or her own reflection in a room where someone has died, it is an omen of their own death. Mirrors also should be covered in sick rooms in the belief that when the soul is weakened it is more vulnerable to possession during illness.

In other folklore, mirrors are believed to reflect the soul and must be guarded lest the soul be lost. These fears carry over into superstitious customs, such as covering the mirrors in a house after death to prevent the souls of the living from being carried off by the ghost of the newly departed through a mirror.

In some Russian folklore, mirrors are considered the invention of the Devil because they have the power to draw souls from bodies. Similarly, mirrors and in some places of the world all shiny surfaces, must be covered in a house after a death to prevent the soul of the living from being carried off by the ghost of the newly dead. Mirrors are covered in case one sees the corpse looking over one’s shoulder.

In an old Persian spell, ghosts may be seen in a mirror by standing in front of it and combing the hair without thinking, speaking or moving.

In then folklore of the American Ozark, the appearance of a distant friend in a mirror means he or she will soon die.

The famous folklore that breaking a mirror means seven years of bad luck but also heralds a death in the family or household. For example, if a child breaks a mirror, one of the children in the house will die within the year.

If a home is plagued with unpleasant spirit activity, the mirror in the bedrooms should never be placed at the foot or head of a bed. To do is is considered a negative influence for a person to be able to see himself or herself from any angle in a mirror while in bed. Mirrors should also never reflect into each other as this creates an unstable psychic space. A folk remedy says a mirror should be placed so that it faces outward toward a door or window. The reasoning being when the unquiet spirit looks in a window or attempts to cross a door threshold, it will see its own reflection and be scared away. Mirrors can also be closed as portals by rubbing the edges of them or washing the surfaces in holy water.

Mirrors are also tools used in Divination and Magic. In divination, mirrors train the inner eye to perceive the unseen. Throughout history, mirror gazing has been used for prophecy, aid with healing, find lost objects and people and even to identify or find thieves and criminals.

The power of mirrors—or any reflective surface—to reveal what is hidden has been used since ancient times. Gazing upon any shining surface is one of the oldest forms of Scrying (a method of divination practiced by the early Egyptians, Arabs, the Magi of Persia, Greeks, and Romans). Magic mirrors are mentioned by numerous ancient authors, among them Apuleius, Saint Augustine, Pausanias, and Spartianus. According to Pausanias, divination for healing was best done with a mirror attached to a string . The string was dangled into water and the diviner ascertained whether or not a sick person would heal.

In ancient Greece, the witches of Thessaly reputedly wrote their oracles in human blood upon mirrors. Pythagoras was said to have a magic mirror that he held up to the Moon to see the future in it. Romans skilled in mirror reading were called specularii.

In the late Middle Ages, Catherine de Medicis reputedly had a magic mirror that enabled her to see the future for herself and for France. Pére Cotton, the confessor to King Henri IV of France, had a magic mirror that revealed to him any plots against the king.

In Christian folklore, mirrors enable demons to make themselves known. St. Patrick declared that Christians who said they could see Demons in mirrors would be expelled from the church until they repented.

In Vodoun, a magical mirror is called a minore. A minore is made of highly polished metal and is consecrated for the purpose of seeing visions in divination. Only a priest or priestess may use a minore.

For Magic, both flat mirrors and concave mirrors are used in magic. Other shiny and reflective surfaces work as well like crystal balls, good size crystals and bowls of water or ink. Franz Bardon taught precise instructions for making magical mirrors that would be “loaded” or empowered with the help of the elements, the Akasha, light and fluid condensers. The result of such a charged magic mirror should be stored wrapped in silk to protect its energies from contamination.

Mirrors are also used in Scrying which is accomplished by the astral and mental powers developed by the magician and not specifically the mirror. The mirror serves only as an aid for focusing such powers.

Visualising a person in a magical mirror enables contact. The scryer can then go to the astral plane to communicate with the dead. The living can be contacted through a mirror as well with the scryer visualizes the person intensely until they seem drawn out of the mirror.

The magic mirror can be used as a tool for investigating the past, present, and future. A mirror helps the magician transcend time to see events which is one of the most difficult aspects of mirror work.

The medieval magician Albertus Magnus recorded a formula for making a magic mirror: Buy a looking glass and inscribe upon it “S. Solam S. Tattler S. Echogordner Gematur.” Next, bury it at a Crossroads during an uneven hour and on the third day, go to the spot at the same hour and dig it up—but do not be the first person to gaze into the mirror. In fact, said magnus, it is best to let a dog or a cat take the first look.

The Aztecs used a mirror like surfaces to keep witches away. A bowl of water with a knife in it was placed in the entrances of homes. A witch looking into it would see her soul pierced by the knife and flee.

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The Dullahan is a headless rider on a black horse carrying carries his own head under one arm. Usually, the Dullahan is male, but there are some female versions.

The mouth of the head has a rictus grin and the eyes move constantly. The Dullahan also has the power to see across the countryside even during the darkest nights. The flesh of the head is said to have the color and consistency of moldy cheese.

A spine is used as a whip and the Dullahan only stops riding when a person is due to die. The Dullahan calls out the doomed person’s name and at this point they immediately perish.

There is no way to bar access against the Dullahan with all locks and gates opening at the approach. Apparently, any who observe their work are doused in blood – marking them among the next to die. Occasionally, the spine whip is used to lash out their eyes. A piece of folklore says the Dullahan are frightened away by gold- no matter how small a brooch or pin.

After sunset on certain festivals and feast days, the Dullahan rides his magnificent black stallion across the country side. And wherever he stops, a mortal dies.

Unlike the Banshee, which is known to warn of an imminent death in certain families, the Dullahan does not come to warn. He is a harbinger of death and there is no defence against him – except perhaps, an object made of gold.

A story from Galway says that a man was walking his way home when he heard the sound of horse’s hooves pounding along the road behind him. He turned around to look and to see the Dullahan bearing down on him. He began to run but nothing can outrun the harbinger of death. The man remembered he might be able to outsmart the uncanny being. He dropped a gold coin in the middle of the road. High above him there was a loud road, and when he turned to look back at the road, the Dullahan was gone.