Faerie Facts and the Lantern Lowdown #9

A little over two weeks to send your faerie folk and/or lantern poems!

See #1, #2, #3,#4, #5, #6, #7, and #8.

Faerie Facts

On Knockers (Wikipedia):

The Knocker, Knacker, Bwca (Welsh), Bucca (Cornish) or Tommyknocker (US) is a mythical creature in Welsh and Cornish folklore. They are the equivalent of Irish leprechauns and English and Scottish brownies. About two feet tall and grizzled, but not misshapen, they live beneath the ground. Here they wear tiny versions of standard miner’s garb and commit random mischief, such as stealing miners’ unattended tools and food.

Their name comes from the knocking on the mine walls that happens just before cave-ins – actually the creaking of earth and timbers before giving way. To some of the miners, the knockers were malevolent spirits and the knocking was the sound of them hammering at walls and supports to cause the cave-in. To others, who saw them as essentially well-meaning practical jokers, the knocking was their way of warning the miners that a life-threatening collapse was imminent.

According to some Cornish folklore, the Knockers were the helpful spirits of people who had died in previous accidents in the many tin mines in the county, warning the miners of impending danger. To give thanks for the warnings, and to avoid future peril, the miners cast the last bite of their tasty pasties into the mines for the Knockers.

The Lantern Lowdown

On folklore behind the Jack-O-Lantern (Wikipedia):

The story of the carved vegetable as a lantern comes in many variants and is similar to the story of Will-o’-the-wisp[9] retold in different forms across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. An old[year needed] Irish folk tale[citation needed] tells of Stingy Jack, a lazy yet shrewd farmer who uses a cross to trap the Devil. One story[citation needed] says that Jack tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree, and once he was up there Jack quickly placed crosses around the trunk or carved a cross into the bark, so that the Devil couldn’t get down. Another tale[citation needed] says that Jack put a key in the Devil’s pocket while he was suspended upside-down.

Another version[citation needed] of the story says that Jack was getting chased by some villagers from whom he had stolen, when he met the Devil, who claimed it was time for him to die. However, the thief stalled his death by tempting the Devil with a chance to bedevil the church-going villagers chasing him. Jack told the Devil to turn into a coin with which he would pay for the stolen goods (the Devil could take on any shape he wanted); later, when the coin/Devil disappeared, the Christian villagers would fight over who had stolen it. The Devil agreed to this plan. He turned himself into a silver coin and jumped into Jack’s wallet, only to find himself next to a cross Jack had also picked up in the village. Jack had closed the wallet tight, and the cross stripped the Devil of his powers; and so he was trapped.

In both folktales, Jack only lets the Devil go when he agrees never to take his soul. After a while the thief died, as all living things do. Of course, his life had been too sinful for Jack to go to heaven; however, the Devil had promised not to take his soul, and so he was barred from hell as well. Jack now had nowhere to go. He asked how he would see where to go, as he had no light, and the Devil mockingly tossed him an ember that would never burn out from the flames of hell. Jack carved out one of his turnips (which was his favourite food), put the ember inside it, and began endlessly wandering the Earth for a resting place. He became known as “Jack of the Lantern”, or Jack-o’-Lantern.

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2 thoughts on “Faerie Facts and the Lantern Lowdown #9

  1. what a lovely tale, as only fairy tales and mythological tales can be!!! had never heard the story of jack the lantern ! thank you!! will try to see if there are any Indian tales like this. We have a lot og mythological tales based on gods, but can’t recall any fairyish mythological creatures of our own!! You’ve got me thinking

  2. alee9 says:

    What a story! I’ve always loved Jack as a child. Learning of his end does make me sad.

    lantern
    under the eaves, a flicker
    as a shadow stirs

    Alegria Imperial
    http://jornales.wordpress.com

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