Saturday, October 9, 2010
The Ballybog or Peat faerie.
In keeping with our field trip to a bog I thought I would tell you of the Ballybog.
The Ballybog or Peat Faerie.
Although the Irish Ballybogs have been known to live in Wales, Cornouailles, England, and Ireland, there were greater numbers of them in Ireland. As one of their names (Peat Faeries) suggests, the Ballybogs are fond of peat, something we are lucky enough to still have.
Diminutive in size, these small creatures are strange looking with disproportioned bodies. Their heads seem to sit directly on the top of a round body without any neck at all. Plus, their spindly legs do not even look as though they could stand on their own, let alone hold up such a rotund shape. Its gaping mouth is full of blunt, needle-like teeth and its nose hangs down over its top lip, matched by a pair of dog-like ears that sit up on their own. For the most part, the body and head resemble that of a toad with mismatched ears and nose. Their arms mirror the legs in appearance, turning the Ballybog into a frightful vision of weirdness. To top it all off, these little wrinkled creatures appear to have been dipped in mud so much like a chocolate covered cherry, only in this case, a mud-covered Ballybog.
Repugnant in both appearance and sound, the Ballybogs are creatures that prefer to keep to themselves. Obviously, as guardians of the bogs, they live in the bog and prefer the mud holes that are so numerous in that type of location.
Whether due to their solitary existence or some quirk of nature, the Ballybogs cannot speak and only grunt in place of verbal language. This adds to the common belief that the Ballybog is one of the dumbest faeries. Some might say their grunting and slobbering behaviour is reason enough to consider them somewhat less intelligent than humans and closer to the animal kingdom but be careful of what you say. Many people have lived to regret insulting the gentry.
Since their main purpose in life is to protect the bogs, they cause relatively little mischief or damage, certainly less than man as far as the bogs are concerned. However, whether they have a mischievous streak or simply get bored, the Irish Ballybogs have been known to prey upon unsuspecting human travellers and lead them astray from the path. No real harm is ever done to these unwitting travellers other than a few hours of lost time and a bit of unexpected aggravation.
The Irish Ballybogs are known by many interesting names, each with a clever little twist on their origin. The Cornish and Welsh have called them Peat Faeries, Mudbogs, and Bogles. The people in northern England and the Isle of Man have called them Boggies, Boggans, and Bog-a-boos. No matter what name they are called by, the Irish Ballybogs have been the guardians of the bogs since the bogs were formed.
They are most typically encountered in Ireland, where people still use peat or turf as we call it as a source of fuel because Ireland lacks natural coal and oil deposits.
While the Irish ballybog was merely unpleasant, the English bogle possesses a nasty temper. The bogle focuses the majority of its ill will upon those who are lazy, incontinent, or guilty of crimes. Like many of the fae is believed that at one time, they were they guardian spirits of bogs. Some have suggested that the preserved human remains found in the peat bogs of northern Europe and are evidence of ritual human sacrifices made to placate the fae who dwelled within the bogs.