Many years ago parents would sometimes threaten their children with the words “if you don’t behave, the bogeyman will get you”. However, who or what was the bogeyman?
A bogeyman might live under the bed, in a wardrobe/closet, in a dark cupboard under the stairs or anywhere that might be dark or spooky. If you looked through the keyhole you may see an eye looking back at you...that may be the bogeyman looking back at you.
Bogeymen can appear as shadowy figures you see out of the corner of your eye but when you look there is nothing there. They can change shape to look like black dogs, weirdly shaped trees with branches shaped like claws or glowing eyes that appear in the dark of night. They may even stand behind you, causing you to feel uneasy sending a shiver up your back.
The bogeyman is a general term for a frightening figure that was used to frighten the vulnerable and the word itself may derive from the old Anglo-Saxon word Boh, meaning demon. This may also have given rise to the custom of creeping up behind someone and shouting “Boh” or “Boo” meaning “The devil is behind you”.
Here in Ireland our bogeyman was also known as Bloody Bones or Rawhead and this bogeyman has spread throughout the U.K. and North America presumably through the Irish diaspora (Diaspóra na nGael).
Bloodybones was believed to live in places near water and this may be why he may be found under the sink hiding in the cupboard near the water pipes. It was said that Bloody Bones would reward good children but naughty children would be taken down through the sink hole or drainpipes into the drains or sewers and there they would be drowned.
This Samhain/ Halloween be careful, if you see a rock that looks as if it has hair on it then it may just be a bogeyman. You may see a black dog covered in scabs or scars, is it really a dog? When you are out for a walk in the woods and you hear a noise or you are standing by a lake and you suddenly feel uneasy, who knows what may be lurking in the undergrowth or beneath the dark waters. The bogeyman can take many shapes so don’t look over your shoulder.