We’re moving ever closer to the night where we’ll have to light incredible bonfires to keep the ghoulies and ghosties away. Or, we can follow tradition and not light any fire and go to bed early to avoid the scary creatures altogether…
Samhain – the Celtic precursor to the modern Halloween – is full of fun folklore connotations. You can learn more about this festival over on newgrange.com.
The Festival of Samhain marks the end of the year (Celtic calendar) and the beginning of the new year.
Why is this important?
Well, if you believe the stories about the Ankou…
Ankou is the personification of Death in Breton mythology, making an appearance in the folklore of Cornwall, Wales and Ireland. He is the fae version of the Grim Reaper, he’s also known as the grave watcher, and often appears as a skeleton in a black robe, carrying a scythe. In Ireland he has a black coach pulled by four black horses which he uses to collect the souls of the recently dead.
As for the scary part pertaining to Samhain: according to Breton folklore collector Anatole le Braz (1859-1926):
“The last dead of the year, in each parish, becomes the Ankou of his parish for all of the following year. When there has been, in a year, more deaths than usual, one says about the Ankou: On my faith, this one is a nasty Ankou.”
In a short story by Wyndham Lewis, The Death of the Ankou (1927), a tourist in Brittany perceives a beggar to be the embodiment of the Ankou. (Another fun read, there.)
Of course, the Ankou is slightly different in my own writing. He can appear like a scary skeleton in a black robe, scythe and all. But he can also look quite civilized with an actual face and wearing a black suit (of any era).
I’ll be doing a proper post about Ankou and deathfae on my blog on Sunday if you’d like to know more.
In the meantime, why not take advantage of the discount running on “Once…” during October?
I hope you learned something new, got a good fright and perhaps even something new to read.
Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.
Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.
All of her books are available for purchase on Amazon and other online retailers.
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