Are you tired of watching the same old horror films? We’ve compiled three creepy faery folklore stories from around the United Kingdom to give you the chills this Halloween:
Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault
The Midwife to the Faeries– Wales
Elin was a young girl who worked for an older couple called Bet and Huw. Life was hard on the farm with just an elderly couple for help, so Elin coped by daydreaming about faeries.
Bet worried about Elin as she knew what the faeries were capable of. As protection against the creatures, Bet gave Elin a small knife and a rowan tree branch to sleep under at night.
Still, Bet came in to find Elin missing one morning nevertheless and they didn’t look for her because they basically didn’t give a shit. A year later, a faery man, as a tall as a child, knocked at their door and asked Bet’s help to deliver a baby. In those days, all women knew how to deliver babies, and Bet was no exception.
Bet climbed onto the back of the faerie man’s horse, and the horse began to ride so fast that the world became a blur. Hours later they came to a ramshackle little house. Inside was a bed made of rags and poor Elin was lying amongst the squalor. Later, when the baby was born, Bet had the job of cleaning him. She was rubbing lotion on the child from the baby’s father, the Faerie King. He told her to be careful to not get the ointment in her eyes. Of course, promises are made to be broken in stories, and Bet’s eye got itchy so she scratched it, rubbing the ointment accidentally into her eye. With that eye, she now saw that the squalid house was actually a palace dripping in gold. Worried about how the King would punish her if he found out, Bet asked to go home.
At the Midwinter Fair many months later, Bet’s faerie eye saw Elin and the faery party, invisible to the mortals around them. Forgetting about the fear she had for the King, she reached out to Elin and asked about the baby. With that, the Faery King knew his tribe could no longer move in secret. He calmly asked Bet which eye she could see him with. He then, without blinking, pulled that eye out of her skull. Savage.
King Herla the Great – England and Wales
King Herla was a king of Ancient Britain. One evening the Faery King told him that the King of France was going to give Herla the hand of his daughter as a peace treaty. The Faery King had organised it all, with the only stipulation being that he was to attend Herla’s wedding. In return, Herla would come to the Faery King’s wedding.
Herla’s wedding was a success and so a year later Herla gathered his trusted men and set off for the hidden realm. For three days they partied (which you shouldn’t do in the faery world) and then it was time to return home.
As a parting gift, the Faery King gave Herla a small greyhound and told him not to dismount from his horse before the dog leapt from his arms onto the ground. Herla rode for hours with nothing looking familiar.
Seeing a shepherd, he stopped the horse to ask for directions. The man looked puzzled and asked Herla why he spoke so strange. Herla told the man that he was the King of Britain and the shepherd turned a terrible shade. Trembling, the man revealed that three hundred years had passed, not the three days that Herla had thought since he left home. With that, one of the men leapt from his horse and instantly turned to dust.
Herla forbade his men from leaving their horses and to this day they still gallop waiting for the dog.
Janet – Scotland
One morning, Janet began a walk around her father’s land. Beyond the edge of the forest, she was met with deadly silence as she came close to an ancient well.
Next to the crumbling walls were exquisite flowers that Janet couldn’t resist smelling. That’s when she heard a man’s voice telling her they were the Faery Queen’s flowers. Janet told the man, Tam Lin, that her father owned the land. Instead, Tam (the Queen’s slave) told her that the Queen would make Janet a slave because she had smelt the flowers. Janet shuddered as he told her of the horrible things the Queen would do to her. Tam told her that she could be saved however if she freed him the next night.
Janet felt bile rising in her throat as he gripped tightly and made her promise to free him. Tam Lin wouldn’t accept a verbal promise as he forced himself on her, reminding us that sometimes the monsters aren’t always who we think they are.
The next night Janet went and freed Tam Lin from his faery captivity. The Queen transformed him before her eyes: first, a terrible bear snarling as she clung to him, then a viper squirming, but Janet held on tight. He then turned into a burning hot iron, to which she threw him into that old well. Tam Lin climbed out of the well, as the Queen screamed in defeat.
Janet felt relief and then bile, as Tam Lin held her hand tightly.
For more, check out Faeries, Elves and Goblins The Old Stories and Ceredigion Folk Tales.