Weekly Features

the weekly shaman — by chris friend

We often hear about houses haunted by ghosts, but few are aware that human homes may also shelter the fairy race. In much folklore, fairies are believed to occupy and guard the familial home and hearth. Throughout the world there any places where belief in household spirits and deities is normal. Such lore can be traced to ancestor worship in which the shades of the dearly departed stayed near the home to guard their living relatives. With time, these spirits became fairies, who helped with domestic activities. Such beliefs became quite common in the British Isles, as well as many other European countries. These household guardians, while thought to be helpful, were easily offended. If angered, they may resort to violent poltergeist- like activity, perhaps breaking dishes and mirrors, or hiding objects such as keys. In ancient Rome, the fairy-like ancestors were known as Lares Familiaris (Household Lares). The Romans were quick to make offerings to these fairies, or risk their anger.     

   Even though some scholars trace the belief in house fairies to the romans, it is far more likely that it evolved quite independently. Places as diverse as China, South America, and the Middle East have variations on this idea. In Spain house fairies are known as Duendes(Lords of the House). They appear as small, middle-aged women with very long fingers often dressed in red or green. The male version of the Duendes is often described as wearing a conical hat, dark hood, or a red cap. They prefer isolated houses, caves, or towers. They cannot be exorcised and have no fear of priests or holy water. Should human inhabitants leave the house a mess, the Duendes will act as poltergeists and fling the furniture around. They will also cause nightmares and pinch sleeping persons if angered. If humored, however, Duendes will clean, repair, and even work as smiths. As with most horror enthusiasts out there [ like BP’s editor!], Sunday night for me is Walking Dead night. I’ve become addicted to the well- produced AMC TV show. It’s probably the last word on George Romero’s Living Dead. Anyway, this brings me to the topic of the Draugar(Walking Dead), a Scandinavian zombie lurking in burial mounds. Some folklore suggests that they are the ghosts of unrepentant pagan dead. They are said to be capable of harming both people and property. Like most ghouls, they can only be killed by beheading and burning their corpses. On that spooky note, again, happy spring!