From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
-- Scottish prayer
This week our USn's celebrate the Halloween holiday. In its honor, our them this week is words of witchery and of monsters found around the globe. Most days we will present both a witchery word and a specific monster or spook.
walpurgisnacht or walpurgis night – the eve of May Day on which witches are held to ride to an appointed rendezvous; also something having a nightmarish quality
St. Walpurgis, deemed a defense against witchery, was an 8th-century Englishwoman called from her abbey to go to the monastery at Heidenhelm, with her brothers Willibald and Wunibald. Lovely names, those.
doppelganger – a spiritual or ghostly double of a living person
The word in figurative use:
Yesterday's doppelganger hailed from Germany, the land of the original Walpurgisnacht. Let's travel a bit to meet a pair of monsters indigenous to France. From Old French:
chichevache – an enormous cow that feeds on patient wives and virtuous women
bicorne - a two-horned monster that eats patient or henpecked husbands
Because of their respective diets, the chichevache was lean, constantly hungry and unhappy, while the bicorne was very fat and jolly. Folks, I don't comment; I merely report.
PS: Apparently Chaucer brought the word "chichevache" into English. I've not researched this fully; perhaps one of our folk can take a look for us?
chichevache??? Y'all in the old werld don't know wot a real monster's like. Over heah we breed 'em big 'n various. & ah jest happen t'have a lil-old booklit talkin' 'bout them-all. Lessee now ...
The dungavenhooter was an alligator-like reptile, mouthless but with abnormally large nostrils, common to the logging regions. My book says, "Concealing itself with Satanic cunning behind a whiffle bush, the Dungavenhooter awaits the passing logger. On coming within reach of the dreadful tail, the victim is knocked senseless and then pounded steadily until he becomes entirely gaseous, whereat he is greedily inhaled through the wide nostrils. Rum-sodden prey is sought with especial eagerness."
Sorry. Computer problems interfered with posting the last WoWoD's. Here they are.
eldritch – strange; unearthly; weird; eerie.
quote:And for the Demon of the Day, we cross the channel to Great Britain:
bodach – (Scottish Gaelic for 'old man') a small, vile beast of the British Isles who comes down chimneys to carry off naughty children.
The bodach, a small creature, would live in the chimney and only come out in the night when he heard the fussings of bad children. He would creep out to tweak the child's ears, nose and other uncovered extremities. The worst thing he could was induce nightmares by lifting the sleeping child's eyelids. It was said that the bodach would only bother naughty children, and in defense a child could put salt in the hearth, as the bodach would not cross salt.
pandemonium – 1. an utterly lawless, riotous place or assemblage; also (by extension) wild uproar or noise. 2. the great hall or council chamber of demons or evil spirits.
Coined by John Milton in "Paradise Lost" (1667) as Pandæmonium, the palace built in the middle of Hell, "the high capital of Satan and all his peers". from Gk. pan- "all" + L.L. dæmonium "evil spirit". Transfered sense "place of uproar" is from 1779.
Demon of the Day: cockatrice – a serpent, hatched from a cock's egg, having the power to kill by its glance. As far as I can tell, this is identicial to the basilisk.
Wordcrafter, you have had some great themes, but this is by far my favorite! I don't know where you get your words, but they are wonderful. I especially like chichevache and bicorne.
BTW, I wonder if there are other words with 3 sets of "ch" in them?
The three-tailed bavalorus, a now-extinct beast half-animal and half-bird of the northwestern United States, had a large corkscrew horn, cloven hooves, and three tails: one barbed for fighting, one broad and flat to sit upon, and one a beautiful fantail used to ward off flies. Its undoing was the fantail, which it would sit and admire for hours on end, allowing its enemies to gain the upper hand.
I just realized that pandemonium has all the vowels, a,e,i,o,u, and, therefore, is also a word for our a,e,i,o,u thread.
arcanum plural arcana - 1. a secret; a mystery 2. specialized or mysterious knowledge
Demon of the Day: famulus – a sorcerer's assistant; also (non-demonically ) a private secretary or other close attendant.
The "weird sisters", the three witches of Shakespeare's Macbeth, each had a famulus, a familiar spirit. One of them was Greymalkin. "Malkin" is a cat, also a lewd woman. Query whether "Greymalkin" is also a pun on "merkin".
The folks in nearby Rhinelander, Wisconsin, are particularly proud of the local varmit the hodag, who is the subject of an annual festival. Only a cynic would deny its existence merely because the descriptions happen to vary.
hodag – given to weeping because of its extreme ugliness, the hodag has short legs, a spiny back, buck-teeth and a pointed tail.
The first known hodag (Bovinus spiritualis) was captured near the end of the 19th century near Rhinelander, Wisconsin by one Eugene S. Sheppard and two companions. Mr. Sheppard was also able to catch a female hodag after noticing that hodags only slept by leaning against trees. He simply cut down the tree, capturing the hodag. Although the Rhinelander Daily News "advanced the theory that the hodag was a missing link between 'the ichthyosaurus and the mylodoan' of the ice age," some disbelievers proclaimed that the hodag was simply a large dog that had been covered with a horse hide and displayed in poor lighting.
The Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce provides further history and description of this notable beastie.
I wouldn't dream of denying it. After all I've seen the genuine skulls of the jackalope a creature almost unheard of outside its native America.
Quid quid latine dictum sit, altum viditur
Read all about my travels around the world here.
necromancy – communicating with the spirits of the dead to predict the future; also black magic; sorcery
An interesting etymology:
from Greek via Latin; note the Greek root necro = "dead", as in necrosis, necrophilia.
But when the Latin word came to mean "black arts", the spelling was influenced by Latin niger "black," and became nigromantia. This came into Middle English as nygromauncy, again with the "black" root. Modern spelling is c.1550 from attempts to correct this back to the original "dead" meaning.
Traveling to Malaysia for the Demon of the Day:
langsuir – a female vampire that preys on newborns. The langsuir wears a green robe, has long black hair, emits a whinnying cry, and can take on the shape of an owl. All in all, a terrifying creature.
[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Sat Nov 2nd, 2002 at 19:16.]
quote:Shouldn't that be necromancy?
Quite right arnie, and you've prompted me to start another thread, in Wordplay.
phantasmagoria - a fantastic sequence of haphazardly associative imagery, as in a dreams; a bizarre or fantastic combination, collection, or assemblage
(pl. ~gorias or ~gories; adj. ~goric, ~gorical, or ~gorial)
May trace back to Greek agora = assembly
Demon of the Day:
lycanthrope – a werewolf; a human being fabled to have been changed into a wolf.
(The first syllable is pronounced with a long-i sound, by the way.)
So that's what causes SIDS!
"doppelganger – a spiritual or ghostly double of a living person"
Thus I am a doppelganger of shufitz?
Shush, you poltergeist.