Episode 49: Water Fae: Kelpies
The folklore of kelpies in a nutshell, how I reimagined it for my writing, and this faery translated into Afrikaans.
Written and narrated by Ronel Janse van Vuuren.
Copyright 2022 Ronel Janse van Vuuren — All rights reserved.
Learn more about Kelpies here.
Get the transcript here.
Music: Secrets by David Fesliyan (FesliyanStudios.com) and Dramatic Heartbeat by FesliyanStudios.com
You’re listening to the Faeries and Folklore podcast by Ronel.
I’m dark fantasy author Ronel Janse van Vuuren. With nearly a decade of digging around in dusty folklore books, researching creatures of imagination that ignited my curiosity, I’m here to share the folklore in a nutshell and how I reimagined it for my writing in an origin of the fae.
This is the Faeries and Folklore podcast.
Hi, I’m your host Ronel Janse van Vuuren. You can just call me Ronel. In today’s episode, we’re continuing our exploration of the fae realm.
This episode is brought to you by my book Once… Tales, Myths and Legends of Faerie available in eBook, audiobook and paperback. Learn more at ronelthemythmaker.com/my-books.
We’re continuing our exploration of Water Fae.
Today’s Faery: Kelpie
Folklore in a nutshell by Ronel
Kelpies are the most distinctive magical creatures from Scotland. These water horses can shape-shift into humans, underwater monsters and gorgeous horses to lure humans under water to drown and eat them. In human form, kelpies are invariably male. They are usually depicted as grey or black horses, and as they cannot fully escape the water, their tails and manes are always dripping wet.
Kelpies inhabit lochs, streams and pools – most notably, Loch Ness. (Yes: The Loch Ness monster is a Kelpie.)
In some cases, the kelpie would devour all but the entrails of their victims, leaving it at the water’s edge for others to find. It can extend its back to carry many to the watery depths of its home before eating them. It has a sticky magical hide, so once you touch the alluring creature, you are stuck – as shown in a common Scottish folk tale (the kelpie lures nine children onto its back, chases after the tenth who strokes his nose before he cuts off his stuck finger to escape while the others are dragged into the water by the kelpie).
And now for my interpretation of the fae in an origin of the fae: kelpies
Kelpies use the connection they have to the water they live in to find out everything that goes on in the world around them.
Kelpies can live in any lake, river or stream. Even a murky pool will do if there’s enough glamour to fuel the Kelpie. Part of their magic is to make themselves irresistible – humans and Fae want to touch them, no matter the cost.
Mist surrounds a Kelpie as it shifts form. They have the power to change their appearance at will. Kelpies prefer the form of a horse when on land. Though they can turn into pine martens, stoats, goats, etc. They can even take on a human form.
Kelpies will eat any human or Fae it wants to. They especially like to play with their prey. Though, there are a few who stick to eating fish.
Kelpies only appear outside water when they are summoned, hungry or have to go to a mandatory Fae gathering (like the Tithe every seven years). It usually shape-shifts from an underwater monster to something alluring – like a horse – before enticing humans/Fae to touch it, at which point its skin will become adhesive and it will take its prey down to a watery grave (and the Kelpie will have lunch).
Though it is said that only the liver or entrails are left over from a Kelpie’s meal (seen floating on the surface), that’s just the personal preference of some. Not all Kelpies have the same taste in food (just like everyone else).
Kelpies have power over the water they live in: they can cause floods to hinder or drown pursuers/victims.
They have an odd sense of humour (e.g. laughing when someone nearly dies in a bog).
Kelpies are good in a fight. They change into water as soon as an opponent tries to punch/curse/suck the life out of them.
Kelpies do whatever they wish, whatever whim takes them. Even the supposedly bad ones who feast on humans and Fae can be a trusted ally – just like the supposedly good Kelpies who only eat fish can be your worst enemy.
Kelpies are always dripping wet. Once they start to dry out, they need to return to the water or risk death from dehydration.
How to summon Kelpies:
–A rhyme (if you know the right one) will call the Kelpie from the depths.
–A Cù Sìth can summon one by simply barking.
–A blood offering – a bit of blood on a leaf placed on the water – along with calling: ‘Kelpie, I bid thee forth.’ will summon the Kelpie to your presence.
Though, beware: the Kelpie will demand more, depending on what you want from it.
Like all capricious Fae, it depends on the individual Kelpie whether it will be friend or foe.
As a little bonus, let’s look at the translation of kelpie into Afrikaans: waterperd.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this episode of the faeries and folklore podcast and that you’ve learned something new about faeries.
Remember that you can get a transcript of this episode in the description. If you’re new to the podcast, why not go and grab your free copy of Unseen, the second book in the Faery Tales series, on my website ronelthemythmaker.com? Loads of folklore, magic and danger await! Take care!
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No-one writes about the fae like Ronel Janse van Vuuren.