Undulating Shadows: The Sluagh

  • Names(s): The Sluagh (sloo-ah) are known as the Host of the Unforgiven Dead. They are sometimes called the Sluagh Sidhe (Fairy Host). Their name means ‘horde’ or ‘crowd’ when translated into English. In Irish folklore they are also called Underfolk or The Wild Hunt.
  • Country of Origin: Sluagh can be found in Scotland and Ireland. There some references to them in Manx and Welsh mythology, too.
  • Monstrous Origins: The Sluagh are described by some as fallen angels. Some argue that they are the spirits of fallen warriors who are returning to the sites of the battles they fought. In a 20th century account of the Sluagh given by Marian MacLean, she said the Sluagh were like the dead, but not to be identified with them.
    Before Christianity was introduced to Scotland and Ireland, the Sluagh were thought of as faeries who had run amuck and turned evil.
    Some further argue that the Sluagh were just beings of pure evil, ultimate sinners who were welcome in neither Heaven not Hell, nor the Otherworld – they were rejected by the Celtic deities and even the Earth itself.
  • Physical Appearance: The Sluagh are always seen in groups flying in from the west. To the unknowing spectator, the Sluagh appear as a whirlwind of flapping wings and undulating shadows – much like a flock of crows or ravens.
    Individually, the Underfolk are haggard. They are so thin that skin shows bone peeking through. Long, wiry, dark hair drops from their scalps at random, covering faces with beak-like mouths and wonky teeth. Their disfigured humanoid forms are cloaked by weathered, leathery wings which they keep tightly against their bodies when not in flight.
  • Creepiest Feature: The fact they can locate and hunt you down if you merely utter the word Sluagh . . . (let’s hope reading it doesn’t call them either).
  • Kill Method: In Irish mythology, the Sluagh flew from the west (the direction of the Blessed Isles, where the dead live in most Celtic folklore) into houses to steal a dying soul before it was given last rites. It was, and in some places still is, tradition to keep all west-facing doors and windows closed when an ill or dying person is at home after sundown or else the Host of the Unforgiving Dead may just fly in and get ‘em.
    Some stories also tell that the Sluagh can sense a hopeless heart – a heart so sad, dejected, and depressed that a person feels broken – and will steal their souls. If you do accidentally draw the attention of the Sluagh, by being broken-hearted or by accidentally saying their names, the only way to get them to cease is to send them after another person.
    In Scotland, the Sluagh were sometimes known to hurl rocks and stones at humans they weren’t fond of. However, some legends say that the Sluagh used to haul human men up from their houses at night and set them the task of throwing poison darts or javelins at people they took a dislike to.
  • Hobbies: Flying around in groups and convincing people they’re a flock of angry birds. Screeching. Looking at lonely hearts ads.
  • Omen(s) and Association(s): The Sluagh, due to their appearance as they fly, are often associated with black birds. Some believe that this is why black birds – particularly ravens – are seen as evil omens or signals of death. Underfolk were also associated with crop failure and animal death, but that usually comes hand-in-hand with any sort of creature that was known back before crop rotation was a thing.
    As they flew in from the west, the Underfolk were often associated with the west winds. Interestingly, in European tradition the west wind has often been considered the most mild and most favourable of the directional winds. Perhaps they hadn’t heard of the Sluagh.
  • Favourite Food/Drink: The souls of the living, the souls of the dying, happy souls, heavy souls, bad souls, and sad souls . . . all souls taste good to the Sluagh.
  • Most Interesting Legend: Between 1908 and 1910 W. Y. Evans-Wentz travelled the Celtic countries collecting information about their beliefs in faeries. On his travels, he came upon many stories of the Sluagh – many of them contemporary, showing that belief in the Sluagh continued until the turn of the 20th century (and, I’m certain, many people still believe in them today). In one story, Evans-Wentz tells of a child from Barra, Scotland, who was taken by the Sluagh. They sucked out the child’s soul, as they had a habit of doing, and dropped it’s lifeless body from a great height. The body was found, lying crushed and broken, in the family’s garden the next day.
    A woman named Marian MacLean had much to say to Evans-Wentz about the Sluagh. She told him that they often took men from South Uist to be their archers, sending them after men who worked during the night or women who milked cows. MacLean said she knew some of the men who had been taken and that the ones who were kind hearted often tried to miss their targets on purpose.
    She also found it difficult to reconcile the idea that the Sluagh may be fallen angels – she seemed certain they were faeries, and was also a Christian, but was unsure how the two worked together.
  • Favourite Film/TV Show: The Birds
  • Likelihood of Killing You: 10/10 – you literally just have to exist and have a soul for the Sluagh to wanna kill you. And if you don’t have a soul, you’re probably one of the Sluagh already so you don’t need to worry about them killing you. Basically, you’re either one of them or one of their eventual victims. The Sluagh get us all in the end.
  • Likelihood of Existing for Real: 10/10 – flocks of birds don’t look right sometimes, and the mysterious cases of people who died from broken hearts? Gotta be the Sluagh. Also, there’s a theory that Poe’s The Raven is about, or was inspired by, the Sluagh. It’s pretty cool. You can read about it at the end of this article.

Monster Music:

Get The Look:

bat wings

To get the Sluagh’s leathery wings, try this sexy batwing jumpsuit – only £11!

 

 

 

 

beaky beaky

Finding it hard to get that Underfolk beak-like mouth? Try this £3.55 plastic bird beak!

 

 

 

And, last but not least, for those lovely, scraggly Sluagh teeth…
ew

Party Delights sell these wonderful fake teeth for £3.99 each!

 

 

 

Celebrity Equivalent: Now, I don’t wanna shit on Tay Tay. Everyone shits on Tay Tay… but I’m gonna shit on Tay Tay.
sluagh tay tayLiterally nothing on Earth can convince me TayTay is not one of the Underfolk.
Feeds off of heartbreak? Check. (Just listen to her albums, the sales come from the heartbreak songs.)
Sucks out people’s souls? Probably. There are enough articles out there that say she does.
This emo picture of her? Looks like a Sluagh.

Part of a flock of evil creatures who fly through the night and drop children from great heights? Sure, why not.
In conclusion, Taylor Swift is very probably one of the Sluagh.

(AN: I actually quite like Taylor’s music and how she uses her fame, but it was just too fitting. Sorry, Taylor.)

Sources:

 

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