Chapter 23 The Pookah

(Extract from “Faerie-Folk of England” by Rev Wilson Lillywhite, 1917)

If ever you find some small but important object has gone missing from where you were sure you left it, or if a mechanical device that worked only the other day has ceased to work, you may be playing host to a Pookah. This type of faerie delight in causing confusion and chaos in the house and are sure to move things, hide things or otherwise make merry mayhem. They are quite reclusive, preferring to work in secret, not at all like those Northern faeries that seem to crave the photographic camera. They are naturally shape-shifters so may appear as almost anything to suit their environment. A horse, a goat, a rabbit, or even a person.

The name itself may come from the Norse pook which refers to a nature spirit. In Irish mythology it is a Puca and a Pwca in Welsh. There are as many different spellings as there are forms this playful creature may take. One name of course is Puck, as William Shakespeare called him.

pookah sepia

Pookah’s are famous for being both helpful and unhelpful. They may find things or steal things and may lead travelers astray into the woods. My personal theory is that even when they are being helpful they are probably planning some misdemeanour or other. A story of mine illustrates this point.

Several years ago I was visiting a house where a pookah had taken residence. This mischievous little creature was driving the family to distraction with its petty meddlings. When I arrived, I was given an overwhelming list of stories by them that I was eager to write down. I looked in vain for my pen, which I could not find. I exclaimed aloud how much I wished I had my pen and then felt a sharp tap on the top of my head. I took off the hat, and there was the pen. The family and I all had a little chuckle at the impudent creature. Whenever a Pookah is about, this sort of roguish prank is sure to happen!

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