(Picture: Public Domain)
Boggarts have terrified English country-folk for hundreds of years. Particularly feared in Lancashire, they were said to haunt the fields, woods, and marshes – sometimes stealing away naughty children. The term Boggart derives from the Middle English bug meaning ghost, hobgoblin, or object of terror (OED).
According to those who have seen these spirits, Boggarts come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes they appear as ugly humans, while others have described them as beast-like creatures. Everyone, however, seems to agree that they are hairy, strong, have strange eyes, and sometimes resemble devils.
Tradition says that if a Boggart is given a name it becomes destructive and unreasonable, rather than simply mischievous. Perhaps for this reason these sprites are often referred to generically as The Bogeyman.
While they have sometimes been held accountable for poltergeist activity inside the home, Lancashire Boggarts prefer the outdoors – they scare people with eerie noises, overturn farm items, sour milk and ale, lame animals, and leave behind weird hoof-prints. They also get blamed when children or travelers go missing.
So how do you ward off Boggarts and Bogeymen?
Stay away from the places they roam, especially at night. And hang a horseshoe over the front door of the house – or leave a pile of salt outside your bedroom.
The Golden Horseshoe (William Michael Harnett)
Wikipedia: “Boggarts” accessed 3/28/2015
The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon,1993)
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