You might think fairy world sounds whimsical and romantic but fairies are fickle creatures and exist on a spectrum of good and evil. Tonight, we’ll be exploring the Sluagh, which are said to the manifestation of the Wild Hunt. The Wild Hunt is typically depicted as chaotic, overwhelming, and even be a forewarning to catastrophe. So, you can imagine the fae that embody this fearsome event are equally intense.
The Sluagh are unrestful fae that are, at best, troublesome and at worst malevolent and destructive. These creatures are the most dreaded of the fairy world and are feared by all who run the risk of seeing them. In fact, the Sluagh are so frightening it is said Death himself is frightened of these creatures.
The Slaugh have quite a frightful appearance. Sometimes, they have great wings or shapeshift into fearsome birds. When in their human-like form they appear haggard and old. Their skin sags and seems to nearly fall off the bone. Their appendages are long and gangly, ending in sharp nails. Their leathery wings give them the appearance of wearing a cape or cloak when not in use.
What the Slaugh are is up for some debate. Some believe they are unrestful souls of the dead, specifically people who were exceptionally evil and cruel during their lives. Others believe the Slaugh are actually a form of fae gone horribly wrong (think of the theory that Orcs are corrupted Elves in Lord of the Rings). Whether they were human at one point or not, the Slaugh certainly consider human beings their prey.
Well, they exist and gain power from human souls, especially the souls of the dying. They are said to group together in great clouds, usually compared to birds or insects. They are most active during the night and usually hide in dark, forgotten places during daylight hours. They are said to steal the souls of the dying by flying through west-facing windows. Others believe that the brood of these creatures pick up unsuspecting travelers who are out and about late at night. They are particularly powerful during Samhain.
In addition to feeding on humans, they also seem to get power or joy from tormenting people and animals. They are said to have poisonous breath that they use to poison fields, kill livestock, and spread sickness.
Despite Death being scared of the Slaugh and their wild power, it is not impossible to evade their clutches. Simple measures can be taken, like trying to be inside after dark and obstructing west-facing windows. Like all fairy folk they are also susceptible to iron and salt.
The above image is not directly related to the above story and is an image of The Wild Hunt of Odin by Peter-Nicolai Arbo. This work is in the public domain.