Pooka Your Eyes Out

Is there any connection between the Pookas from Dig Dug and the fairies of the same name from Celtic mythology? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be too surprised, as the Celtic creatures are known as tricksters.

Like many of the fairy folk, they aren’t strictly good or evil, but can be mischievous as well as benevolent, depending on their whims. They’ll give advice if treated with respect, but if not, they’ll cause wanton destruction. There doesn’t appear to be one standard spelling for the goblin, with “pooka” being common, but others including Puca, the Welsh Pwwka or Pwka, and the Cornish Bucca. The name is almost certainly linked to that of Puck, another fairy trickster. Pookas are shape-shifters, known to take a myriad of animal forms from goats to eagles. The two most common shapes they take, however, are those of horses and rabbits.

In fact, Jimmy Stewart’s invisible rabbit friend Harvey is referred to as a Pooka, although I’ll admit to not having actually seen that movie yet.

Regardless of the form, they have dark hair and bright eyes. In horse form, they’re said to take people for crazy rides, but not to drown them like kelpies do.

Instead, they’ll usually just dump you in a mud puddle. Annoying, but not deadly. Brian Boru, High King of Ireland in the early eleventh century, is said to have successfully tamed a horse-pooka, making it promise that it would never again molest an Irishman unless he had evil intent or was drunk. Yeah, yeah, I know. What are the chances of coming across an Irishman who ISN’T drunk? Maybe that’s why the pooka was willing to agree to the condition. The goblins live in mountains and hills, and the first of November is considered the Puca’s Day in some parts of the British Isles. Farmers will put aside a certain amount of the newly harvested crop for the fairies in order to placate them. As far as I know, there’s no link between pookas and puka shells, the things that are made into necklaces for frat boys, which come from cone snails. Then again, maybe when pookas go abroad, they take the forms of snails. You never can tell with fairies.

This entry was posted in Celtic, Mythology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Pooka Your Eyes Out

  1. Mike Conway says:

    Ah, Changeling: the Dreaming. My favorite of the Old World of Darkness RPG series. Fantastic art in that one.

  2. Marie says:

    Wait…you haven’t seen Harvey?! I-I-I must rethink our friendship.

    Okay, no, but sheesh, go watch Harvey already!!!

  3. Pingback: What’s Buggane You? | VoVatia

Leave a Reply to Nathan Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s