by Denise Golinowski
Hi! Welcome to Myth Perceptions where I explore and then share aspects of myth and legend that I have encountered in my reading and writing. Currently, I’m exploring the stories, myths and legends pertaining to fairies.
This month, I’m talking about two different types of gnomes or dwarves – Red Caps and Blue Caps. Let’s start with the one I’d heard of first – Red Caps.
Red Caps are spoken of in tales from the Borders – Yorkshire & Northeast (the border between England and Scotland). I first read about them in the Dresden Files, I think. They are also mentioned in Harry Potter. In my opinion, Red Caps are definitely members of the Unseelie Court. They are dwarves usually found in abandoned or ruined castles along the border. They get their name from the red caps they wear. Red caps that are dyed red by being soaked in the blood of their victims. (Maybe I should spell that “died” instead?) They have red eyes and long talons on their fingers. They murder travelers who trespass into their homes, which might make it more about self-defense except that if their caps dry out, the Red Cap dies. Imagine a dwarf with blood running down his face and head. The smell must be horrendous. They use iron pikes to kill with and wear iron shod boots that don’t seem to slow them down. (I found it strange that iron doesn’t affect these fae.) It’s said you can’t out-run a Red Cap. though one source said you could repel them by quoting the Bible at them. Either way, I advise you to opt to stay at a local inn rather than rough it at that picturesque ruin.
Interestingly enough, Blue Caps also come from tales along that English/Scottish border, but they are much more human-friendly and probably qualify for the Seelie Court. They are considered fairies and inhabit mines. Like a canary who sings to protect from gas leaks, a Blue Cap warns of cave-ins. They can also help detect rich deposits of minerals. They appear as a small blue flame and they believe a workman is worth a day’s fair wage. They expect payment for their assistance/protection, no more or less than what the miner pushing the carts earns in a day.
I’ve always wondered why I didn’t want to put yard gnomes out and after this research, I’m thinking it might have been the creep factor, and with good reason. I wouldn’t want to accidentally invite a Red Cap into my yard (and most yard gnomes have red hats, don’t they?). And while the Blue Cap isn’t actually dangerous, I don’t want unexpected excavations in my property.
So that’s another chapter of Myth Perceptions. I hope you’ve been enjoying my exploration of fairy myths and folk tales. Please drop back in next month on the Third Wednesday, to see where my research has taken me. Until then…
NEWS FLASH! I’ve just signed a contract for my third book, ACES DOWN, to be published by The Wild Rose Press. Aces Down is a Paranormal Romance set in the mountains of Colorado. Please feel free to visit my facebook Author page for updates as Aces Down moves from contract to publication. Happy Dancin’ all the way!
Denise Golinowski is a reader and writer of fantasy and romance. Her enovella, Collector’s Item, is available as both print and ebook The Wild Rose Press.
Her first enovella, The Festival of the Flowers: The Courtesan and the Scholar is also available through the Wild Rose Press. You can visit her blog at Golinowski’s Gambol.