Legend of the Children

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When taunted by other boys he would not hesitate to draw his gully a large knife and dispatch them, however being that he was woefully short in the legs they usually out-ran him and escaped. Scott beat a hasty retreat. Child ballad 40, The Queen of Elfland's Nourice , depicts the abduction of a new mother, drawing on the folklore of the changelings.

Although it is fragmentary, it contains the mother's grief and the Queen of Elfland 's promise to return her to her own child if she will nurse the queen's child until it can walk. The changelings left by the Mamuna were said to have a noticeably different appearance; a abnormally large abdomen , unusually small or large head, a hump, thin arms and legs, a hairy body, and long claws. Mamuna changelings would also get their first set of teeth prematurely compared to a human baby.


The Legend of The Children of Lir - Baby Names of Ireland

In order to protect a child from being kidnapped by the Mamuna, the mother would tie a red ribbon around the baby's wrist, put a red hat on it's head, and keep it out of the moonlight. Other preventative methods included not washing diapers after sunset and never turning their head away from the baby as it slept. The mother would take the changeling child to a midden , whip it with a birch stick, and pour water from an eggshell over it, all while shouting "Take yours; give mine back.

Since most beings from Scandinavian folklore are said to be afraid of iron, Scandinavian parents often placed an iron item such as a pair of scissors or a knife on top of an unbaptized infant's cradle. It was believed that if a human child was taken in spite of such measures, the parents could force the return of the child by treating the changeling cruelly, using methods such as whipping or even inserting it in a heated oven. In at least one case, a woman was taken to court for having killed her child in an oven.

In one Swedish changeling tale, [29] the human mother is advised to brutalize the changeling so that the trolls will return her son, but she refuses, unable to mistreat an innocent child despite knowing its nature. When her husband demands she abandon the changeling, she refuses, and he leaves her — whereupon he meets their son in the forest, wandering free. The son explains that since his mother had never been cruel to the changeling, so the troll mother had never been cruel to him, and when she sacrificed what was dearest to her, her husband, they had realized they had no power over her and released him.

The tale is notably retold by Helena Nyblom as Bortbytingarna [30] in the book Bland tomtar och troll. The changelings grow up with their new parents, but both find it hard to adapt: Upset with the conditions of their lives, they both go astray in the forest, passing each other without noticing it. The princess comes to the castle whereupon the queen immediately recognizes her, and the troll girl finds a troll woman who is cursing loudly as she works. The troll girl bursts out that the troll woman is much more fun than any other person she has ever seen, and her mother happily sees that her true daughter has returned.

Both the human girl and the troll girl marry happily the very same day. In Asturias North Spain there is a legend about the Xana , a sort of nymph who used to live near rivers, fountains and lakes, sometimes helping travellers on their journeys.

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The Xanas were conceived as little female fairies with supernatural beauty. They could deliver babies, "xaninos," that were sometimes swapped with human babies— some legends claim this was in order for them to be baptized, while others claim that it is because the Xana cannot produce milk. In Wales the changeling child plentyn cael sing. It may be of less than usual intelligence, but again is identified by its more than childlike wisdom and cunning.

The common means employed to identify a changeling is to cook a family meal in an eggshell. The child will exclaim, "I have seen the acorn before the oak, but I never saw the likes of this," and vanish, only to be replaced by the original human child. Alternatively, or following this identification, it is supposedly necessary to mistreat the child by placing it in a hot oven, by holding it in a shovel over a hot fire, or by bathing it in a solution of foxglove.

Children identified as changelings by the superstitious were often abused or murdered. Two 19th-century cases reflect the belief in changelings. In , Anne Roche bathed Michael Leahy, a four-year-old boy unable to speak or stand, three times in the Flesk ; he drowned the third time.

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She swore that she was merely attempting to drive the fairy out of him, and the jury acquitted her of murder. Local storyteller Jack Dunne accused Bridget of being a fairy changeling. It is debatable whether her husband Michael actually believed her to be a fairy; many [ who? The killers were convicted of manslaughter rather than murder, as even after the death they claimed to be convinced they had killed a changeling, not Bridget Cleary herself. The Igbo people of eastern Nigeria traditionally believed that a woman who lost numerous children, whether stillborn or early in infancy, was being tormented by an ogbanje , a malicious spirit that reincarnated itself over and over again.

One of the most commonly prescribed methods for ridding oneself of an ogbanje was to find and destroy its iyi-uwa , a buried object tying it to the mortal world. Many scholars now believe that ogbanje stories arose as an attempt to explain the loss of children with sickle-cell anemia , a congenital disease endemic to West Africa that afflicts around one-quarter of the population. Even today, infant death is common among children born with severe sickle-cell anemia, especially in areas of Africa lacking adequate medical resources. The similarity between the European changeling and the Igbo ogbanje is striking enough that Igbos themselves often translate the word into English as "changeling.

The reality behind many changeling legends was often the birth of deformed or developmentally disabled children. Among the diseases or disabilities with symptoms that match the description of changelings in various legends are spina bifida , cystic fibrosis , PKU , progeria , Down syndrome , homocystinuria , Williams syndrome , Hurler syndrome , Hunter syndrome , regressive autism , Prader-Willi Syndrome , and cerebral palsy.

The greater incidence of birth defects in boys correlates to the belief that male infants were more likely to be taken.

The Legend of The Children of Lir

As noted, it has been hypothesized that the changeling legend may have developed, or at least been used, to explain the peculiarities of children who did not develop normally, probably including all sorts of developmental delays and abnormalities. In particular, it has been suggested that autistic children would be likely to be labeled as changelings or elf-children due to their strange, sometimes inexplicable behavior.

For example, this association might explain why fairies are often described as having an obsessive impulse to count things like handfuls of spilled seeds. This has found a place in autistic culture. Some autistic adults have come to identify with changelings or other replacements, such as aliens for this reason, as well as their own feelings of being in a world where they do not belong and of practically not being the same species as the other people around them.

Several species of birds, fish, and insects regularly practice brood parasitism , or non-reciprocal offspring-swapping. Rather than raising their young on their own, they will lay their egg in another's nest, leaving the burden of raising their young on the unsuspecting parents, which are of another species altogether. More often than not, the invading species hatches sooner than its "step-siblings" and grows faster, eventually hogging most nourishment brought in and may actually "evict" the young of the host species by pushing them out of their own nest.

The word "changeling" is often used in media to describe a shapeshifter , rather than a child swapped at birth. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Changeling disambiguation. Frenken shows historical pictures of the topic newborn and the devil: Frenken, Ralph, , Gefesselte Kinder: Geschichte und Psychologie des Wickelns.

The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries. Meersburg, Leipzig , p. Leksykon i antologia demonologii ludowej". Archived from the original on 23 November She fell into sickness for a year but recovered only to start to become old before here time. Aoife was a changed woman now and one day suggested that she and the children should visit their grandfather. On the journey they stopped by a lake and she encouraged the children to go for a swim. The four children played happily in the water, not noticing that their stepmother was now standing at the waters edge wearing her fathers magic cloak.

The children looked at each other in fear as they saw a red and gold circle envelope them on the water. They saw Aoife open up her cloak from which the great light of a fireball emerged and hurtled towards them, burning all in its wake. The fireball hit the water and caused masses of steam to rise about the children and they soon lost all feeling in their legs, arms, shoulders and head.

They soon regained their sight only to see Aoife laughing at them. Aodh tried to attack her and flailed his arms about furiously but nothing happened except the splashing of water. He turned to look at his brothers and sister only to see that they had all been turned into the most beautiful swans ever seen.

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Aoife scowled at them again and told them that they were to spend nine hundred years as swans, three hundred on Lough Derravaragh, three hundred on the Straits of Moyle and three hundred on the Isle of Inish Glora. To end the spell they would have to hear the bell of the new God.

Lir searched for his children that day, but Aoife told him that they had been attacked and killed by wild boars.

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Fionnuala, now in swan form, approached her father and told him what Aoife had done. Lir was furious and banished Aoife into exile as an evil demon of the air. Lir faithfully visited his children and the power of his love ensured that their time on the lake was one of bliss. He knew though that the years of the first phase had passed and that the next phase of the spell was about to begin. The swans left for the Straits of Moyle, never to see their father again.

Their time on the Northern Straits of Moyle were not so joyous, with frequent storms separating them, only for they to join up again. Another years passed but they had survived together. They departed the cold straits and made their way towards Lough Derravaragh. They flew over the land, hoping to find their father's fort, but it was now nothing more than ruins. They wept because they knew the time of the Tuatha De Danann was gone. They travelled West to the waters of Inish Glora and found refuge on a small saltwater lake where time passed slowly.

A long, long time ago...

One day an old man named Mochua visited the lake and the children enquired of him if he was a follower of the new God. The startled man asked if they were the children of Lir and they told him that they were. The children knew that to break the spell that they would have to hear the bell of a new God toll in their own land.