Mythical Beasts: Pookah

The pookah is a creature found in Irish folklore. There are many different variations of the spelling for its name: puca, pooka, and puka are just a few of the most popular. Sometimes considered a fairy, this creature is primarily a shape shifter. As found in research most concede that the common shape this fairy shifts into is a horse, but a rabbit is how I know this creature. But it’s also been depicted as goats and, in more modern depictions, a shapeless orb and other more common animals and pets. If the pookah does appear as a human it is always with an animal characteristic, rabbit ears for example, or a cat tail.

There are conflicting stories about whether these creatures are benevolent or malevolent. Farmers tend to believe that these creatures were helpful and aided in growing crops and milling. Some stories are very reminiscent of the fairy tale with the Shoe Maker and the elves that came to make his shoes at night – pookahs would come into the mill at night and do the farmer’s work.

However pookahs were also blamed for harm that befell unwary, or lost travelers, and were used in typical bed time stories to ward children away from unfavorable locations and actions.

According to Wikipedia these creatures have also been featured as blood thirsty, vampire-like monsters, or just hunger after human flesh – but I’ve honestly never seen these examples. But the pookah has appeared in a multitude of stories and legends, especially in popular culture, particularly in video games.

Odin Sphere is probably the best example. Featured as fluffy rabbit creatures who have been cursed by the fairies. They also appear as see-through colored orbs in Etrian Odyssey 4.

In movies, if the 1997 animated film Anastasia, the main character finds a dog that provides the sign that she seeks when determining which road she’ll take. She affectionately names the dog “Pooka.”

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