and then there were three… the river hag

Having felt I’d met the third, if only in snippets, I rushed home one lunch to look for a familiar image in my books. You see – the night before I was in the here reading (something frivolous) when the story mentioned Morrigan (the week before we were in deep discussion of her and of a brown horse with red eyes but that’s another day) and then a few pages later, there it was… something called a reeve. The reeve is what caught my attention – form of a woman, snakey coils of hair, rows of sharp teeth when she unhinges her reptilian-esque jaws; this clicked as it was similar to the third’s image. I found no more on the term “reeve” but figured the image had to be triggered by something… which led to my lunchtime search… which is where I found the image familiar. When I was to head back, I found one perfect dragonfly wing waiting for me outside the door and I knew.

Peg Powler is a river hag from English folklore similar to the water spirit Vodyanoy (Slavic), the Grindylow, and Jenny Greenteeth. She drowns those who wander too close to the water’s edge, especially children, and sometimes she eats them. Stories of river hags were most often used to frighten children but some folklorists see them as a memory of sacrificial practices. Some link them to initiations. In Crossroads: The Quest for Contemporary Rites of Passage, the tale of the river hag is related to such “… the knowledge that passage toward womanhood links us not only to beauty and generosity, but also to the mysterious depths, the very source where the river of life is inextricably linked to decay and death. Our ancestors understood this…”


I then read up on the folklore of the hag as a more general aspect. I found that hags were known for sleep paralysis, or being “Hagridden”. Such is the tale of Bakatak, a being of Persian folklore similar to the British hags. Bakatak sits on your chest while you are sleeping, filling you with nightmares. In Scottish mythology there are the Storm Hags, who are seen as the personification of the elemental powers of nature. Hags are also seen as powerful protectors as well… of the eye for an eye sort. They have been said to spend a lot of time observing and if one attaches to, they are well known to be loyal to the women of that particular household. Then there are hag stones (naturally holed stones found in streams or rivers, and at the seashore), also said to have powerful protection, that are thought to enable the bearer to see the fae while being warded from their enchantments.

So that left me with inklings of related past conversations, talks of initiations, sacrifices, my connection to those things of the water, of the earth, and of death… be they mine or of ancestor discussions past. I realized that the three were for me and not. I also realized the energies were soon to leave me and I would be entering a period of rest… and so I started my workings. The hare brings movement through fear – work through it… to listen is to guide, to guide is to help in whatever manner is called as necessary. I am not so important but the support system is. I must still hear, still do the work, still bring forth something… the web branches out and everyone provides an important part. In exchange for my promise to do better, I was gifted with three messengers for those mine… a crow, a parrot, and a lone magpie. Mine, if you are reading this, I will get them to you…


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