Supernatural being of the week: The Cluricaun.

As most of you probably have realized by now, I’m not into the supernatural business. Yes, I do label myself an epistemological agnostic, in the sense that I don’t think it’s possible to outright dismiss the possibility of one or more passive, deistic creators (although I generally find them about as likely as the Flying Spaghetti Monster). However, I’m still a theological atheist with a naturalistic worldview in the same way as the Brights, which means I do not only dismiss belief in all the gods postulated by humanity. I also reject all forms of magical thinking and the whole smorgasboard of  supernatural miscellanea such as ancient astronauts, astral projection, astrology, creationism, crystal power, Forteana, Illuminati, leprechauns, magnetism, pseudoscience, trolls, and just about everything the neighbourhood New Age schmuck, bogus TV “psychic” or zealous Christian fundamentalist tried to pass off for a valid statement last week.  Science and methodological naturalism is the frame whereby I attempt to understand the world, skepticism my word of honour.

Having that said, I still find religion fascinating. Being a mere product of the human collective imagination and tradition, the myths and legends of religion tell us a whole lot more about the minds, societies and cultures where they originated than the gods they postulate – our need for answers and a somewhat coherent worldview, the comfort of a belief in life after death, contextual prejudice and psychological profile of the writer and so on. Studies in comparative religion can often tell us more about the mindsets of the believers than most other historical sciences.

Therefore, I enjoy much of myths and folklore on a purely literary and contextual basis. Some creation myths, such as the Dreamtime in Aboriginal mythology, contain a suggestive power almost completely unmatched in present-day literature. Folklore, the bastard rural cousin of mythology, often provides entertainment on a slightly more low-brow note than the lofty paeans of myth. Sure, mythology usually has its tricksters as well – mischeivous pranksters like the poor serpent in the Genesis creation myth or Huehuecoyotl of Aztec mythology. Still, it is in folklore these devious rascals abound, playing their pranks on the sons of men – sometimes backfiring, almost always amusing.

Therefore, I’ve devoted a section here for supernatural beings which deserve more time in the limelight than the grossly over-exposed inhabitants of Judeo-Christian mythology. When that one finally has been unanimously demoted to mythology’s Hall of Fame (Not only by scientists and free-thinkers, but by the layman as well), we may savour them purely on their literary merits and entertainment value. But for now, it is time for others to shine.  Thus, the supernatural being of the week…

is the Clurichaun.

The clurichaun (“Kloo’-ra-kahn”), or clobhair-ceann in O’Kearney, is an Irish fairy which resembles the leprechaun. Some even describe the clurichaun as a night “form” of the leprechaun, who goes out binge drinking after finishing his daily chores. Some folklorists regard them as regional variations on the same creature.Clurichauns are said to be constantly drunk. This earns them the somewhat dubious distinction of being one of the few official alcoholics in the world of folklore and mythology – casual boozers like that sanctimonious old fart Noah won’t count. However, unlike their cousins, they are surly. Clurichauns enjoy riding sheep and dogs at night. If you treat them well they will protect your wine cellar. If mistreated, they will wreak havoc on your home and spoil your wine stock (much like the Pixies of Cornwall or  the Tomtes of Scandinavia). In some tales, they act as buttery spirits, plaguing drunkards or dishonest servants who steal wine; if the victim attempts to move away from their tormenter, the clurichaun will hop into a cask to accompany them.

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