Faerie Beings – Ankou



Land of Origin: Brittany

Other Origins: Ankou is also part of the faery lore of Cornwall and Wales, and is deeply a part of Irish mythology.

Other Names: Death, the Grim Reaper, Father Time. A personified version of death is part of the folklore of many cultures, yet there is no evidence to suggest that any of these beings were ever worshipped as Death Gods.

Element: Ankou, like the deities, is part of all elements, including the elusive fifth element, spirit.

Appearance and Temperament: Ankou (ahn-koo) is the personification of death who comes to collect the souls of passed-over humans. He is male, dark, and rather Dickensian with his black robed costume pulled up high about his head. No one living has ever seen his face, for to do so would be to die. Ankou shows no interest in humans or other lives; he merely does his job.

Time Most Active: All year.

Lore: Ankou came to Ireland from the Celtic lore of Brittany in northern France, where he has largely been forgotten. The Irish term for physical death, an bas (awn bays), is rarely used to refer to the entity of Death, but rather the state of death.

Ankou drives a black cart, though some say it is really a small coach or even a hearse, drawn by four black horses in which he comes to collect the souls of those recently passed over and escort them into the Land of the Dead. In Ireland’s County Roscommon there is a documented story of a mother and daughter who would hear the coach pass by their cottage each night and around midnight accompanied by beautiful faery music, and though they could hear the music and the rattle of carriage wheels, they could never see a thing.

An old Irish proverb says, “When Ankou comes, he will not go away empty.” In Ireland, Ankou is always classified as a faery rather than a ghost or some other type of spirit, and he is given more of a personality than he is accorded in many other lands. In this he is more like the Death of modern movies such as Death Takes a Holiday and On Borrowed Time.

Where to Find Him: Unknown.

How to Contact: Contact not advised!

Magikal and Ritual Help: If you see him out on his travels, you need not fear. Stand away at a respectful distance and watch to help gain an understanding of the meaning of physical death.


Source: A Witches Guide to Faery Folk by Edain McCoy




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