Thursday, April 6, 2017

E581.6. Ghost rides giant demijohn (WTF - Weird Things in Folktales)

Welcome to my A to Z Challenge blog series titled WTF - Weird Things in Folktales! Find the introduction post (explaining the theme) here. Find all other participating blogs in the comments of each day's post on the main blog! You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

E in the Motif Index stands for... *ominous sounds*... the Dead. And all the tales, beliefs, and rumors attached to them, such as "E80. - Water of Life," or simply "E251. - Vampire." (If anyone ever asks you "what's the folktale number of a vampire?" now that is a thing you know. You're welcome. Use it as an Easter egg in your next urban fantasy novel.)
And on a less terrifying note, there is also:

E581.6. Ghost rides giant demijohn

The legends surrounding Dosoris Island (Long Island, NY) claim that the small patch of land is "a common resort of elves and goblins," and it has "three vexatious spooks" (gotta love 19th century sources for the language): 
Derrick Wilkinson, a "hard-riding jockey" who broke his neck and is now haunting late night travelers to "larrup them with a strangely ponderous cudgel;"
Billy Cowles, who died of asthma, and is running around searching for his breath with his cravat in hand; 

A bibulous miller, who was "often seen flying up the lane like a belated member of the Wild Hunt, astride a monster demijohn that he lashed and spurred until it had carried him to the foot of the Drinking Tree" (the tree under which he had drunk himself to death). 
Well, if you gotta spend eternity somewhere, you could do worse than riding a monstrous demijohn around Long Island, I guess...

(Read the story here.)

**Classic Hungarian joke time**
Young soldiers on guard at night; one of them hears a noise.
"Halt! Who goes there?"
"Your mother with a demijohn!"
"Mother, halt! Demi John, step forward!"

E17. Resuscitation by licking corpse
E18. Resuscitation by tickling
E29.3. Resuscitation by pricking anus
E251.4.1. Vampire with elephant face
E402.1.1.5. Ghost snores
E616.5. Reincarnation as bedbug
E692.4. Jealous woman reborn as chilly


  1. Haha bet they were 'vexatious' indeed. And I'm guessing whatever larrup is - it's painful.

    Today's creepy vote is split between resuscitation by licking corpse/pricking anus - eww, eww, eww!


  2. Resuscitation by licking a corpse is a little too macabre for even me!

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  4. Shouldn't Billy Cowles be running around Long Island looking for his Ventolin puffer?
    Wendy of the Rock is OFF the Rock
    E = Eyeball entrepreneur

  5. The question is, did he manage to outrun the troubles that caused him to drink himself to death?

    As for the runners-up - mind officially boggled :)
    Tasha's Thinkings - Shapeshifters and Werewolves

  6. Ghosts are a favourite topic of mine, but I hadn't heard of these ones - poor Billy. And as for those 3 resuscitation runners up - erm, I can only wonder! :)
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - Dragon Diaries

  7. So... many... fascinating... words...

    I had to look up "demijohn."

    But without a doubt my favourite phrase was "a strangely ponderous cudgel."

    They were expecting the cudgel to not be ponderous? It was more ponderous than expected? So many questions...

    Now I want to see a cheesy sci-fi/supernatural TV series set in Dosoris Island.

    E - Jumbo the Elephant

  8. I wonder what the ponderous cudgel was made out of to make it so ponderous?

    I also feel like a vampire with an elephant face would be a lot less terrifying.
    Where would its fangs be?
    How would it bite?

    Believe In Fairy Stories: Theme - Folklore & Fairy Tales

  9. "Running around, searching for his breath" - that must be a sight! Happy A-to-Z-ing.

  10. Let the demi john in; keep the mother out. The priorities of soldier would not meet with his mother´s approval.

    Emily | My Life In Ecuador

    1. The point of the joke is, he thought Demi John was a person. :D

  11. If you had no breath, how could you run around?

  12. those were interesting. had to look up demijohn too. i had to do a double take at some of your runner ups. number three definitely was a "hold your horses"-am i reading this right one that literally had me mentally saying WTF!

  13. Well those are some interesting ghosts. I need to find a drinking tree. I tend to do my drinking at a table or bar, but a under tree sounds nicer. :)

  14. If those were the options for being resuscitated, then I'd rather not be. Yeah, I even don't like being tickled!

  15. Sounds like something that would make an O.Henry story!

  16. There seems to be a lot of drinking in these folktales. I love the sound of the first three of your list, especially the licking of the corpse?? Strange people.

    Highlands Days of Fun

  17. *stares at the words "ressurection by licking corpse"*

    ... nope.
    ... well... maybe....
    *looks it up*

    1. I think that one is usually done by animal helpers, not people :D

  18. Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one that had to look up "demijohn". Once I did, the story got a lot more entertaining. Although, I'm now wondering how does it propel itself? Expelling fermented gas? These are questions we need answers to. ;)

    A to Z 2017: Magical and Medicinal Herbs

  19. Oh wow I had no idea of those ghostly tales on Long Island. I haven't been there yet but it's made me want to check it out. :)

    Here's my "E" post :)

  20. I have to admit, I'm hard-pressed deciding which of these stories is the weirdest... though I suppose I'll agree with you is the ghost with the monter damijohn ;-)

    Never known Long Island was such a hub for ghosts

    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir

  21. I just love knowing that these folktale numbers exist at all, fabulous series! And now I'm picturing Edward Cullen with a sparkly elephant head and laughing my butt off. 😄
    Jamie Lyn Weigt | Writing Dragons Blog | Ato...? 2017 - Dragons in Our Fandoms