Friday, April 7, 2017

F555.7. Poisonous white hair in eyebrow that causes death to the first person who sees it each day (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.

F in the Motif Index describes the abundant category of Marvels. It is just as varied as the tales of the world are; it includes things like "F57. - Road to heaven," and "F95.2. - Broad path to hell," (heh), as well as "F200. - Fairies (elves)," with all their shenanigans. As you can tell from the long list of runner-ups, this one was a hard choice - but there was one entry that immediately jumped out at me:

F555.7. Poisonous white hair in eyebrow that causes death to the first person who sees it each day 

Of course it is an Irish story.

St. Molaise
The entry refers to the legendary meeting of two Irish saints - Saint Molaise and Saint Sillán - in the 7th century AD. According to legend, Saint Sillán had a magical white hair in his eyebrow that had a very peculiar power: Whoever saw it first early in the morning would die immediately. (Good thing Sillán didn't own a shaving mirror, I guess). As horrible as that sounds, the legends claim it made Sillán very popular with people who were gravely ill or suffering, as they all hoped to be the first one to see his eyebrow in the morning, and thus gain a painless death. 
One day, early in the morning, Saint Sillán was taking a walk around the graveyard, when Saint Molaise ran into him, and said "This hair shall not be killing everyone," and plucked it right out of Sillán's eyebrow (ouch). Of course the power still worked, and Molaise dropped dead immediately - but in the comforting knowledge that the dangerous eyebrow hair was no more.

This story was preserved in the calendar of Óengus of Tallaght, a 9th century Irish bishop (read it here or here, and an article about it here). Saint Sillán's feast day is September 11th. Some folklorists seem to claim that the story has some solar mythology hidden behind it.

I personally think this power could be fitting for a great Marvel character.

F57.2. Person‘s tongue as path to sky
F57.3. Path to heaven on beard
F112.1. Man on Island of Fair Women overcome by loving women
F130.2. Spain as otherworld
F162.7. Rainbow of honey appears regularly in otherworld
F167.11.2. Hogs with bath of molten lead (iron) in otherworld
F167.15. Great tattooer in otherworld
F183.1. Automatic service in otherworld
F232.1.2. Fairy has back rough like pine cone
F232.2. Fairies have breasts long enough to throw over their shoulders
F233.7. Fairies are multicolored
F241.5.1. Fairies own herd of ibexes
F242.1. Fairy car
F254.5. Fairies commit adultery
F285. Anchor falls on fairies
F343.16. Gigantic ox rib as gift from fairies
F366. Fairies abuse livestock
F369.8. Elephants become lean from listening too much to fairy music
F438.2. Spirit of earthquake has very long mouth
F451.1.5.1. Dwarf as reincarnation of rat
F451.2.0.4. Dwarfs appear nodding and anxious to speak
F451.3.7.1. Dwarfs dislike caraway seed in food
F481.0.1.4. Cobold accidently acquired
F516.1.1. Armless people have legs growing from their shoulders
F517.1.5.1. Men whose feet turn backward so that they will not stub toes
F521.3.3.2. Person with golden anus
F529.3. Man with grass growing from his joints
F529.4. Person has small animal within his body
F529.7.1. Person without joints
F544.3.2.1. Luminous tooth of saint
F545.1.6. Beard travels detached from owners
F546.2. Woman with three breasts
F546.4. Thorns around nipples
F546.5. Woman with breasts hot enough to cook food
F547.5. Extraordinary vagina
F547.3.3. Toothed penis
F559.8.1. Person’s urine melts rocks
F569.2. Men menstruate
F594. Man whose entrails are visible when he laughs
F610.3.3. Twelve berserks
F615.3.1.2. Camels having fallen from sky into girl’s eyes
F624.1.2. Strong man throws walrus
F628.2.7. Strong man uses man as weapon
F635. Remarkable spitter. Spits lake of soap
F811.11. Trees disappear at sunset
F989.19. Cock with enormous silver ears
F989.22.3. Pig swallows necklace
F1034.2. Magician carries mistress with him in his body. She in turn has paramour in hers


  1. Men menstruate!!!??? Now that's something I'd fancy reading. I'd get a good laugh out of the bit where they die of PMS!
    Thanks for visiting me!

  2. This one I like, though you're right about him not having a shaving mirror. I'd also liked to have seen the camels falling into girl's eyes.
    And men menstruate? That will be a good thing.

    How on earth do people come up with this stuff?

    Faamiti and Forelsket: Exotic Words with no English Equivalent

  3. Poisonous white hair in eyebrow causes death? Well, if it meant a painless death, maybe. Still...pretty weird!!

    "Female Scientists Before Our Time"

  4. I love how weirdly specific it is, but I have so many questions. Does it only kill in the morning? If he doesn't see anyone until after noon, are they okay? If he somehow goes a whole day without seeing anyone, what happens the next day? Do two people due?

    Killing a person every single day is extreme. If the dude was in his fifties we're talking about 20,000 murders, here. That's assuming he had the death hair from birth. He must have picked it up later in life though, otherwise he would have killed his mother the day he was born, right?

    1. Good lord, CD, suspend a bit of disbelief already.

    2. Those are some excellent questions :D

    3. I was also wondering if it only worked in the morning.

      But if you could make a career out of it? For monies you can come to his house first thing in the morning and end your misery. He'd have to work every day, but only for like an hour max, if he includes consolation services and time to get the body out of his house.

  5. I'd love if my breasts were hot enough to cook food! Think of all the money you'd save on your energy bill! And you could have a BBQ wherever and whenever you wanted!

    And I for one would love to see a cock with giant silver ears!

    Believe In Fairy Stories: Theme - Folklore & Fairy Tales

  6. But what would his superhero name be?
    The Browbeater
    Couldn't resist.

  7. If it was so useful for those suffering, couldn't Saint Sillan have covered it up with a bandana or something and just brought it out when it was needed. Then Saint Molaise could have minded his own business. Sounds like professional jealousy to me ;)
    Tasha's Thinkings - Shapeshifters and Werewolves

  8. Boobs hot enough to cook food? that'd be real handy when one's marooned on a desert island.


  9. As I've now reached the age where finding white hairs no longer surprises me, I will be thinking of my eyebrows much differently! Thank you for sharing this.

    Sharon E. Cathcart
    Award-winning Author of Fiction Featuring Atypical Characters

  10. Yeah, thank goodness not all white eyebrow hairs are lethal, though sometimes the really long ones can be pretty darn annoying.
    I'd love to hear about the camels falling into the eyes (presumably that girl didn't have lethal eyebrows), but "pig swallows necklace" just doesn't seemt hat crazy to me!
    A-Z of Printmakers

    1. Sometimes I picked motifs for runner-ups because I was thinking "Why on earth would THIS need a number?..."

  11. this doesn't seem strange or weird to me, sounds like a story of wonder and if faith is all you need to make things happen. if you don't believe in the eyebrow hair, than, will it still work?

    are these created by men? what's with number F546.2, or F547.5, F624.1.2, so very strange & yet, you couldn't easily dismiss them.

    have a lovely day.

    my F post: Fiction

  12. Wow... I thought I had heard them all but I honestly had no idea of this tale.
    Would have made for an interesting Twilight Zone episode, though :)

  13. Wow, that's a new one to me, even though I'm of Irish descent.

  14. So weird and yet so useful to end suffering without pain.
    I'd like to see this Marvel character for sure:)

  15. What's with all the 'breast, nipple, penis, anus' folktales? These storytellers seem to have a one-track minds, lol.

  16. thank you Csenge for this brilliant post.
    now i need to go find everything else on that list. such a lot of pleasure, i mean work!

    1. I looked up quite a few of them :) I have some tucked away for later...

  17. Wow that's a lot of runners up today. But a killer eyebrow hair, I can see why you picked that today - not something I would have thought of as a writer - it's original! :)
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - Dragon Diaries

  18. While this story is bizarre, it's positively run-of-the-mill compared to some of those runners-up. Breasts long enough to throw over their shoulders? I wonder what benefit or threat this causes and to whom?

  19. person has small animal within his body? fascinating...

    joy @ The Joyous Living

  20. Pretty weird, especially how nobody seems to have a problem with this guy killing people daily. I mean, he must have pretty much only hung out with the most wretched and sickly people. Given that he's a saint, I suppose that's probably the point. I love how the other saint just yanks it out though hehe. Also, what's with all the flying beards?

    A to Z 2017: Magical and Medicinal Herbs

  21. If a comic book character, he would probably wear some kind of patch on it that he could lift when his target person was in front of him. Interesting.

    Emily | AtoZ | My Life In Ecuador

  22. Ok, either I myself have a super power, butI've alwys wondered: Many women don't pluck their eyebrows because it hurts. I know women who wax their legs, but don't pluck their eyebrows... But to me plucking out eyebrows doesn't hurt. At all. Am the only one? I know this is ot the right place to ask this question, but this seriously bothers me...

  23. Lol! I wonder if plucking the hair really stopped it's powers, or if he added it to a locket to keep killing people hehe.

    Here's my "F" post :)

  24. All great comments and questions, but I have to admit that last runner up really intrigues me -- kept a mistress inside himself, but she kept a paramour inside herself inside him? Definitely WTF worthy!
    Jamie Lyn Weigt | Writing Dragons Blog | Ato...? 2017 - Dragons in Our Fandoms