This post marks the beginning of the A to Z Challenge! In case you missed it, I’m doing a theme that I like to call A Bestiary of Mythological Creatures (and People). If you’d like to know more about the theme, you can read the post I wrote about it. Otherwise, let’s move on to…

 

Annis

or

Black Annis

and even

Black Annis the Blue-faced Hag

 

I’ve had a long-term infatuation with Annis. Her name is one I’ve used instead of my own at times. She was also the inspiration for the creepy woman in my short story Glow. When I first read about her in Brian Froud’s Good Faeries, Bad Faeries, I was instantly enamored:

This highly dangerous fae hag grabs children through open windows and takes them back to her lair to devour them. When horrid Black Annis is hungry, her howls can be heard for miles.

I can relate, because I also don’t handle hunger very well. But that’s not really part of her charm. No, it was the whole stealing-children-through-windows-to-eat-them gig that I liked. I don’t condone such behavior, mind you. It’s not what she does that I was drawn to, rather the feeling that it engenders.

 

For me, fairy tales speak of a time when night was actually dark, and the things that bumped in that darkness were to be feared. They speak of superstition, of whispers around fires and horseshoes hanging over doorways. They speak of magic and nature and the blending of our world with that of another. Fairy tales are reminiscent of a time when man lived closer to nature and, in his limited comprehension of the world around him, created stories as a means to better understand and to survive. They make me think that maybe there was a time when magical creatures like Annis were truly thought to be true, and if enough people believed it, then maybe they really were.

 

Somehow Annis managed to encapsulate all that just from the brief block of text quoted above. She remains my inner alter ego, and keeps a part of me believing in magic and in fairy tales, and allows me to wonder what might be lurking in the darkness.

 

Source: Froud, Brian, Good Faeries, Bad Faeries, Simon and Schuster, 1998

 


Supernatural AtoZ


24 Comments

  1. I like you point about where fairy tales come from. It must have been much more terrifying without the constant sources of light we have now and without the scientific explanations of so many phenomena.

    Happy A to Z,
    Sophie
    Sophie’s Thoughts & Fumbles
    Fantasy Boys XXX

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, Sophie, and I agree. We take a lot for granted in this day and age, and a constant source of light is one of them. I find it interesting to think about what it might have been like back when these things didn’t exist.

  2. I have always loved fairy tales and there is always something dark at the core, even in the sanitized versions. Real darkness must have only made them darker. They fascinated me as a child, still do on occasion. Annis sounds like a formidable character.

    Tasha
    Tasha’s Thinkings

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks Tasha, and absolutely. A lot of fairy tales are (or originally were) very dark, many of which were “sanitized” later, as you said, to make them more appropriate for children. Glad to hear that you still find them interesting. 🙂

  3. OOO! I did the Black Annis a number of years ago on my own blog.
    Have you also heard of the Cailleach Bheur? She is one of my favorite hags.
    Great creature choice. Can’t wait to see what else you have in store.


    Timothy S. Brannan
    The Other Side, April Blog Challenge: The A to Z of Witches

    • Sara C. Snider

      Ooh, no I haven’t heard of Cailleach Bheur, but I love her already from name alone. I’ll have to look her up. Thanks Timothy! 🙂

  4. This is a fascinating idea. I’ve always been fascinated by medieval mythologies and their bizarre interpretations of natural phenomena, such as those shown in illustrations of various mappa mundi. One of my favourites is the flying serpent with a bull’s head and a lion’s claws. Baffling and terrifying at the same time!

    It’s also an untapped source of inspiration in the fantasy genre. So I will be watching with great interest!

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, Michael! I’m right there with you, I love that sort of thing, too. And a flying serpent with a bull’s head and lion’s claws does sound both baffling and terrifying! What were those wacky medieval blokes thinking? 😉

  5. I am looking forward to your A-Z. I loved fairytales and mythology when I was a younger reader. I still like them and I am doing a series (I hope) of rewrites narrated by Uncle Frog Little.

    I remember how gruesome fairytales can be. Not just Hansel and Gretel but the little tales like the Seven Brothers, Seven Swans where the grandmother killed her grandchildren.

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, Sunday. Fairy tales can definitely be gruesome. There’s some pretty messed up stuff that happens sometimes (like the one you just mentioned).

      Cool that you’re writing a series of fairytale re-tellings. Best of luck to you! 🙂

  6. Love your ‘A’ post. Very dark start to the challenge, which is great!

    Annis sounds like she would be used to convince children that they should be good. “Behave, or Black Annis will get you! “.

    Carrie~Anne at That Dizzy Chick

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, Carrie-Anne! And she does sound like a story to make children behave. 🙂

  7. i love brian froud. i have two of his art books. he did the visual art and design for labyrinth the movie.

    awesome post!

    • Sara C. Snider

      Yep, I’m a big Brian Froud fan. I also have two of his art books, one of which is also illustrated by Alan Lee–who is another favorite of mine. I partially have them to blame for my faerie infatuation. 😉

      Thanks, djinnia!

  8. I have done a great number of research in folk tales and myth of vampires and much of them have a similar story. Here I thought that fairies were always good.

    Interesting Alter Ego. I spoke on my Alter Ego on another blog today. I said it was the Sun in Tarot.

    • Sara C. Snider

      The Sun in Tarot sounds like an interesting alter ego. 🙂

  9. Tarkabarka

    I love that book!!! Also, I am doing a post on tales that involve the color blue tomorrow 🙂 Annis terrifies me, but you did make me smile with the hunger comment. I’ll be checking back!
    *mythology high five*

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Tales of Colors
    MopDog – The crazy thing about Hungarian

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, Tarkabarka! *Mythology five!*

      I’m looking forward to your colorful posts. I’m going to head on over and read A now. 🙂

  10. This was truly beautiful. As a fan of Brian Froud’s work myself, I’m glad to see you incorporated some of his works into your post! I look forward to seeing more, and posted the link on twitter, so that my followers could see how wonderful your work is!

  11. I don’t handle hunger well either. As a matter of fact today I was quite the grouch because I hadn’t eaten. Anyway, I like your theme and how you present the subject matter.

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks daily. Maybe we should do as Paddington Bear does and keep marmalade sandwiches under our hats. 😉

  12. She certainly sounds like a piece of work. I love fairy tales for the same reasons you’ve mentioned above; the magic, nature, things that go bump in the night. I can see I’m going to enjoy your posts this month 🙂

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, Laura! And yes, I’d say she’s definitely a piece of work–to put it mildly. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *