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Celtic Fairy tales - The Horned Woman

Celtic Fairy tales - The Horned Woman is a fairytale of ireland, let's read the full tale.

The Story of a Rich Woman and Horned Witches

A wealthy woman awakened late one night carding and preparing yarn, while all of the family and servants were asleep. Suddenly a knock was given in the door, and a voice called, "Open! open!"

The Horned Woman, Celtic Fairy tales
The Hornet Woman
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Said the girl of the home.

"I am the Witch of one Horn," was answered.

The mistress, supposing that one of her neighbours had called and required assistance, opened the door, and a lady entered, having in her hand a set of wool-carders, and bearing a horn on her forehead, as if climbing there. She sat down by the fire in silence, and began to card the wool with violent haste. Suddenly she paused, and said aloud: "Where are the women? they delay too long."

Then another knock came to the door, and a voice called as before, "Open! open!"

The mistress felt herself obliged to open and rise to the call, and immediately another witch entered, with two horns on her forehead, and in her hands a wheel for spinning wool.


"Give me place," she explained; "I am the Witch of the two horns," and she started to spin as fast as lightning.

And so the knocks went on, and the call was discovered, and the witches entered, until at last twelve women sat round the fire--the first with one horn, the final having twelve horns.

Plus they carded the ribbon, and flipped their spinning wheels, and wound and wove, all singing with an ancient rhyme, but no word did they speak to the mistress of the home. Unusual to listen, and frightening to look upon, were those twelve girls, with their horns and their wheels and the mistress felt close to death, and she tried to rise that she might call for help, but she couldn't move, nor could she utter a word or a cry, for the charm of these witches was upon her.

Then one of them called to her in Irish, and said, "Rise, woman, and make us a cake."

Then the mistress searched for a boat to bring water from the well that she might mix the meal and make the cake, but she could find none.

And they said to her, "Take a sieve and bring water in it."

And she took the sieve and proceeded into the well; however the water poured from it, and she would fetch none for the cake, and she sat down by the well and wept.

Then a voice came with her and said, "Take yellow clay and moss, and bind them together, and plaster the sieve so that it will hold."

This she did, and also the sieve held the water for the cake and the voice stated:

"Return, and when thou comest to the north angle of the house, cry aloud three times and say, 'The mountain of the Fenian girls and the sky over it is all on fire.' "

When the witches inside heard the call, a great and terrible cry broke from their lips, and they rushed forth with wild lamentations and shrieks, and fled away to Slievenamon, where had been their chief abode. However, the Spirit of the Well bade the mistress of the house to go into and prepare her home from the enchantments of the witches if they returned again.

And first, to split their spells, she sprinkled the water where she'd washed her kid's toes, the feet-water, out the doorway on the threshold; second, she chose the cake that in her lack the witches had left of meal mixed with the blood drawn from the sleeping family, and she struck the cake in bits, and put a bit in the mouth of every table, and they had been restored; and she took the cloth they had woven, and put it half in and half out of the torso with the padlock; and lastly, she secured the door with a great crossbeam secured from the jambs, so that the witches could not enter, and never done these things she waited.

"Open! open!" They screamed; "open, feet-water!"

"I cannot," said the feet-water; "I am scattered on the ground, and my path is down to the Lough."

They jumped to the doorway.

"Open, open, cake that we have made and mingled with blood!" They cried again.

"I cannot," explained the cake, "for I am broken and bruised, and my blood is on the lips of the sleeping children."


Then the witches rushed through the air with great cries, and fled back into Slievenamon, uttering strange curses on the Spirit of the Well, who'd wanted their ruin; but the woman and the house were left in peace, and a mantle dropped by one of the witches inside her flight was retained hung up by the mistress in memory of that night; and this mantle had been retained with the same family from generation to generation for five hundred years later.

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