Alternatively named Kelpy, Each-uisg, Ech-uisque, Aughisky, and Eac Visge (Ireland).
According to Scottish folklore, a shape-shifting water spirit, a male amphibian species with flashing eyes and silken coat, who appears in and near all moving water but specially in Loch Ness usually disguised as a horse. Once mounted, the unsuspecting rider is whisked away to the bottom of the loch never to be seen again.
In the west coast of Scotland, the Kelpie is described as a young, handsome, sleek horse, brown, gray or black in color, but it can also effortlessly shape-shift into human form. The east coast variety is depicted as a golden yellow horse. It is believed that the Kelpie comes out mostly in the month of November. To see one is considered a portent of drowning or other waterborne catastrophe, for obvious reasons.
This mythical beast is said to have the skin sticky like glue. After enticing and allowing unsuspecting humans onto his back, he dashes into the water and gives the rider a final ride into the depths of the river, where they are then devoured. The reason for this behavior is to lure souls to his master, the Devil. The Kelpie receives the victim's body in payment for his trouble.
Kelpies appear to have been mischievous creatures, and were often accused of stopping the waterwheels of mills and of swelling streams. The Kelpies name was occasionally used to frighten unruly children, and it was believed he had a fondness for devouring women.
The only way to catch a Kelpie was to trap him with a bridle that is engraved or adorned with a cross. While in this trap, the beast could be used for hard labor, which it does efficiently, since it is tireless and works indefinitely, able to carry its rider endlessly. Unfortunately, at the end of each day it must claim at least one human victim. Even in captivity this monster will not stop its eating habits. The only way to stop it was to expose it to still water. Being a creature of moving water, the Kelpie could not withstand puddle water, rain or tap water. Wise travelers should always pack a small bottle of such water, just in case a Kelpie happens to cross their path.
There are many legends associated with the Kelpie. Stories of children who are out playing near the water's edge when a handsome horse suddenly appears. drawing them onto his back, and actually lengthening its body to accommodate as many as twenty kids, before taking them away. Others tell of a Kelpie shape-shifting into a handsome young man and having great success with the mortal maidens, who unfortunately end up as something for him to eat while underwater. Another legend tells how the Laird of Morphie once captured a Kelpie using the bridle with the cross method. He made it work hard, dragging rocks and stone slabs for the building of his castle. On completion the released monster cursed the Laird never to enjoy the building, and the curse remained with the Grahams of Morphie ever since.
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Sources: (1) Rose, Carol, Giants, Monsters, and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth, W. W. Norton & Company; (2) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (3) Mack, Carol and Dinah, A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits, Arcade Publishing.
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