Weird Wednesday: Luideag, the Rag

Check out all the free scans of historic etchings, like this one of two beggar women from “Callot’s Etchings” (1635)

Today we feature a nasty female demon named Luideag.

From Scottish Highland folklore (specifically out of the Isle of Skye), she’s an evil demon who’s name means “The Rag.” She took the form of a human woman dressed in ragged and worn clothing, with the not-so-pleasant intent of causing the death of any human within her power.  (From: Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia by Carol Rose.)

What I find particularly interesting about this legend is that she’s quite similar to some legends about the Morrigan, one of the more powerful fairy queens of legend, and sometimes associated with the King Arthur Legend. Like Luideag, the Morrigan sometimes disguised herself as an old washerwoman at the side of a river, washing the clothes of the soldiers who would die there. Obviously quite creepy for the soldiers passing by her.

The disguise as a woman in rags seems to reference the general fear of the poor – and especially old women who might turn out to be riches. Perhaps there is some hint that because she’s poor and in rags, there is something inherently threatening about her. If she is ragged and dirty, she is diseased. If she’s diseased, it’s probably something you can catch just by being near her – especially with the lack of understanding related to disease transmission prior to around the mid-nineteenth century.

The fiction writer in me wonders, what’s this demon’s story?

Demons themselves, while we commonly accept today as “evil,” were not always so. Instead, some of what we consider “angels” could have fallen into this category, simply a different category of demons that tried to help humanity (or at least not cause them harm.) But, I digress.

So, what makes this demon kill those she has within her power? Is she simply hungry for power over someone, anyone? Has she gotten some bad press after a few of her friends died horrible, tragic deaths? Why doesn’t her name show up in the other mythology books? Is this just a pseudonym for the Morrigan (now THERE is a woman with a story!)?

I also wonder about the impact of this creature who is largely a scary female demon. While this particular creature doesn’t seem to attack specifically men (and there are plenty who do, especially wielding feminine wiles), there is something significant about her being female. Is she more frightening because she is female? Going back to the historical fear of old women who might be witches, or the general fear of disease, is this what makes her frightening? Would this demon have been as frightening a legend had it disguised itself as a little old man? Although with mortality rates and men historically dying younger, is it more likely that you’d find an old woman rather than an old man?

What do you think? What’s this demon’s story?

Thanks for reading, and hope you have an awesome week. And hey, new to the blog? Enjoy the post? Why not sign up to follow!

What do you think?