Les créatures de la nuitLes créatures de la nuit
©Emmanuel Berthier
Creatures of the night Fantastic creatures in Broceliande

Creatures of the night

Old sages like Merlin and forest rangers are in good agreement: one should not go alone at night into the forest without a compelling reason. When the day is gone, everything changes, in the enchanted woods. Fantastic animals roam the paths and coppices, rocks may arise strange beings, superb or repulsive, fascinating always.

Fantastic animals that reveal themselves at night!

Here are already, walking through the Breton folklore, domestic animals that start to speak. Often, this gift comes to them only for Christmas night, or for exceptional occasions. Their words can also be bloodcurdling when they announce upcoming deaths and some even know who will be the Ankou of the new year… Fortunately, they reveal to those who can hear them the way to discover hidden treasures. They have other talents, the most appreciated being to spit gold, and not by mouth, like the donkey of Peau d’Âne or the Red Goat of Ardenne.

Then comes the great cohort of dogs and mares of night, black or gray animals. Often diabolical, they are, like the ki-du (the black dog) with red eyes, guardians of infernal places, most often marshes, those of the mounts of Arrée in particular. Dark or pale cavals lead the unwary who dare to ride them to Hell: we can see their cousinship with the Scottish Pooka, the Jura Gauvin horse, the Vendée Mallet horse, etc. It should not be forgotten that the English word for night mare is night-mare, a word whose common translation is none other than nightmare…


La Belle Jeannette de Brocéliande

In Broceliande as elsewhere, anything can happen when the earth loses its light. Terrifying hybrids appear as soon as dusk sets in, and Belle Jeannette is the first to show her nose – is it a snout, a beak, a mouth? The witnesses of her appearances are vague and confused. We understand it better if we know that, to punish them for not having greeted him in time and with the greatest respect, the bird-wolf-beak-fish, took them away and threw them away, deprived of memory. Not fatal, but unfortunate all the same.


Isole and the Blue Bull

But the night in the forest also harbors the souls of big-hearted beasts like the Blue Bull, descendant of deities honored here long before Christianity. In a farm of Mauron, this beautiful animal, a little magician, looked after the little Isole, mistreated by the wife of his father. He fed her and helped her to live. The day when Isole understood that his friend, who had become too old, was condemned (there was no talk of productivity yet, but the spirit was there), they both fled into the forest at night. But along the way, the bull had to fight so hard that, after winning them all, the powerful animal died at dawn, at the edge of the woods. His tomb is still there, melted with nature, and his shadow walks beside that of Isole by the starry nights.


Beware of the washerwomen of the night!

Next to what is to come, the fantastic beasts, even the most harmful, appear as kindly company: the worst is yet to come. When darkness reigns at last over the moors, will-o’-the-wisps float, luring the traveler to the unstable lands, where he risks getting stuck…By the waters of the Rauco, at the bottom of the Valley of No Return, the night washerwomen beat out soiled shrouds. Woe betide the careless person who hangs around the water in the evening, and even more so the fool who forgets the warnings. Do not speak to these women, do not answer them, and if, in spite of everything, he agrees to help them to twist the linen too heavy for their emaciated arms, think of turning in the same direction as them. Otherwise, death takes hold of the poor lost one, who is found drowned in the stream, his arms broken, his soul lost.


Be careful not to sell your soul to the devil!

And this is not over! To all lords, all honor. The devil, captive under the pulpit of the church of Campénéac, is fond of village souls that are easy to deceive. A discreet devil, even devious. An old fisherman near the ponds of Comper, on foggy evenings, a noble old man called Dom Guillaume on a moor… Not a Mephisto from the Opera, no flames, no pitchforks, no brimstone, no sardonic cackles. A demon just skilled enough to tempt men, like the day he took charge of the inhabitants of Concoret by committing himself to do only their happiness. He attached himself to them, filling them with material goods, honors, pleasures, and the good people discovered selfishness, greed, envy, the desire to kill for more wealth, more power… From his promise kept, only misfortune resulted. Many souls, blackened by the 7 deadly sins widely practiced, went to hell.


Not to mention the ghosts & spirits …

What else to expect from the night near the enchanted forest? Ghosts, revenants, spirits. One may shudder at their existence, but they are gentle and harmless, like the white lady or the brides of Trecesson.

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