Though it isn’t the right day for School House Rock, we Merry Sisters aren’t so merry on the weekend, so our edition comes to you on Thursday.
Instead of gerunds and functions, we bring you the Merry Sisters Field Guide to Redcaps.
First, some fun facts:
1) Red caps want to eat you.
2) They are not, like most fae, allergic to iron.
3) In fact, they wear iron boots!
4) Redcaps are so named because they don’t just want to eat you, they want to dip their caps in your blood and soak it up to strengthen your life force.
Don’t believe me? Let’s turn to our resident expert, brennayovanoff for further information.
Redcaps are popularly believed to haunt the castles and battlefields where “wicked deeds” have been done. However, anthropological evidence suggests that the wicked deeds themselves may be far more notable than the habitual violence redcaps typically engage in. While many of the redcaps’ favorite haunts are indeed battlefields, a number are sites originally used for the observation of local religious practices—most commonly Celtic.
The redcaps’ reported hatred of Christian artifacts is logical in this context (or at least, as logical as one can be while dipping one’s hat in blood). It correlates with the belief that redcaps are actually the spirits of people and animals killed and buried as foundation sacrifices, such as the split-skulled child presumed to have been buried under Woodhenge in Wiltshire, England. As a blood sacrifice, the redcap was, in its previous life, a victim, but also was a participant in a religious rite distinctly at odds with Christianity. While this dual ceremonial role may create a certain amount of ambivalence toward the Druidic traditions, redcaps have no love at all for Judeo-Christian beliefs, and this is shown in their dramatic abhorrence of sacred objects.
Similar to the vampire mythos, redcaps are thought to have a particularly strong aversion to the holy cross, and when presented with the cross or forced to hear scripture spoken aloud, a redcap will typically lose a tooth before shrieking and scampering off, or simply disappearing, Rumplestiltskin-style. This odd weakness is best not taken lightly, however. Despite the redcap’s singular dental impairment, it is a formidable adversary, and there can be little humor found in a creature who wants to drink your blood and then dip its hat in it.
In other words, kids, if you come across a redcap in the woods and pull out your bible, don’t just stand there and laugh.
Now, for your homework: I found that when I was extremely bored in college (particularly Western Civ), I was able to entertain myself by imagining I was a redcap and trying to decide which of my classmates would be the easiest, hardest, most fun, and most annoying to drain of blood. We’re talking hours of amusement when I should have been contemplating the Stoics or St. Augustine. Depending on your personality, this probably sounds like a delightful diversion or absolutely horrible. But whichever way you swing, I promise it will enlighten you about yourself and your feelings for your fellow humans.
This segment of Merry Sisters Field Guide has been brought to you by the numbers 8, 14, and the letter D.
Art by m_stiefvater