Dullahan – The Headless Horseman
Note: Originally posted in our “100 Days of Halloween”, 2014. Updated slightly. Enjoy!
Before Ichabod Crane and the legend of Sleepy Hollow, and before flying-flaming-pumpkin-heads, there was the dullahan. Although we often see him in video games (such as Castlevania) and pop-culture as an animated, headless suit of armor, the traditional dullahan is exactly what you would traditionally expect him to be: A headless man atop a terrifying black steed.
Occasionally, the stories go so far as to say the horse itself lacks a head as well. The dullahan wields a spinal whip and carries his head as he rides. Not a pumpkin mind you, but a rotten, moldy thing with eyes that dart around endlessly.
Like the banshee, the dullahan will appear when death is imminent, carrying away that person whose life was coming to an end. The dullahan was not the killer, nor the attacker, but simply a grim reaper-type appearing when the time was right.
As a messenger of death, nothing could stand in his way—locked doors would become unlocked and gates would open of their own accord. Anyone foolish enough to be in his path would be doused with a pail of blood the dullahan carried with him.
However, there is one thing that can drive the dullahan away, and that is gold. Whether it be a coin or a pin, any amount of the material is enough to frighten the headless horseman away.
One other quick thought: The dullahan is a faerie.
That’s right. He comes from the same place as all of those cute, little nature spirits, leprechauns, and changelings. And while all faeries can be mischievous, dangerous creatures, the dullahan is downright scary.
So, keep your eyes peeled and some gold handy this Halloween in order to avoid the deathly “trick” of the dullahan. He may not accept your treat, but you can bet you’ll still be around to share some candy corn and apples with others that frightful night.
For Further Listening: Episode 021: Faeries (Dullahan) on The Monster Guys Podcast.
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We appreciate it and would love to share the fun and fright of Halloween with many more people this season!