Fantastic and Legendary Creatures: The Kelpie



The kelpie, a water spirit in Scottish legends, lives in streams and rivers. Some sources say kelpies also haunt lakes and seas.  The kelpie is a shape-shifter who can appear as a beautiful horse or a lovely woman.  In her horse guise, she lures people onto her back, and then dives deep into the water, drowning the rider. 

Kelpies warn of approaching tempests by wailing and howling, and continue their chilling cries throughout the storm.

One can only tame a kelpie by taking possession of its bridle.  Then the kelpie must submit to the owner’s will. Kelpies are strong, and can do the work of ten horses.  However, capturing and mastering a faerie spirit like a kelpie is a dangerous undertaking. I wouldn’t recommend it.


In Book V of the Karakesh Chronicles, Bimi Lightfoot takes pleasure in teasing a kelpie.

Growing Magic, Chapter 2:

All this thinking about my real mother made me so angry that I walked as far as the sea caves.  Gerran or Lunila couldn’t shout loud enough for me to hear them there.  Inside the first cave, I stood on the narrow path.

            “Queen of the sea, come to me!” I called to the kelpie.  There are a lot of scary monsters in the sea, but she’s one of the scariest.  I called again.

            Nothing happened. 

            I got tired of waiting for her so I jumped in the water.  Then I splashed around as if I couldn’t swim.

            The kelpie plunged into the cave, making the water dark and rough.

            She raised her horse head out of the sea.  Seaweed twined in her silver-blue mane.  She fixed her wild, evil eyes on me.  I shivered.

            Oooh, I loved teasing the kelpie!  It was such scary fun!

            I let her get really close.  Then I scrambled up the rock steps to the path.

            The kelpie snorted and bared her big horse teeth.  She was really mad.

            I knew that if I touched her, even with one finger, I would stick to her forever. She would pull me into the deep water and I would drown.  She turned and lunged toward the open sea, splashing a wave so high that it almost knocked me back into the water.

            When I came out into the sunlight, Gerran was waiting for me.  He grabbed my arm.

All of the Karakesh Chronicles are available on Amazon and from Handersen Publishing.

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