The Pooka, what is it?
The Pooka, or Púca, is a shape shifting fae which takes many forms, including a goat, eagle, cat, rabbit, fox, wolf, goblin or dog. The most identifying feature of the Pooka is its affinity for the color black. No matter what shape it takes, even when adopting a humanesque form, it will be shrouded by the absorbing color. Perhaps it has something to do with its connection to the night. You will never spot a pooka during the day. It may be able to take many forms, but we know it has a favourite. In most cases, the Pooka will choose to appear as a beautiful black horse, eyes of fire and its breath streaming blue. This is its favourite form to take when scooping up an unsuspecting mortal and racing across the night.
Sometimes the Pooka will give useful advice, other times, it only bestows inconvenience for its own amusement. There are some stories of more violent Pooka, but the majority of Pooka are not out for human flesh, they live long and use mortals more as forms of entertainment and service than anything else.
November 1st is Pooka Day, it’s traditionally the last day of Harvest and the Samhain (which sounds more like sau-when) festival. What harvest is left after November 1st belongs to the Pooka, or is inedible (pooka, or fairy-blasted). Be sure to check your hand-picked wild blackberries before popping them into your mouth. If you notice an over-ripeness leading to an oozing juice — you can be sure the Pooka has spit all over those berries. November is their month; the food left in the world is theirs, treat it with respect. Some wisely leave aside a portion of the harvest (the Puka’s share) to feed the ever-hungry fairy.
The uniqueness of this day goes deeper than this, though. November 1st is the only day of the year the Pooka will put aside its mischievous nature and can be safely approached by a human. The Pooka has the ability to speak to humans and as such will, on this day, answer with wisdom and thoughtfulness any question put to it. You can ask the Pooka a question any day of the year, of course, but your answer will depend a great deal on how the fairy views you and whether they feel particularly helpful or bored and ready for a bit trickery or a run. A fairy who delights in various forms of playful torment or occasional good-humored helpfulness, it’s a rare day indeed when such a free-spirited fairy curbs its delights to offer help to us mere mortals. So next Pooka day, keep an eye out, your wits about you and perhaps a good question for this wise, shape-shifting fae.
The Pooka Temperament
The Pooka is neither malicious, nor benevolent, like many of its solitary fairy peers, the Pooka interacts with mortals mainly in response to our behaviour towards it. It is a fairy to be respected and treated with deference. If, hypothetically, you were to decide to be entirely unimpressed by a Pooka and refuse to offer its due homage, you’ll likely be in for a very wild ride. It delights in picking up stray mortals — most especially if it finds one bumbling around on a drunken walk home -— and giving them the most terrifying ride of their lives. It may return the poor victim to where the ride began, or dump them miles from home in a bog or other mushy and uncomfortable spot, condemning them to a long walk home and an odd story with which to explain the whole affair.
There are stories told where humans found a way to “tame” the Pooka with spurs of iron to reign him in whenever it showed too much spirit. Once the Pooka knows a human has these, however, it will not allow a human purchase and steal away into the night. A fairy like this cannot truly be controlled or contained.