In the process of researching types of sidhe to play with in the Eight Kingdoms, I’ve encountered loads of interesting and obnoxious beings. Currently the ones I’m having the most fun with are the gancanagh – love talkers, it means, male fae who produce an irresistible attraction and addiction in mortals.
All it takes is one touch, and sometimes just to be in their presence for too long. Then a hapless human is infatuated, and doomed to be left heartbroken by their immortal lover when they grow bored and decide to move on to another mortal.
It’s difficult to find actual folklore about the gancanagh, as in legends with the specific names of people and places. When you look up faoladh, for instance, you’ll find dozens of references to the wolves of Ossory, the curse of Saint Patrick, and so on and so on (there will be so on, just wait ‘til I get ranting on in the next post). Gancanagh, though….my grandmother used to warn me that if a boy was too good to be true, he probably was, and might be gancanagh – but she never had any stories to tell about them, the way she did about the Wild Hunt or the ways to escape the sidhe if you were trapped. (Eat no food, drink no drink, remember the charm of nine and pray!)
Having grown older and done the research, of course, I now wonder if maybe the stories just aren’t recorded or as well known because they’d have to be awfully raunchy. Let’s be honest here – what we’re talking about is a fae with all the cunning and beauty of the sidhe, but the intentions of an incubus (at least where it counts.) Not exactly bedtime-story-gee-thanks-grandma material!
The interesting part for me was the differences that make the gancanagh unique, rather than the things that are obviously similar, to other such seductive immortal beings. The gancanagh not only seek out mortals to seduce, but the ones they find have no choice but to give in. Touching one of them just once – a kiss, a caress, to hold their hand – is enough to invoke the ultimate addiction. Their skin secretes a substance described variously as a golden dust, or powder (pixie dust, anyone?), which completely ensnares any mortal unfortunate to come into contact with it.
Unfortunate, because while the gancanagh are supposedly fantastic lovers, the mythology suggests that any other kind of addiction would be nothing compared to this. Deprived of the gancanagh after the fae grows bored, the mortal who has been touched by a gancanagh will suffer the most terrible withdrawal.
They may go mad, accuse friends, family, or strangers of stealing their sidhe lover, attack those they’ve accused or even murder them. Those afflicted might also suffer from a less violent lovesickness, refuse to eat or drink, or wander the woods searching for their lost lover – but in the end, most simply die from the withdrawal itself.
If you want to know more about gancanagh, the best way is probably to see one in action. Check out Undone, and the exclusive excerpts at each stop of my Blog Tour!