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What Is Your Boogie Man?

I like to delve into the history, costuming, foods, and customs of places and holidays. World cultures and traditions are fascinating.


Who Is afraid of the Boogie Man?

Maybe you are! But then, who is the "Boogie Man"? Whether you call it a bogieman, boogeyman or boogieman, it is that unknown fear that is embodied in the imaginary personification of someone who represents a threat, or simply the fact that there are things hostile to your wellbeing and survival.

"The commonest childhood fears that the boogeyman's associated with is that of someone (usually a monster) hiding in one's room (such as behind the door or under the bed)" , says theMagic of Myth. I know that was my experience.

When I was little I must have been told variations of bogeyman stories. Who told them and exactly how those stories went I couldn't tell you today, but I remember very clearly the fact that for years I imagined little beings who lived under children's beds and would eat any toes that happened to be exposed. And every night for longer than I like to admit, I would take a running jump into bed at night. And you can bet I kept all my little toes bundled up, nice and secure inside the covers.

Checking For The Bogey Man

Checking For The Bogey Man

That is a brave little child who looks under the bed! Sometimes it is good to confront your fears directly.

Faust is a scary story

Faust is a scary story

The Boogie Man

Is gonna' get you!

"The word bogey is derived from the Middle English bogge/bugge (also the origin of the word bug), and thus is generally thought to be a cognate of the German bögge, böggel-mann (English "Bogeyman")." [2]

Middle English bugge hobgoblin; probably akin to Low German bögge goblin [3]


Jeepers Creepers

"The roots of the word might ultimately derive from the Middle English bugge, meaning a "frightening spectre". Similar derivations include boggart, bogy, bugbear, the Welsh bwg and the German bögge, all referring to goblins or frightening creatures. "Bogey" may also come from the Scottish bogle, meaning "ghost", dating to around 1505 and popularised in English literature around the 19th century through the works of Scottish poets like Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott."

- Mystical Mythology

The Frightful Fairies - People have always told scary stories

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Not all fairies were cute and slightly mischievous, some were fearful.

Early legends and myths about fairies somewhat paralleled my childhood imagination of malevolent little people that were waiting to steal or harm you in some way. Some even stole the child and left an inferior replacement.

Consider what that idea would do to a person's self image.

Fairy on a Spider's Web


When writing about Hungarian Fairies, there was quite a bit of research to do, since that is not a common topic even in the scope of legends and folklore.

I found that many of the beliefs and stories about fairy beings considered them to be unpleasant, if not downright malevolent. Does that surprise you? It is a distinctly different attitude from what is generally handed down from Victorian tales and books.

William Allingham (1824-1889)

The Fairies

UP the airy mountain,

Down the rushy glen,

We daren't go a-hunting

For fear of little men;

Wee folk, good folk,

Trooping all together;

Green jacket, red cap,

And a white owl's feather!

Down along the rocky shore

Some make their home,

They live on crispy pancakes

Of yellow tide-foam;

Some in the reeds

Of the black mountain lake,

With frogs for their watch-dogs,

All night awake.

High on the hill-top

The old King sits;

He is now so old and gray

He's nigh lost his wits.

With a bridge of white mist

Columbkill he crosses,

On his stately journeys

From Slieveleague to Rosses;

Or going up with music

On cold starry nights,

To sup with the Queen

Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget

For seven years long;

When she came down again

Her friends were all gone.

They took her lightly back,

Between the night and morrow,

They thought that she was fast asleep,

But she was dead with sorrow.

They have kept her ever since

Deep within the lake,

On a bed of flag-leaves,

Watching till she wake.

By the craggy hill-side,

Through the mosses bare,

They have planted thorn-trees

For pleasure here and there.

Is any man so daring

As dig them up in spite,

He shall find their sharpest thorns

In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain,

Down the rushy glen,

We daren't go a-hunting

For fear of little men;

Wee folk, good folk,

Trooping all together;

Green jacket, red cap,

And a white owl's feather!

Why did people believe such stories, and what does this tell us about our deep seated fears?

Running Gnomes, 1907

Fairy Illustration, 1912

Fairy Illustration, 1912

A Spirit World

The fairy pictures are by Arthur Rackham, who I think captures some of the creepy undertones of the fairy stories of old.

Stories in fairy lore often have a dark side: stolen children, substitution of a sick child for the healthy one, problems with cracked eggs or spoiled milk? Fairies must have been there. In a world where damages or even catastrophes seem to happen for little or no reason, such explanations provided a focus for common fears, a way to understand or control one's world.

"In beliefs such as these, dangerous powers are made safe and domestic through the related rites of honoring and sacrifice."

And so, leaving little offerings of milk or other such gifts, a little favor seems to be obtained.

Fairies weren't the only entities arousing fears and taboos, there were ghosts, goblins, and all sorts of shamanistic ideas of beings that influenced or harried ordinary mortals.

Did you know mermaids were scary?

  • Vampire Evolution
    Vampires have been evolving right under our very noses. Who began the change from the embodiment of our worst nightmares to Soap opera heroes? Who do you blame? Which vamps do you love?

Who's Your Boogie Man?

What sort of specters set off your fear response?

What Vampires used to look like!

What Vampires used to look like!



The Boogeyman isn't to be laughed at

So he hides in fairy tales and scary movies

That is, people's (and children's) fears can be quite real and serious to them. While we can learn to face our fears and overcome them, they shouldn't be minimized and dismissed...

Things that "go bump in the night" are sometimes very real or at least representative of the fact that there is evil in the world, and much that is outside of our control and power. It is equally true that we have much that we can do to empower ourselves and build healthy lives.

What do you do to overcome and combat fears? Do you have ways to cope and to discern between realistic and unfounded fears?

How do you handle your bogeyman? scaring yourself silly with horror movies? Some people do.

Why do people like to watch scary movies?

"The most die-hard horror movie fans, [Mary Beth Oliver, Ph.D.] notes, typically share a personality characteristic called "sensation seeking." They want a thrill similar to the adrenaline rush sought by skydivers and extreme sports enthusiasts.

"If you look at levels of sensation-seeking across the lifespan, they're often higher during adolescence," says Oliver. "They also tend to be higher among males than females." That might offer one explanation as to why gory, cringe-inducing movies such as those in the Hostel and Saw series appeal mostly to teenage boys. Interestingly, she notes, whereas hyper-violent movies appeal primarily to males, psychological thrillers-where "scary" means "suspenseful" rather than "bloody"-have similar appeal to both genders.

Ultimately, those sensation-seekers get two benefits from scary movies. They get the thrill of feeling afraid when the heroine stumbles and the psycho-killer slowly raises his blade. Then they get to share in her astounding escape. And at the end of the film, viewers can rest assured that she-and they-are safe. At least until the sequel, that is!

-Jesse Hicks"


What happens when you experience fear?

"our eyes, ears, tongue, nose and skin - pick up cues from our surroundings and feed them to the brain.

The brain's threat center, a structure called the amygdala, is constantly on the lookout for danger. If it identifies a possible threat, it sounds the alarm, immediately kicking the fight or flight response into gear. Before we know it, our heart's beating like crazy, we're taking quick, shallow breaths and sweating in case we have to defend ourselves or make a quick getaway.

These changes are controlled by a part of the peripheral nervous system called the autonomic nervous system, which regulates automatic changes to the body's vital functions. "

...Read more on "Goosebumps!"

A bigger question for me is why parents would frighten their children with stories like "the boogeyman's gonna' get you"?

I am sure some of the answer resides within the need to instill caution in children for their survival in a world where mortality or predatory people are all too common....

Yet, I am not convinced that telling them scary stories that fill their imagination with boogie men are the the best way to accomplish that. Fact filled lessons of precaution might not be as chilling or full of goosebumps, but probably better equip them to face fear and threats to their survival.

For You:

Monsters Under the Bed and Other Childhood Fears: Helping Your Child Overcome Anxieties, Fears, and Phobias

For Your Child and You:

We don't really want to frighten anyone away from this page....

But don't look now- Behind you!

Dealing with their monsters... - Monster Inc.

Boogieman Trap

i like the way the 'Monsters Inc.' movie deals with fears. It makes many wise points about our personal Bogey man and gives us some good insights and coping mechinisms

Boogeyman Mask


Scariest Movies on My List

Want to know what scares me? I can give you a list of scary movies, but I must say that I strongly dislike horror movies. I think I liked scary stuff more when I was in my teens (a common phenomenon). Now I think the real world is scary enough....

The Boogie Woogie Boogieman

Don't say "boo!" - Just say "Hi" and that you were here.

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on February 28, 2012:

I was horribly afraid of the closet and always presumed that the strange creature known as the boogieman was lurking there. When we moved to a smaller house and I had to share a room with my sister I was actually happy.

JoyfulReviewer on October 15, 2011:

Congratulations on your lens being included on the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night"


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