What is a pooka?

From the creator of THE SUBURBAN JUNGLE!

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Postby Offspring on Tue Dec 18, 2001 7:36 am

Yes I've read the strip, but I was wondering about what they are besides that? I've been looking around for information on them (as I tend to do with mythological stuff), but have turned up with nothing.
So, what are they?<P>
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Postby GrimMalady on Wed Dec 19, 2001 2:23 am

Uh, I know that in "Changeling: the Dreaming," from White Wolf Games, they're mischevious, animalistic, immature fairies. Changling is pretty heavily based on mythology, so I'm inclined to believe that that's a fairly accurate representation of them... if anyone knows better, please let me know.<P>------------------
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Postby LevelHead on Wed Dec 19, 2001 2:27 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Offspring:
<B>Yes I've read the strip, but I was wondering about what they are besides that?
</B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>A Google search will net you many hits on Pookas. There are alternate spellings as well, including "Phouka". Ancient (don't say that to Mopsy, but she's older than she looks) sort of pre-Irish mythological creatures, often described as whimsical, mischievious, or devious. In some interpretations, they are incapable of speaking the truth directly. Obviously not true of our gal.<P>Some descriptions are quite colorful, but they almost invariably appear in some animal form.<P>In the one movie where a Pooka appears, sort-of, Harvey is described also as having the ability to stop time. (I told Mopsy, in <A HREF="http://www.howington.com/textvisit.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.howington.com/textvisit.html</A>
that I would see this, and I just have.)
This "Harvey" movie is a Hollywood interpretation, and therefore should not be confused with reality, but shows Pookas as a force for good in the world.{g}<P>===|==============/ Level Head<p>[This message has been edited by LevelHead (edited 12-19-2001).]
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Postby Rhan'lav on Wed Dec 19, 2001 7:30 am

What a pooka is.. hrm..<P>Well according to one legend, pookas were a type of shapeshifter. Normally they'd hang out waiting for an unsuspecting traveller to be walking along the road. (You can tell its a legend. After all, who ever heard of people walking along a road. <IMG SRC="http://www.keenspot.com/KeenBoard/wink.gif">) Anyways, normally the pooka would be in the form of a horse. They would look really tame, and well trained, and would let the unsuspecting traveller try to ride them. Once the person was on their back, and felt like they were in control... well, the pooka would usually bolt and try to make the rider's life a rather painful one. One of the ways I heard about was the pooka would run towards a cliff, and jump off it, with person onboard, and then change into a bird and fly off. Needless to say... its just a BIT painful for the rider.<P>Normally though, they were pranksters, even if some of them were a bit... uh... excessive.<P>--Rhan
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Postby The Gneech on Sun Dec 23, 2001 3:46 am

FWIW, the form and nature of pookas varies wildly according to who's doing the telling -- they're much like elves in this regard.<P>The first time I ever used pookas for anything was a fantasy roleplaying game I was the GM for, set in what was essentialy Arthurian Britain with the names changed <IMG SRC="http://www.keenspot.com/KeenBoard/wink.gif">, in which pookas were available as a player race. They were inspired by the bits of "Harvey" I remembered (I hadn't seen it in a long time at that point, although I've seen it many times since), and by the little tidbits about pookas I'd picked up in my readings about mythology and folklore over the years, as by the <I>domovoi</I> of eastern European tradition. In that game, they were described as follows (with the game mechanics removed):<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><I>Pookas are (usually) small and look like a humanoid creature with the features of some common but harmless animal, such as a rabbit, squirrel, mouse, or chipmunk. They take up residence in the house of friendly people and become their "good luck house spirit." As long as the people do nothing to offend the pooka, the creature will continue to use his or her magic to protect and provide for the people. Pookas don't like cities, however, and so are more often found on farms or in the wilderness. Any adventuring-hero pookas have probably adopted the other characters as their "family." They are shy, but playful around children. Woe to anyone who makes a pooka mad, however, because they have amazing magical prowess and can show a streak of meanness towards those who've hurt or angered them.<P>Pookas are inherently magical; they can be of any size they choose between mouse-sized and seven feet tall, but they can only grow or shrink when nobody's watching them (they find it embarrassing).<P>Pookas may choose to be invisible at any time. For example, they may choose to be invisible to everyone in the room, or just to people who are hostile to them, or to everyone except Jimmy Stewart, etc. This power does not work on normal animals (cats, dogs, etc.) or "innocents" (e.g., small children).<P>Pookas can see at night as if it were daylight, have natural animal empathy, and can communicate with all creatures regardless of language barriers.<P>Pookas who give in to their mean streak too often will begin to change into goblins. This change can be averted by going back to being nice again.<P>Pookas are very shy, and have to steel their nerves to make their presence directly known to people, although this is easier with someone they've had friendly contact in the past. (This doesn't apply if the pooka has lost their temper with someone, although they'll still probably prefer to stay invisible while they torment the poor sod.)<P>Pookas tend to spoil children rotten, and have to strongly tax their willpower to refuse the direct request of a child. Also, pookas are colorblind.</I><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>When I created NeverNever, I had about a month's worth of strips done, all with Arthur, Beowulf, Arthur's dad, General Blither, and the Queen, and decided I needed a sympathetic female character -- and the idea of a cute and friendly pooka popped into my head. (Actually, it was more like she'd been lurking in my subconscious for years, and was just looking for an excuse to come forward.) I called her Mopsy on a whim, and suddenly my whole mental model of pookas changed sharply and rapidly.<P>What if, I decided, instead of being like just any inoffensive creature, they were all rabbits? And what if, I further posited, they weren't a seperate kind of creature, but appeared in normal rabbit families as some sort of recessive gene or something? I was struck by the idea of pookas as being an odd subculture, such as the wizards in <I>Harry Potter</I> or the garou in <I>Werewolf: The Apocalypse</I> ... except instead of being born into human families, they were born into families of rabbits. Maybe all those stories about "lucky rabbits' feet" were actually referring to "lucky pooka feet" and people just didn't realize?<P>I had a mental image of a pooka adopting the home of a young Beatrix Potter and telling her all sorts of stories about her family, and then an older Beatrix Potter creating new tales of her own inspired by her childhood memories, and naming the characters after her pooka friend and her family as a small inside tribute.<P>Thus, Mopsy's comments about Flopsy and Cottontail being ordinary rabbits; why Mopsy seems to get so peeved about being referred to as a rabbit, when her parents and siblings were all rabbits, is open for debate.<P>As for the next question that pops to mind, "Are pookas related to jackalopes?" the answer is a definite yes. But just what that relation is has yet to be seen. Until we know more about just what jackalopes are, it's anybody's guess.<P> -The Gneech
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