#FolkloreFriday Piskies and the Sennen Whooper


The Piskie (pisky or piskey) is a household spirit found in the folklore of Conrwall, England. Although resembling the English Brownie in some aspects–willingness to do household work–Piskies are more fond of trickery.

When mischievously inclined pisky often leads benighted people a sad dance; like Will of the Wisp, he takes them over hedges and ditches, and sometimes round and round the same field, from which they in vain try to find their way home (although they can always see the path close at hand), until they sit down and turn their stockings the wrong side out, as an old lady, born in the last century, whom I well knew once, told me she had done. To turn a pocket inside out has the same effect. But to quote the words of a late witty Cornish doctor,”Pisky led is often whiskey led.” (Margaret A. Courtney, Cornish Feasts and Folklore, page 123.)

Piskie prefer to spend their time riding horses and playing Will o’ the Wisp to lead humans astray during the night. They often appear as wise old men and are known to bring good fortune to those they favor. They are small in stature usually with red hair, and they dressed in earthen tones.

After the introduction of Christianity to the region, some believed the Piskie to be the souls of pagans, remnants of pagan gods or even the souls of babies who had died unchristened. Similar stories were used to explain many faerie stories.

Sennen Whooper

This image was taken from the Geograph project collection. See this photograph’s page on the Geograph website for the photographer’s contact details. The copyright on this image is owned by Tim and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Sennen Cove is a small coastal settlement in Cornwall with a rich history as a fishing village. The Whitesands Beach found in the cove is said to be one of the loveliest beaches in Cornwall and has become a popular spot for surfers. According to folklore, the area is frequented by mermaids, the ghost of the Irish Lady who fell into the sea after a ship wreck, and a Piskie known as the Whooper of Sennen Cove.

The Sennen Whooper is a large Piskie that watches over the cove. Sometimes on clear, sunny days, a thick mist is said to gather over the cove producing a whooping sound indicating an approaching storm. The Whooper would prevent fisherman from venturing out into this impending storm, but on one occasion, two fisherman battled their way past the mist. Neither the sailors nor the Whooper were ever seen again.


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