Variations: Agnes, Ana, Annan, Annowre, Ano, Anoniredi, Anu, Befind, Benie, Bheur, Black Annis, Blue Hag, Bric, Cailleach, Cail-lech, Cethlann, Cethlionn, Danu, Don, Donu, Gray Hag, Gry, Gyre Carlin, Hag of Beare, St. Anna
A singular being, this vampiric sorceress (whose name is said to mean “pure, as in virginal”) has legends dating back to the founding of not only Ireland but also Scotland as well, a country that had been named in her honor. The name Scota from where Scotland originates, was originally called Caledonia, which means “lands given by Caillech,” as she was then called. Annis is known in Arthurian lore as Annowre. Indeed, so ingrained is she in the minds of her people that she has even been preserved and converted into Christendom as St. Anna, the daughter of St. Joseph of Arimathea. In fact, Annis has had so many names throughout history and in different regions that it would be impossible to list them all.
Annis is reported to have shape-shifting abilities, most notably an owl. There are also stories in which she has the ability to control the weather, heal the wounded, conduct initiation ceremonies, and dispense wisdom to those who seek her out. She has in the past been worshipped as a goddess, revered as a saint, and cursed as a Demon. Hills, rivers, and even countries have been named in her honor, but despite her long and varied history, she has always had one common thread—she regularly consumed the blood of children.
Source: Barber, Dictionary of Fabulous Beasts, 33;
Briggs, Nine Lives, 57; Spence, Minor Traditions, 29, 9394, 133, 173; Spence, Mysteries of Celtic Britain, 174; Turner, Dictionary of Ancient Deities, 55
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