Monster Monday: Fetch

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Fetch.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, How They Met Themselves, watercolor, 1864
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, How They Met Themselves, watercolor, 1864

In Irish folklore, a fetch is a supernatural double of a living person, similar to the German doppelgänger. It is generally seen by friends or relatives of the person it is imitating as a flickering spirit walking at a distance, and will often blink out of sight in an instant if it is followed, but those seeing a fetch are usually convinced that they have seen the actual person, to the point of disbelieving when the person themselves says they were somewhere else entirely. A fetch can also appear to its double, an experience that is generally traumatic.

Seeing a fetch is considered to be an ill omen, because it means the person it’s imitating will die soon. It may even indicate how the person is going to die. For example, if the fetch appears agitated, then the person will die a violent or painful death. In some stories, though, if the fetch appears in the morning as the sun rises, it’s a sign that the person will live a long, healthy life.



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