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Mooncalf; AKA Moon-Calf, Moon Calf

Origin: American Folklore, from a Scots-Irish and/or British term for a monstrous birth in use since the 16th Century.


A mooncalf is basically a monstrous birth, generally of farm animals like cows or sheep, but sometimes of other animals and even humans: a birth of enormous size, or probably with grotesque birth or mental defects, so-called for the imagined influence of the moon over such births. Some mooncalfs might be claimed to speak inexplicably upon birth. Sometimes the birth is accompanied by the "birth" of a "twin" in the shape of a serpent or worm, which might have partially consumed the mooncalf in-utero.

Mooncalfs are taken as bad omens, and are perhaps a sign of tampering by malevolent Faeries. A Witch might adopt or birth a mooncalf as a Familiar, and such mooncalfs might be the result of intercourse with Demons.

Sometimes, a mooncalf might take the form of a "faceless birth" - with a membranous "cowl" over the face; when such births are human, the child may be believed to have the gift of prophecy or other supernatural powers, due to having been "touched" by Faeries or other supernatural beings.

Stories abound in American folklore of (human) "mooncalves" being concealed from the prying eyes of neighbors in dark, dusty Victorian attics and cellars, an idea which has appeared in more than one H.P. Lovecraft story (most notably "The Unnameable (fiction)").

Keeper Notes

Dungeons & Dragons

In the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game, "Mooncalves" are a Lovecraftian alien race of monsters said to inhabit high mountains and islands-in-the-sky, from which they swoop down to disturb remote villages by night. These creatures have an indeterminate shape beyond being winged masses with tentacles, and though commonly believed to originate on the dark side of the moon, actually come from far darker realms of blackest space, where they act as servants for sinister "Moongods", acting as messengers or observers of monumental events. Mooncalves in that game have the ability to communicate telepathically (though they rarely choose to do so), have a chance of being born with the power to teleport, and if threatened or resisted some have the ability to cast (weather-related) spells in addition to attacking with a tentacled grasp; victims of that grasp might then be alchemically consumed and disintegrated by the Mooncalf.

Associated Mythos Elements