Jenny Greenteeth was a hag who would intentionally drown the young and the old for the sheer fun of it.
In some legends, she devours the children and elderly. In others, she’s just a sadist who enjoys the pain her victims go through.
She’s frequently described as having a green complexion and razor-sharp teeth. As with many creepy characters from folklore, she was probably used to scare children into behaving and staying close to the water’s edge when taking an afternoon swim.
Jenny Greenteeth was a water fairy associated with the Lancashire area. She and her sisters ‘lurked at the bottom of pits, and with their long sinewy arms dragged in and drowned children venturing too near.
There has been, since the nineteenth century, an attempt to rationalize Jenny. She was a form of social control: parents evoked her to keep their children away from dangerous ponds, streams, rivers and later, canals.
‘Jenny’ll get you!’
One little boy was brought into the garden and told that the moaning of the wind in the trees was Jenny’s voice: another was shown some enameled teeth that had been stained green.
Is she a plant?
Duckweed is one of the world’s smallest flowering plants, but it can form dense mats on still water, and less frequently on permanently damp mud and rock faces. It is common throughout the British Isles, apart from northern Scotland.
In northwest England the presence of duckweed indicated that the bogey Jenny, or Jinny, Greenteeth lurked below the water’s surface.
“Don’t play by ditches, Jenny’ll drag yer in dead.”
Jenny Greenteeth aka Wicked Jenny, is a figure in English folklore. A river hag, similar to Peg Powler or a grindylow, she would wait along the banks and pull children or the elderly into the water and drown them.
Jenny takes the form of pondweed, which can form a thick green mat floating over the surface of water.
Jenny Greenteeth a.k.a. Wicked Jenny or Ginny Greenteeth is a figure in English folklore. A river-hag, similar to Peg Powler or a grindylow, she would pull children or the elderly into the water and drown them.
~ Mythology ~
A broad area of mythology, legend and folklore, spirits of waters, seas and oceans abound in many forms. Almost every civilization, even land locked ones, have spirits of water interwoven into their mythologies.
Water plays an important role in many legends and myths. There are many mythological water beings and gods, stories of heroes that have something to do with water, and even stories of isles and continents lost below the surface.
There were water spirits in Slavic mythology that supposedly lived in underwater palaces made from sunken ships. They were depicted as old men with long green beards, covered in hairs, scales and slime.
It was said the Vodianoi were offended by the boldness of humans, and would therefore cause swimmers to drown.
The Neck (English) or the Nix/Nixe/Nyx (German) are shapeshifting water spirits who usually appear in human form.
The Undine or Ondine is a female water elemental first appearing in the alchemical works of Paracelsus.
Jenny Greenteeth is in the folklore of Lancashire, Peg Powler is said to inhabit the River Tees in Yorkshire.
The Hesperides (nymphs), the Graeae (archaic water goddesses), the gorgons (female monsters with sharp fangs and hair of venomous snakes, such as Medusa), sea monster Scylla, are other water nymphs and sea monsters.
The Green Hag
Green hags made their homes in wet, temperate environments, gloomy and isolated regions like dark swamps, dying forests and misty marshes where they could take full advantage of their abilities.
Countrysides and desolate areas of civilization would also suffice, but they typically chose spots near bodies of water such as rivers.
Their acute senses, including superior sight, smell, and hearing, along with their coloration and ability to move silently through the swamp, made them dangerous predators without their cunning and magic.
Up from the bottom of the muck, she slowly rises to the surface. Covered in weeds and river grass, she swims to the banks. Reaching up through the water with her elongated arms, she grabs the child’s ankles and dives back to her depths to consume her prize.