At the mention of Scottish domestic spirits, many people would immediately think of the single malt variety. However there are actual spirits that predate that noble beverage. Three such spirits are the brownie, killmoulis, and the urisk.
A brownie or brounie (brùnaidh in Scottish Gaelic) is a creature out of legend that appears in parts of Scotland and Northern England. Brownies are reportedly small, have curly brown hair, wrinkled faces, and wear short brown capes with hoods. They inhabit human dwellings, making their homes in unused places such as attics, or spaces in the walls. Brownies help out around the house in exchange for small gifts of food. However, they will only work at night, because do not like to be seen. Their favorite food is porridge and honey. Brownies will desert the house if their gifts are referred to as payments, or if the homeowners are unkind to them in some way.
Legend has it that every manor house used to have its own particular brownie, for whom an empty seat was always kept by the kitchen hearth. It wasn’t just wealthy homes that had brownies; every family had one. Before families churned their milk, they would sprinkle a little of it in every corner of the house, as an offering to the resident brownie. When they brewed their beer, they poured some of it onto the “brownie’s stane,” which was a stone with a little hole. They would also set aside other harvested items as gifts to these creatures.
A killmoulis is similar to a brownie, but it dwells in mills. It has an extremely large nose, but no mouth, so it must inhale its food. A killmoulis really likes to play tricks, but provides enough aid to make up for the occasional bit of fun.
An urisk (ùruisg in Scottish Gaelic) is also similar to brownie, only it lives outside in streams and waterfalls. Urisks don’t tend to offer domestic help, preferring solitude for most of the year. However, towards the end of the harvest season, urisks have been known to hang around farmyards. They are especially fond of dairy products, and many a farmer has learned that making regular offerings of cream or milk to the urisk will keep it from stealing more, and might earn a return favor. Like brownies, urisks don’t like to be seen, so will usually remain invisible. However, certain psychically inclined individuals can see urisks, and have reported that the seemingly jolly creatures have flowing blonde hair, wear blue hats, and carry walking staves.