vivien: (halloween)
My final "monster" for this October countdown is the wonderfully horrible Baba Yaga!

This got long, so I hid it behind the cut. )

I'd not heard of Baba Yaga until I read The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman back in college. Then I found the Vasilisa the Brave stories in which Baba Yaga appears (Arch-Crone plus brave female protagonist = WIN WIN!!!) Baba Yaga is a powerful force, and her stories are lots of fun to read.

So there we are. No more monsters. I hope you've enjoyed the month of (hopefully) new-to-you scary creatures (or at least new-to-you trivia about them). It is, as always, a delight to countdown to Halloween.
vivien: (halloween)
My penultimate monster is from Paraguay, and it's, uh, another of those unexpectedly creepy ones.


Jasy Jatere is the name of an important figure in Guaraní mythology. One of the seven cursed children of Tau and Kerana, Jasy Jatere is one of the most important legends among the Guaraní speaking cultures of South America, especially in Paraguay.

Jasy Jatere, which means literally "a little piece of the moon", is unique among his brothers in that he does not have a monstrous appearance. He is usually described as being a small man or perhaps a child, with light blonde hair and sometimes blue eyes. He is fair in appearance, sometimes described as even beautiful or enchanting, and carries with him a magical wand or staff.

Jasy Jatere is also considered to be the lord of the siesta, the traditional mid-day nap taken in many Latin American cultures. According to one widespread version of the myth, Jasy Jatere leaves the forest and wanders the villages looking for children who are not napping during their siesta. Although he is generally invisible, it is said that he shows himself to the children he finds not napping, and that any who look upon his staff fall into a trance. He may even lure them into the forest with a distinct whistle.

What happens to such entranced children differs depending upon which version of the story is told. Many Guaraní myths have multiple versions because there existed no written version of the language, and all myths have survived as word of mouth tales only. In the fairer version of the tale, Jasy Jatere is considered a friend of such disobedient children, taking them into hidden places in the forest to play and feeding them wild honey and fruit. At the end of the siesta, when all are weary from the play, Jasy Jatere gives them a magical kiss which transports them back to their beds with no memory of the experience.

Most versions of the story are less fair. Commonly, Jasy Jatere takes entranced children back to a cave where he puts out their eyes and imprisons them for an untold amount of time, sustaining them with wild fruits and berries until they become feral like animals. Still more gruesome tales say that the children are brought back to his brother Ao Ao, a cannibalistic creature who feeds upon their flesh. These versions of the myth are told in a similar vein to the Bogeyman, designed to frighten children into being obedient and taking a nap during their siesta. Paraguayan parents are known to warn their children not to wander off alone during siesta to prevent being kidnapped by Jasy Jatere.

Either version of the story? Creepy.
vivien: (halloween)
Another Scottish-Irish creature tonight - these creep me out. I don't know why.


The Each Uisge (Scottish Gaelic: [ɛxˈɯʃkʲə], literally "water horse") is a mythological Scottish water spirit, called the Aughisky in Ireland. It is similar to the kelpie, but far more dangerous.

The Each Uisge, a supernatural water horse found in the Highlands of Scotland, is supposedly the most dangerous water-dwelling creature in the British Isles. Often mistaken as the Kelpie (which inhabits streams and rivers), the Each Uisge lives in the sea, sea lochs, and fresh water lochs. The Each Uisge is a shape-shifter, disguising itself as a fine horse, pony, or handsome man. If, while in horse form, a man mounts it, he is only safe as long as the each uisge is ridden in the interior of land. But the merest glimpse or smell of water means the end of the rider: the Each Uisge's skin becomes adhesive and the creature immediately goes to the deepest part of the loch with its victim. After the victim drowned, the Each Uisge tears the victim apart and devours the entire body except for the liver, which floats to the surface.

In its human form it is said to appear as a handsome man, and can be recognised as a mythological creature only by the water weeds in its hair. Because of this, people in the Highlands were often wary of lone animals and strangers by the waters edge, near where the Each Uisge was reputed to live.

Tonight I take Anime Girl to see Rocky Horror Picture Show. Muahahaha! Halloween weekend begins!
vivien: (Default)
To channel my Project Runway inspired rage, I will discuss two monsters tonight! They go together anyway.

When I was but a wee Viv, I listened to "Wrapped Around Your Finger" by the Police, in which there is a line that goes "caught between the Scylla and Charibdis". I said to my mom, "What is the Scylla and Charibdis?" She said, as she always did, "Look it up!"

So I did, and I said "Aaaaaaaah, okay! Cool."

In Greek mythology, Scylla was a monster that lived on one side of a narrow channel of water, opposite its counterpart Charybdis.

Scylla was a horrible sea monster with six long necks equipped with grisly heads, each of which contained three rows of sharp teeth. Her body consisted of twelve tentacle-like legs and a cat's tail and with four to six dog-heads ringing her waist. She was one of the children of Phorcys and either Hecate, Crataeis, Lamia or Ceto.

In Greek mythology, Charybdis or Kharybdis was a sea monster, once a beautiful naiad and the daughter of Poseidon and Gaia. She takes form as a huge bladder of a creature whose face was all mouth and whose arms and legs were flippers and who swallows huge amounts of water three times a day before belching them back out again, creating whirlpools. In some variations of the tale, Charybdis is just a large whirlpool rather than a sea monster.

The myth has Charybdis lying on one side of a blue, narrow channel of water. On the other side of the strait was Scylla, another sea-monster. The two sides of the strait are within an arrow's range of each other, so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis will pass too close to Scylla and vice versa. The phrase "between Scylla and Charybdis" has come to mean being in a state where one is between two dangers and moving away from one will cause you to come closer to the other.

In other words, between a rock and a hard place. So hurray pop culture for teaching wee Viv something she did not know back in the day.

You know, I did not realize (or maybe I forgot - this was a long time ago) that both monsters were feminine in nature. Is there a ship for this in Yuletide? Because I could totally ship Scylla/Charibdis.
vivien: (halloween)
Not quite monsters, I think, but these Tzitzimimeh are pretty kickass.


In Aztec mythology, a Tzitzimitl (plural Tzitzimimeh) is a deity associated with stars. They were depicted as skeletal female figures wearing skirts often with skull and crossbone designs. In Postconquest descriptions they are often described as "demons" or "devils" - but this does not necessarily reflect their function in the prehispanic belief system of the Aztecs.

The Tzitzimimeh were female deities, and as such related to fertility... (they) were also associated with the stars and especially the stars that can be seen around the sun during a solar eclipse. This was interpreted as the Tzitzimimeh attacking the sun, this caused the belief that during a solar eclipse, the Tzitzimimeh would descend to the earth and devour human beings. The Tzitzimimeh were also feared during other ominous periods of the Aztec world, such as during the five unlucky days called Nemontemi which marked an unstable period of the Aztec year count, and during the New Fire ceremony marking the beginning of a new calendar round - both were periods associated with the fear of change.

The Tzitzimimeh had a double role in Aztec religion: they were protectresses of the feminine and progenitresses of mankind. But they were also powerful and dangerous, especially in periods of cosmic instability.
vivien: (halloween)
So from Bali to the Northwest Pacific... we have a similar monster to the one last night.


Dzunukwa, also Tsonoqua, Tsonokwa, is a figure in Kwakwaka'wakw mythology. She is venerated as a bringer of wealth, but is also greatly feared by children, because she is also known as an ogress who steals children and carries them home in her basket to eat.

Her appearance is that of a naked, pale-skinned, old monster with long pendulous breasts. In masks and totem pole images she is shown with bright red pursed lips, because she is said to give off the call "Hu!" She is also described having no hair that shines around her head, as if it was being reflected by the sun. It is often told to children that the sound of the wind blowing through the cedar trees is actually the call of Dzunukwa.

A little more from an artists' site:

In the mythology of the Kwakwaka’wakw people, the Dzunukwa, or Cannibal Woman, is a dangerous monster. Twice the normal height, with a black, hairy body and sagging breasts, she lurks in the forest and eats children. The Cannibal Woman is represented by a mask such as the one shown here, worn by a dancer during a Winter Ceremony. The dancer moves clumsily to represent the monster’s confusion outside the forest environment. This frightening character is also associated with riches, and, according to legend, men who could tame her would bring back great treasure. A chief may also wear a Dzunukwa mask when distributing wealth at a potlatch.

Huh. You know, even with a lighthearted delving into monstrous mythology you find ancient themes the world over that make you say "Hmmm... what the hell is up with that?". If I were an anthropologist or folklorist, no doubt I could make some interesting points here.

Like I said early on, I do love the crones, but wow, there seem to be a lot of them.
vivien: (halloween)
Bali has a demon queen!

According to Wikipedia:

Rangda is the demon queen of the leyaks in Bali, according to traditional Balinese mythology. Terrifying to behold, the child-eating Rangda leads an army of evil witches against the leader of the forces of good - Barong.

Rangda is important in Balinese culture, and performances depicting her struggles with Barong or with Airlangga in that tale are popular tourist attractions as well as tradition. She is depicted as a mostly nude old woman, with long and unkempt hair, pendulous breasts, and claws. Her face is traditionally a horrifying fanged and goggle-eyed mask, with a long, protruding tongue.

And what are the the leyak, exactly?

Leyak are said to haunt graveyards, feed on corpses, have power to change themselves into animals, such as pigs, and fly. In normal Leyak form, they are said to have an unusually long tongue and large fangs. In daylight they appear as an ordinary human, but at night their head and entrails break loose from their body and fly. Leyak statues (a head with a very long tongue and sharp fangs) are sometimes hung on a wall for house decoration.

In real life, Balinese people sometimes attribute certain illness or deaths to leyaks.
vivien: (halloween)
Er, whoops, hey, have some vampires! Like you could read my blog during a Halloween countdown and not get vampires.

This is a pretty fabulous vid for The Hunger, which is a pretty fabulous vampire movie. It's one of the very few that have a female vampire as the antagonist, and Miriam, as played my Catherine Daneuve, is one hell of a vampire. So you know in Angel when Darla comes to him in the streets to vamp him? That imagery is totally lifted from this movie.

The vid is to a classically-tinged version of "People Are Strange". Beware of blood (but it's not gory).

In other news, my evening was claimed by watching Sherlock Holmes BBC on PBS. Anime Girl comes in when we told her it was on, saw Sherlock and heard his voice, sat down and said "Curly hair and cool eyes? I'm sold". She's been texting "WRONG!" and "I left my riding crop in the mortuary" to friends all episode and cackling "This is awesome! I love it! He's great." The cockles of my black heart are warmed.

(At the end, I said, "Do you want me to send you vids? There are some good ones?" Anime Girl gives me this wistful look and says "I just want more of the show.")
vivien: (halloween)
I wanted to feature a monster you hear a lot about, but I always forget the lore around it.

According to Wikipedia

Spring Heeled Jack (also Springheel Jack, Spring-heel Jack, etc.) is a character from English folklore said to have existed during the Victorian era and able to jump extraordinarily high. The first claimed sighting of Spring Heeled Jack that is known occurred in 1837. Later alleged sightings were reported all over England, from London up to Sheffield and Liverpool, but they were especially prevalent in suburban London and later in the Midlands and Scotland.

Many theories have been proposed to ascertain the nature and identity of Spring Heeled Jack. The urban legend of Spring Heeled Jack gained immense popularity in its time due to the tales of his bizarre appearance and ability to make extraordinary leaps, to the point where he became the topic of several works of fiction.

Spring Heeled Jack was described by people claiming to have seen him as having a terrifying and frightful appearance, with diabolical physiognomy, clawed hands, and eyes that "resembled red balls of fire". One report claimed that, beneath a black cloak, he wore a helmet and a tight-fitting white garment like an "oilskin". Many stories also mention a "Devil-like" aspect. Spring Heeled Jack was said to be tall and thin, with the appearance of a gentleman, and capable of making great leaps. Several reports mention that he could breathe out blue and white flames and that he wore sharp metallic claws at his fingertips. At least two people claimed that he was able to speak comprehensible English.

I'd planned on including this "monster" all along, but as I read the complete article, I had one of those "I watch too much Criminal Minds" moments. When you get down to "theories", you see "mass hysteria" as an explanation. And then you look back at the eyewitness accounts, most of whom were female, and most of whom reported what was essentially a sexual assault (ripped clothes, kissed against their will). It would be interesting to have some criminal profilers examine this case, if they haven't already done so. Monsters prowled the streets of Victorian London, indeed.
vivien: (halloween)
My autoimmune system is killing me slowly. Please allergies, stop the hate. *pitifuls*

Okay, kids, I am geeking out tonight in honor of The Hobbit casting news. Now, understand, Little Ms. Tolkien Purist me is already raising an eyebrow at the whole concept of a two-part movie, and Richard Armitage is FAR too young to play Thorin, but I will enjoy the AU fanfic when it comes to the IMAX near me.

I have my two very favorite monsters of Middle Earth tonight.


Painting by The Brothers Hildedrandt

According to the The Encyclopedia of Arda:
Smaug was the last of the great fire-drakes, and said to be the greatest dragon of his time. At some time during the twenty-eighth century of the Third Age, he came to hear of the immense wealth held by the Dwarves of Erebor. Where he came from we do not know for certain, but in the year III 2770 he descended in fire on the Lonely Mountain, destroying the Dwarf-kingdom and the nearby township of Dale.

Gathering together the treasures of the Dwarves, he formed himself an immense bed of gold and jewels and settled within the ruined halls of Erebor. Slowly the years and decades passed, until the people of the Long Lake to the south had almost forgotten the Dragon of Erebor and Smaug imagined himself unassailable.

When I read The Hobbit as a wee lass, I adored Smaug. I still do. I was sad about his death (although, to be fair, it was not very nice of him to burn Lake Town like that - temper, temper). He seemed like a smart, wickedly awesome creature, chilling on his pile of gold, and I appreciate that in a monster.

...Something's deeply wrong with me. I know, I know. *snorfles*


Painting by John Howe

There agelong she had dwelt, an evil thing in spider-from, even such as once of old had lived in the Land of the Elves in the West that is now under the Sea, such as Beren fought in the Mountains of Terror in Doriath, and so came to Lúthien upon the green sward amid the hemlocks in the moonlight long ago. How Shelob came there, flying from ruin, no tale tells, for out of the Dark Years few tales have come. But still she was there, who was there before Sauron, and before the first stone of Barad-Dûr; and she served none but herself, drinking the blood of Elves and Men, bloated and grown fat with endless brooding over her feasts, weaving webs of shadow; for all living things were her food, and her vomit darkness. - The Two Towers

According to the LoTR Wiki:
Shelob was one of the countless brood of Ungoliant, an ancient monster in arachnid form, created, possibly, by the perversions of Morgoth. Shelob was the greatest of Ungoliant’s spawn, many times larger than even the largest of Mirkwood’s spiders. Shelob took up residence in the Ephel Duath, near Cirith Ungol in the passes above Minas Morgul. For thousands of years she resided in this mountainous region, making a labyrinth of webs within a network of caves to better entrap her would-be prey.

Shelob was always one of my favorites because she was a she, blatantly, and there weren't a whole lot of female monsters. Weren't/aren't - you know what I mean. She is also scary. Really scary. Like "Viv rarely gets scared, but Shelob is freakin' scary." Plus, she doesn't die. Sam wounds her and she retreats... but I doubt Shelob died at his sword.
vivien: (halloween)
Okay, first? Check out this send up of Christine O'Donnell by the lovely Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

(I've always had a crush on Elvira. Such style. Such snark.)

Thanks to an RP research kick coinciding with my monster countdown. I have a French Cajun monster for us tonight!

According to Wikipedia:

The Rougarou (alternately spelled as Roux-Ga-Roux, Rugaroo, or Rugaru), is a legendary creature in Laurentian French communities linked to European notions of the werewolf.

Rougarou represents a variant pronunciation and spelling of the original French loup-garou.[1] According to Barry Jean Ancelet, an academic expert on Cajun folklore and professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the tale of the rougarou is a common legend across French Louisiana. Both words are used interchangeably in southern Louisiana. Some people call the monster rougarou; others refer to it as the loup garou.

In the Cajun legends, the creature is said to prowl the swamps around Acadiana and Greater New Orleans, and possibly the fields or forests of the regions. The rougarou most often is described as a creature with a human body and the head of a wolf or dog, similar to the werewolf legend.

Often the story-telling has been used to inspire fear and obedience. One such example is stories that have been told by elders to persuade Cajun children to behave. According to another variation, the wolf-like beast will hunt down and kill Catholics who do not follow the rules of Lent. This coincides with the French Catholic loup-garou stories, according to which the method for turning into a werewolf is to break Lent seven years in a row.

Mmmm, nothing like fear to keep the religious in line.

A common blood sucking legend says that the rougarou is under the spell for 101 days. After that time, the curse is transferred from person to person when the rougarou draws another human’s blood. During that day the creature returns to human form. Although acting sickly, the human refrains from telling others of the situation for fear of being killed.

Other stories range from the rougarou as a headless horseman to the rougarou being derived from witchcraft. In the latter claim, only a witch can make a rougarou—either by turning into a wolf herself, or by cursing others with lycanthropy.

I love this monster legend since, like much of southern Louisiana, it is an eclectic gumbo of tradition and folklore. Also? It's fun to say. Rougarou, loup-garou (which sounds like loo-ga-roo) - it's all fabulous.
vivien: (halloween)
Tonight is short and sweet and in honor of my own dear little monster, who walked back and forth over my head this morning from 4:30 a.m. to about 5:00 a.m. in an attempt to find a comfortable spot to rest. My head, people. Paws on the face. Thanks, Pig Pig (she's my 17 yr. old cat).

In Catalan legend and popular culture, the Pesanta is an enormous dog (or sometimes a cat) that goes into people's houses in the night and puts itself on their chests making it difficult for them to breathe and causing them the most horrible nightmares.
vivien: (halloween)
I have a Chilean monster tonight.

According to Wikipedia:

The Peuchen (also known as Piuchen, Pihuchen, Pihuychen, Pihuichen, Piguchen, or Piwuchen) is a creature from the Mapuche mythology and Chilote mythology pertaining to southern Chile, a much feared shape-shifting creature which could instantly change into animal form.

It has often been described as gigantic flying snake which produced strange whistling sounds, while its gaze could paralyze an intended victim and permit it to suck its blood. It has often been reported as the cause of sucking the blood from sheep.

The creature can be eliminated by a machi (Mapuche Medicine Woman).

Gigantic flying snakes that suck blood... yeah, that's pretty high up there on the "Aiiiiieeeee" scale. But what really intrigued me was the machi. So I looked the term up for more information, because what is better than a scary monster? A female monster killer!

In the Wikipedia article on the Mapuche, there are more details on the machi.

Central to Mapuche belief is the role of the machi "shaman". It is usually filled by a woman, following an apprenticeship with an older Machi, and has many of the characteristics typical of shamans. The machi performs ceremonies for curing diseases, warding off evil, influencing weather, harvests, social interactions and dreamwork. Machis often have extensive knowledge of Chilean medicinal herbs, though as biodiversity in the Chilean countryside has declined due to commercial agriculture and forestry, the dissemination of such knowledge has also declined but is in revival. Machis also have an extensive knowledge of sacred stones and the sacred animals.

How cool is that?

For further, even more fascinating reading, I found Shamans of the Foye Tree: Gender, Power, and Healing among Chilean Mapuche by Ana Mariella Bacigalupo in Google Books. Modern Machi include both men and women who "during rituals move between masculine and feminine gender polarities or combine the two" and who are, of course, denounced as witches and sexual deviants.

Oh Intarwebs. How you help me spend hours looking for information I never knew I wanted to find.
vivien: (halloween)
When I was thinking about this monstrous countdown, I thought I'd maybe dedicate one night to gargoyles, even though they aren't traditional grr argh type monsters. Then when I realized I had no idea where gargoyles originated (other than on cathedrals in the High Middle Ages), I said, "Aha! I must have a night of gargoyles for my own learning!"

I did, in fact, learn something today. Gargoyles are not the creatures we see on building; their technical name is grotesques. The gargoyle is the actual waterspout, and it comes from the French gargouille, originally "throat" or "gullet" which comes from the Latin gurgulio, gula, gargula ("gullet" or "throat").

So gargoyles (the waterspouts) have been around for a long, long time. But why are there so many grotesques on medieval cathedrals? There doesn't seem to be one certain explanation.

According to North Star Gallery's gargoyle page:

In the Middle ages, the populace, for the most part, could not read and write. Churches used visual images to spread the scriptures and reinforce biblical stories. These included; paintings, frescoes, stained glass, figures, sculpture and gargoyles. Some believe that gargoyles were inspired directly via a passage in the Bible. Others believe that gargoyles and grotesques do not come from the Bible, but were inspired by the skeletal remains of prehistoric beasts. Others will argue that they are the expression of man's subconscious fears or, that they may be vestiges of paganism from an age when god would be perceived in trees and river plains. The churches of Europe carried them further into time; maybe to remind the masses that "even if god is at hand, evil is never far away" and to act as guardians of their church to keep the evil spirits at bay.

I have a feeling they were more a result of fanciful sculptors, who were creative artists, and they caught on as an architectural design.

Not everyone loved their presence on religious buildings.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux-the 12th Century A.D. observed: "What are these fantastic monsters doing in the cloisters under the very eyes of the brothers as they read? What is the meaning of these unclean monkeys, strange savage lions and monsters? To what purpose are here placed these creatures, half beast, half man? I see several bodies with one head and several heads with one body. Here is a quadruped with a serpent's head, there a fish with a quadruped's head, then again an animal half horse, half goat... Surely if we do not blush for such absurdities we should at least regret what we have spent on them."

Everyone's a critic.

This image of grotesques on the Ulm Münster cathedral in Ulm, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany is large, but I love the detail. I put it under a cut for those who'd like to see. )
vivien: (halloween)
It's a two for one tonight, because I came home last night, had a wine cooler, and completely spaced my duties as purveyor of mythic facts.

I will share two monsters from the same Hebrew tradition - dybbuks and mazikeens.

According to Wikipedia:

In Jewish folklore, a dybbuk (Hebrew: דיבוק‎) is a malicious, or benevolent possessing spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person.

Dybbuks are said to have escaped from Gehenna or to have been turned away from Gehenna for serious transgressions, such as suicide, for which the soul is denied entry. The word "dybbuk" is derived from the Hebrew דיבוק, meaning "attachment"; the dybbuk attaches itself to the body of a living person and inhabits the flesh. According to belief, a soul that has been unable to fulfill its function during its lifetime is given another opportunity to do so in dybbuk form. It supposedly leaves the host body once it has accomplished its goal, sometimes after being helped.

According to Monstropedia

In Jewish mythology, Mazikeen (Shedeem, Shehireem) are invisible tiny demons.

Legend says that a wicked man once heard a thundering knock at his door, but when he opened his door, he saw nothing but an ass grazing under a tree. Terrified, he mounted the ass and rode it away as fast as he could. As the man rode, the ass grew taller and taller until it was as tall as the highest tower in the town. And that was where the ass left the man, perched like a weathercock on the steeple. Obviously, said the townspeople as the ass galloped away, the beast was a Mazikeen.
vivien: (halloween)
I thought today was Wednesday for most of the evening! But no, it is Thursday and tomorrow is sweet, blessed Friday!

Let's go to Scandinavia and meet the barrow-wights Draugar.

(Oh, Tolkien, you were so sly.)

According to Monstropedia:

A draug (plural draugar), draugr or draugen (Norwegian meaning the draug) is a corporeal undead from Norse mythology. Draugar were believed to live in the graves of dead Vikings, being the body of the dead.

In Scandinavian folklore, the creature is said to possess a distinctly human form said to be either hel-blar ("death black") or, conversely, na-folr ("corpse-pale"). In other tellings, the draug is described as being a headless fisherman, dressed in oilskins.

All draugr possessed superhuman strength, the ability to increase their size at will with some immunity to usual weapons. The draugar slew their victims through various methods including crushing them with their enlarged forms, devouring their flesh, and drinking their blood. Animals feeding near the grave of a draugr were often driven mad by the creature's influence. In some accounts, witnesses portray them as shapeshifters who take on the appearance of seaweed or moss-covered stones on the shoreline. They were also noted for the ability to rise from the grave as wisps of smoke.

The Draugr is a virtually unstoppable monster, and possesses only a handful of weaknesses.

While this unliving horror cannot be slain in the traditional sense, there is one way to defeat the Draugr. A hero, one who is pure of heart and is in good standing with God, must face the creature with only his bare hands, for only by wrestling this revenant into submission can one hope to defeat this monster.

Of course the one man who "drove the revenant away using a mixture of herbs and his own semen" was "eventually burned at the stake as a witch." *eyerolls* Typical.
vivien: (halloween)
I have an African vampire for us tonight.

According to

In southern Togo and Ghana, the Ewe people have a myth of such a vampire, called the Adze. The Adze is a type of vampire creature who turns itself into a firefly or other insect to feed before returning to its human form. They can transform themselves into any number of common insects which are seemingly harmless, and very difficult to capture.

So you think, ha ha ha, a vampiric firefly? Whatever!

But then you keep reading and discover there is no known defense against an Adze.


An insect form is much tricksier than bats or wolves, that's all I'm sayin'.
vivien: (halloween)
We are back to a North American monster - the Underwater Panther, a powerful underworld being of Native American tribes.

According to Wikipedia:

Underwater panthers were powerful creatures in the mythological traditions of some Native American tribes, particularly tribes of the Great Lakes region. In Ojibwe, the creature is sometimes called Mishibizhiw ("Mishipizhiw", "Mishipizheu", "Mishupishu", "Mishepishu"), which translates as "Great Lynx," or Gichi-anami'e-bizhiw ("Gitche-anahmi-bezheu"), which translates as "the fabulous night panther."

"The fabulous night panther". That is a fabulous translation. (I am not mocking; I honestly love this translation.)

The underwater panther was an amalgam of features from many animals: the horns of deer or bison; snake scales; bird feathers; the body and tail of a mountain lion; and parts from other animals as well, depending on the particular myth.

Mishipizheu were said to live in the deepest parts of lakes and rivers. Some traditions believed the underwater panthers to be helpful, protective creatures, but more often they were viewed as malevolent beasts that brought death and misfortune.
vivien: (halloween)
I did not know that Manticores came from Persian mythology! This monster has quite the pedigree.

From Wikipedia:
The manticore myth was of Persian origin, where its name was "man-eater" (from early Middle Persian مارتیا martya "man" (as in human) and خوار xwar- "to eat"). The English term "manticore" was borrowed from Latin mantichora, itself borrowed from Greek μαντιχωρας—an erroneous pronunciation of the original Persian name. It passed into European folklore first through a remark by Ctesias, a Greek physician at the Persian court of King Artaxerxes II in the fourth century BC, in his notes on India ("Indika"), which circulated among Greek writers on natural history but have not survived.

Here is a picture from a medieval manuscript: - check out the leg dangling from the mouth. Nice and gruesome, Monk of Olde.

From the redundantly named Monsters.Monstrous site:
Physically, the manticore was know as having the body of a red lion, the face and ears of a human and a tail ending in a sting like that of a scorpion. The mouth contains three rows of teeth and poisoned spines along the tail could be shot, like arrows in any direction.

In other words, pointy side up. All the time.
vivien: (halloween)
The banshee is one of my favorite monstrous creatures. She is a fairy creature tied to certain families of Ireland. She forewarns these families of deaths with her wails of mourning.

According to this site:

She usually wears either a grey, hooded cloak or the winding sheet or grave robe of the unshriven dead. She may also appear as a washer-woman, and is seen apparently washing the blood stained clothes of those who are about to die. In this guise she is known as the bean-nighe (washing woman).

An "eyewitness" account is written here:

In about the middle of the nineteenth century lived the Reverend Charles Bunworth of Co. Cork. Mr. Bunworth became deathly ill. His wife was not too worried because it looked like his health was improving.

A servant of the household knew his master was going to die. He heard the dreaded wail along with several others. He tells his story:

“As I came through the glen at Ballybeg, she was along with me screeching and keening, and clapping her hands, by my side every step of the way, with her long white hair falling about her shoulders, and I could hear her repeat the master’s name every now and then as plain as ever I heard it. When I came to the old abbey, she parted from me there, and turned into the pigeon field next to the berrin ground, and folding her cloak about her, down she sat under the tree that was struck by lightning, and began keening so bitterly that it went through one’s heart to hear it."

Mrs. Bunworth dismissed this as superstition because her husband's health was getting better.

A few nights later a low moaning accompanied by the sound of clapping was heard outside of Mr. Bunworth’s window. Two men visiting the house immediately ran outside to find the source of the sound. They found nothing and heard only silence. Meanwhile the people still in the house kept hearing the wailing and moaning and clapping. This continued for hours. All the while Mr. Bunworth began slipping away. He was dead by the morning.

I... would probably die of fright, too, if I thought a banshee was outside heralding my death with keening. I've often wondered whether the Southern tradition of owls hooting to predict death comes straight from this tradition (since so many people from Ireland and Scotland settled the Southern colonies).

I will dress up as a banshee one Halloween, because all I need is a white shroud and bloody clothes to pretend to wash. Then I'll go around screeching all night. Easy peasy and spooky, too!


vivien: (Default)

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