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Showing posts from April, 2013

Z is for Zombie.....

Zombies are hot right now--- and no, I don't mean their body temperature, which is probably sub-arctic--- no, I mean in popularity. With "The Walking Dead" and "Warm Bodies" and the remake of "Pride and Prejudice" with the addition of Zombies... as well as numerous other classic stories that have had their plots rewritten to include a smattering of undead characters. Zombies are definitely the supernatural flavor-of-the-month (all ridiculous puns intended). So, just like my 'V' entry on Vampires, I don't intend on rehashing the 'already-more-than-overdone-everybody-knows-what-they-are definitions of Zombies.

As it is, Zombies skirt the definition of supernatural/mythological creature--- the reanimated corpse qualifies, but the hypnotized/drugged "living" individuals aren't so supernatural/mythological themselves, it's the processes that lead to their possession that falls into the realm of the supernatural, specifical…

Y is for Yeth Hound.....

Yeth Hound--- one of the incarnations of the "Black Dog" myth, this one located specifically, in Devon, England.

"Black Dogs" appear in myths across the world, most are associated with death and bad omens... i.e. Hell Hounds.

The Yeth Hound is said to be the spirit of an unbaptised child that takes the form of a headless black dog. The Hound wanders the woods at night making pitiful wailing sounds (though, I'm unclear as to how it makes wailing sounds without having a head).

The Black Dogs were possibly one inspiration from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's ghost dog in The Hound of the Baskervilles-- "an enormous coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen."



Heed Not, the Lonesome Cry
Heed not, the lonesome cry, the baleful wail echoing through the woods. Seek not, the black hound's sigh, look not where the headless creature stood.
One sound, your limbs will shake, your heart filled with the deepest dread. One glimpse, your sou…

X is for Xolotl.....

The dreaded "X" entry---- I was fortunate that both my "Q" entry and my "X" entry came from the same culture, and are essentially the same entity--- as they are twins in the Meso-American mythologies.

Xolotl--- Aztec god of fire, lightning, sickness, deformities and death. Described as a skeleton, or a dog-headed man-- even a monster with reversed feet.

Though he is connected with the Underworld, he is not a psychopomp in the sense of collecting the dead and carrying them over.

He is the twin brother of Quetzalcoatl and is the dark personification of Venus--- the Evening Star, while his brother Quetzalcoatl was the Morning Star.

It was his job to guard the sun as it passed through the Underworld at night.


Dark Venus Rising

Dark Venus Rising,
the Evening Star returns.
Walking the paths of the Underworld,
taking his night of reign in turn.

The god of lightning,
of death and fire.
Sun guardian with twin brother waiting,
standing ready as the day retires.

     …

W is for Wendigo.....

Wendigo--- malevolent, cannibalistic spirit--- capable of possessing a human. Also a  monster that humans could physically change into, were they to indulge in cannibalism.

Present in the Algonquian-speaking tribes in the Northern United States and Canada-- specifically among the tribes of Ojibwe, Saulteaux, Cree, Naskapi and Innu People.

The legend of the Algonquian people--- fear of becoming a Wendigo was strong enough to make the idea of cannibalism completely taboo--- even in extreme starvation situations. It was more accepted and perhaps encouraged that individuals commit suicide or await death by starvation in times of extreme famine, rather than risk becoming a Wendigo.

The creature was most strongly associated with winter and the north, the combination of cold and starvation.

Wendigos were the embodiment of greed and gluttony--- never being sated, always looking for the next victim to consume. It is this idea of greed/over-consumption that led to the belief, for some cultures,…

V is for Vampire.....

First off, I have no intention in covering EVERY incarnation of Vampire out in the world. There are too many, and frankly, a few of them are quite silly.... (says the blogger who is posting about Vampires with all seriousness). *cough, cough* Edward *cough, cough*

Secondly, everybody already knows nearly every myth concerning Vampires out there--- they've been a part of pop culture and our own nightmares for decades, nay, centuries.

I really only want to talk about a type of Vampire whose name I had never come across until I chanced upon a newspaper article about 10 years ago. It was a current article, about a family in Romania who dealt with their Uncle's remains the way possible Vampires in Romania have been dealt with for centuries.

I think this is what stuck with me the most. This wasn't a historical account of Vampire-hunting in the Middle Ages, no, this was a month-old story that made me realize just how much we sometimes take for granted and what we forget might be …

U is for Unicorn.....

The marker of innocence, believed by some, to have existed at one time, the Unicorn is revered for its beauty and healing powers.

White horse of European folklore with a large, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead. Its horn is said to have the power to cure illness and can make poisoned water, drinkable. In some descriptions, the Unicorn also possesses a goat's beard and cloven hooves. Its popularity stems form the Middle Ages and the Renaissance when it became the symbol for purity and grace--- only to be seen and captured by a virgin.

Though Unicorns are first mentioned in the texts of Ancient Greece, the creatures are not part of Greek mythology, but in the factual accounts of history-- for the writers of Greek natural history believed Unicorns to actually exist. The earliest account is from Ctesias (Greek physician and historian who lived during the 5th century, B.C.) who described them as "wild asses, fleet of foot, having a horn a cubit and a half in length and …

T is for Troll....

Dwelling in mountains, caves, even in isolated rocks, these creatures of Norse and Scandinavian folklore, are rarely helpful to human beings. Most often nightmarish in physical description-- they can be hostile and mischievous.

It is a belief that lightning frightens trolls away and that the din of church-bells causes trolls to leave for other lands-- this is meant to explain the absence of trolls in many of the Scandinavian regions. Then there are the Stone-Trolls, like the ones from Tolkien's The Hobbit, who turn to stone in sunlight.

From childhood, I can remember hearing/reading the old fairytale, Three Billy Goats Gruff, with the goat-brothers trying to cross the bridge to greener fields. Only, they have to contend with the Troll that lives under the bridge--- he didn't ask them to cross his bridge, he didn't seek them out... I always felt a bit sorry for the Troll, who was only protecting his bridge-home--- and perhaps looking for a tasty meal.

Beware the Path You Tak…

S is for Siren.....

Sirens--- the beautiful, the terrifying.
Vicious, but, seemingly opportunistic creatures who lured sailors to their deaths by the sound of their captivating songs. Whether the stories of these creatures were a result of surviving sailors attempting to explain their near-miss in an effort to divert the fault of their shipwreck from their hands, or whether as a warning for those leaving to ensure their fidelity to the women they left behind, is unclear...

Considered the daughters of Achelous(river god), and though they have been blamed for the death of many sailors, they were not, however, sea deities. They have sometimes been called Muses of the lower world, their sad song causing the body and soul of those sailors who hear them to fall into a fatal lethargy.

In early myths, Sirens were the combined form of birds and women. Sometimes with a large female head, their bodies covered in bird feathers, their feet...scaled. Later myths show them as female figures with the legs of birds, tho…

R is for Reaper.....

Reapers, death personified--

The belief that Death exists as a sentient creature is eons-old. Sometimes called the Grim Reaper, sometimes called the Angel of Death or the Devil of Death--the Angel of Dark and Light-- some believe the Reaper causes the individual's death (bringing their life to a close), other beliefs show death as a psychopomp (much like a Fetch) not causing their death, but being enlisted as the individual's guide to their afterlife.

In societies where the belief is held that the Reapers cause death, there has been a parallel development in the belief that Death can somehow be bribed, bought, tricked or out-witted, in an effort to avoid one's own end.

In most societies, including English, Death is personified as a male figure, often cloaked and carrying a scythe. In the Slavic and other Romance societies, the personified figure is female.

Death, is of course, inevitable--- and in ancient civilizations, like Ancient Greece, death isn't represented as a…

Q is for Quetzalcoatl.....

With all the excitement/dread/confusion/disbelief surrounding the Mayan prophecy of the world ending in 2012, how could I not do Quetzalcoatl for my letter 'Q' entry--- we won't mention the fact that there probably aren't any other 'Q' supernatural/mythological creatures that I could discuss anyway.

Until all the hoopla about the end of the world started revving up, I think I had heard Quetzalcoatl's name maybe twice in my lifetime--- enough to know how to pronounce it, but, not enough to know who or what Quetzalcoatl was.

Strange though it may be, I have found that I like the name Quetzalcoatl, and even enjoy saying it over and over again. The problem with liking such an uncommon word---all the strange looks you get when you randomly spout the name in the grocery store.

That's why I love working where I do. One of the benefits of working in a bookstore is you can use random words, like the name of a strange world-ending creature, in everyday conversati…

P is for Phoenix.....

Truly one of my favorite mythical/supernatural creatures.

I've always been fascinated by this long-living bird that could regenerate from its own ashes. There's something inspiring about this type of complete renewal.

The Phoenix is a much-needed metaphorical champion for anyone who needs a complete change-- a total absolution of their past selves and the growth of a completely new form, rising from the remnants.

This ancient Greek mythical beast is associated with the sun and was subsequently adopted as a symbol for Early Christianity.

Though there are few specific myths featuring the Phoenix, it is referenced in many early texts, sometimes being referred to as the "royal bird" or the "purple one."

Thankfully, modern works, like Harry Potter, have kept this wonderful creature alive for younger imaginations to adore.




From Pyre Redeemed
Time touches not, what fire's kiss has wrought,  from ash a life reborn.
With feathered flame, eternal hope remains, all…

O is for Ogre.....

Ogres are enormous and many times, grotesque, humanoids found in the mythologies of several nations. The word, Ogre, itself is of French origins, one of the earliest references being a pseudo-historical account of Britain--- the term, supposedly, being used to describe creatures who lived in Britain before human settlements... most likely cave-dwelling Neanderthals (some believed to have practiced cannibalism).

These are the fairytale monsters of my youth-- I can still remember the Fee-Fi-Fo-Fumming, blood-of-an-Englishman-smelling, Ogre that lived atop the heavens-high beanstalk. He was a proper monster, threatening to eat the bones and all of that thieving brat, Jack.

These days, though, the only Ogre getting any sort of attention is the green-skinned, misanthropic hermit of a swamp-dweller, the one with the talking donkey-friend.

Ogres may be misunderstood-- the modern antihero-- but, were I to come across one-- even those of the green-skinned variety, I think I'd still give him…

N is for Nymph.....

From a Greek word that also has among its meanings, "bride" and "veil"... Nymphs are minor female deities that are characterized by their youthfulness and energy. There are several classes of Nymphs-- celestial, land, water, plant and underworld.

These spirited, young beauties are known to live in the mountains, along cool springs and in the forests or grottoes. And, though they will not die from old age or infirmity, they are not truly immortal. There are several myths of Nymphs metamorphosing into plants and/or animals for eternity. In a way they have perished from their own life, but they never really die. Just like immature insects (nymphs) who, prior to metamorphosis, are totally different creatures in form-- and sometimes function-- Nymphs take on a completely new existence.

Nymphs' carefree nature and unwillingness to bow to the control of male deities, make them, at once, both revered and scorned. They aren't bound by any rules, save their own, and o…

M is for Merfolk.....

Since man first set sail across the oceans, there have been tales of Merfolk--- or, more specifically, Mermaids. I mean, what man wouldn't hallucinate a beautiful woman when he is sick with scurvy and miles from home--- who wouldn't want a bit of comfort on the lonely sea?

Mermaids are often associated with Sirens from Greek Mythology. Though, the first known stories appeared in ancient Assyria where it is said the goddess Atargatis turned herself into a mermaid after accidentally killing her human lover. Guilt-ridden by what she had done, she dove into the sea to take the form of a fish, but, the waters refused to hide her beauty--- her divine visage remained, while her lower half took the fish-form she had cursed herself with.

I suppose it's from this myth that Mermaids were often connected with sea tragedy--- drownings, storms and shipwrecks. Though, there are still a few traditions that depict the Mermaids as good--- benevolent creatures that can and do fall in love wi…

L is for Loch Ness Monster....

With Kelpie, for my 'K' entry, still fresh, I thought it'd be fun to stick to the water for a bit. So, while we're in the realm of Celtic water creatures, why not visit with the most famous and widely known of aquatic beasties---- the Loch Ness Monster.

Though, Nessie, sort of skirts the line of supernatural creature as it is purported by many to be a cryptid, a creature whose existence has yet to be identified by the scientific community.

Those who believe Nessie an unidentified animal, have speculated that it is from the line of Plesiosaurs, while the scientific community claims it's just a modern-day myth, or at the very worst--- a hoax.

I've included the Loch Ness Monster as part of my Supernatural theme because, like Bigfoot, there's an, albeit EXTREMELY, remote chance that it's real, but, like ghosts, I won't believe it until I see it myself----- I'm a card-carrying skeptic, but, I can enjoy a smidgen of the illogical now-and-again---- wa…

K is for Kelpie.....

Today's entry is dedicated to my wonderful social club pledge sister, who sent me off from our college sanctuary with a copy of "Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales", containing an inscription that the "magic and mischief of the Kelpie follow me".... She knew I had an affinity for water and for mischief...and for all-things Celtic--so the Kelpie seemed to suit---- though, I'm not quite as savage as many folktales paint Kelpies.

Kelpies are Celtic water horses, believed to haunt the lochs and rivers of Scotland and Ireland. The Kelpie was known to appear as a "lost pony", though, its identity is given away by its constantly dripping mane. Most stories give the color of the Kelpie's coat as black, though there are a few that mention the color white. The texture of the Kelpie's skin is likened to the smoothness of a seal, but its temperature is "cold as death to the touch."

Like many other tales of supernatural creatures, the Kelpie were …

J is for Jinn....

There's probably very few people who haven't heard of Genies and their wish-granting powers--- Aladdin and his magic lamp has made its way into children's stories and even into a few cartoon/live-action movies. Who wouldn't want their very own Genie to grant their smallest...er, largest wishes?

Jinn or Djinn or Genies are spirits that inhabit dimensions outside the visible realm of humans. Jinn is an Arabic word that literally means, "hidden from sight."

In Islamic theology, Jinn are creatures with freewill, that are made from smokeless fire by Allah.

The stories and mythologies surrounding the Jinn are as varied and contradicting as the wishes you could ask for--- some say they're immortal, some say they're mortal. Some say they grant wishes, others say they don't. They have been likened to the same class of mythical/spiritual creatures as Angels.

There are several kinds of Jinn, including shape-sifters and winged jinn whose enormous wings can re…

I is for Imp.....

Mischievous, wild and playful, these wee spirits, are not known for being attractive. These Germanic lesser demons were classed with fairies in early myths---their attributes much more playful in the older stories. But, later myths separated and realigned the stories, pulling the "good" stories into the fairy realm and the "bad" stories into the hovels of the less beautiful and lesser liked Imps.

Imps are thought to be immortal, though there are certain weapons that can harm them.

They are thought to be lonely creatures who seek out human attention, even enlisting their silly jokes and pranks as a means of entertaining the humans they seek to have contact with. Many times, however, their jokes and pranks backfire, annoying the very humans they seek approval from, driving them to find ways of ridding their homes of these trouble-making tricksters.

The images of Imps can be found in Art and Architecture, though they are many times painstakingly hidden-- beneath over-h…

H is for Hellhound.....

Hellhounds are supernatural dogs found in the folklore and mythologies of many cultures. The names might change, but the ominous and deathly aura that surrounds them, does not. They are often times seen as guards to the underworld, though they've been known to guard cemeteries and have even been enlisted to hunt down lost souls. Hearing the howl of a Hellhound means certain death in some European countries.

The name for Hellhounds vary from country to country--- Barghest, Black Shuck, Dip, Cwn Annwn, Moddy Dhoo, Yeth Hound, Grim.....

Probably one of the most well-known of Hellhounds is the three-headed Cerberus from Greek mythology, who guards the gates of the underworld, preventing those who have crossed the river Styx from escaping. Though, when I took Mythology in High School, we never classified Cerberus as a "Hellhound"--- just a 3-headed dog that guarded the gates of Hades.

Three heads aside (as this isn't the most common description of Hellhounds), these creat…

G is for Ghost.....

I guess you really can't have a blog-theme covering the supernatural without addressing the quintessential supernatural creature--- the ghost.... There are so many kinds of ghosts, ranging from the innocently mischievous to the destructively violent. They haunt, they possess, they moan, and wail, and depress. They have unfinished business. They died tragically or wrongfully. You name it, and I'm sure someone's seen the ghost of it.

The stories are on the lips of every man, woman and child--- the scary stories in the dark, the porch-side memories of battlefield phantoms, the terrifying initiations involving spirit summoning.... if we can't scare the crap out of ourselves, then we really aren't happy, are we??

So, basic definition--- the soul or spirit of a once living person or animal that can manifest itself, either visibly or in some other form, to those still alive. 
I'm sure I don't have to go into much more detail, as 'ghosts' have always been …

F is for Fetch....

I used this word during my first round of A-Z blog two years ago, so this is a bit of a cheat...but, I love the obscure meaning of the word so much that I feel it bears repeating.... not to mention, my post on Doppelgangers was a bit lacking, so I thought I could do another "doubles" post, giving this one some of the attention my "D" post lacked.

A Fetch is a disembodied spirit of a living person. It usually appears to neighbors or friends at the moment of, or right before the person passes away. The Fetch is thought to be the impression a person has of a loved one, right before their death--- when someone says, "it was the strangest thing, I hadn't thought about her in years, until last night and this morning I get word that she's passed" ---this anomaly, in the past, has been attributed to a Fetch.
The purpose of a Fetch has given rise to the more modern meaning of the word, fetch--- to retrieve or gather something--- as it was a Fetch's job…

E is for Elf.....

There are more types of Elves in more mythologies than I care to list and define here. Suffice it to say, there's an elf for just about anything---- from wood elves, snow elves, moon elves, aquatic elves to Christmas elves.

And, whether they are like the androgynous beauties of Middle-Earth or the tiny Cobbler elves that are more synonymous with gnomes or dwarves, elves are all connected to some form of magic... or, magick.

Most elves resemble the physical form of humans. Even the most diminutive of elves, are distinctly human-looking--with one singular difference given to just about every 'species' of elf----pointy ears.

Am I saying that every humanoid creature with pointy ears is an elf? Certainly not.... otherwise Mr. Spock might have some explaining to do. Just that the story description of elves, especially the more modern elf-lore, depicts elves as having pointy ears.

The name 'elf' derives from the Old English aelf and is seen in ancient words such as, aelfad…

D is for Doppelganger.....

Oi....my time/energy is running short today, so the post for letter D isn't getting as much attention as I would have liked---- but, such is life

Doppelganger, a supernatural phenomenon most people are familiar with--- essentially a person's double (sometimes considered their alter-ego, sometimes considered a portent of bad times, sometimes considered the harbinger of death).

The name comes from the German loanword, Doppelganger (doppel= double ... ganger= walker).

The story we've all heard since childhood is that everybody has a twin somewhere in the world. And, if you subscribe to the notion of there being an infinite number of universes, then, it might even be safe to assume that there are several copies and/or versions of yourself in other universes out there---though, let's not talk about the doubles made of moon-cheese.





Look Once, Look Twice
See me here, See me there, See my doubles walking everywhere.
Here I am, There I go, You're sure you saw me only once be…

C is for Cockatrice.....

Couldn't pass up a supernatural creature with a name like Cockatrice----

A bit of a mixed-up mutt, this one.... basic description: a two-legged, winged dragon with the head of a rooster-- supposedly born from a rooster's egg (the most distinctive feature of the egg is its lack of yolk) and incubated by a toad/snake (depending on the story). Legend says, if you find an egg that has no yolk, you're supposed to toss it over your house, making sure it doesn't touch the roof.. this is the only way to prevent the hatching of a cockatrice.

This beast's been around since about the 12th century, the story of its "birth" varying from place to place. And, over the centuries its physical description and poisonous traits have been compared to the ancient Basilisk--- many times the two creatures have been synonymous and even inter-changeable... though a Basilisk is most often depicted without wings and its creation is from a snake's egg that is incubated by a cocke…