folklore

Rusalkas are water spirits from Slavic folklore, who appear as a pretty young girls with long hair. In some versions of lore, Rusalkas are the souls of drowned women or unclean spirits who lure men into water, and drown them by entangling their body with their long red hair. Image: Ivan Bilibin

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El Tío (The Uncle) is the devil-like spirit who rules over the mines of Cerro Rico in Bolivia. Statues of this “Lord of the Underworld” can be found all throughout Cerro Ricco’s mines, with offerings like cigarettes, coca leaves, and alcohol left for protection and appeasement.

“Miners may be Christians when above ground, but when in the mine, El Tio is their only god.”

Images: SHIBUYA K, Erik Duinkerken, Jofrigerio, Harry en Marleen

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In an Indian folktale, a Bodhisatta, known as the Prince of the Five Weapons, meets a demon, known as The Demon with Matted Hair, in a forest. Before it could devour him, the prince defeats the demon with discourse and reason, and turns him benevolent. Image: John Batten, 1892

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The āl, from Middle Eastern folklore, is a lilitu-like demon that steals embryos from pregnant women, or the organs of a woman who has just given birth. After doing so, the āl will run toward a river, or the nearest body of water to wash the stolen organs, before eating them. To prevent the creature from crossing, you must stir the water with a stick or sword before she’s finished.

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Barong is the benevolent king of the spirits in Balinese mythology, and the enemy of Rangda, the demon queen. In Bali, each region of the island has its own version of Barong modeled after different animals, including a lion, pig, and tiger. Image: an edit of work by Beeyan on Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

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Pustahas were books of magic, made of tree bark, used by spiritual leaders of the Batak people of Northern Sumatra. The first of these pustahas is inscribed with instructions on how to protect oneself from evil. Source: KITLV & Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde

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Akton is a demon that causes aches and pains in humans, afflicting the ribs and lower back. According to the Testament of Solomon, he can be rid by saying the names Marmaraoth and Sabaoth. The latter being one of the Hebrew names for God.

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Depictions of demons and the devil with extra faces, often on the groin, are common in medieval manuscripts. Some theorize that it represents their spiritual corruption, by emphasizing the senses that focus on the material world, others think it’s merely to make them monstrous.

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The preeminent source of jinn-lore is One Thousand and One Nights (aka Arabian Nights), a collection of tales from Arabic, Persian, Egyptian and Mesopotamian traditions. The evolving collection has stories of characters we know today, like Aladdin and Sinbad.⠀

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Illustrations by Martin van Maële from the 1911 edition of the book Satanism and Witchcraft (La Sorcière) by Jules Michelet, first published in 1862. While widely inaccurate, the book was one of the first sympathetic portrayals of the history of witchcraft.

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The Compendium Of Demonology and Magic is a book full of bestiary illustrations and magical diagrams, written in German and Latin. It’s title page has the warning “Don’t Touch Me” and the year 1057, but it’s been dated to 1775. Likely the book was created to sell to collectors.⠀

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Ezequiel or Chazaqiel is one of the fallen Watcher Angels, class of angels meant to be sentinels or messengers of Yahweh. He taught forbidden knowledge to humans, including how to identify omens the clouds. He was also known to lust after women. ⠀

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