Beasts and Creatures

The Ngondo is yearly festival in Douala, Cameroon. A ceremony is performed by the jengu cult, in which a devotee enters the water to visit the kingdom of the miengu. Miengu (plural for jengu) are mermaid-like spirits with long hair and beautiful gap-teeth, who bestow good luck to devotees, cure diseases and allow them to communicate with the world of spirits. Image: Photokadaffi on Wikimedia Commons

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The Pooka or Puca or Pwca is a shape-shifting creature from Celtic foklore that can change into a horse, goat, cat, dog, or hare. If they take human form, they’ll have an animal feature like ears or a tail. Pookas are tricksters and can bring good or bad fortune. The character of Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was based on this creature. Image: British Goblins, W Sikes, 1881


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Louis Feuillée, a French explorer, botanist, astronomer, and geographer discoverd this curious creature in Buenos Aires during his journey to South America between 1707 – 1711. The monster was born of a ewe and had a “…contrast of three resemblances which it had, that of a child, a horse, and a calf” Source: Wikimedia Commons

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Leviathan is a massive sea serpent that appears throughout the Hebrew Bible and related texts. Originally there was a female leviathan, but God killed it out of fear that they’d multiply and destroy the world. He saved the flesh of the beast for the banquet at tLeviathan is a massive sea serpent that appears throughout the Hebrew Bible and related texts. Originally there was a female leviathan, but God killed it out of fear that they’d multiply and destroy the world. He saved the flesh of the beast for the banquet at the advent of the Messiah.he advent of the Messiah. In Binsfeld’s classification of demons, Leviathan is considered the demon of envy. Image: Gustave Doré, 1865

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The Beast of Gévaudan was a man-eating creature, sometimes identified as a wolf-dog hybrid, that attacked and killed citizens of Gévaudan, France in the late 18th century. Over 600 attacks were recorded, some victims having their throats torn out. Image: Gallica Digital Library

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Cynocephaly or “having the head of a dog” is a characteristic found in many mythological and folklore traditions across the world, such as ancient Egypt, India, Greece, and China. These humanoid, dog-headed beings were often described by travelers coming back from far off lands. Images: Saint Christopher by Anonymous, 17th Century | The Egyptian Book of the Dead, 1550 BCE | Kievan Psalter by Unknown, 1397 | Man with dog head by Hartmann Schedel, 1493.

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The kallikantzaroi are evil goblins, found in Greek folklore, who live underground and saw the World Tree to try to collapse the earth. When Christmas season begins, they abandon their task to terrorize humans. On Epiphany, they return but the tree has healed itself.

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The nuckelavee is a fearsome sea monster found on Scotland’s Northern Isles that, when on land, has been described as humanoid rider fused with a horse, skinless with black blood coursing through yellow veins. Its breath wilts crops and is responsible for epidemics and drought. Image: michael221 on Deviant Art CC-BY-SA

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The Baku is an entity from Japanese mythology that eats nightmares. If you have a bad dream, call out to the Baku when you wake up. But don’t do it lightly, because if your nightmare leaves it hungry, it may eat your hopes and desires as well. Image: LACMA

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The Alukah, also known as the “horse-leech”, is a giant and many toothed leech that, according to the Sefer Hasidim, takes human and wolf form. It’s possible that the word “leech” actually describes its blood feeding nature, not its appearance, and that the creature is more of a shape-shifting vampire. It can fly using its long hair and may be a descendant of Lilith.

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Man being persecuted by goblins and other spirits. From “Le serpent de la Genèse” (The Serpent of Genesis) Volume 1, by Stanislas de Guaita, 1920. Source: Embassy of the Free Mind


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The Monster of Krakow first appeared in Histoires Prodigieuses by Pierre Boaistuau, 1559. Four hours after its birth, the demonic beast reportedly uttered “Watch, the Lord cometh” and died. Source: Wellcome Collection

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