Boginki are minor deities in Slavic folklore that personify nature. They appear in many different forms and dwell in swamps, lakes, rivers, forests and mountains. They’re sometimes hostile and attack women during childbirth, switch babies with changelings and destroy fishing nets. Depending on the region, Boginki were thought to previously be women who committed suicide or died in childbirth. The babies taken by them and replaced with changelings could also be turned into Boginki. Images: Maria Apoleika, 1874
The Habergeiss is a hoofed demon with glowing eyes from Germanic folklore that appears in the form of a bird, a goat, or a combination of the two. The spirit is known to take children away in a basket, which is reenacted by costumed people at various festivals. Other versions of the spirit are vampiric and suck the blood of farmers and their cattle. Image: Wolfgang Sauber (modified)
In Welsh culture, professional sin-eaters attended funerals to ritualistically eat a meal over the corpse to absorb the deceased’s sins. Every sin stayed with them until their own death, and they were often social outcasts because of the spiritual uncleanliness they accumulated. One has to wonder if sin-eaters would eat the sins of other sin-eaters, passing the spiritual debt down for generations. Image: Two Old Ones Eating Soup, Francisco Goya, 1819
The Ovinnik is an evil spirit of the barn from Slavic folklore. He may set fire to your grain and burn down your barn unless you placate him with roosters and pancakes (bliny). A warm touch from an Ovinnik on New Years Eve is auspicious for the year ahead, but a cold touch portends misery. Photo: Natalie.sk. Sculpture: Anton Shipitsa
A superstition of the American South: the first person who walks into your house on New Year’s Day will be like your chickens that year. If fat, the chickens will be fat, and vice versa. From North Carolina Folklore Journal, July 1966 Issue. Image: Brent Moore via Flickr CC-BY-NC
In Irish folklore, a changeling is a fairy child that was left in place of a human child stolen by the fae. Changelings often appear exactly like a human children but with strange differences such as long teeth, a full beard, uncanny intelligence and odd behavior. Jinn from Arabic folklore are also known to steal human children and replace them with changelings. Image: Titania and the Changeling Child (detail) by John Anster Fitzgerald, 1832-1906
Baba Yaga is a witch from Slavic folklore known for her hut that stands on chicken legs, ugly features, and penchant for eating children. She’s appeared in hundreds of folktales, in many roles, and sometimes as three Baba Yaga sisters. Images: Ivan Bilibin
Chort is a demon from Slavic folklore, son of Chernobog, who is trickster figure in folktales. It often tries to trick people into selling their souls, but is easily outsmarted. Sometimes Chort acts as a force for good, and gives heroes magical items, or takes villains to hell. Image: Wikimedia Commons
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
A broom placed on the doorsill will keep witches from entering your home. From The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Image source: Workshop of Rembrandt, possibly painted by Carel Fabritius, 1651.
Rangda is the Demon Queen of the Leyaks, flying heads with dangling entrails, such as a heart and lungs, from Balinese folklore. They have long tongues and fangs, drink the blood of new born children, and feast on corpses in graveyards. At day, they appear human.
Image is an edit of a photo by Yves Picq, CC3 Attribution
A superstition of the American South: If you wash a dog and then wash your face in the same water, you will be able to see spirits. – from North Carolina Folklore Journal, July 1966 Issue