creatures

Here’s one yokai you don’t want to help with your spring cleaning: the Akaname is goblin-sized creature, with slimy black hair, from Japanese folklore whose tongue is twice as long as its heightβ€”that it uses to lick toilets. Image: Edo shokoku hyaku monogatari, 17th Century

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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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Balor was the leader of the Fomorians, a group of demonic beings from Irish Mythology. He was a giant with a poisonous eye wreaked havoc in battle. The eyelid was so heavy, that it took the strength of four warriors from his army to lift it. He was killed with a sling-stone to the eye by his grandson. Image: JFarren on Deviant Art

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A nuppeppo is a wrinkly, featureless yokai with powder-white skin that smells of rotting flesh. It’s a harmless, solitary creature that can be found in deserted towns, graveyards, and temples. Some say eating a nuppeppo will grant eternal youth. Image: Hyakkai Zukkan

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Hyosube is a Japanese yokai, that’s a cousin to the kappa. This child-sized river monster comes out at night and loves to gorge himself on eggplants, sometimes ravaging an entire field. If Hyosube laughs, and you join him, you will die. Image: Bakemono no e

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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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Lamashtu is a demon/malevolent goddess from Mesopotamian mythology who afflicts women during childbirth, and kidnaps breastfeeding children to gnaw on their bones and suck their blood. She’s the daughter of the Sky God Anu. The demon Pazuzu is invoked against her for protection.

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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 β€œLe serpent de la GenΓ¨se” (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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Ipos or Ayporos is a great earl and prince who has the power to make dull men audacious and witty. He knows the past and future and commands 36 legions of other demons. He’s said to be dirtier than a lion, and some depictions show him with a lions head. From Dictionnaire Infernal, 1863.


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