The mandrake is a mythologized plant with a root that looks like a human figure. The root is poisonous and hallucinogenic, it was once a common anesthetic and potion ingredient. Legends say mandrakes scream and cry when uprooted—killing anyone who hears. So use safe harvesting methods! Image: Ernte eines Alrauns (Medicina antiqua), 1250
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
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.
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
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
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
In Chinese mythology, Ox-Head and Horse-Face are guardians of the Underworld, and act as the equivalent to the Angel of Death. They capture and escort human souls to be judged in the courts of Hell, and are messengers of the king of Hell, Yanluo Wang. Images by Jnzl on Flickr
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
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
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.”
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
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.