mythicalcreatures

The Aspidochelone is creature, found in medieval bestiaries, that appears to be an island with trees, dunes, and rocky crevices—but is in reality a giant whale, sea turtle, or other sea monster. Sailors who unwittingly explored the ‘island’ found their ships and themselves in peril. Image: JaniceDuke

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Umibozu is a sea monster yokai who creates storms and breaks ships. Often appearing at night, the yokai will sometimes request a barrel from sailors, who would give a bottomless barrel so it wouldn’t drown them. In some regions, fishers sacrificed their first catch to the gods to prevent Umibozu’s appearance. Images: Bakemono no e, 18th Century & The sailor Tokuso and the sea monster by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1845

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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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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 height—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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Echidna is a cave dwelling, half-woman, half-snake being. With Typhon, she bore all of Greek Mythology’s most famous monsters: the regenerating Hydra, Cerberus who guards the gates of Hades, the Chimera, the riddle-giving Sphinx, and more. Image: Gabriele Delhey

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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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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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Alchemical art dragib

This alchemical dragon diagram, from “Hermaphrodite Child of the Sun and Moon” by Johann Augustin Brunnhofer (1752), gives clues on how to transmute solids to liquids to gasses, using the elements of fire and air. The 7 indentations on the wings represent the 7 steps of the process. Source: The Embassy of the Free Mind

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A harpy-type jinn that represents the southern constellation of Cetus. Harpies are dangerous half-human half-bird creatures, most famously seen in Greek and Roman mythology, but the creature archetype spans many cultures. From Quazwini’s Book of Marvels, 1283

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