mythology

Erlik or Erik Khan is the pig-faced god of death and rulers of demons in Siberian mythology, and the first creation of Ulsan the creator god. He judges the dead and is assisted by evil spirits that cause misfortune, sickness, and death, including 9 sons and daughters. Image: Dictionnaire Infernal

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Botis (or Otis) is a demonic earl, president and one of the Spirits of Solomon. He appears as a viper with a sword, and can be commanded to take human form—but he’ll retain some of his demonic features if he does. He’s good for reconciling friends or enemies & answering questions. Image: 72goetia.com

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Decarabia is 69th of the 72 Spirits of Solomon. He has an unusual appearance for a demon: he’s described as manifesting as a star and/or pentagram, before taking human form. He has power over birds and can give them as familiars, and imparts knowledge of herbs. Image: 72goetia.com

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Despite being established as the Roman goddess of the harvest and springtime growth, Proserpina is also listed as a demon in Dictionnaire Infernal, where she’s referred to as the Arch-She-Devil and Princess of Mischievous Spirits. Photo: Barbara Caffi

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Alchemical emblem 2, Atalanta Fugiens, Michael Maier, 1618. Depicted on bottom: Romulus nursed by a wolf and Jupiter nursed by a goat. The “Child of the Philosophers”, referring to either the Philosopher’s Stone or alchemist themself, nurses from the Earth Mother. Colorized by Eve Harms, CC0. Source: archive.org


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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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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

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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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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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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

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