spirits

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 heightโ€”that it uses to lick toilets. Image: Edo shokoku hyaku monogatari, 17th Century

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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 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.

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Man being persecuted by goblins and other spirits. From โ€œLe serpent de la Genรจseโ€ (The Serpent of Genesis) Volume 1, by Stanislas de Guaita, 1920. Source: Embassy of the Free Mind


๐Ÿ“– Purchase Book (affiliate link, free digital version linked above)

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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

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Barong is the benevolent king of the spirits in Balinese mythology, and the enemy of Rangda, the demon queen. In Bali, each region of the island has its own version of Barong modeled after different animals, including a lion, pig, and tiger. Image: an edit of work by Beeyan on Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

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Alchemist and Magician Edward Kelly, in the act of invoking a spirit of the dead at the churchyard of Walton Ledale, from “The book of black magic and of pacts” by A.E. Waite, 1898. The companion in the circle is likely Paul Waring, who helped him with all of his conjurations. Source: Embassy of the Free Mind


๐Ÿ“– Purchase Book (affiliate link, free digital version linked above)

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Pustahas were books of magic, made of tree bark, used by spiritual leaders of the Batak people of Northern Sumatra. The first of these pustahas is inscribed with instructions on how to protect oneself from evil. Source: KITLV & Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde

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Akton is a demon that causes aches and pains in humans, afflicting the ribs and lower back. According to the Testament of Solomon, he can be rid by saying the names Marmaraoth and Sabaoth. The latter being one of the Hebrew names for God.

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According to Kabbalah, when a person’s body decomposes or is cremated, a tiny bone at the base of the spine, called the luz, always remains intact. When the dead are resurrected, their physical bodies will reconstitute from this seed-like bone. Image: J. Gamelin, 1778โ €

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Depictions of demons and the devil with extra faces, often on the groin, are common in medieval manuscripts. Some theorize that it represents their spiritual corruption, by emphasizing the senses that focus on the material world, others think it’s merely to make them monstrous.

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The preeminent source of jinn-lore is One Thousand and One Nights (aka Arabian Nights), a collection of tales from Arabic, Persian, Egyptian and Mesopotamian traditions. The evolving collection has stories of characters we know today, like Aladdin and Sinbad.


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