This is one of the last two areas of the world we are traveling too. So, let’s venture into the deep woods of the Americas to start the beginning of the final countdown!
Wendigo | Algonquian Tribes
Cannibalistic beastly humanoid, possibly once human.
- This creature is aligned with murder, insatiable, and cultural taboos against “normal” behavior. They’re also associated with the winter, the north, coldness, famine, and starvation.
- The Wendigo is bigger than a human, and whenever it feeds on human flesh, it grows! It never gains weight and will always appear thin. They’re always hungry so watch out!!
- There’s also an explanation as to why they may have been human once before turning into the Wendigo. When they were human, they may have been incredibly greedy. Or if the human was in contact with Wendigos for too long, they would become one.
- Powers include: mimicking human voices, possession, controlling weather, manipulation of darkness (sunset), control of forest creatures, healing, and incredible strength and speed.
- Believe it or not, there is a psychological disorder called the Wendigo Psychosis. People diagnosed crave human flesh even though they have access to normal food sources.
This creature was a feature in the Mummy series. Definitely something worth getting the chills over! 😱
Aqrabuamelu | Former Mesopotamia
Warrior with a scorpion body and male torso.
- These creatures (made both male and female but more known as male) were created to wage war against younger gods by an older goddess.
- They were also known to stand guard to gates leading to other gods (the list of gods differ).
- The Aqrabuamelu doesn’t have magical powers, at least not ones officially documented – only speculated. With purely physical abilities, they utilize their human body and scorpion body in their own ways.
- Wonder if they were the size of scorpions? Nope! Supposedly, their heads touch the sky.
- Along with their fearsome tail filled with poison, they’re actually skilled with a bow and arrow.
Bahamut | Middle East
Colossal fish that is one of seven layers supporting the Earth.
- Bahamut is sometimes considered a nickname. Balhut is the earliest name for the fish. Bahamut came along and is actually translated from the word, “behemoth.” (And other references but crazy!)
- You can’t see Bahamut but he keeps us out of the black abyss, while swimming around in the underworld.
- The general consensus on what Bahamut looks like revolves around a huge animal. Some stories give him different appearances but the more notable figure is the water-dwelling animal.
- Can a fish even have powers? With his size, you think that would be it. Lo and behold, in other mythological tales, Bahamut has the ability to drive someone mad if seen (which is most unlikely, but whatever.) Another version of Bahamut can control all wild predators on Earth with a simple roar, during the summer solstice. This power keeps the animals tamed until the next year.
- Weakness isn’t a word Bahamut knows…but obedience is. If he doesn’t obey his Creator…he could get killed!
Androsphinx | Egypt
Living statue with a lion body and human head, tells riddles.
- Although labeled from Egypt, the sphinx as a whole can be found in many other countries, one being Greece. Since we’re so accustomed to the Great Sphinx of Giza, we tend to forget there are others out there.
- This particular interpretation is symbolized as the incarnation of the Sun God, Ra.
- More commonly seen with a lion’s body, it can be found to have a ram or even a hawk’s head. They each have different names and different origin tales!
- The sphinx is seen as the protector of the land it watches. The body of the sphinx never changes but each head resembles that of what it protects. So, the androsphinx, compared to that of a Pharaoh…watched over the people.
- Depending on where you are or which one you’re researching, the sphinx can be seen as a monster or keeper of knowledge. You choose which interpretation you decide to pursue
We know what you’re thinking: Grandma Snake? What the heck kind of myth is that?
It’ll make more sense as you read…
Baba Yaga | Russia
Mysterious old woman who floats around in a mortar.
- The description may say a singular old woman, but this myth opens the possibility of running into not just one but three baba yagas (can it be plural?) Crazy part? They’re all equally as deformed and terrifying to look at it.
- Not only does she float around in a mortar…she’s armed. With a pestle. The thing you use to grind stuff up in the mortar. Sounds like if you get her mad, you know what will happen to you.
- She can be found in the forest, in a hut. Most people who come across her seek her out for a maternal role or something in relation to forest life. (Read some of the stories – they’re crazy!)
- Baba Yaga may be seen as a villain, but she’s portrayed as a helper or ambiguous being in a story.
- The meaning of her name varies (take a peek at the title again); baba has a variety of meanings, ranging from grandmother to sorceress. Yaga doesn’t have a clear translation but most believe it revolves around serpents.
Gamayun | Russia
Prophetic bird with the head of a woman.
- Perched on top of a pedestal of wisdom and knowledge, the gamayun speaks only of divine messages and prophecies.
- She lives on an island; this particular island is considered to be paradise.
- It might not seem like a paradise to us, though. She lives on this island alone. It might be due to wanting to separate herself away from humankind and other animals since she knows the demise of it all and wants to watch it all unfold.
- Alongside another mythological creature, the Gamayun played a huge role in integrating Christianity into society.
- A singer of hymns and all-knowing creature…the Gamayun still has her influence on Russia. She can even be found on the coat of arms for some towns!
You read that title correctly. We’re talking about a mythological creature who tickles his victims to death…not a way I want to go. We’re traveling to West Asia, and for the next four weeks, this is where we’ll stay.
Şüräle | Turkey
“Horned, woolly humanoid that tickles people to death.”
- The Şüräle has long fingers (used for tickling), a horn on its forehead (like a unicorn), and a woolly body (similar to that of a sheep.) Somehow, this terrifying sounding creature lures people into the thicket of the forest it resides in and tickles them to death.
- It can transform its body, usually into a human. The human will almost always have glowing eyes and wear its shoes backwards. Lo and behold, this may or may not be how they lure their victims in.
- If you’re lucky enough, you can befriend the monster and learn the secrets to magic. People will make deals with it and gain the creature’s protection of livelihood and animal stock. Beware though…if the Şüräle doesn’t like you, they’ll make you ill or force you to get lost.
- In a lighthearted way, the Şüräle can be a jokester; there’s a myth about them taking the axes of woodcutters and hiding them.
- In order to get the Şüräle off your back if you come across it, you have to turn your clothes inside out and wear your shoes backwards.
This week is our last week in Eastern Asia. Disregard the photo chosen for this week’s creature; there weren’t many options that really embodied what the creature is but there is very little to go on! You can be the judge.
Next week, we embark on mythological creatures deriving from Western Asia. Join us on our journey around the world!
Santelmo | Philippines
“Spiritual presence in the form of a dancing orb of flame.”
- The name santelmo translates to ‘St. Elmo’s fire.’ It is also referred to as ‘Santo Elmo.’
- Recently, the fires seen dancing along have been debunked by scientists…even though these fires have been reported since the Spanish era (that’s almost 500 years ago!)
- Where did the name St. Elmo come from? To be clear, St. Elmo is the patron saint of sailors. Whenever the weather phenomenon (which is what scientists have deemed the fire) occurred, sailors saw it as a good sign. That’s a bit scary to be called a good thing, if you ask me.
- If the santelmo was inspired by a weather phenomenon which occurs at sea, what does the creature look like? The best description is as follows (from Cryptid wikia!):
St. Elmo’s fires have ranged from a ghostly dancing flame to natural fireworks. It usually is of a blue of bluish-white colour attached to fixed, grounded conductors and has a lifetime of minutes. The flame is heatless and non-consuming occasionally accompanied by a hissing sound. These latter properties prove the myths of a spiritual presence.
- The ball of fire spirit can come from the spirits of those who die in a river, the sea or while it’s raining. These versions of the santelmo are dangerous. They’ll drown someone!
Maria Makiling | Philippines
“Nymph guardian spirit of Mt. Makiling in Laguna”
- She is considered a fairy or forest nymph, who is guardian to the mountain and helps the villagers and townspeople who utilize the resources the mountain provides.
- The reason the guardian of the mountain is a woman and not a man resorts back to what people see when they look at the mountain: a woman’s face and two breasts, with long hair going down her back.
- When spotted, the woman is seen to be young and doesn’t age. She’s usually surrounded by a white fog and her clothes are radiant.
- There are a variety of superstitions when it comes to Maria…she’s not exactly pleasant all the time and will steal men to live with her in the mountain. Ladies, you’re safe…for now…
- Her powers include: immortality, magic, nature control, conjuration, and invisibility.
Airavata | India
“A pristine, winged elephant that creates rain, steed to the God, Indra.”
- Other names for Airavata are: abrha-matanga (“elephant of the clouds”), naga-malla (“the fighting elephant”), or Arkasodra (“brother of the sun”). The name, Airavata, loosely translates to “belonging to Iravati.”
- This isn’t a normal elephant…it has ten tusks and five trunks. To top it off it’s white and spotless!
- Last week, we talked about the churning of the ocean of milk, which created several treasures (or mythological creatures) alongside uchchaihshravas – one being Airavata. This is according to one legend – not the final answer!
- The lovely Airavata is actually incorporated into a couple of flags like Laos and Thailand.
- The Airavata is one of eight deities to look over the eight points of a compass. That’s quite the job!