Saturday, April 30

Z is for Zmeu

Woohoo! So, we've made it to the end of the A to Z Challenge. Who else is really excited about that? First of all, I'd like to say Thank You to everyone who has stopped by, commented, and followed my blog. You guys and gals have blown my mind! It's been a phenomenal month getting to meet everyone.

And now onto today's topic. A Zmeu is of Romanian folklore and mythology. It's basically a slavic dragon with anthropomorphic features, namely its humanoid legs, arms, and ability to use and make possession such as weapons. His magical powers include the ability to shapeshift, fly, and spit fire. He has supernatural strength.

In Romanian mythology, the zmeu is seen as the embodiment of selfishness and greed. He typically steals something that's very important, and Făt-Frumos, the Romanian version of "Prince Charming," has to gain it back through his selfless bravery. Even though the zmeu has amazing abilities, it's no match for Făt-Frumos.

In Moldavia, a zmeu is sometimes pictured as a vampire-like creature that takes the shape of a flame then goes in the room of a young girl or widow. Once inside, he becomes a man and seduces her.

Interesting Tidbits:
  • The name zmeu most likely comes from the Slavic word Zmey, which is a Slavic dragon with three heads. The plural form is zmei, and the feminine forms are zmeoaică and (fem. plural) zmeoaice.
  • Some English translations refer to a zmeu as a variation of an ogre or giant from western European mythologies. Like ogres, a zmeu kidnaps a maiden to be his wife in his otherworldly realm.
  • The word zmeu also refers to the kites that children fly. It's also the word for dragon in German, Russian, Norwegian, Swedish and Scottish English.
Have you heard of the Zmeu before? What do you think of them? Have you enjoyed the A to Z Challenge this month?

Friday, April 29

Y is for Yeti

The Yeti, also known as the Abominable snowman, is an ape-like creature that prefers the frozen mountain ranges of Himalaya, Nepal, India and Tibet. Meh-Teh is the common term it's known as in the region.

While similar to Bigfoot, the Yeti's North American counterpart, the Yeti differs in both preferred terrain, temperature and general surroundings. Men have hunted the Bigfoot with fervor, but the Himalayan mountains give plenty of cover and peace to the Yeti, as well as act as a natural deterrent to eager hunters.

The few eyewitness reports available say that the Yeti is a large creature that walks on two legs. It has a massive frame and ape-like features. The size of markings found in the snow suggest a creature, or creatures, able to walk great distances and reach to heights that normal humans, and sometimes even Sherpas, would have difficulty reaching.

Interesting Tidbit:
  • In 1960, Sir Edmund Hillary, a New Zealand mountaineer, went in search of physical evidence of the Yeti existence. After sending a Yeti scalp from the Khumjung monastery to the West to be tested, the results showed it was probably the scalp from a Himalayan antelope. Anthropologist Myra Shackley didn't agreed saying that the "hairs from the scalp look distinctly monkey-like and that it contains parasitic mites of a species different from that recovered from the serow." (The Himalyan antelope is a serow.)
  • Walt Disney World's roller coaster Expedition Everest contains a 25-foot-tall audio-animatronic Yeti during the ride.
  • For a list of movies, songs, and other popular culture items that feature the Yeti: click here.
Have you heard of the Yeti before? Seen references to it in pop culture? Let me know!

Thursday, April 28

X is for Xana

The Asturian nymph, Xana, is typical water spirit. Tied to a location of pure running water, she is usually described as a fair maiden of Nordic origins with blonde or light brown hair, slender frame, and extraordinary beauty.

While nymphs, in general, are not inherently malicious, they do have their darker sides. The xana, for instance, replaces human babies with their own. Some tales talk of darker colored xanas, who crawl through keyholes and steal belongings or bite the people living inside.

Some tales mention enchanted xanas who need help to release themselves of the spells and curses cast on them. After being unbound by the curses, the xana repays with gold and silver that it has either stolen, or found, before returning to its source of water.

Interesting Tidbits:
  • Should a xanino, a baby xana, be exchanged for a human infant, it will grow up within a matter of months.
  • Asturians have a method of telling if the child has been changed, which is placing eggshells near fire to make the young xanino exclaim his true nature, despite his young age.
Have you heard of the Xana before? What do you think of these water nymphs?

Wednesday, April 27

W is for Wendigo

The Wendigo is from Native American mythology, more specifically to the Algonquian-speaking tribes. It is a spirit of cannibalism that either manifests itself or possesses humans and slowly turns them into a horrifying monster who craves the flesh of his own kin. Unlike vampires or zombies, the Wendigo is a living spirit. Also, it is usually tied to cold winter and starvation that impacted multiple Native American tribes.

Appearing ghoulish with ashen colored skin, bulging eyes, and an extremely emaciated body, the Wendigo strikes fear with its looks, its sharp claws and fangs, and unending hunger. The spiritual and mental corruption of the spirit slowly changes the host until nothing distantly human remains of the possessed. At the final stages, after eating human flesh, the stench of corruption and death will permeate the body of the Wendigo, making it unable to mask its presence anymore to anyone who might encounter it.

The tribes used the Wendigo as a means of self-control, moderation and cooperation, as corrupt and greedy people were apt to become Wendigos themselves. While having to eat human flesh to survive the harsh winters was a unavoidable at times, those who survived tended to commit suicide or resign themselves to death due to the fear of becoming possessed and therefore dangerous to the tribe as a whole. If left unchecked, those who had consumed human flesh were very likely to develop Wendigo psychosis, a state where the person will prefer, if not crave, to cannibalize again despite having a multitude of other food sources available.

Such state is most likely a basis to certain Wendigo tales among the natives.

Interesting Tidbits:

  • After feeding and gorging itself, the Wendigo grew in proportionate size, retaining the hunger and thus always remaining both hungry and emaciated despite consuming multiple bodies.
  • For Algonquian culture, it was not uncommon for someone to develop a craving for human flesh over time, and the fear of such sparked stories of the Wendigo. 
  • Just 25 miles from food supplies at Hudson's Bay Company post, Swift Runner, a Plains Cree trapper, murdered and ate his wife and five children after his eldest son had died during the winter 1878. He is one of the most famous cases of Wendigo psychosis.
So, what are your thoughts on Wendigos and Wendigo psychosis? Have you heard about these before? Seen a TV show or movie with them or read anything about them?

Tuesday, April 26

V is for Valkyrie

Valkyries, from Norse mythology, are "the chooser of the slain." This comes parts of the Old Norse name valkyrjur with valr meaning "slain on the battlefied" and kjósa meaning "to choose." These warrior women are an ingrained part of the mythology and viking culture.

Valkyrie are fierce women, with blond hair and tall build. Wielding a gilded shield and a sword, trident or spear as their preferred weapon, they are viewed truly worthy of welcoming any brave warrior to Valhalla. They select only the most heroic of the fallen and bring them to Odin.

When not on battlefields, the valkyrie served mead to the fallen in Odin's great hall. They also are usually described as the lovers of great warriors. They are associated with swans and can even shapeshift into them.

Interesting Tidbits:

  • While depicted on various amulets from the Scandinavia to the Germany, the myth of valkyries (as well as Old Norse runestones and traditions) has traveled far beyond those regions with the Vikings, even becoming part of other cultures.
  • Some believe that the origins of the valkyries point to demons who hunted the souls of the fallen and captured them for slaves after battle. Others claim they are the female personification of death, who reaps the souls from fallen men.
  • Valkyries aren't an entirely new subject on my blog. For more information, check out Into the Paranormal: Fylgjur and Valkyjur.
Your turn! What do you think about Valkyries? Have you read, watched, or played something with one in it?

Monday, April 25

U is for Upier

Upiers, are from Eastern European folklore. Mainly from Pomerania, a region of modern Poland. These vampires, differ from the rest of their kind in a somewhat drastic way. Unlike normal vampires, upiers are awake between noon and midnight, giving it an extended period of awareness during the day and protection against mortal threats. Having an unquenchable thirst and vicious nature, the upier steals and devour the hearts, which it probably values as much, if not more, than the blood itself.

While still being vulnerable to the classic decapitation and stake through the heart method, the upier is less affected by clerical measures, and it has a degree of indifference towards charms or crosses, which is typical to Slavic tradition.

However, one can protect himself by baking bread that has vampire blood mixed in with the flour before baking. This apparently makes the person smell partially tainted or appear less desireable to the upier. To prevent a person from becoming upier, one must bury the corpse facedown with a cross of willow near major arteries, such as neck, armpits or chest.

Interesting tidbits:
  • It has a barbed tongue that allows it to pierce its victim's skin. In addition to its sharp teeth, of course.
  • They can walk in sunlight during the day.
  • The Russian version of this vampire, the Upyr, is known to be very vicious. It attacks children and then their parents.

So, what are your thoughts on Upiers? Have you read, watched, or played something with one in it?

Sunday, April 24

Happy Easter!

I hope everyone has a delightful Easter however you choose to celebrate the day!

Tomorrow, I'll continue the A to Z Challenge with the letter U. I hope to see you then.

Saturday, April 23

T is for Troll

Trolls are originally from Norse mythology. They later moved into general Scandinavian folklore. Hideous, deformed, dimwitted, very old and strong, trolls are giants compared to normal men. Trolls have always been the unkind kin to the jötnar.

They live alone or in very small packs, usually in the countryside or a mountainous area. Trolls are lonesome and rarely friendly. Also, they tend to be highly suspicious of anything new in their surroundings. The age and wisdom trolls have give them an uncanny edge to magic, allowing them to control the primal forces of nature and the elements. While powerful, their magic is unsophisticated and sometimes even clumsy.

Trolls hide away from the deadly sunlight that can turn them to stone, spending time in caves during the daytime to rest. Many odd mountains and rock formations are said to have been trolls either caught in the daylight or hit by the lightning, turning them to stone right where they had stood.

The trolls were societies way of explaining formations of rock, mineral deposits and even disappearances of people and livestock. Their appearance and size as well as brutish behavior tended to be used as a deterrent to children inside before the woodlands got too dark. It was also a way to ridicule bullies with younger children, and to coax them away from their bad behavior. Scandinavian tales speak of multiple breeds of trolls. There were forest trolls, swamp trolls, ice and fire trolls as well as mountain trolls, who were giants even to other types.

Interesting Tidbits:
  • Very strong magic can be used to wake up a troll that has become stone. However, it usually involves a sacrifice or two.
  • Trolls are rarely cannibals, but they eat humans very eagerly, viewing them as a lesser than species.
  • When trolls migrated, they take on characteristics of their new home, for instance a forest troll can become swamp troll-like if it moves to a swampy forest after a while.

So, what are your thoughts on Trolls? Have you read, watched, or played something with one in it?

Friday, April 22

S is for Selkie

Source and more Selkie stamps
Selkies are from Irish, Icelandic, Faroese, and Scottish folklore. They are shapeshifters that change between seal and human by shedding, or putting on, their seal skin.

Originating from the Orkney and Shetland islands off the coast of Scotland, where the word selkie is Scots for "seal," the myths were spread by fishermen and traders across the rest of England. Similar stories of these creatures are found in Norway, Sweden and with the Chinook people of North America with some variations.

Most of the stories involving selkies are mournful love stories and ballads. The summation of the most common is a fisherman sees a selkie, and he takes for her as his wife, while secretly hiding her seal pelt. She thinks she's lost it forever and is sad because she longs for the sea and life as a seal, but they live happily and have several children. One of the children find the seal skin and ask what it is, and then the selkie puts it on and rushes back to the ocean. She's sorrowful again, but this time because she misses her husband and children. A very interesting Faroese variation is located here.

Other variations include male selkies who have great power to seduce women. For women to come into contact with them, they have to cry seven tears into the sea. Typically, the children of these couplings have webbed fingers and toes as an indication of their origin. Also, according to, "The MacCodrum clan of North Uist claim descent from selkies and have been known as Sliochd nan Ron, the 'Offspring of the Seals' for many generations."

Examples of selkies in literature, games, songs, and television & movies are located here. These include the movie Ondine, which I haven't seen yet but now I really want to!

So, what are your thoughts on Selkies? Have you read, watched, or played something with one in it?

Thursday, April 21

R is for Revenant

Unlike most undead, the Revenant, from Medieval European Folklore, is a returned spirit that possesses a corpse, typically its own, while retaining its intelligence and scraps of its humanity. Some classify revenants as vampires due to a certain characteristics, like occasionally drinking blood, but they are much more closely related to zombies overall.

Depiction of a Revenant.

While the revenant wears the outside appearances of the body it inhabits, it has a particular aura of dread and unease about him, making those nearby edgy. Another attribute they have is the ability to continue their (im)mortal business while retaining most of their sanity. However, their urge to obtain release by means of revenge plague their mental faculties. Nearly impervious to pain, revenant are usually eradicated in the old fashioned method of cutting off the head then staking and burning the heart.

Various outbreaks and poor medical knowledge probably contributed to the growing tales of revenants. Diseases traveled and hit multiple villages, easily creating an image that something was wrong in the area. The way people generally "found a solution" to their issue was by finding the offending undead and putting it out of its unlife. A white feverish person could be mistaken as a revenant and was usually dealt with as eagerly a buried corpse.

Interesting Tidbits:

  • Revenant comes from the Latin word revenans, which means "returning." The French word revenant means "coming back."
  • In Medieval England, the revenant was simply considered a corpse that haunts and terrorizes those around him. Although, they also were noted as seeking revenge or harassing people like friends and neighbors for specific reasons, such as avenging his murder.
  • Medieval Historians documented several stories of revenants, which usually were personal and about a specific person's who had died.

Have you heard of the Revenant before? If so, where?

Wednesday, April 20

Q is for Qiqirn

Today's letter for the A to Z Challenge was a challenge. There aren't a lot of mythological creatures that start with the letter Q, and the ones that do are pretty obscure!

Anyways... The Qiqirn is from Inuit mythology. It is a large, mostly bald dog spirit that roams the wild arctic. The only places where the dog has any hair is on its ears, mouth, feet and the very tip of its tail, which should alert anyone to become suspicious about them from afar.

If the animal is approached, the person will suffer convulsions, perhaps even epileptic seizures, that lead up to death. It will run away if you call out its name from a distance. It also will run away from other dogs since it's considered to be rather foolish and shy.

Interesting tidbit: While the arctic has less cases of rabies, mange, and similar diseases, the Qiqirn seems to be the embodiment of dog-related disease and illness.

Link with drawing:

Have you read or watched something with a Qiqirn in it? If so, what was it?

Tuesday, April 19

P is for Piru

Piru, from Finnish mythology, is considered to be a variety of things. Traditionally, the word has meant anything from a lesser devil or evil to Satan. The word has its base in the word perkele, which is tied to the old Slavic thunder god, Peru. While usually meaning the Devil himself, the word is also used for trolls, ogres, hiisi's (Finnish form of demon), and a variety of elves and gnomes that are evil or have characteristics of lesser evils.

In Finnish mythology and shamanism, pirus (both demons and devils) are roaming spirits that actively pursue their prey and the potential victims, unlike bound spirits, such as ghosts. Striking with little or no warning, they can cause illness, insanity, change the victim's personality, or even possess the victim. (Interesting side note: the state of the person being possessed is known as riivattu. The base word is riivio, which means gremlin, so the connotation is that the person being possessed has a gremlin controlling their actions.) The piru can also possess, haunt and live in buildings themselves, as opposed to normal ghosts.

Shamans and priests may exorcise the piru out of the person, which sometimes cures the illness, but it usually takes years for the victim's psyche to recover. Folklore mentions a multitude of different spells and methods used to expel such unwanted presences, ranging from using salt to a full-scale exorcism, and sometimes burning down the building.

Due to their roving personalities, pirus have been said to crash occasions, such as weddings or baptisms. Sometimes, the piru kidnapped children that were not being watched, taking them as their own. In these occasions, the child also became an invisible roaming spirit, only able to eat and drink accursed food. For instance, the piru might have knocked a jar of milk over, after which, if the maid cursed, the piru's child would have a few moments to drink what milk had spilled. If the maid said a blessing, the child would have been punished and left without sustenance.

During the early Christian era, the piru was seen as a corrective spirit that replaced the wrongs. If a household master cheated the workers out of pay, he would eventually end up in the piru's clutches and driven to insanity. But it didn't end there, the piru would also tell the workers where the master's money and goods were hidden.

Interesting tidbit: Don't fall asleep in a sauna overnight. The piru would become upset enough to kill you.

Interesting Link:

Sorry, I couldn't get hold of a picture today! Have you read or watched something with a Piru in it? If so, what was it? Also, is there a mythological creature you're itching to read about? Let me know!

Monday, April 18

N is for Nix/O is for Ogre

Hey everyone! Sorry for not posting N on Saturday. I had a busy weekend. To make up for it, today I'm going to have two posts in one, N and O.

Theodor Kittelsen's Nøkken (Norwegian form of Nix) from 1904.
Nix, or Näkki in Finnish mythology, is a water spirit in Scandinavia responsible for luring in and drowning young children and pregnant women with the occasional man every once in a while. The nix is usually a man who plays enchanting violin music in streams, waterfalls, or in the middle of the lake. He will initially have fun and play with the victims before suddenly pulling them down to the water's depths.

There are female nix, but those are rare. Usually, they have a fishtail and lure men into the water to drown. Sometimes, the nix shapeshifts into the form of a river horse. The latter of which will take the rider to the freezing depths of the lake as soon as it is mounted.

With multitude of streams and rivers, ranging from the fjords in Norway to the swampy lakes of eastern Finland, the nix has plenty of hunting ground. It's said to be most active during festivities such as Midsummer's Night and Christmas Eve, and also on Thursdays.

Interesting Tidbit: It resembles the Banshee in the characteristic that it sometimes screams in a particular area of a lake or river where someone later drowns.

Giovanni Lanfranco's Norandino and Lucina Discovered
by the Ogre
Ogres are from European folklore and described as having bulging big heads, strong muscles and unending appetite for human flesh. Nearly all mythologies have ogres as being huge, hairy, and having a large stomach. They are malevolent and dimwitted. It's said they can shapeshift, and they typically live underground.

There is also a female ogress. She is connected with water and less vicious than male ogres.

Ogres are generally viewed as a fear of cannibalism and the degeneration of humans. They show what humans are without their humanity.

Interesting Tidbit: The word ogre is French in origin. Also, it's thought that these creatures are based on the two mythical giants Gog and Magog, which are found in the Bible (in the Book of Genesis, Ezekiel, and 1 Chronicles) and the Quran.

Have you read or watched something with a Nix or Ogre in it? If so, what was it? Also, is there a mythological creature you're itching to read about? Let me know!

Friday, April 15

M is for Misty Night

Hey everyone. Sorry for the tardiness of this post! You may notice that it's not a blog post describing a creature of mythology. But, it is on a mythological being all the same in the form of flash fiction for the Blogaversary Blogfest and the A to Z challenge.

I hope you enjoy this piece. Let me know what you think in the comments section!

Misty Night
by Sarah Mäkelä

I swam through the sea, exploring my surroundings as fish mamboed around me. Popping my head up out of the water, I noticed the moon shining through the misty night sky. My attention swerved to a nearby island, and I gasped as my gazes met with a huge dark mongrel of myth. His musky scent drifted to my nostrils on the soft sea breeze. A splash sounded from behind me, and I turned away for a moment. But nothing was there. When I looked back to where the large dog had been, it was gone.

Thursday, April 14

L is for Lamia

Lamia (2nd version) by John William Waterhouse
(1909); Note the snakeskin on her lap.
Lamia are half-snake, half-woman vampiristic beings from Greek mythology. They eat children and seduce young men. Unlike Medusa, who has hair of snakes, the lamia usually wears snakeskin along her waist and her right forearm, giving hints of her actual characteristics.

According to the Greek mythology, Queen Lamia of Libya had an affair with Zeus. However, Hera found out and killed the children Lamia had already given birth to. Driven mad by this act, Lamia began eating other children and slowly became hideous and corrupt.

Mothers used to tell their children stories of Lamia to warn them of slowly awakening sexuality and to generally make the children behave. Some also used these stories to explain why certain questionable women, and their male companions, were rarely seen after they had met during the night.

Interesting Tidbits:
  • While both the lamia and Medusa share Greek roots, the lamia is described as more human of the two.
  • In modern stories, Lamia is considered a more remote creature, similar to Baba-Yaga, living in a tower or a house far away from people.
  • Considered magically adept and excelling in deception, lamia were said to have hid among the populace and wreak havoc until finally being hunted down.
Have you heard of the Lamia before? If so, where? Also, is there a mythological being you're itching to read about? Let me know!

Wednesday, April 13

K is for Kraken

The sea with its vast size has always created stories and lore of its own, ranging from whirlpools the size of small islands to magical creatures and even stories about the ends of the earth. However, few things strike seafarers with as much fear as the Kraken.

It is a massive squid capable of sinking warships and dragging them to the bottom of the sea, meanwhile creating a whirlpool that sucks down other nearby ships for miles around.

Kraken is viewed as an intelligent force of nature and the embodiment of the raging sea. It is one of the oldest and most often referred sea monsters throughout history. Its origins are tied to the Norway and Iceland, but similar stories of Kraken exists throughout seafaring cultures.

Sure, Kraken sounds like it could merely be a legend of old, but not so, there have been multiple sightings of giant squid across the globe, particularly throughout northern hemisphere and trade routes once used by Vikings. An even larger subspecies of squid, the colossal squid, has been found in the wild and reaches 33ft and possibly longer.

These recent findings suggest that there is something more to this mythological creature than meets the eye, or tentacle. Harr... harr... *grins*

Interesting Tidbits:

  • It has been the inspiration for a variety of books and movies. Here's a link to some of those. 
  • It is usually described as being the size of a floating island and has a flotilla of smaller fish accompanying it, which makes it attractive to fishermen despite the danger. A common saying when one has great catches is, "You must have fished on Kraken."
  • Seaworld Orlando has a roller coaster ride called Kraken. Although, their version is of a huge "dragon eel." Regardless, it's very fun!
So, how about you? Have you read a book, seen a movie, or been on a roller coaster ride based off the Kraken?

Tuesday, April 12

J is for Jötunn

The jötnar Fafner and Fasolt seize Freyja.
Jötunn are giants from old Norse mythology. They're extremely strong nature spirits. Their home is Jǫtunheimar, one of the nine worlds in Norse cosmology. They live well with homes fashioned like those of the gods.

Some jötnar (plural of jötunn) are described as having long claws, fangs, and deformed appearances. As well as being really tall. Others are sometimes given opposite descriptions, except the tall part. While trolls are hideous and have features like those of neanderthals, the jötnar resemble normal people through their general facial features. However, they might have multiple heads (depending on the individual), which can look into different directions.

They also live a long time and can be very knowledgeable and wise. When it comes to magic, they tend to be shamanic and make use of their brute power, allowing it to do most of their work for them. Unlike trolls, the jötnar are unaffected by sunlight and will not turn to stone like their distant cousins. This means that while the majority of populace are safe during the day, shepherds tend to disappear while herding sheep, and thus, naturally are considered to be eaten.

Here is what wikipedia says in regards to their origins:
The first living being formed in the primeval chaos known as Ginnungagap was a giant of monumental size, called Ymir. When he slept a jötunn son and a jötunn daughter grew from his armpits, and his two feet procreated and gave birth to a son, a monster with six heads. These three beings gave rise to the race of hrímþursar (rime thurs), who populated Niflheim, the world of mist, chill and ice. The gods instead claim their origin from a certain Búri. When the giant Ymir subsequently was slain by Odin, Vili and Vé (the grandsons of Búri), his blood (i.e. water) deluged Niflheim and killed all of the jötnar, apart from one known as Bergelmir and his spouse, who then repopulated their kind.
Interesting Tidbits:
  • In Norse mythology, it's said that fire jötnar, or fire giants, will torch the world at the end of Ragnarök, killing all the people, some of the gods, and themselves. All except for a man and a woman Odin sets aside in a forest that doesn't burn.
  • While jötnar are tied to Norway, they have also spread to England, where they are known as Ettin. 
  • In later times, trolls began to replace jötnar and took on many of their traits. Due to that, people started viewing them as one in the same.
Have you heard of Jötnar before? If so, where? Also, is there a mythological being you're itching to read about? Let me know!

Monday, April 11

I is for Incubus

An Incubus is a male demon that comes upon a woman when they're asleep and has intercourse with them, usually with the purpose of trying to impregnate her with his child. According to religious beliefs, continued visits by an incubus lead to the deterioration of one's health and eventually death. It also corrupts both the moral and mental aspects of the female.

These nighttime visitors were the embodiments of sexual seduction during the medieval times. They were often used to explain pregnancies out of wedlock as well as rape inflicted on the sleeping woman by someone close to the victim. The latter used it as a way to escape punishment for their actions.

The most well-known offspring of an incubus and woman, known as a cambion, is Merlin the powerful wizard from Arthurian legend. Cambion typically grown up to be powerful magic users or evildoers.

Interesting Tidbits:
  • The word incubus comes from the Latin "incubus," which means "nightmare."
  • Some consider succubi and incubi to be a single demon capable of lying with both genders, while others declare that they are two separate entities.
  • The earliest mention of incubi and succubi are from 2400 BC in ancient Mesopotamian manuscript Sumerian King List. The hero Gilgamesh's father is a "Lilu," which shares the same attributes as an incubus in that they both seduce women while they sleep.
What are your thoughts on the Incubi (or Succubi)? Have you experienced any books, movies, or games with them in it?

Saturday, April 9

H is for Harpy

Harpy, from the Greek word harpūia, means "swift robber" or "snatcher." They are personifications of destructive wind. Mostly, they live in areas where the sea is prevalent, specifically the island of Strophades. A harpies appearance includes the head and neck of a woman with the wings, bodies, and talons of a bird. They're cruel, vicious, and very violent.

In tales, harpies fly over their victims, snatch what they want whether it's food or a person, and carry them away from the help of others, or to the underworld, so the harpies can eat. However, if they don't kill their targets, they drive them to the edges of their sanity.

One of the most popular stories featuring harpies is about Phineas. Wikipedia says:
Phineas, a king of Thrace, had the gift of prophecy. Zeus, angry that Phineas revealed too much, punished him by blinding him and putting him on an island with a buffet of food which he could never eat. The harpies always arrived and stole the food out of his hands before he could satisfy his hunger, and befouled the remains of his food. This continued until the arrival of Jason and the Argonauts. The Boreads, sons of Boreas, the North Wind, who also could fly, succeeded in driving off the harpies, but without killing any of them, following a request from Iris, who promised that Phineas would not be bothered by the harpies again, and "the dogs of great Zeus" returned to their "cave in Minoan Crete". Thankful for their help, Phineas told the Argonauts how to pass the Symplegades. (Argonautica, book II; Ovid XIII, 710; Virgil III, 211, 245).
Although, they are often compared to sirens, who sink ships by seducing and luring sailors in with their voices,  harpies have directly opposite approaches to killing.

Interesting Tidbit:
  • In Dante's Inferno XIII, the second ring of the seventh circle of Hell is for suicides. They are transformed into trees and bushes, which are consumed by harpies.
  • The American Harpy Eagle is an actual bird that appears on Panama's Coat of Arms and is their national bird.
  • Harpies and sirens both became beautiful and seductive later on through Roman romanticism. This has turned the harpy into a more sorrowful spirit of death.
What are your thoughts on the Harpies? Have you experienced any books, movies, or games with them in it?

Friday, April 8

G is for Gnome

Gnomes are a more recent addition to European folklore. The earliest mentions of them date to the 16th century. Male gnomes wear red pointy caps, have big beards, and usually have a tool belt, which relates to the fact that they're technologically inclined. Female gnomes tend to wear more muted colors, has her hair in braids, and begins to grow a light beard when she reaches 350 years of age. They are very small in size, usually ranging from 5 inches to 2 feet tall depending on the source. Both genders have a very long lifespan.

German Garden Gnome
Gnomes are considered more human than their more unluckier cousins and fierce rivals, goblins. Both are viewed as a type of a earth spirit, but gnomes are known as inventors and alchemists, while goblins use crude but effective tools. Gnomes also tend to be capable of earth-related magic.

There are several different types of gnomes. Woodland gnomes, Dune gnomes, House gnomes, Farm gnomes, Garden gnomes, and Siberian gnomes. Woodland and Dune gnomes avoid contact with humans. House and Farm are good-natured and more likely to interact with humans. Garden gnomes enjoy living in older gardens and telling depressing stories. The Siberian gnome is meaner and takes revenge for even the smallest of offenses.

Interesting Tidbits:
  • The origin of the word gnome comes from Latin word gēnomos, which means "earth-dweller." In the 16th Century, a Swiss alchemist named Paracelsus first wrote about gnomus omitting the "ē," which the OED noted was a blunder. The word as we know it today came about in the early 18th century, but it became popular in the 19th century due to their popularity in children's fairy tales.
  • In Scandinavian mythology, they're thought to have always existed but were mostly considered related to other beings, such as fairy or fey.
  • During the 20th century, due to the popularity of 19th century fairy tales, gnomes became synonymous with other domestic spirits, which protected the residence and did household chores, losing their distinctness of being tied to earthy, subterranean lives.
Here's a fun video from the video game Fable 3, which features a gnome hurling insults at the main character. It's pretty darn funny.

Who are your favorite Gnomes? What books, movies, or games have you enjoyed with them in it? Has anyone seen the newish movie Gnomeo and Juliet?

Thursday, April 7

F is for Furies

The Furies, or Dirae, are part of Roman mythology. In Greek mythology, they're called Erinnýes ("the angry ones") or Eumenídes ("the Kindly Ones"). They're the embodiments of vengeance. One description of their existence is that they came from the blood of Caelus (Greek: Uranus) when it fell upon Terra Mater (Gaia) due to Saturn (Cronus) castrating him. Another variation is that they were born from the primordial goddess of night, Nox (Nyx).

While typically thought of as three sisters, according to mythology, the real number of them are unknown. Virgil, the classical Roman poet, was first to recognize the three known Furies. Their names are Alecto (which means "unceasing"), Megaera ("grudging"), and Tisiphone ("avenging murder"). They tend to appear as women with serpent wreathes on their heads, blood running from their eyes and the wings of a bat or bird. And occasionally even the body of a dog.

When they're not pursuing wrongdoers on Earth, the Furies are thought to spend most of their time in Tartarus, which is in the underworld below Hades, torturing damned souls.
'Orestes Pursued by the Furies' (1921) by John Singer Sargent
Interesting Tidbits:
  • On a rare few occasions, they would be called to punish a god, but mostly, they sought justice on mortals who broke laws such as murdering kin or breaking oaths.
  • A common Greek story featuring the Furies is "Eumenides" by Aeschylus. The Furies torment Orestes until he begs the goddess Athena to convince the Furies to leave him alone.
  • The Furies are known to be just, so if one repents, they will stop tormenting the person and sometimes bestow upon them blessings.
Good links to check out for more information:
What are your thoughts on the Furies? Have you experienced any books, movies, or games with them in it?

Wednesday, April 6

E is for Elf

Yes, it's true! Today's topic for the A to Z challenge isn't as obscure as the past two have been. Surprisingly, I racked my brain trying to think of a topic today before smacking myself upside the head. Scary really, since a life-sized Legolas shares my office with me.

Legolas from Lord of the Rings.
So, Elves are beings originally from Germanic mythology (basically Old Norse, Old English, and German). They're also featured in modern folklore (Scandinavian, German, English & Scottish, and don't forget Santa's helpers). In Norse mythology, they're divided between light elves (Ljósálfar) and dark elves (Dökkálfar). They have magical powers which they can use to help mankind or hurt it. Also, they're very connected with nature and tend to live in forests and away from people.

Appearance-wise, elves are famous for their pointed ears and delicate beauty. Light elves tend to look like my friend Legolas up there with light hair, pale skin, and blue eyes. Dark elves, on the other hand, have black hair, dark eyes, and black skin. In terms of behavior, while dark elves tend to stay away from people and can be slightly hostile, light elves are willing to talk to people provided you're able to meet one.

Having a dislike in iron (since it limits their powers), elves prefer the finer metals of silver or gold. Their normal working tools tend to be bronze. This is one of the reasons why elves utilize bows and arrows, as well as the obvious advantage of having their enemies at a distance.

Elves have become a staple to the fantasy genre both in literature and gaming, helped by the success of the hugely popular roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons.

Interesting Tidbits:
  • Some variations of elves depict them as very small-statured. This was especially prominent in Victorian literature.
  • The way elves appear in the high fantasy genre and J.R.R. Tolkien's work (Lord of the Rings, etc.) comes from influence of 19th century Romanticism and its depiction of them being very beautiful beings.
  • Santa's helpers "Christmas elves" became popular in the 1870s.
It's your turn! Who are your favorite Elves? What books, movies, or games have you enjoyed with them in it?

Tuesday, April 5

D is for Dhampir

Dhampirs are from Balkan (gypsy) folklore. They are born of a vampire father and a human mother. Dhampirs are dual-natured sort of like the Centaurs yesterday. They're forced to walk between their undead side and their mortal side; although, they are more human than vampire. They possess vampiric powers without the weaknesses, but their physical and supernatural strength is less than that of a vampire due to being a half-breed. They tend to be unusually good at tracking and hunting vampires.

Additionally, vampires tend to target dhampirs since they're viewed as a serious threat. After all, during the day a dhampir with knowledge of a vampire's nest is likely able to wipe them all out with little effort. However, once night falls, the dhampirs would need to watch their backs to prevent being hunted in return.

But it's not just vampires dhampirs have to worry about. Typically, they're disliked and misunderstood by humans since they have vampiric lineage. Although, they were taken in by Gypsy communities and hired themselves out as vampire hunters.

One popular depiction is Rayne from the video games, movies, and comics BloodRayne. (FYI: I've seen the first two movies. I love the first one, but whew, the second one made my wonder why I threw away those 99 minutes of my life. But regardless of that, I'll give the third movie a chance.)

You could say that Blade is a dhampir. While his mother was human, he gained his vampirism due to her being attacked while she was pregnant, not because his biological father engaged in intercourse with his mother. (Although, I think there are variations of this between the comics and movies. I only saw the movies.)

Interesting Tidbits:
  • The word dhampir comes from the Albanian language, "pij or pirё means 'to drink,' and dhёmbё or dham which means 'teeth,' thus dhampir, 'to drink with teeth.'" (
  • According to Vukanovic's "The Vampire," some believed that dhampirs' bodies were "slippery like jelly, and cannot live." That belief coincides with one that vampires don't have bones.
  • Dhampirs are fairly popular in fiction, movies, comics, and games. Here's a list of some of those.
So, what are your thoughts on Dhampirs? Have you read, watched, or played something with one in it?

Monday, April 4

C is for Centaur

Today's topic for the A to Z blogging challenge is Centaurs from Greek mythology. They have the torso of a human and the hindquarters of a horse. Most believe that they came into existence due to the appearance of riders on horseback for non-riding cultures. For someone unfamiliar, the elegant movements of both the rider and the horse can appear as if the both are acting solely as one being.

Centaur with Bow
In classical mythology, centaurs have been considered guardians of their territories and ensured the peace in the nature around them, usually driving the pesky meddling humans away. They're also known for their dual nature of man and beast, usually behaving somewhere in between the two.

Centaurs' lifespan is agreed to be much longer than humans, and their magic tied to both earth and the nature surrounding them. Stories also tell of their uncanny skill with both bow and spear, giving even more credit to their "bull striker" name.

Interesting Tidbits:
  • In more recent times, when the Aztecs encountered Spanish cavalry, the Spaniards were mistaken for being hybrid creatures similar to centaurs.
  • While the more typical view of a centaur is a man and a horse mix, in Russian folklore, there are old tales regarding a human/hound (or horse depending on the variation) creature that terrorized the countryside. It's called a polkan based on the Italian poem I Reali di Francia which featured Pulicane a half-dog character.
  • Their origin dates back to the Bronze Age from terracotta pottery found featuring them.
So, what do you think of Centaurs? Have any favorite books or movies featuring them?

Saturday, April 2

B is for Banshee

Today's topic for the A to Z Challenge is Banshee, also know as bean-sidhe from Irish mythology. She's an Irish woman who appears in different guises, typically a beautiful woman or an old hag. She is typically noted to live by a river where she washes the clothes of the person that will die. Her wail has traditionally been tied to foretelling a death of an important person from the established families, typically one from which they're tied to by magic or duty.

In more recent descriptions, the banshees have taken alternative forms with their wailing. Some describe banshees as taking a more vampiric approach, renewing their lifelike appearances and extending their unlife by sucking the very moisture and life out of the air, and anyone happening to be nearby, leaving behind dried dust of the unfortunate witnesses to her wailing.

Others portray her as a tormented woman who returns after her death to haunt those who caused her passing. In these stories, the maiden appears to be a complete mute, but when she opens her mouth, she kills those nearby through fright, or if they're lucky, and at an extended distance, her wail ages their appearances by years.

One Depiction of a Banshee.

Interesting Tidbits:

  • There are records of banshees going as far back as 1380 from Seán Mac Craith's Cathréim Thoirdealbhaigh (Triumphs of Turlough).
  • Banshees can appear in other forms as well such as the hooded crow, stoat, hare, or weasel. Each of those animals are associated with witchcraft in Ireland.
  • In American Folklore, there's been several stories about banshees from the Tar River in Edgecomb, North Carolina. But those tend to depict her as a ghoul than Irish Folklore.

What are your thoughts on Banshees?

Friday, April 1

A is for Angel... Plus the Weekly Wrap Up

Get the button code

Okay, so I decided to take the plunge last night and sign up for the A to Z blogging challenge, where you post  on a different subject each day (except Sundays) based on the letters of the alphabet. If you're interested in joining as well, you can find the information at the A to Z Challenge Sign Up page.

So, first I'll delve into the blog topic of the day Angels.

Angels... what are they? They're messengers of God. If you look at a range of religions, most tend to have them in some form or the other. But, they're also strong and well about to fight. In the Bible, there's a notable passage where this happens:
Then the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses--all dead. (Isaiah 37:36)
Castiel from the TV show Supernatural
One of my favorite depictions? Castiel from Supernatural. *grins* Okay, so he's great to look at, but I think he has the strength and sheer power I imagine angels having. They can definitely fight. Just think about Archangel Michael and the battle he lead against Satan's forces. Another great depiction of angels, in my opinion, is Watchers in the Night by Thomas Blackshear. After researching these celestial beings, the pretty, gentle female in a flowing gown with wings often shown on holiday cards is blown away.

What are your thoughts on angels?

Now, the Weekly Wrap Up! So what's happened since last week?

Not a lot happening with my current work-in-progress. I've been pretty busy with birthdays and vet visits.

Cool Stuff to Share

I found a great article on 8 Must-Dos For Aspiring Writers. Yes, I certainly did find it while doing research on my post this past Monday. *grins*

There's also a new video from my favorite band, Poets of the Fall that came out recently. Love, love, love! It's called Can You Hear Me, check it out.

Also, Castles & Guns hosted Acquisitions Editor for Crescent Moon Press Rochelle French on Wednesday. Make sure to check it out.

So... here's the current progress tally... meh.

This WIP's Word Count

2110 / 85000 words

I hope everyone has a great weekend! How has this week been for you?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...