Wednesday, October 22, 2008

S is for Spring-Heeled Jack

This image of Spring-Heeled Jack is originally from a Penny Dreadful. It was taken from

Okay I find this legendary creature/man very strange. I first found out about Spring Heeled Jack when I was reading my Encyclopedia of Mythical Creatures. I was like, WHAT? Well, let me tell you about him so you can share in my bafflement.

Spring-Heeled Jack is a creature of English folklore who terrorized people in the suburban London area during the mid to late 1800s. He was able to jump long distances and had terrifying features. His eyes seemed to glow like fire, sometimes with blue flames erupting, and he spat blue flames out of his mouth. He had long metallic claws that were used to claw at his victims. He was particulary fond of leaping out from behind buildings to terrorize his prey. Tall and thin, he wore an oilskin cloak. He would tend to jump out, terrorize people by spitting blue flames in their face and eyes, and clawing at their clothes, and then leap away over tall hedges. He had a habit of terrifying coachmen, causing them to crash their coaches.

A real-life historical figure, Henry de la Poer Beresford, the Marquis of Waterford, was thought to be the major person behind the Spring-Heeled Jack attacks. He was a wastrel who was said to be fond of sadistic pranks and had a distaste for women. As Spring-Heeled Jack seemed to attack women more often, this seemed to fit the profile of Waterford.

Spring-Heeled Jack became a popular character for the Penny Dreadfuls, which were inexpensive books sold on the streets as entertainment during the Victorian age. He has also been featured in plays and a video game.

The true mystery behind Spring-Heeled Jack has never been solved. One has to wonder, if it was a prank, how silly is this person to be doing this to people? Other theories are that Spring-Heeled Jack is an extraterrestrial or a demon conjured up from hell. Regardless, he is a very interesting entry in the beastiary of folklore.
Spring-Heeled Jack-Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last modified 11 October 2008. Accessed 22 October 2008.
Spring Heeled Jack. Mark Brodie. Accessed 22 October 2008.

Monday, October 20, 2008

B is for Black Annis

This Image was taken from Mysterious Britain Black Annis Case File:

I first became acquainted with the existence of Black Annis when I read Agents of Darkness, Agents of Light, the second book in the Simon R. Green Nightside series. She was horrifying. Of course I had to look her up and learn more about her. What I learned was no comfort to me.
According to Wikipedia, Black Annis is an English legendary creature who haunts the countryside of Leicestershire. She is a witch that is known to eat human flesh, especially children. Her face is blue and she has claws of iron. She is said to wander the glens at night looking to snatch up children and lambs to devour. She wears their skins as a skirt around her waist. And if there are no children easily grabbed outside, she has been known to reach inside of peoples' houses to obtain her dinner. This is the reason why houses in the Leicestershire area have small windows.
With those long claws, she is able to dig into the sides of cliffs, making a home for herself. This is called Black Annis' Bower.
The legend of Black Annis is said to be traced back to Celtic or Germanic mythology. In Celtic mythology she may have originated with goddess Danu, whereas the goddess Hel might be her Germanic mythological origin. Some say that the legend is based on real-life Dominican nun and hermit, Agnes Scott. Since she helped lepers, I have to wonder why she was given such a terrible namesake.
According to the Mysterious Britain Folkore of the British Isles website, Black Annis actually would hide in hollowed out oak trees, awaiting an unwary traveler, who would be eviscerated by her long claws. She is said to flay children alive and hang their skins on the walls of her cave. Incidentally, Black Annis' Bower was actually created by her digging away at the solid rock with her claws.
Black Annis is definitely the stuff of nightmares, and I can imagine a poor child trying to be a very good boy or girl to avoid the grisly fate that awaited wayward children who happened to be around when Black Annis was hungry and a-wandering.
Black Annis. Mysterious Britain Folklore of the British Isles Website. Copyright 200-2007, D. Parkinson. Date Accessed 20 October 2008.
Black Annis-Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last modified 8 October 2008. Date Accessed 20 October 2008.

L is for La Llorona

La llorona is a very creepy legend of Latin American countries, and parts of the United States as well. La Llorona is the name for the Weeping Woman in Mexico and parts of the United States. Imagine that you have born children by your dearest love, whether he is your husband or not. He cruelly tells you he is leaving you because he does not want to be a father, or doesn't want you anymore. He may be abandoning you for another woman or to marry a more socially acceptable woman. Or perhaps a new lover won't take you if you have children. What does a mother do? Well don't do what La llorona did. She drowned her children and will pay the price for eternity.

La llorona is a spirit that haunts the riverbeds, doomed to look for her drowned children for eternity. In many of the myths, the woman drowns her children and herself. When she gets to Heaven, the Lord asks where her children are. She doesn't know, so He tells her to walk the earth in search of them.

In some myths she has the head of a horse, and may wear black or white-bloodstained rags. She might steal children. In the Guatemalan myth, she has a loud weeping cry that will send chills down your spine. She tends to be present at wells and in wandering in the mountains. In the Honduran myth, she is known as La Sucia, or the Dirty Woman. She might take the form of a wife or lover, and if you realize it's her, she will scratch out your eyes with her long nails. In an alternate version of the Honduran legend, La Sucia is an abandoned married woman who seduces men by the river. She looks beautiful and young initially, but changes into the form of an old woman. The sight of which, drives the men insane. She has a popular cry that is translated as "Drink of my breast, for I am your mother." En El Salvador, she is said to cry "Where is my children?"

In Panama she is called "La Tulivieja." She was a young woman married to an important businessman who left her baby in what she thought was a safe place under a tree, only to find him gone when she returned for him. For her negligence, she was cursed by God with a hideous face with holes, long hair all over her body, and chicken feet. In Chile she wears white and is seen by people who are about to die, people with special abilities like medicine men, or by animals with heightened senses. She is the guide of the dead and also cries for the dead so that they won't haunt their living relatives. She is said to hypnotize men into spending the night with her to comfort her for her lost child. If you rub your eyes with tears from a dog, you can see her, but you must be brave, or the vision will be a horrible one.

Essentially, La Llorona is used as a cautionary tale to keep wayward children in line, or to prevent a young girl from being easily enticed by empty promises of men. Some believe that to hear the cry of the Weeping Woman is to be doomed for death.

The legend of La Llorona can be traced by to Medea, the Greek legend of a sorceress who killed her children she had with the adventurer Jason, when he abandoned her. The Aztec goddess Coatlique appeared before the arrival of the invading Spanish conquistadors under Hernan Cortes. She was said to be weeping for her lost children. This was an omen of the fall of the Aztec empire. The legend of the Weeping Woman is also said to be related to the story of La Malinche, an Indian woman who acted as a mistress for the conquistador Cortes, and who subsequently sought vengeance when abandoned her and their child for a Spanish lady.

Although the legend is slightly different depending on what country you are in, each telling is chilling. The idea of a woman who kills her children, dies, and is cursed to wanders the riverside on dark, lonely nights; weeping, and possibly looking for victims, certainly makes a person want to stay inside and far away from any bodies of water.


La Llorona-Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last modified 20 October 2008. Accessed 20 October 2008.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

R is for Red Cap

I was watching my Hellboy Animated Blood and Iron DVD special features and there was a little animated short on it, based on the folkcreature, a red cap. It perked my interest, and also gave me a chill. Folklore is not always inhabited by happy, friendly, frolicking creatures that mean no harm. There definitely creatures of menace and evil, who gleefully do harm to humans and other unsuspecting beings. The red cap is one of them.

According to Sprits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia of the Little People by Carol Rose, the red cap, also called the bloody cap, is an evil goblin or sprite from the folklore of the borderlands between England and Scotland. The borderlands are ripe with stories of this evil sprite. It lives in the ruins of castles and fortified towers, where previous battles have occurred, and blood has been shed.

In appearance, it looks like an extremely diminutive old man, with hair that is long and unkempt, red eyes, hideous talons on skinny fingers, and protruding teeth. His boots are made of iron, and he wears a cap that is red and blood-soaked.

According to Wikipedia, the red cap, also called a powrie or dunter, has to continually kill in order to dye his cap in blood, as the color will fade. His iron shoes make him very fast, making them quite impossible to outrun.

If a lost traveler happens to come across a red cap in the ruins of a castle, he is a very unfortunate person indeed. The red cap lies in wait to savagely kill him, catching the blood of his unfortunately victim in his cap. The intended victim has the opportunity to escape if he is able to recite the scriptures. This will cause the red cap to shriek and disappear. One of his fangs will be left behind.

If your interest in red caps. has been sparked, Wikipedia lists the following books and media the feature red caps:

  • Hellboy comic "Iron Shoes" by Mike Mignola

  • DemonWars Saga by RA Salvatore

  • Mage: The Hero Rediscovered graphic novel by Matt Wagner

  • Meredith Gentry books by Laurell K. Hamilton

  • Fables Volume 2 gothic novel

  • Spiderwick Chronicles books

  • The Dark Age and Kingdom of the Serpent by Mark Chadbourn

  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

So if you happen to visit Scotland and get lost, remember not to seek shelter in any castle ruins. I think a night spent outside in the elements is a lot safer than encountering one of these beasties. If you think a cold Scottish night outdoors is too much for you, the alternative is to memorize a few scriptures on the flight over.


Rose, Carol. Sprites, Fairies, Leprechaun: An Encyclopedia. Page 43. Published by W.W. Norton & Company. N.Y, N.Y, 1996.

Red Cap-Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Date accessed 4 October 2008. Last modified 16 September 2008.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

D is for Doppleganger

For some reason, when I think of dopplegangers, a chill just runs right down my spine. Perhaps it is that feeling of the unknown touching you personally. I lot of people have told me they know someone who looks just like me. I really don't like the thought of it, but maybe I do have a doppleganger.

A doppleganger is a double of a person, and tends to be regarded as bad luck. Usually to see a doppleganger means that a person may die soon. According to Wikipedia, Norse mythology has a vardoger, which is a ghostly double of a person who is seen performing their actions before the actual person does. Or the person may arrive later, to find that his friends or family are confused because he had already came and went.

In history, Abraham Lincoln was reported to have seen his doppleganger in the mirror, a sign he would not live through his second term in office. Other reports include the famous poet Thomas Donne seeing a doppleganger of his wife the night she gave birth to a stillborn child, although he was in a different city than her.

According to Halloween Web, there is a theory that everyone has a double. One is good, and one is extremely evil. It also states the many times the doppelganger is seen by someone else, instead of the person who is doubled, leading to confusion. This gives the effect of being in two places at once.

Interested in reading fiction or watching television or movies that involve doppelgangers?

  • The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

  • William Wilson by Edgar Allen Poe

  • Doppelganger by Maire Brennan

  • Heroes TV show has a character named Jessica with an evil doppleganger called Niki who manifests as part of her own psyche, and has supernatural strength.

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show character Willow has an evil doppelganger in an alternate reality known as "Evil Willow"

  • The movie Silent Hill has a child named Alessa who's doppleganger is called Dark Alessa, and has frightening telepathic powers

  • Dopplegangsters short story by Laura Resnick in the Murder by Magic: Twenty Tales of Crime and the Supernatural Anthology has supernaturally-bumped off mobsters appearing as dopplegangers minutes before their demise.

Are your friends saying that you seem to be in two places at once? Did you rudely insult your boss, only it wasn't you? You might have a doppleganger who's out to cause mischief for you. If you don't want to believe, then just hope that the double image that you see out of the side of your eye is just a sign that you need glasses. The truth could be too frightening to accept.


Doppelganger-Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 2 October 2008. Last modified 2 October 2008.

Doppelgangers Legend. Halloween Web. Accessed 2 October 2008. Copyright 2003-2008.

What is a Doppleganger? Niki Foster. Conjecture Corporation. Accessed 2 October 2008. Copyright 2003-2008.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

B is for Banshee

Image taken from Irish Fairies: Banshee

I have always been fascinated with banshees, probably because of my Irish ancestry. They are equally eerie to me. I get the creeps thinking of seeing a pale, long-haired woman in a rotting cloak, wailing and pointing at me on a dark and dreary night. Sheesh!

According to the website, Irelandseye: A Field Guide to Irish Fairies, Banshees, or bean-sidhe, are faery women or ancestral spirits that are assigned to certain families to forewarn their members of their time of death. The five major families that the banshees were said to cry for are: O'Neill, O'Brien, O'Connor, O'Grady, and the Kavanaugh. However, this list has been lengthened by intermarriage (so don't think you're off the hook.) According to Wikipedia, the banshee is sometimes not a fairy, but the ghost of a murdered woman or a woman who died in childbirth.

The Field Guide to Fairies states that the banshee can appear in three major forms: a young woman, a bedraggled old crone, or a matronly woman. This is in representation of the triple aspects of the war and death goddess of Celtic mythology, Badhbh, Macha, and Mor-Rioghan. The banshee can also appear in animal forms, such as hares, weasels, and hooded crows, which are associated with witchcraft in Ireland.

Wikipedia states that banshees are frequently described as having long, fair hair, which they will brush with a silver comb. This relates to a very old Irish story that you should never pick up a silver comb laying on the ground, for the banshees (or mermaids, depending on the tale) will place it there to lure an gullible human away, likely to their death or to be stolen away to the land of Faery.

The banshee will typically be dressed in a hooded cloak of gray or the grave robe of people who died without receiving Last Rites. In some instances, she may appear as a washer-woman, washing the blood-stained garments of the unfortunate soul who is about to die. When a banshee appears as a washing-woman, she is called a bean-nighe. According to Wikipedia, the Scottish call the banshee a bean-nighe.

The Field Guide states that sometimes a banshee may not even be seen. Instead, her wailing can be heard when someone is about to die. The banshee's wail can be so piercing that it can shatter glass. It is said that King James I of Scotland was told by a banshee that he would be murdered in 1437. Wikipedia states that according to legend, the banshee will wail around the house of the person who is about to die.

Although banshees are very much a part of Irish and Scottish folklore and legend, they have found their place in modern fiction. For instance, Seamus Finnigan, one of the Irish students in the Harry Potter stories, saw a banshee, and screeching was heard in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that was attributed to banshees.

Banshees may be associated with the five great Irish families, but many Americans have Irish heritage. Who is to say that a banshee may not come to foretell of one our demises on a dark, gloomy night? I hope I never find out.


Banshee. Irelandseyes: A Field Guide to Irish Fairies. Accessed 1 October 2008.

Banshee-Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
Accessed 1 October 2008. Last Modified 29 September 2008.

In Honor of October: Creatures that Go Bump in the Night

Since October is the month of Halloween, I will be spotlighting the more scary of the creatures that dwell within the folktales and myth stories. Fear is in the eye of the beholder, but I find these creatures either creepy, sinister, or down-right scary. So join us, and don't read this blog before bedtime.

Imagine Vincent Price laughing eerily right now!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

G is for Golem

Image is a photo of a statue depicting the Prague golem. Taken from

The golem is a creature of Jewish folklore. According to The Golem by Alden Oreck, the term golem means "shapeless mass" in Hebrew. It is made of clay but animated to life. The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythical Creatures states that golems can also be made out of wood or mud. However, it is of limited intelligence, and will only follow the directions of its creator. To possess a golem was thought to attribute wisdom and holiness to the owner. In order to be able to create a golem, its creator is closer to God, who is the Creator, than other humans. One of the most famous golems was said to be created to protect the Jewish residents of the Prague ghetto from persecution, created by Rabbi Judah Loew the Maharal. As it gains strength, it goes on a Gentile killing spree.

In many tales, the golem has magic words inscribed on its head to bring it to life. It is said that the one of the names of God is written on a scrap of paper and attached to the golem's head or directly into the clay, will animate it, and when the creator wants to inactivate it, the name is erased. Emet, which means "truth of God" can be written to animate the golem. When it is time to stop its life, the e can be erased to form the word met, which means "death." Another method is to write the name of the creator of the golem in blood on a sheet of calfskin, and to put it in its mouth. Deactivation can be accomplished by removing the paper from its mouth.

It is said that golems must rest on the Sabbath or they will go beserk. And the creator/controller of the golem must take care in the instructions given to the golem, for they will be taken perfectly literately. According to the Maharal story, the golem has magical powers such as invisibility, summoning the dead, and a heated touch.

According to The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythical Creatures, the rabbi who created a golem would often be punished for attempting to "play God." Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a more modern retelling of this cautionary tale.

Golems in Books and Other Media:

  • Gustav Meyrink's The Golem, based on the story of Rabbi Judah Loew the Maharal

  • Isaac Bashevis Singer also wrote a version of the golem myth

  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

  • The Barmtimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

  • Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett

  • Snow in August by Pete Hamill

  • The Puttermesser Papers by Cythia Ozick

  • Iron Council by China Mieville

  • Dragon Tears by Dean Koontz features a villian with the supernatural ability to create golems out of dirt

  • Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco

  • A Calculus of Angels by Gregory Keyes

  • The Tortuous Serpent by Donald Tyson

  • The Image Comics title Proof features a golem named Joe

  • A series of German silent expressionism movies were made based on the golem myth

  • Episodes of Gargoyles, X-Files, and Charmed have been built around the golem myth

The mythical golem is viewed as a sign of wisdom and holiness, revered as a savior for the persecuted Jews, and also can be seen as a sign of reaching beyond one's natural limits. It serves as a powerful metaphor for creation, but can also be used for destruction. The golem is deeply entrenched in Jewish folklore, but it has crossed over into the collective imagination, finding its way into tales enjoyed by many outside of the Jewish consciousness.


Golem-Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 28 September 2008. Last Modified 26 September 2008.

Dempsey, Colin. The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythical Creatures. Published by Barnes & Noble, Inc., 2006. p. 87-88.

The Golem by Alden Oreck. Published by Jewish Virtual Library, A Division of the Israeli-American Cooperative. Accessed 28 September 2008. Last modified 2008.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

D for Djinn

This image was taken from, This is the cover for the first book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy, The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud.

The Djinn, aka jinn, is a supernatural being, an elemental that is said to possess free will. Most of us are most familiar with the term genie, which was first used in English in 1665, with the translation of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights by French translators. The root of the original root of jinn is said to come from the Semitic root "JNN" which refers to hidden or concealed.

Djinn were worshipped as tributary spirits by pre-Islamic Middle Eastern Cultures. They were associated with succubi (demons who take the form of beautiful women). A female djinn is called a "Jinniyah" or "Jinneyeh."

The djinn are mentioned in the Koran, and form an important of some Islamic practitioners' beliefs. They are said to be made from "smokeless fire" by Allah, as humans were made from earth. According to Spirits, Fairies,Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia, by Carol Rose, the djinn were made from the Sharan wind (Simoon). Because of their substance of smokeless fire, they are invisible to humans, and also they possess the ability to fly. Because they have free will, they can follow any religion they choose to follow. Like humans, the djinn will be judged on the Day of Judgment, being sent either to Hell or Heaven, according to their deeds in life. In Islam, the Devil or Satan is a djinn called "Shaitan" or "Iblees."

The djinn also crop up in the Old Arabic and Old Persian Bibles in the following books, Leviticus, 1st Samuel, 1st Corinthians, and the gospels Matthew, Luke, and John, as Jinn or Jaann.

Outside of religious history, they also have a long and powerful history in popular media. How many us watched "I Dream of Jeannie" growing up? Enough said.

Because of their free will, not all djinn are good, and not all are evil. As some djinn possess almost limitless power, I would not like to run into an evil djinn!

Rose states that Djinns may take any shape, even large ones, and can be hideous in form or beautiful. One can tell that he or she is encountering a djinn in human form by the shape of its eye pupils (vertical like goats). But this is probably too late for you to get away at this point!
Benevolent djinn have been known to fall in love with and mate with humans, producing offspring that can walk through walls, fly, and age slowly.
In Morocco, it is believed that every human has their own djinn. Those Earth djinn who are independent live in dark and isolated environments, such as lavatories, drains, and cemeteries. Because they are easily offended, if one disturbs their home, it will cause them to exact a "terrible retribution." Water djinn love to entice people to their watery deaths. In contrast, tree djinns are very benevolent towards humans, with exception of the fig tree djinns, which incite quarrel.

The major types of djinn:

  • Marid : The strongest type of djinn, associated with seas or oceans, where it is typically found. Arrogant in nature, it is susceptible to flattery, and can be coaxed to do chores either through summoning via rituals by powerful magicians, via flattery, through imprisonment, or by engaging in battle with it.

  • Ifrit: in popular culture, it is represented to embody fire.

  • Ghul or Ghoul: probably the most frightening type of djinn. Capable of shapeshifting, it lives in the desert, assuming the form of an animal, and lures unwary travellers into the desert to slay and eat them. It also robs the grave and eats the dead. As such, the term is often used for undead creatures who feed on the dead. They have a life of their own in the fictional words of horror, outside of their djinn origins.

When most of us in the Western world think of djinn or genies, we think of them as wish-giving creatures. This is due in large part to the portrayal of djinn in the story of Aladdin, from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (the genie in the lamp). Another djinn is found in the story of The Fisherman and the Jinni.

When it comes to djinn, it is very important to remember to be careful what you wish. A djinn, much like a faery, will use one's words against that person. Typically your wish will come back to haunt you, or you will use the last precious third wish trying to reverse the prior wishes. If you don't believe me, read "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs.

If I have sparked your interest in the djinn, then you may want to read the following fiction books:

  • The Arabian Nights (otherwise known as One Thousand and One Nights. I humbly suggest Tales from the Arabian Nights by Andrew Lang. It's pretty cool in that it uses a story in a story format. Very few of the stories just end cold.

  • Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore

  • Dog Days by John Levitt features ifrit djinn

  • Jadis from the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis thought to be half-djinn.

  • Declare by Tim Powers is an intriguing mix of spy story and djinn.

  • The Sandman collection: Fables and Reflections by Neil Gaiman has several referrences to djinn.

  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman features an ifrit taxi driver

  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

  • The Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine features djinn as the source of power to the Wardens.

  • Dragon Rider by Corneila Funke

  • Children of the Lamp series by P.B. Kerr

  • Jinn by Matthew Delaney is been described as "Saving Private Ryan meets Alien."

  • The Forbidden Game trilogy by L.J. Smith

  • Castle in the Air by Dianna Wynne Jones

  • The Doctor Who novel The Stone Rose puts a new spin on the idea of a genie, Doctor Who-style.

  • Proven Guilty, Book 8 of The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher features a jann.

Movies and TV featuring Djinn

  • The aforementioned I Dream of Jeannie

  • The Arabian Nights miniseries (fantastic)

  • The 7th Voyage of Sinbad

  • Two episodes of The Twilight Zone: "The Man in the Bottle," and "I Dream of Genie"

  • Wishmaster (for the horror movie fans)

  • Kazaam

  • Special Unit 2 had an episode called "The Wish" with an evil genie who had to carry out wishes physically with disastrous consequences for the wish-maker.

  • The Brass Bottle

  • The "Je Souhaite" episode of X-Files features a very bored, but impish genie who brings nothing good to the person who acquires her.

  • Long Time Dead (An ancient, evil djinn is featured in this horror film)

  • The Thief of Baghdad

  • A Thousand and One Nights

  • Disney's Aladdin

  • The "What is and What Should Never Be" episode of Supernatural the TV show has a djinn that does not grant wishes, but merely makes the victim dream his/her wish was granted, and feeds off the person's lifeforce. This djinn is truly horrifying in appearance.

..And djinn also make their appearance in comic books, manga, and the gaming world.

Well I hope that you know a little more about djinn. Remember, if a mysterious being appears after you acquire a certain object and asks you what you desire, remember to think twice what you wish for!


Genie- Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last modified 29 August 2008. Accessed 2 September 2008.

Ifrit-Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last modified 1 September 2008. Accessed 2 September 2008.

Marid-Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last modified 9 August 2008. Accessed 2 September 2008.

Ghoul-Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last modified 25 August 2008. Accessed 2 September 2008.

Rose, Carol. Spirits, Fairies, Leprechaun, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia. W.W. Norton Publisher. p. 87-88.

Monday, March 24, 2008

C is for Changeling

Image taken from,_John_Bauer,_1913.jpg

The concept of the changeling is an interesting one for me, but I guess that goes without saying. Imagine tucking your sweet, lovely baby in for the night and going to sleep. Tomorrow morning, when you wake up, there is something else in its place. Something not so human. Any mother or father's nightmare.

This is where the changeling comes in. Faery babes can tend toward sickliness. Or perhaps the Fae finds a human babe to be pretty or wants a little toy to play with until they grow sick of it, or perhaps they just feel like playing a trick on humans. Well, that's no problem. Just take a human babe and swap it with a sickly Fae offspring. Or in some cases, an enchanted piece of wood, called a stock may be placed in the cradle. The Scottish folklore has a more sinister reason for changelings, the human babes as used as a tithe for Hell, as the Faefolk are forbidden from Heaven. In some folklore, an unbaptized child is more likely to be stolen by trolls.

Perhaps initially, the mother or father might not know the difference right away. Until the signs of a changeling manifest themselves. These signs include: voracious appetite, malicious temperament, troubled movement, or unusual wisdom. In Welsh folklore, initially the changeling very closely resembles the human child, but gradually becomes more ill-tempered, unattractive, and malformed, given to screaming and biting. Welsh wisdom offers the following method to tell if your child has been replaced by a changeling: cook a meal in an eggshell. The changeling will become so confounded, it will disappear, and the true human child will reappear in its place. In Irish folklore, left-handed people were thought be be Fae changeling. No wonder I never fit in!

There are more sinister ways to tell if one's child is a changeling, which sound uncomfortably close to child-abuse, and frankly bring to mind Munchausen by Proxy, so we won't go into those. A Scandinavian story cautions against mistreating the changeling. A woman and her husband realize their child has been replaced by a troll-child, but the wife refuses to mistreat the troll-child. Eventually the husband leaves her, and encounteres their true child, who had been freed by the trolls, because of the wife's care of their own offspring. He tells his father that it was good that they treated the troll-child well, because each mistreatment visited upon the troll child would have been visited on the true child.

Protecting one's child from being stolen involved various methods: laying a steel object such as scissors or a knife on the cradle of an unbaptized child, according to Scandavian folklore, and the Irish believed that staring at a baby with envy would leave it vulnerable to being stolen.

Changelings in literature and the media:

Changelings on TV:

  • Star Trek had an episode called "The Changeling" in which a earth probe which was damaged merged with an alien probe and wreaks havoc

  • So Weird also has an episode called "The Changeling" in which the tv show characters are forced to babysit a changeling

  • Supernatural's episode "The Kids are Alright" features a changeling, although their version featured a creature which assumed the form of a children and sucked energy from their parents

  • Doctor Who uses a variation of the changeling motif in "Attack of the Graske," in which the Graske attack humans and leave a changeling form of the humans, with eyes that glow

Changelings in Books:

  • William Butler Yeats wrote a poem called The Stolen Child about a boy replaced by a changeling
  • In H.P. Lovecraft's "Pickman's Model", the subterrean monsters replace human children with their young
  • Poul Anderson's story The Broken Sword
  • The Iron Dragon's Daughter by Michael Swanwick
  • Tithe: An Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black
  • The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw
  • Low Red Moon and Daughter of Hounds by Caitlin Kiernan
  • War of the Flowers by Tad Williams
  • Stones Unturned by Thomas Sniegoski and Christopher Golden
  • Faerie Baby by Lin Spicer
  • Poison by Chris Wooding
  • The play A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare has a plot the revolves around Faerie King and Queen Oberon and Titania's fight over a changeling boy

The changeling myth has been pervasive in most cultures, probably because it hits at the heart of a parent's fear that their child is somehow abnormal. The fears of a child that is not healthy. I don't have kids ,but I can imagine how that might feel. And back in ancient times, when the understanding of science and disease was limited, I imagine it must have eased a parent's feelings of guilt to think that the Good People had no small part in their child's ailment.


Changeling-Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia . Last modified 27 September 2008. Accessed 27 September 2008.

Friday, March 14, 2008

T is For Tulpa

Nightingale's Lament by Simon R. Green features a tulpa, who takes the shape of Rossignol, the young woman that John Taylor is trying to help, and causes much chaos and destruction as it is sent to kill John Taylor.
According to Wikipedia. org, a tulpa is based on the Tibetan occult mysticism concept of an object or being created through sheer willpower. Called a thoughtform, it is a thought brought to life.
Wikipedia quotes Mysteries of the Unexplained, stating that a tulpa can be an apparition that is a perceptible double of a person who is in a trance state, or a ghost that is called up by a magician or yogi of skill. It can also manifest due to the collective superstitious beliefs of a (group) village of people. Evans-Wentz is further quoted to say, that the mind can create any object that it desires. Personally, I find that to be a very scary thought. I don't want to have some of my black imaginations come to life! Evans-Wentz goes onto to say that a skilled magician can dissolve the thoughtform, effectively killing it, as easily as it is created.
Alexandra David-Neel helped to introduce this concept to the Western world in Magic and Mystery in Tibet, published in 1965. It can be explored on a more philosophical level, as one delves into the Tibetan religious beliefs, but that would be far out of the scope of this entry. The tulpa is quite a popular concept, and has continually been used
in fiction of various types. Here are some works that feature tulpas of various forms:
  • Every Which Way But Dead by Kim Harrison (used by the main character to hold in her power during her spells)
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman (diety-like being are created through cultural belief)
  • It by Stephen King (the titular character is brought to life in various manifestations through the belief of the townspeople)
  • Outcast by Lynne Ewing (features a tulpa created by the main character, appearing in the form of his lost twin brother)
  • The Wheel of Darkness by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
  • Batman has a story arc called "Tulpa," written by Alan Grant that features a Tibetan man who creates entities to steal for him
  • Clive Barker's Candy Man character was created to be a tulpa manifested from a myth


  • X-Files episode Arcadia features a tulpa made from garbage that enforces the rules of the very exclusive community of the same name
  • Supernatural episode Hell House is about a tulpa manifested by thousands of website viewers in a supposedly haunted house
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends features living thoughtforms brought to life by the imagination of children

As you can probably surmise, the tulpa is a very complicated, but interesting piece of the folklorific, or religious pantheon. It frankly goes over my head, but I still found it worthwhile to write of in this blog. My thanks to Simon R. Green for invoking my curiosity, and thanks to Wikipedia, my major source of information about tulpas.


Tulpa- Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last modified 3 March 2008. Accessed 14 March 2008.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

V is for Valkyrie

This image is The Valkyrie's Vigil by Edward Robert Hughes. Taken from, Valkryie:

I became enchanted with valkyries when I read A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole. I had a vague of flying, robust women in armor, brandishing swords, and wearing horned helmets. I definitely got this mental image from Richard Wagner's opera, The Ride of the Valkyries. In the Kresley Cole Immortals After Dark series, valkyries are known to eat lighting, and to cause it when they become enraged. They are depicted as beautiful, passionate, and very dangerous as enemies. They definitely intrigued my interest. But let's talk a little about the origin of the valkryie in folklore.

According to, Valkyries hail from Norse mythology. The etymology is val (slain) and kyrja (choose), literally translating as "choosers of the slain." They are also called shield maidens or disir. Their purpose was to select the most noble of warriors who had died in battle on Odin's behalf. They would carry them off to Valhalla so they could fight at Odin's side in Ragnarok, the battle at the end of the world. They would scour the field of the death to reap the best warriors to take back to Valhalla.

We tend to think of Valkyries as beautiful women, but originally they were quite gruesome and war-like in appearance. Instead of riding winged horse, they rode kennings, or wolves. The valkyries are often represented as carrion-eating ravens, according to the website: The Original Valkyries: A History of the Norse Goddesses.

Valkyries are considered to the be demi-goddesses of death in Norse mythology. In the Prose Edda, the valkyries are said to play a role in human conflict, determining who lives and who dies.

The chief valkyrie is sometimes said to be Freja, the Norse goddess of fertility, love, and beauty, but also battle and death. She has the first choice of the dead warriors to claim as her own.

In Valhalla, the valkyries serve the warriors mead, exchanging their armor for pure white robes. They are also Odin's messengers, known to cause the flickering light phenomena called the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights.) Thomas Bulfinch notes that the valkyrie's armor causes the flickering light phenomena.

The valkyrie legend is also tied into the legend of swan maidens, who could be captured and held to obtain wishes. As such, valkyries are often called swan maidens or wish maidens.

It is said that any maiden who dies and becomes a valkyrie, will remain immortal as long as she obeys the gods and remains a virgin. In number, they vary from three to sixteen. Some of the names of the Valkryies mentioned in Prose Edda and sagas (minus punctuation) are:

  • Brynhildr
  • Kara
  • Mist
  • Sigrune (Victory rune)
  • Gunnr
  • Hrist
  • Svava
  • Rota
  • Skuld
  • Friagabi

It is said that if you see a valkyrie in battle, you will die in that same battle. And valkyries often ride in troops of nine.

If you have an interest in learning more of the valkyries, read the Prose Eddas and Norse mythology, and for a great series based on the valkyries, check out the Immortals After Dark series.


Valkyrie; Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last modified 4 March 2008. Website accessed 4 March 2008.

The Original Valkyries: A History of the Norse Goddesses. Accessed 4 March 2008.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

K is for Kobold

Image taken from

I first encountered a reference to kobolds in Kinley MacGregor's Knight of Darkness this year. Before that I had never heard of them. According to, a kobold is a sprite of Germanic folklore, similar to brownies. They haunt households and can either do some excellent housework, or be mischievous, depending on their moods.

The Larousse Dictionary of Folklore says they are somewhat of habitual pranksters that love to hide things from the homeowner. Fortunately, they will also help the family member to find what is lost. They are easily offended, but will also sing the children to sleep a night. It is important to keep them well-fed to avoid them becoming discontented.

Wikipedia mentions that the element cobalt is named for these creatures, as a common variant dwells in underground caves and mines. This is derived from the fact that poisonous ores of this metal can often pollute other mined minerals.

There are individuals that specialize in plaguing certain types of people. For instance, Hoedeken hounds unfaithful wives, while Goldemar exposes secrets best kept hidden by clergymen.

According to Andrew Keightley's The World Guide to Gnomes, Fairies, Elves, and Other Little People, kobolds, the same beings as the English hobgoblins, haunt the houses of their chosen family as long as at least one member lives. The kobold will actually follow the family to their new dwelling if the family attempts to leave. The maidservants must take care to meet the Kobold's needs, and inform their successors to do the same.

In his book, Mr. Keightley recounts the story of a very famous kobold called Hinzelmann from an abridgement by MM Grimm. In this account, Hinzelmann is known to direct the housekeeping activities of the maids and to scold the housedwelling occupants on ethical and polite behavior. He protested to being exorcised, claiming he had nothing to do with the Devil.

The kobold appears quite frequently both in fiction and videogames. For examples, kobolds are found in the following works of fiction:
  • Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
  • The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Fablehaven: The Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull features a kobold in a decidely sinister cast
  • Revenge of the Shadow King by JS Lewis and Derek Benz has mercenary kobolds working for Morgan Le Fay
  • The kobold Hinzelmann shows up as an benevolent protector of a small Wisconsin town in Neil Gaiman's American Gods
  • Terry Brooks' Landover series features two different kobolds
  • The Forgotten Realms series features kobolds as enemies throughout, nearly on par with goblins
If I have awakened your curiosity about kobolds, I have attached a bibliography. Let me close by warning you to be nice to your kobold, and to keep it well fed. It's to your best advantage!


Kobold. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Last modified 1 January 2008. Accessed on 2 January 2008.

Jones, Alison. Larousse Dictionary of World Folklore. 262. Published New York, New York: Larousse Kingfisher Chambers, Inc. 1995.

Keightley, Thomas. The World Guide to Gnomes, Fairies, Elves, and Other Little People. 239-258. Published New York, New York: Gramercy, 2000. Originally published as The Fairy Mythology in 1880.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Here There Be Dragons, Etc! AKA Blog Introductory Post

Did you ever see Clash of the Titans? I saw it when it first came out, at least five times. That was back when they didn't kick you out of a movie, so you could sit there and rewatch it several times. I was captivated. I can't remember if was in love with the myths already then. I was nourished and weaned on fairy tales growing up so I think that was always a part of me. I thought all the creatures and characters were interesting, but my favorite was the Pegasus. Pegasus was a winged-horse who adopted Perseus, the young hero who is a natural son of Zeus. I remember the awe of seeing the beautiful, majestic, white, winged horse and falling in love. I even had a poster of Pegasus on my wall.

Pegasus is not the only mythical beastie I love. There is a long list of them. The purpose of this blog is to dedicate each post to these creatures and characters. I haven't decided if I will have time to post weekly or monthly. I fear that daily is out of my reach. But I will endeavor to post regularly at least. I will include all references for those of a scholarly bent. Consider this the post of many and we will reacquaint ourselves with Pegasus in the near feature. So let the show begin! This picture comes from Mythological Creature Pictures. See the link below.