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Mythical creatures around the world (by Private)

With Halloween just around the corner, it is soon time for figures like witches, werewolves, vampires, and ghosts to make their appearances. These mythical creatures often have an air of mystery around them, which could explain their appeal. Many are regarded to be sinister and dark, while others are benign magical creatures who instead bring good fortune and prosperity. Us humans' obsession with mysterious creatures, be it supernatural animals, flighty spirits or hybrid human beings, dates back to ancient times, with early records such as cave paintings and stone carvings showing how people have been occupied with fantastical creatures since the beginning of civilisation. The types of beings present in a certain region often reflect the surrounding landscape and animal life of the place, with sea creatures being common in coastal or island regions, while wicked renditions of animals like frogs, wolves, monkeys, and elephants are common in areas covered by forests and jungles. Many of these have been invented to account for mysterious happenings that cannot be explained in any other reasonable way, such as boats sinking while at sea or people disappearing while roaming a forest.

Additionally, the types of creatures present in a society can often tell us a lot about the culture of a certain place and time. For example, sexually repressed cultures like 17th century Puritan America and 19th century Victorian England had an obsession with vampires and witches, which were often depicted as sexually aggressive. Mythical creatures can therefore give us a glimpse into the beliefs of a population in a specific period and location, as they often reflect a certain fear or worry connected to societal issues at the time. They thus provide us with an interesting glance into times past, and can perhaps also tell us something about the time we are living in now. As an example, zombies, which have a long history within Haitian folklore, seem to have experienced a revival in recent decades, albeit in different form. While zombies have traditionally been regarded as undead humans who have been reanimated through the use of black magic, they are now often portrayed as having emerged due to scientific experiments gone wrong, not only giving expression to the dangers of tinkering with nature, but perhaps also reflecting a deep-seated fear of unknown diseases spreading across the world, threatening to wipe out humankind. Legendary creatures are thus a highly interesting topic to study, whether you believe in them in or not. In this article, we will therefore dive into the rich world of mythical creatures, travelling across the globe to see what different cultures have to offer.
We begin our exploration in Africa, which is home to a rich variety of mythical creatures, many of them originating from the folklore of different tribes and ethnic groups across the continent. One of these is the adze, a vampire-like creature present in the legends of the Ewe people in Ghana and Togo. It comes in the shape of a firefly, but if captured, takes on human form. In its insect form, the adze sucks people's blood while they are asleep, thereby spreading disease. In its human form, it will attack people and eat their organs. The adze's preferred victims are children, especially infants, and nothing can be done to deter its attacks. Should you be unfortunate enough to fall victim to an adze's attack, you will become a witch who is possessed by its spirit, spreading misfortune to everyone around you. The only way to kill an adze is to do so when it has taken on human form, but since they are notoriously difficult to catch, it should not come as a surprise that few people have managed this feat... Moving on, our next creature is at least a bit less frightening. Known as a tikoloshe, this mean gremlin-like being is sprung out of Zulu mythology. It is believed that shamans have the power to control tikoloshes, summoning them at their will to cause harm to their enemies. Tikoloshes can be used to cause anything from harmless fright to illness and death, and are thus powerful tools for both innocuous pranks and more devilish doings. You will recognise tikoloshes as short and hairy humanoid creatures, with big pointy ears. However, they are unfortunately also able to make themselves invisible by swallowing a pebble or simply drinking some water, making them all the more elusive.

Travelling eastwards on to Asia, here too we find an abundant assortment of mythical creatures, spanning from the djinns of Western Asia to the dragons of East Asia. Starting in Malaysia, this is where we find the feared pontianak, who, according to legend, is a woman who died during childbirth. Usually depicted as a pale, white-clad woman with long hair and red eyes, she is considered to be an angry female spirit, who takes her revenge by sucking people's blood. Pontianaks prey on men in particular, appearing during full moon nights, using their long claws to rip open the internal organs of their victims. Of course, they do not look like monsters all the time, instead being able to transform themselves into beautiful women, perfect for luring in their unsuspecting male victims. Some believe pontianaks choose their prey by smelling people's clothes, and they therefore avoid leaving their clothes to dry outside at night. Heading west, we find the nasnas, a terrifying monster whose creators must have run out of material half-way. Literally. Because it has only half of everything: half a body and head, and only one arm and leg. In spite of this, it moves around with an incredible speed, killing its victims with just a single touch. Yes, one touch from a nasnas is enough for the skin of your body to melt off in seconds, and it is therefore not a monster you would like to encounter. Tracing its origin to Arab folklore, legend has it that the nasnas is a result of a union between a demon and human being, which might explain its unusual appearance. As if things were not already weird enough, stories tell of people who have managed to kill a nasnas and eaten it. Maybe you would disagree, but I doubt a nasnas would provide a particularly tasty meal...

Heading down south to Oceania, we find yet another large array of mythical creatures, many of them having originated from indigenous groups across the continent. In Australia, Aboriginal legends speak of the yara-ma-yha-who, who is depicted as a small, red frog-like man who hides in the treetops while waiting for his hapless victims. When the time is right, he drops down on them to suck their blood. After that, he swallows the person, takes a nap, and then disgorges them. As a result, the victim becomes shorter, and their skin receives a reddish tone. This process is then repeated several times, causing the victim to eventually turn into a yara-ma-yha-who themselves. Since a yara-ma-yha-who is only active during the day, and exclusively attacks living beings, playing dead until sunset is regarded to be a way to prevent its attacks. Moving across to New Zealand, we find the taniwha, which traces its origins to Māori mythology. Taniwhas are water creatures who dwell in rivers, caves, or the sea, and are particularly drawn to areas with dangerous currents or giant waves. These creatures are depicted differently depending on where they live, usually as whales or sharks at sea, and instead as large geckos in other locations. Depending on tradition, taniwhas can both be regarded as guardians who protect people and places, and as monsters who attack human beings. Different tribes would often have their own taniwha, being awarded its protection as long as they treated it with appropriate respect, for example through offerings, usually consisting of a green twig. On the other hand, legends also speak of vicious taniwhas who not only kidnapped people, especially women, but also killed anyone who came in its way. With this in mind, if you ever get the chance to meet one of these fantastical creatures, you better hope it is a nice one...

Moving on to South America, which is home to many mythical creatures of animal origin, we are about to take a trip inside the vast forests spread across the continent. Beginning in Columbia, we make acquaintance with the madremonte, who is commonly regarded to be the mother of the forest. Considered a spirit or deity, she is the protector of the forest and its wildlife. The madremonte is depicted as a tall and beautiful woman covered in various plants – attire befitting of her position as the guardian of natural life. She is good-natured, and takes care not to do harm to anyone. However, you should be sure not to upset her. She is the enforcer of the laws of nature, and will not hesitate to teach you a lesson, should you be careless enough to disrespect her. Considering the environmental destruction we are facing, the rest of the world could use a madremonte or two to help deter climate change... Heading down to Brazil, we might encounter the curupira, who is depicted as a man or dwarf-like creature with red or orange hair, and his feet turned backwards. He uses this strange feature to create footprints that confuse hunters and travellers, who are simply led back to his starting point. Curupiras might best be described as mischievous, as they are experts at creating illusions, while also being able to produce high-pitched whistles that would drive even the most resilient of adventurers to madness. This is because the whistles cause headaches and dizziness, leaving people so disoriented that they are unable to find their way back home. Similar to the madremonte, curupiras act as guardians of the forest, punishing those who take more than they need, thus ensuring the continued well-being of all living things.

Heading up to North America, this continent of course also has its fair share of mythical creatures to speak of. Starting off in Puerto Rico, this is where we find the chupacabra, a large beast commonly depicted either as a coyote suffering from a skin disease known as mange, or as a lizard-like creature. The name chupacabra is Spanish for “goat sucker”, which should give you an idea of what we are dealing with here. Contrary to the other creatures we have encountered so far, the chupacabra is a very modern invention, being described for the first time as late as the 1970s. The first actual sighting of the beast is said to have occurred in 1995, following a seemingly inexplicable event in which livestock, including goats and chickens, were found dead, completely drained of blood. Chupacabras are thus yet another species in the large family of vampiric creatures, whose life-draining properties are feared by many. In this case, the creature seems to feed only on animals, but knowing these beasts, you can never be too sure... Moving on to Mexico, we may come across the llorona, the ghost of woman who drowned her own children. Depicted as a ghastly-looking woman with long hair, she roams riverbanks in search of her children. According to legend, the emergence of the llorona, which is Spanish for “the weeping woman”, can be attributed to a woman who found her husband with another woman, going on to drown her children in rage and despair. Immediately regretting this, she went on to drown herself too. Due to her actions, she has found herself unable to pass on to the afterlife, instead being caught in a limbo, constantly looking for her lost children. Unsurprisingly, this legend has been told by many parents to warn their children from getting too close to the water, lest they be taken by the llorona

Finishing off our journey across the world in Europe, this continent too is the home of myriad mythical creatures, ranging from fairies and elves, to the Loch Ness monster and kraken. Here, we start by turning to Ireland, which is home to the banshee. Depicted as a white-clad woman with long, white hair and face covered by a veil, she makes visits to homes inhabited by someone whose death is near. She will stay outside the house, weeping and wailing with a voice that can be heard from miles away, chilling people to the core. Banshees origin can be traced back to the tradition of so called keeners, who were women hired to mourn outside the homes of those soon about to pass. While this tradition is long gone, banshees are not. And while she might be regarded as well-meaning, giving people a chance to say their last goodbyes, few people would look forward to a visit from her, as she is the definite harbinger of the imminent death of a loved one. Finally, we make our last stop in France, where we find the matagot – a black cat. Now, you might think this is an ominous creature, but according to French folklore, black cats can actually bring luck and fortune, as long as they are treated right. While most matagots are still considered evil, some of them are regarded to have magical properties, which you can harness by going through the following steps: First, you need to lure the matagot into your household, usually with the help of a large chicken. Secondly, you will need to provide your new companion with a comfortable bed, as well as the first mouthful of every meal. As long as you follow these instructions, you will be greatly rewarded, while failure to do so will cause...less fortunate things to happen...

As we reach the end of our journey around the world, this article has hopefully given you a glimpse into the immense variety of mythical creatures that exist across the planet. What fantastical beings are you fascinated by? Tell me in the comments!

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Private wrote on 26-10 22:01:
BloomCissi wrote:
Bunnyykoko wrote:
Even though i have to talk and write in english at work, i dont understand everything in this text without using a translater πŸ₯²
but i like to read in english or watch netflix in english to improve 😭🫢🏻
halloween is my favorite holiday and i love everything halloween related!!
Reading is the best way to increase your vocabulary, so just keep reading and you'll improve your English in no time!
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Private wrote on 26-10 00:52:
BloomCissi wrote:
Lightstone wrote:
I want to say, I'm still learning english and I want to read new (& old) NT Articles, hopefully it helps me to learn more Thank you so much for your work and the beautiful layouts always β™₯
I'm glad you find our articles helpful! Feel free to check out our archive, we have loads of articles about different topics, so hopefully you'll find something that piques your interest!
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Private wrote on 24-10 22:13:
DAD wrote:
Angelica wrote:
Unrelated to the post, man this is the colors i want VP in, so soothing too the eyes.
same this layout is so pleasing to my eyes
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Private wrote on 24-10 19:42:
Rotte wrote:
Unrelated to the post, man this is the colors i want VP in, so soothing too the eyes.
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Bunnyykoko wrote on 24-10 10:05:
Bunnyykoko wrote:
Even though i have to talk and write in english at work, i dont understand everything in this text without using a translater πŸ₯²
but i like to read in english or watch netflix in english to improve 😭🫢🏻
halloween is my favorite holiday and i love everything halloween related!!
Report | Quote | X
LeleDE wrote on 24-10 09:58:
LeleDE wrote:
I want to say, I'm still learning english and I want to read new (& old) NT Articles, hopefully it helps me to learn more :) Thank you so much for your work and the beautiful layouts always β™₯
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Private wrote on 23-10 18:05:
BloomCissi wrote:
Halloween is just around the corner...Β 

Thank you for the amazing layout Solveig! @atenciaΒ 

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