The scariest (mythical) monsters from around the world
Seeing as its Halloween we here at the Expat Hub decided to get into the mood by researching some of the scariest beasties that have chomped their way into folklore in cultures around the world. From ghouls and ghosts to mythical beasts and downright creepy tales here are just some of the best.
The Wendigo (USA and Canada)
If you go wandering the woods of the northern United States and the great lakes region of Canada, beware the Wendigo. According to legend it is a terrifying beast that feeds on human flesh. The Wendigo was once a man that broke a tribal taboo and ate human flesh. A malignant spirit possessed the cannibal, and the Wendigo was born. If a person willingly engages in cannibalism then he will become one of the monsters. Wendigo’s are often described as being able to move at supernatural speeds, have long limbs, and are extremely thin (because they are always hungry). Its mouth is filled with sharp yellowed fangs, and its hands and feet end in razor like talons. The Wendigo’s twisted lips are flecked with blood, and their long tongues are a disgusting dark blue. Its eyes are one of its most frightening aspects, which are often described as being bright yellow or dark red. Beware the Wendigo. It’s a good job these beasts aren’t real…or are they?
Banshee (Ireland, France, Germany)
Ireland’s most famous mythical creature is the terrifying Banshee. In folklore it is a ghost or the spirit of a fairy who visits households and by wailing warns that a member of the residing family will die. Other tales recount Banshees being seen in isolated areas such as on moors or hilltops. Banshees are also said to haunt pools and streams and have been spotted washing the linen of those soon to die. The Banshee’s wail is heard at night prior to a death. In some parts of Leinster, her wail can be so piercing that it shatters glass. In Kerry, the keen is experienced as a “low, pleasant singing”; in Tyrone as “the sound of two boards being struck together”; and on Rathlin Island as “a thin, screeching sound somewhere between the wail of a woman and the moan of an owl”.
If you ever go hiking in the Irish countryside and hear the Banshees wail, you can be sure that death is near….oo-er.
The Aboriginal peoples of Australia have long feared the Yowie. Report of the Yowie goes back to the 18th century with a spate of sightings in the 19th. In 1912, George Summerell was riding on horseback between Bombala and Bemboka when he saw a strange creature on all fours drinking from a creek. The animal rose up on its hind feet to a height of seven feet and looked at Summerell. Then it disregarded the horseman, finished its drink, and peacefully walked away into nearby woods.
The creature is described as being very similar to Bigfoot with a height of six or seven feet tall and covered with thick black fur.
This mythical beast created a tradition that is still practised in China today, very few mythical monsters can boast such a legacy as enduring as the Nian. According to Chinese myth, the ancient Chinese were subject to being regularly eaten by monsters but the worst by far was the Nian. It was a massive beast with massive horns and could devour villagers in a single swallow. On the first and fifteenth day of every year, as winter began to recede to make way for the first signs of the new spring, the Nian would roam as it pleased, blighting every living thing that had the misfortune to stray into its destructive path. The beast was eventually scared off by a man wearing red (the colour the beast feared above all things) and the noise from exploding fire crackers. To this day the Chinese celebrate the coming of spring by setting off fire-crackers and wearing red.
Konak JiJi (Japan)
This spooky creature is found in folklore from Japan. It resembles an old man or a baby and lures unwary people to their deaths by crying in places where a baby is not supposed to be. Mountain paths and dark woods are their home. Terryfyingly, when a kind hearted traveller picks up the demonic baby to comfort it the konak jiji reverts into its true form, increasing its weight from a baby to over 376 kilograms, crushing the life out of its victim.
The Morbach monster is a famous werewolf tale from Germany. The legend goes that a deserter from Napoleons army was cursed by a witch for murdering her family as he raided her farm for food. Rapidly tales of a wolf that walked like a man spread throughout the countryside. At night, men and cattle were brutally slaughtered by the beast. Eventually the deserter was captured by a mob of the pitch fork wielding peasant variety and killed near the village of Morbach. To keep the beast in the dirt the villagers built a shrine where a candle burns continually. As long as the candle is lit, so the legend goes, the werewolf will not return.
However, in 1988 a group of US servicemen from the nearby Air Force base noticed that the candle had blown. Later, at the base, sirens pealed into the night, someone or something had activated the perimeter fence sensors. While investigating, a security guard saw a large wolf-like creature, standing on its hind legs. It gazed at the soldier for a moment and then fled, clearing a 3 metre fence with ease. To some this tale is definitive proof that the legend is true… spooky stuff.