Mythical Creatures & Beings

A short introduction to mythical creatures and creatures of legend

     Copyright © 2005 Gray Seal

Mythical creatures are almost always literary creatures that generated popularity out of literary circulation and story-telling. They are legendary creatures that at one point were believed to be real beings, while some have their origin traced from literary myths.

Mythical creatures can be divided into two groups; the first group consists of creatures that everyone agrees to have existed or still exist today and the other group is composed of creatures in which not everybody agrees as to whether they have existed or not.

While the first group is asserted only on literary works and word of mouth, its impact becomes stronger over time. The tale becomes a legend, the legend becomes a history.

The other group is considered to consist of more elusive magical, mythical creatures that, even today, make people wonder if they are real or not. These creatures are more aggressively shown and described on articles, photographs, journals and movies.

Greek Mythical Creatures

Some mythical creatures that came out of the pages of the book and became popular literary legends are the ancient Greek mythical creatures. Some examples of these are Centaurs, Minotaur, Nymphs and Pegasus.

A more special creature called the Hydra makes Greek mythical legends more fascinating if not awe-inspiring.

Literary stories enveloped with powerful and legendary creatures like these create a more enduring impression and provides constant appeal to its readers and audience.

Unicorns, dragons and other creatures like griffin are magical and mythical creatures as well. Dragons are legendary beasts that for centuries still amuse people of its uncanny ability to fight evil with its fire-breathing powers and its astonishing strength. Legends give birth to these immortal creatures that will live on for centuries to come and more.

People became fond of Nymphs, of the legendary Pegasus, of imaginary monsters, of mythical gods and creatures because these entities provide bewilderment and it somehow imparts exuberance to an ordinary life that’s full of imagination.

Mythical Creatures in Other Countries

Each country has its own folklore made up of mythical and magical creatures, monsters and legendary heroes. Throughout the years, the pages of a country’s history have been rich with mythical characters, with fancy creatures that became more and more alive as the centuries and decades go by. Supernatural characters are always present and mythical places are visualized.

The specific existence may still leave the readers wanting to know more about these creatures. But the mere fact that Big foot, the Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman are getting world wide attention and are still being talked about is because they all share the common trait – they are elusive and mysterious.

Mythical and magical creatures will always haunt our vivid imaginations and will continue to dwell inside the corners of our minds.

Here are some mythical beings:

ANGELS - Often appear to people in the shape of humans of extraordinary beauty, and often are not immediately recognized as angels; some fly through the air; some become invisible; sacrifices touched by them are consumed by fire; and they may disappear in sacrificial fire.

BANSHEE - A spirit, usually a woman, appears before an Irishman when a member of his family dies. Only the oldest Irish families who can trace their lineage to the legendary Irish heroes of the Middle Ages have Banshees.

BASILISK - This creature can be one of 4 things: a venom-spitting serpent, a ferocious lizard, a towering dragon, or a chimera. They have the power to kill its victim by its stare but have 2 Achilles heels: the scent of a weasel, and the sound of a rooster crowing.

BOGGART - A Shape-shifting spirit, while normally invisible, it can materialize as a human, an animal, a skeleton, or a demon. In America, it’s known as the boogie man.

CENTAUR - The most famous of these half man half horse is Chiron, who served as a teacher and mentor to many young men destined for greatness, including Hercules, Achilles, Jason, and Ascleplus. Known for his wisdom and sense of justice, Chiron was skilled in medicine, hunting, herbology and celestial navigation.

CERBERUS - The hound of Hades-a monstrous three-headed dog (sometimes said to have 50 or 100 heads) with a snake for a tail and serpentine mane.

CHIMERA - The body of a goat, the tail of a snake or dragon and the head of a lion, though others say it had heads of both the goat and lion, generally considered to have been female, despite the mane adorning its lion's head. Sighting the chimera was a sign of storms, shipwrecks, and natural disasters (particularly volcanoes).

DRAGONS - Enormous serpents, armored with impenetrable scales and equipped with one of two pairs of legs and a set of bat-like wings, wedge-shaped heads and long, poisonous fangs. Some sported twin horns, enormous claws and a forked or barbed tail. Welsh dragons were often red, German were white, others came in black, yellow, green, purple, or blue.

DRYAD - Female tree spirits, particularly the Oak tree. Dryads, like all nymphs, were supernaturally long-lived and tied to their homes, meaning, who were an integral part of their trees, such that if the tree died, the dryad associated with it died as well.

DWARF - These little men have the power to become invisible and to assume any shape. They live for several hundred years and can see the future. They usually look like men with large heads, wizened faces, long grey beards and misshapen legs and feet.

ELF - They come in all shapes and sizes but all work very powerful magick. Most resemble slender humans in their natural shape, but they can change or vanish in the blink of an eye. Dark elves of Germany are said to be hideous while Danish elves are renowned for their beauty. In English folklore, male elves are described as wizened old men while the females are lovely, golden haired maidens. An elf may be small enough to sleep under a toadstool or large enough to pas as human. Some elves steal babies, rustle cattle, pilfer food, and cause disease. They sit on people as they sleep, causing bad dreams.

FAIRY - Usually take the shape of the fairest humans. The realm of the fairy are only discovered by chance. Always keep your hearth clean and try to pay your fairies for their services with bowls of milk.

GARGOYLEA Winged humanoid race with demonic features (generally horns, a tail, talons, and may or may not have a beak). Gargoyles can generally use their wings to fly or glide, and are often depicted as having a rocky hide, or being capable of turning into stone in one way or another, a reference to their structural roots.

GIANT - One of the most famous one is Goliath. They are ranked with dragons. In Celtic legend, the Fomorians (a clan of Giants) were the first inhabitants of Ireland. Famous poem - "Fee, fi, fo, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he live or be he dead, I'll crush his bones to make my bread"

GNOME - Good natured, old, and hunch-backed, their skin is always earth toned (grey or brown usually) so they can blend in with their surroundings. They can move through the earth in any direction without tunnels, like a fish in water.

GOBLINS - Helpful yet temperamental imps. They attach themselves to one person or family, moving into their home. They vary in size but most are about half an adult human. Grey hair and beards, bodies and facial features are distorted. It is said that their smile can curdle milk. Also known as hob-goblins although all hob-goblins are good.

GRIFFIN - The head, beak and wings of an eagle, the body of a lion and occasionally the tail of a serpent or scorpion. This animal watches over goldmines and hidden treasures, and to be the enemy of the horse. The incredibly rare offspring of griffin and horse would be called hippogriff.

GRIM - Spirit in the form of a menacing dog. They never leave church yards or burial grounds. They are usually invisible except in storms, midnight before a death and they can be seen standing guard on a bell-tower during a burial.

GRINDYLOW - Has the face of a hag, long green hair, green skin, green fangs, and a pointy mouth. To get rid of one, give them one swift kick to the head - NOT two though!!

HINKYPUNK - A wispy, one-legged spirit who lurks in remote areas at night waiting for an approaching traveler before he lights a lantern and then steps into view. They are capable of passing through matter and emitting hypnotizing and blinding blasts of light.

HIPPOGRIFF - The offspring of a male griffin and a female horse. In medieval times, they were charged with crimes. Like a griffin, it has the head of an eagle, claws armed with talons, and wings covered with feathers, the rest of its body being that of a horse. The hippogriff was therefore a symbol of impossibility and love.

HYDRA - The Hydra had the body of a serpent and many heads (the number of heads deviates from five up to one hundred there are many versions but generally nine is accepted as standard), of which any weapon could never harm one, and if any of the other heads were severed another would grow in its place. Also the stench from the Hydra's breath was enough to kill man or beast. When it emerged from the swamp it would attack herds of cattle and villagers, devouring them with its numerous heads.

IMPS - Are usually described as mischievous more than seriously threatening, and as lesser beings rather than more important supernatural beings. They are usually described as lively and having small stature. They are usually, but not invariably, assigned male gender and fascinated with felines. Described as dark, shadowy creatures. Imps are shape-shifters preferring a shadow-form. The trickery ascribed to them is, generally, confined to missing, misplaced, or moved articles (socks, keys, lighters, etc.) and stubbed toes. Some accounts of imps claim that they are desperately lonely, and always travel in pairs or in mobs.

INCUBUS - A demon in male form that lies upon sleepers, especially women, in order to have sexual intercourse with them. The Incubus drains energy from the woman it performs sexual intercourse upon in order to sustain itself. In most cases it either kills the victim or leaves the victim in very weak or fragile condition. A female version was called a succubus.

KAPPA - Amphibious water spirit of Japanese folk lore that drags its victims into the water and drowns and mutilates them. They dwell in rivers, lakes, and ponds. They are the size of a ten year old boy with scaly yellow-green skin, the face of a monkey and the back of a tortoise. The best method of subduing them is to bow to it repeatedly or to give it a cucumber with your name carved in it.

LEPRECHAUN - Shoemakers of Irish folklore. Humans may share in their wealth but only if they are clever enough to capture him.

MANTICORE - Its reddish, hairy body resembles a lions, it has a human face, melodious voice, and a scorpion like tail spiked with poison darts, which he could shoot like arrows.

MERMAIDS/ MERMEN - Also known as Merrymaid (Cornish), Merrow (Irish), Blue Men (Scotland), meerfrau, nix, nixe, lorele (Germany) and the Rusalka (Russia). Half woman/man and half fish.

PHOENIX - A bird that periodically (every 500 yrs) bursts into flames and is reduced to ashes and from those ashes rises a newborn. Has the ability to heal with its tears and empower wands with its tail feathers.

PIXIE - Red-headed fairies that pick on those they consider lazy. They often help people in need, but those who fail to do their share or forget to reward them with a bowl of cream to drink and a swept hearth on which to dance, are advised not to leave possessions within reach.

RED CAP - Evil goblin that haunts the ruins of castles where bloody battles have occurred. They have long grey hair, fiery red eyes, protruding teeth and a red cap (red because it is soaked in blood). For protection read the Bible out loud.

SIREN - Naiads, sea nymphs, or often called sirens They were considered the daughters of Achelous (by Terpsichore, Melpomene or Sterope) or Phorcys. Beautiful but dangerous voices, used to lure sailors towards there deaths on the rocky shores and cliffs.

SPHINX - Has the body of a lion, head and bust of a human. It is the symbol of royalty, fertility, and life after death. They are associated with the annual flooding of the Nile, which brought life to the parched desert.

SPRITE - European version of elf-like creatures closely related to the fairies. Somewhat mischievous, but despite the European relation they are found all over the world.

SUCCUBUS - A demon, which takes the form of a female to seduce men (especially monks) in dreams to have sexual intercourse. They draw energy from the men to sustain themselves, often until the point of exhaustion or death of the victim.

SYLPH - Minor spirits, elementals, or faeries of the air. Women who are full of vanity turn into sylphs when they die because their spirits are too full of dark vapors to ascend to the skies.

TROLL - Ugly, dumb, fierce, evil beings with a taste for human flesh and an eye for treasure, they reside in the cold northern European country of Scandinavia. Exposure to daylight turns them to stone.

UNICORN - According to Ctesias, it is native to India, is the size of a donkey, a dark red head, white body, blue eyes, and a single horn which was 18 inches long, white at the base, black in the middle, flaming red at the top. The horn had the special quality that when separated from its owner and made into a drinking cup, it protected whoever drank from it from poisons, convulsions, and epilepsy.

VAMPIRE - These blood-sucking creatures are actually vulnerable to iron. These man-like demons can also be energy vampires (suckers).

VEELA - Are shape-shiftershifters who dance under the midsummer moon. Men fall under their spell and loose all reason.

WEREWOLF - Another term used for them is Lycanthrope. Under a full moon, they are men who turn into wolf-like creatures. Werewolf trials occurred in places were real wolves were serious problems. There is a rare genetic disease called hypertrichosis that develops dense facial hair, every part of the body is covered except for the palms of their hands and the soles of their feet.

WRAITH - An apparition of a living or once-living being, possibly as a portent of death. In the case of a living person being doubled it is thought that the wraith is an omen of the persons imminent death. 

The Desert Wind Coven

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