P is for Pixie

Illustration from Among Pixies and 
Trolls, a children’s anthology

Name: Pixie (also Pixy, Pixi, Pizkie, Piskies and Pigsies)

Type: fairy or sprite-like being

Origin: Cornish folklore

Description: Pixies are very small beings that live mostly in the high moorland areas near Devon and Cornwall. They’re also associated with exploring ocean caves. Usually, they are naked or scantly clothed and possess pointed ears and a pointed hat. Some say that pixies have wings, and others say they are without wings. One thing they especially enjoy is riding horses. While doing so, they make ringlets in the manes of the horses they ride. As for their demeanor, sometimes they kidnap children or mislead travelers (the cure for being pixie-led is to turn your coat inside out), but they not thought to be malevolent. They’ve been said to be help out widows and those in need at times.

Interesting Facts: Pixies lore predates Christianity in Britain, and the people in Cornwall and Devon took them quite seriously. To this day, there is a Pixie Day from an old tradition re-enacted annually on the Saturday in June nearest Mid-Summer’s Day in Ottery St. Mary, England.

Have you heard of Pixies? Any other “P” beings or creatures you know of?

N is for Nereid

Here is today’s A to Z Challenge post. It’s is a quickie since I’m also doing the Hunky Hero BlogHop today.

Name: Nereid

Type: sea nymph

Origin: Greek mythology

Description: The Nereids are the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris and sisters to Nerites. They are sea nymphs and often accompany Poseidon. Their demeanor is friendly, and they help sailors who are fighting dangerous storms. They live in and are associated with the Aegean Sea.

Interesting Facts: One of the moons of Neptune is named Nereid after them since they were attendants of Neptune (Poseidon in Greek mythology). Notable Nereids are Thetis, the mother of Achilles, and Amphitrite, wife of Poseidon.

Have you heard of the Nereids? Are there any N beings or creatures you know of?

M is for Minotaur

Name: Minotaurs, which means the “Bull of Minos.”

Origin: Greek Mythology

Type: Human Hybrid

Description: A little bit about the Minotaur. He has the head of a bull and the body of a man. His parents are the Cretan Bull and Pasiphaë. Pasiphaë was married to King Minos of Crete, but after King Minos had prayed to Poseidon and received support from him, he was supposed to kill the Cretan Bull. He thought it was so beautiful that he couldn’t, so he sacrificed one of his own bulls.

For his punishment, Pasiphaë fell in love with the Cretan Bull and had the architect Daedalus build a hollow wooden cow so she could mate with the bull. Minotaur was nursed by his mother until he became fierce and began devouring men. He lives at the center of the Cretan Labyrinth, which was constructed by Daedalus and his son by command of King Minos of Crete.

Interesting Facts: One of the future Athenian king Theseus’s acts which helped him to secure his throne was to slay the Minotaur. Also, since some sources don’t specify which end is part bull and which is part human, sometimes the Minotaur has a bull’s lower half and a human torso.

Have you heard of the Minotaur before?

L is for Lampads

Hope you’re all having a fantastic Friday the 13th! Some quick news to share before I dip into today’s topic. Castles & Guns, my group blog, is having our first “Giveaway from the Castle Vault”! Make sure to swing by and enter to win some of the great prizes lined up.

Name: Lampads (means “Torch Bearers” also spelled “Lampades”)

Type: khthonian nymphs (minor nature goddesses of the underworld)

Origin: Greek mythology

Description: The Lampads live in Greek mythology’s Underworld. They accompany Hecate the titan goddess who is associated with magic, witchcraft, curses, and crossroads among other things. The Lampads were given to Hecate as a gift from Zeus for her loyalty during the ten-year War of the Titans. The Lampads carry torches while they go with Hecate on her night-time travels and activities. Their torches apparently have the ability to drive people into madness.

Interesting Facts: Their Latin name is Nymphae Avernales. They’re mentioned in Latin literature such as Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Statius’s Silvae.

Have you heard of the Lampads before? What other creatures or beings can you think of that start with L?

K is for Kalma

Today, you guys get a two for one. We’re dealing with both the goddess and spirits of the recently passed. 🙂 We also have a special Interesting Facts from my husband. Enjoy!

Name: Kalma (means “The Stench of Corpses”)

Type: Finnish goddess of death and decay

Origin: Finnish mythology

Description: As noted in the meaning of her name, she smells of death and decay. She lives in the Finnish Underworld called Tuonela. Surma, a beast often described as a large dog with a snake’s tail, accompanies her and guards the gates of Tuonela. He makes sure the dead stay in and the living stays out.

Interesting Facts (brought to you by my Finnish husband): In Finnish culture, the dead and recently passed have always held respect of those who were left behind afterwards. The old sayings of not to speak ill of the dead is directly related to the kalmas.

Kalmas, the spirits of the recently passed, typically lived in the world as passing spirits until they entered the afterlife (Tuonela) or were forced to vacate the area they were possessing. Sometimes the mortal bounds held the spirits in the physical world so strong that the Death was not able to relieve them.

Should the body not be completely decomposed, the spirit could re-inhabit the body with a mere effort, vitalizing it enough to walk around the living and typically to seek resolution or revenge

The early Christianity that came to Finland gave Kalmas another feature. It was said that some spirits were so religious and so tied to their home church that every Christmas eve the dead, the Kalmas and ghosts rose up from their resting places to worship on Christmas eve’s night. Along with a priest kalma.

Should one stay long near the dying and the deceased, they could contact the spiritual essence of the dead to themselves, and thus pass disease or death among the living without knowing it. One had to perform a set of rites of passage to prevent any dead spirits from passing with them as they were dealing with the dead and the diseased to prevent this. Tietäjäs (the shamans of the Finns) could typically see the dead and to command them, requesting the Kalma to hold her people (the kalmas) from taking the diseased from their homes into an early grave.

The Finnish necromancy was not wide-spread, but the dead and the Kalma was worshipped, and the dead were sometimes used as messengers, as mentors and even allies toward a specific goal. One had to pay respects to the dead, and pay them typically with blood of an animal, or by jewelry or gold to prevent them from attacking those who had requested their aid.

J is for Jörmungandr

“Thor in Hymir’s boat battling
the Midgard Serpent” (1788) by Henry Fuseli

Name: Jörmungandr (also known as the Midgard Serpent or World Serpent)

Type: Legendary serpent, son of Loki

Origin Norse mythology

Description: Jörmungandr was one of three children of Loki and Angrboða. In the Prose Edda, an Icelandic collection which includes tales from Norse mythology, Odin “tossed Jörmungandr into the great ocean that encircles Midgard. The serpent grew so large that he was able to surround the earth and grasp his own tail. As a result, he received the name of the Midgard Serpent or World Serpent. When he lets go, the world will end.”

Interesting Facts: Thor is the Jörmungandr’s arch-enemy. They are mentioned in three myths together. Loki and Angrboða’s other two children are Fenrir and Hel.

Have you heard of the Jörmungandr before?

I is for Imp

Welcome back for today’s creature, sponsored by the letter… I.

First though, I have some newsy bits to share. Jungle Fire is now available at Hop on over there and take a look (after today’s post, of course. ;-))

Name: Imp

Type: lesser demons

Origin: Germanic mythology

Description: Small, unattractive boarding on ugly creatures. Imps, while usually associated with black arts, are not always evil, but merely mischievous and pranksters, as they do not strive to harm their victims. They usually act very wild and uncontrollable. Most often, they’re viewed as immortals. Typically, they are familiars who serve witches or warlocks as informants.

Sometimes imps seek friendship with humans since they’re often portrayed as lonely. Usually their pranks drove away the people or when they found a friend, they were described as impish for their love of practical jokes.

Interesting Facts: Some Germanic tales consider imps to be more closely tied to fairies due to the fact that they’re more playful and show a variety of interests, unlike their more infernal cousins.

They’re very commonly used in computer games/video games due to the fact that they are known as servants to magical beings. Examples are World of Warcraft, The Legend of Zelda, and Dante’s Inferno.

Click here for more information and pictures of them.

Have you heard of imps before?

H is for Hiisi

I hope everyone had a Happy Easter! Today’s trip takes us back to Finland we go for the letter H.

Name: Hiisi (originally meant “holy place” or “sacred grove”)

Type: Goblin-like guardian spirit

Origin: Finnish mythology

Description: As seen by it’s original name meaning, hiisi was originally seen as the awesomeness of nature. After Christian influence, they were seen as mean or at least horrifying evil spirits of small stature. They live near “salient promontories, ominous crevasses, large boulders, potholes, woods, hills, and other awesome geographical features or rough terrain.” Hiisis (Finnish plural is hiidet) travel noisily, and if people don’t get out of their way, they attack. Also, if a person left their door open, hiisis would go inside and steal something of his or her possessions.

In Finland’s national epic, The Kalevala, Hiisi was one of the twelve sons of Kaleva. He is in Poems 13-14, when Lemminkäinen is after his elk.

Interesting Facts:  They were originally thought to be tall like giants, so their diminished size is kind of interesting. In Finnish, a giant’s kettle is hiidenkimu, which means hiisi’s churn. Also, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, hiisi is used for the word goblin whereas orc is örkki.

An old folk saying is that one must put (and keep) their knives (puukkos) in their sheaths when entering someone’s home. Otherwise a spirit of hiisi would enter the home in the empty sheath and create chaos.

Have you heard of hiisis before?

G is for Green Man

Today’s trip spans the world as this being brought to you by the letter G is found in many cultures.

Name: Green Man (this term originates from 1939 in The Folklore Journal)

Type: Nature Spirit and/or vegetative deity

Origin: True origin unknown. There’s a multitude of variations from different ancient cultures.

Description: The Green Man is a very old primal nature spirit that is closely tied to the cycle of life and nature. It’s commonly seen as rebirth or renaissance and is viewed a part of the seasonal growth during Spring. He’s typically seen as an older man wearing green, even though he can take on a multitude of forms. Most view him as a type of woodland spirit. He has been considered similar to Odin, the Holly King, and Jack in the Green.

He’s found carved in wood or stone in churches all over. He’s appears most commonly in three forms.

  • Foliate Head – covered in green leaves
  • Disgorging Head – spews leaves and vines from mouth
  • Bloodsucker Head – sprouts leaves and vines from mouth and other orifices (No clue why it’s called that. *grin*)

Interesting Facts: The Green Man can be found in one form or another around the world. The Green Knight is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is viewed as similar to the Green Man as well as Robin Hood, due to the close ties with woodlands and green clothing/armor. The Green Man can also be viewed as a great living tree, similar to Tolkien’s walking, self-aware trees. Also, in some of his variations, he is depicted in roles similar to Odin and Osiris.

On a side note, he seems awfully similar to the Jolly Green Giant, huh? Ho, ho, ho… *grin*

Source: Wikipedia.

F is for Fear dearg

Today’s journey takes us to Ireland to search out a creature that starts with the letter F.

Name: Fear dearg, also known as far darrig (means “Red Man”)

Type: Solitary fairy (a classification of fairies who live alone and tend to be malicious and wicked)

Origin: Irish mythology

Description: The fear dearg lives up to its name in that he wears a red cap and coat. The Fairy and Folk Tales of Irish Peasantry book points out that they tend to be “most sluttish, slouching, jeering, mischievous phantoms.” And it goes on to say that the fear dearg “busies himself with practical joking, especially with gruesome joking.”

Interesting Fact: This fairy is used in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series in Divine Misdemeanors as well as in the Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon book series’s “The Callahan Touch” which has a character who is a mix of fear dearg and pooka.

Have you heard of the fear dearg/far darrig before? If so where?