european folklore

W is for Wolpertinger

Name: Wolpertinger (also wolperdinger, poontinger, woiperdinger)

Type: chimera

Origin: Bavarian folklore

Description: Wolpertingers live in the alpine forests of Bavaria in Germany. It’s body is a mish-mash of various parts. In general they have wings, antlers, tails, and fangs, all on a small animal like a rabbit or squirrel.

Interesting Fact: They can actually be bought as souvenirs at inns and tourist shops in Germany. Yeesh! Click here for a picture. These creatures would be considered almost like a cousin to the American Jackalope or a Swedish Skvader.

Do you know any of “W” creatures? 

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?

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 Amazon.com. 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?

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.

D is for Doppelgänger

Today’s belated trip sponsored by the letter D takes us throughout Europe with a brief dip into Egypt, since while the word is German, there are several mythologies which have their own versions of it.

Name: Doppelgänger (means “double walker”)

Type: Paranormal, usually ghostly double.

Origin: European mythology/folklore

Description: They are typically described as the feeling of glimpsing at oneself in your peripheral vision, somewhere you couldn’t possibly be catching your reflection. They can be either shadowy, vague figures or life-like.

Interesting Facts: The mythologies I found that include doppelgängers are Norse mythology, in which it’s a spirit predecessor who goes before the living person and can be seen performing their actions before they do. It is called a vardøger. Finnish mythology has an etiäinen (which means “a firstcomer”) that is a spirit summoned by a shaman or person in great need so they can receive information. It looks and acts like the person who summoned it in order to obtain the message.

Finally, there’s the ka (meaning “spirit double”) in Ancient Egyptian mythology, which is a copy of the original person’s feelings and memories. It’s used in the Egyptian’s take on the Trojan War in “The Greek Princess” where Helen’s ka misled Paris of Troy to help stop the war.

Something else of interest is the fact that according to Nature, a scientific magazine, while being treated for epilepsy by using electromagnetic stimulation of the patient’s brain, the woman experienced the awareness of a doppelgänger near her, even though she was psychologically healthy. Also, several famous people such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Abraham Lincoln reportedly experienced their ghostly doubles as well.

Source: Wikipedia

Have you heard of the doppelgänger before? If so, where did you learn about it?

B is for Basilisk

Hey everyone! Welcome back for today’s letter… B for my creatures of folklore, mythology, and the paranormal theme! I hope you all didn’t fall prey to too many April Fool’s pranks yesterday. I fell for one, but then I put on my skepticism hat for the rest of the day. *grins*

Name: Basilisk (means “little king”)

Type: Legendary reptile from the Medieval bestiaries

Origin: Europe

Description: The basilisk is described as either a small snake, or as pictured to the side, it’s a very odd rooster that has a crown-like crest and possesses the tail of a snake. It is extremely toxic, and the common way to find its burrow is to see if the ground nearby is infected. It prefers dry places, and it can kill by odor, look, and mouth. Its bite can cause hydrophobia (basically, rabies).

Interesting Facts: Medusa and the basilisk share a couple of common traits in that they both can kill with their gazes as well as be killed by looking at themselves in mirrors. Although, it seems the most common way to kill a basilisk is by a weasel attacking it. It’s also mentioned a few times in the Bible.

Into the Paranormal: Alphito

Howdy everyone! Welcome to this edition of Into the Paranormal! Today’s post is about a boogeyman/goddess called Alphito.

I few weeks back, I was digging through a list of legendary/supernatural beings to find some good topics for Into the Paranormal. I browsed through them fairly quickly looking for something fairly easy to summarize, but also one that really captured my attention. Then I found Alphito. What first caught my eye is the fact a quote from the foreword of a cookbook comparing the author to Alphito.

Maida Heatter is the fairy godmother of anything sweet, spicy, crunchy, chewy, or fluffy you could possibly imagine baking. In Greek mythology, Maida, with her elegant halo of silver hair, would have been known as the goddess Alphito, the symbol of flour and lady guardian of the mill. (Source)

That sounds nice, so what else is there to know?

The first recorded mention of Alphito is in the Moralia of Plutarch, which relates nurses telling superstitious tales of her to scare children and make them behave. Pretty much a boogeyman. Although, her name is related to the word alphita, “white flour”, and alphitomanteia, which is a type of divination which happens from flour or barley meal. As the quote above said, her hair is white and she’s presumed to be old.

There’s a lot of speculation into whether she’s more than a boogeyman. Author Robert Graves wrote a thesis stating that she was originally the White Goddess from Greek mythology, but his book received a decent amount of criticism regarding his thoughts.

In parting, here’s a description of Alphito from Graves:

In one sense it is the pleasant whiteness of pearl-barley, or a woman’s body, or milk, or unsmutched snow; in another it is the horrifying whiteness of a corpse, or a spectre, or leprosy. … Alphito, it has been shown, combined these senses: for alphos is white leprosy, the vitiliginous sort which attacks the face, and alphiton is barley, and Alphito lived on the cliff tops of Nonacris in perpetual snow.” (Source)

What do you think about Alphito? Have you heard of her?

Bugbear

Hey everyone! Just a quickie Into the Paranormal post today since I’m in the throes of release week. If you’re interested, I’m being interviewed today at Darcy Drake’s blog and Clancy Metzger’s blog. I’d love to see you there.

So, today’s topic…


Bugbear is a bearlike goblin, which is a type of bogeyman from medieval England used to scare children to keep them from misbehaving. The name bugbear is from the Celtic bug, which means evil spirit or goblin. They’re also known for frightening and annoying people in folktales. Female bugbears tend to take and raise babies themselves. Today, the term is also used for scarecrows.

Have you heard of the Bugbear before?

Into the Paranormal: Sea Monk

So, as I browsed the list of creatures today, I came across an interesting one I hadn’t heard of before, a Sea Monk, which sometimes goes by the name of monk-fish. It was named in 1545 to the fish off the coast of Denmark’s Zealand island. The creature got its name by looking like a monk, as you can see from the picture.

It was featured in Conrad Gesner’s fourth volume of Historia Animalium, a renaissance zoology book. Gesner, who was a doctor and professor, had previous experience with a similar sea creature in 1531 off the coast of Poland.

The sea monk was made well known in the epic poem La Sepmaine; ou, Creation du monde by Guillaume du Bartas. The poem reflects the belief that everything on land has something that corresponds in the sea.

In the 1850s, Japetus Steenstrup, a Danish zoologist, came up with the idea that the sea monk was actually a giant squid, which lined up next to one another look similarly shaped. Others believed it could be a walrus, grey seal, hooded seal, monk seal, or even a hoax. Although, there’s one more possibility, which came about more recently. Some believe it could be an angel shark due to the fact that it’s typically called a monkfish or, in Norway, munk.


What’s your take on the Sea Monk? Have you heard about it before?

X is for Xana

The Asturian nymph, Xana, is typical water spirit. Tied to a location of pure running water, she is usually described as a fair maiden of Nordic origins with blonde or light brown hair, slender frame, and extraordinary beauty.

While nymphs, in general, are not inherently malicious, they do have their darker sides. The xana, for instance, replaces human babies with their own. Some tales talk of darker colored xanas, who crawl through keyholes and steal belongings or bite the people living inside.

Some tales mention enchanted xanas who need help to release themselves of the spells and curses cast on them. After being unbound by the curses, the xana repays with gold and silver that it has either stolen, or found, before returning to its source of water.

Interesting Tidbits:

  • Should a xanino, a baby xana, be exchanged for a human infant, it will grow up within a matter of months.
  • Asturians have a method of telling if the child has been changed, which is placing eggshells near fire to make the young xanino exclaim his true nature, despite his young age.

Have you heard of the Xana before? What do you think of these water nymphs?