5 Spooky Spirits from Around the World
Japan, Poland, Tibet, Iceland, and Thailand.
In recognition of my favourite time of year, I thought it would be fitting to look at some of the greatest myths and legends surrounding our friends of the other world – spirits.
And to make up for some much needed travel, I thought why not take a virtual trip around the world and get creeped out at the same time!
Win Win right?
Japan – Kappa
In Japan, Kappa or water spirits often take the form of a child. They are characterised with a sharp beak, a shell on their back or having fish scales, and a dish filled with water on their heads. They swim using their webbed feet and hands, pulling humans and horses into the water to suck their blood.
If the water on top of their head is spilled at any instant, it is said that the Kappa’s supernatural powers is lost. Many legends depicting the Kappa portray the creatures as having the capacity to keep a promise, in which they are generally manipulated by a human through forcing them to bow and spill the water from their bowls.
It is said that Kappa are very attracted to cucumbers, and an easy way to please them is to chuck a cucumber in to their aquatic lair.
Poland – Mamuna
Mamuna is an evil spirit, often taking the shape of an ugly, hairy woman. Mamuna is said to abduct children and place her own offspring in their place. The common motif within tales of Mamuna is that the child victims are one; unattended and two; unprotected by magico-religious practices, such as tying a red string around a child’s wrist or giving them a red hat to wear.
Why the colour red? In many cultures the colour red is worn or displayed to avert evil influences or bad luck, due to its connection with the life giving energy of blood.
It’s also worthy to note that some documentation of Mamuna suggests that only unchristened babies are endangered, or the most endangered of being snatched by Mamuna – its not exactly clear.
The creature that takes the place of the abducted human child, an Odieniec, is generally unruly in nature, loud, usually physically disfigured, most commonly an overgrown head. The child may grow quite slow, or not at all. Many researchers believe that this complex of beliefs is the folklore interpretation of congenital disabilities.
There are also stories of Mamuna being a river side nymph, luring travellers to her and drowning them. The difference in appearance from Mamuna the child abductor and Mamuna the water Nymph is quite striking. Many representations of her, portray her as a beautiful young woman, usually naked or wearing a white gown.
Tibet – Lu and Sadag
Within the rivers, lakes and streams, and deep underneath the Earth’s crust, reside the Lu – a serpentine water spirit. Lu can sometimes be of good nature, rewarding people with trinkets from their aquatic and underground treasure troves. However, if their river, lake, or stream is polluted, or their subterranean lair is threatened by unknowing diggers, they are thought to bring leprosy and other diseases upon humans and their animal counterparts.
The Lu share their underground habitations with the Sadag. According to the Tibetan geomantic tradition the Sadag move around underneath the Earth’s crust in accordance to the cycle of years, months, days or hours. The exact position of the Sadag needs to be known before any construction is commenced, as they are known to get pretty angry if their habitation is infringed upon.
Iceland – Nykur
Long ago, it was believed that most lakes in Iceland inhabited a Nykur – a shape shifting horse. The Nykur lured unsuspecting people who wanted a ride in to the watery depths of the Nykur’s lake dwelling.
The Nykur is characterised by its inverted hooves and ears, it was also said to have a bladder underneath its left haunch. Although it was commonly represented as a horse, the Nykur was able to shape shift in to all forms of creatures – living or dead. Its only restrictions being that it couldn’t turn in to lambswool or peeled barley.
Damn, poor thing.
The creature was known to haunt the most treacherous of rivers and lakes to cross. Initially acting docile, tempting people to hop on its back and take a ride. But as soon as the rider mounted the Nykur, it would gallop in to the water, where it would lay down, dragging its victim into the water with it.
The Nykur were known to be connected to ice as well. It is said that when a person heard the noise of ice cracking it was the Nykur neighing. Because of this, people were very cautious when crossing ice.
One of the only defences against the Nykur, is saying their name. It is said that the Nykur cannot stand the sound of their name or of similar words for that matter. When they would hear their name, the Nykur would bolt to the safety of their aquatic lair. Leaving any potential victim in their wake.
Thailand – Krasue
Krasue is a nocturnal female spirit portrayed as a spirit with beautiful young features, but has her internal organs hanging down from her neck. The organs typically being a heart, stomach and intestines, they are generally displayed with fresh blood and glow in the dark.
The origin of Krasue, is said to be a Khmer Princess, that was meant to marry a Siamese noblemen after her people were defeated in war. But the princess was in love with another man of lower status. She fled with her lover, however, was soon caught by the Noblemen’s army. She was then sentenced to be burned alive. Before she was executed though, the Princess had a spell cast upon her, so that her body would not be burned by the flames. However, the spell didn’t become fully active, so the princess burned, with only her head and organs protected from the flames.
Things don’t get much better for Krasue, as she was also cursed. According to legend part of the curse is that Krasue is forever hungry and is forced to go out at night and feed on the blood of chickens, cows and water buffalo. What is even worse, is that if there is no animal blood available, she if forced to feed on the excrement of animals!
In order to survive the night Krasue must return to her remains before daybreak. There are several ways of destroying Krasue by either moving her remains so she can’t find them, destroy them whilst she is still hunting, or swap it for another poor bugger’s body. You can also cut off her intestines, but that sounds a bit to messy for me.
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