The Banshee of Marrtown
Region of origin: Marrtown, West Virginia
As people emigrate to new lands, the creatures and figures of their folklore may travel along with them and as a result, tales of banshees in America have cropped up around communities where Scottish and Irish immigrants have resettled. One such instance is the banshee which haunted Thomas Marr and his family. Marr settled Marrtown with his wife Mary in 1836, and historical details may vary the legend of the banshee states he farmed and picked up extra income by serving as a night watchman at a nearby toll bridge on the Little Kanawha River. Thomas would tell his wife that on several nights on the way to and from the bridge, he would encounter a grey-robed figure on a white horse but was never able to see their face. Then one night in February of 1876, while Mary was waiting for her husband to return, the horse and rider approached the home’s front gate. Going out to meet the rider, Mary saw it was a woman with glowing red eyes. The woman would tell Mary that Thomas had died that night before she rode off, vanishing into the mists of the early morning. The message was confirmed as Thomas’ replacement came to relieve him, the body was found in the Little Kanawha, with conflicting reports saying he had been shot in a robbery, fallen into the river and drowned or was simply scared to death by the banshee’s wail. The banshee would later return when Mary passed and a horrible scream could be heard throughout the house, and was said to either appear or otherwise make its presence known to those of the Marr family line through the decades.
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Region of origin: Greece
Daughters of Nyx and Erebus and sisters to the Fates and Furies among others, the Keres were spirits of violent or cruel deaths, including war, murder and disease. Swarms of vulture-like Keres numbering in the thousand would hungrily hover over battlefields, descending on any fallen soldier and consuming their freshly-spilled blood while they removed the soul to be ushered to the Underworld. In some versions of the story, the Keres were included among the evil spirits released by Pandora from her box or jar.
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Region of origin: Arctic regions around Canada and Greenland
A spirit from the folklore of some Inuit tribes, the qiqirn is a massive dog that is hairless except for its extremities. Preferring solitude in remote locations, the long hair on its feet will sweep away any tracks it might leave in the snow, making it difficult to track. It’s said humans or dogs who get too near a qiqirn enter into fits and convulsions, giving the qiqirn a chance to get away. Contrarily other tribes’ folklore have a similar or identical hairless dog spirit, the keelut, who will hunt humans out in the wilderness and has become associated with imminent death and the consumption of corpses.
Originally posted on Tumblr on August 17, 2016
Region of origin: Devon, England
A variation on the United Kingdom’s numerous Black Dog stories, the Yeth- or Yell-hounds appear as large, headless dogs but in actuality are the spirits of unbaptized children who had died; now bound to roam the moors of southern England, hunting similarly-fated souls to turn them into more Yeth-hounds. These spirits will wander the woods and swamps at night making loud, mournful cries which serve as a death omen, with anyone who can hear them said to die within three weeks.
Originally posted on Tumblr on August 16, 2016
Region of origin: Scotland
A ghostly hound in the employ of fairies, the cù-sìth is a large dog about the size of a calf. Swift hunters, they were often used to retrieve the souls of the recently deceased, but would also steal away living women who were nursing and bring them to the fairy realm where they would provide milk for the children of powerful ancestral class of fairies, the daoine sìth. They were able to hunt in perfect stealth and silence, but would let out three baying howls their intended quarry could hear from across great distances; if the person could not reach the safety of their home by the third howl, they would be engulfed by a terror that could drive them mad or to their death.
Originally posted on Tumblr on August 14, 2016
Region of origin: The Philippines
Omens of death, the kumakatok are three hooded figures, often described as one young woman and two old men, who never interact directly with witnesses but would approach houses in the middle of the night and knock loudly on the door as a sign that someone in that family would die the next day. They are particularly associated with outbreaks of disease and other large-scale tragedies.
Originally posted on Tumblr on June 14, 2016
Region of origin: Shetland Islands, Scotland
Not a werewolf in a traditional sense, the wulvers were not transformed humans but faeries or spirits who appeared as furry figures with wolf heads. Also unlike the traditional werewolf, wulvers, while solitary and isolated, were calm, gentle creatures, said to assist people such as helping lost travelers find their path again. They often spent their time fishing off the shoreline, leaving excess fish they had caught at the homes of poor families when they were done for the day. Some stories referred to them as death omens, or that they would sit mournfully outside the homes of those who were sick or dying, but the wulvers themselves never meant people ill; they were happy to leave people alone in peace provided they were treated the same.
Originally posted on Tumblr on May 31, 2016