Region of origin: Waipio Valley, Hawai’i
Kamohoali, a god and the king of all sharks, was swimming close to the Waipio Valley on the big island of Hawaii, was struck by the a woman who had gone swimming late at night, Kalei. Posing as a human chief, he returned to land and sought her out, the two falling in love and eventually getting married. They lived together and in time Kalei became pregnant with a son. Kamohoali realized he could not stay on land forever and had to return to the sea. Heartbroken, he disappeared, in some versions informing Kalei of his divine nature and others he did not, but before leaving he had instructed Kalei that their son must never eat animal flesh. The son, Nanaue, was born with a large gaping hole in his back, resembling a fish’s mouth. Kalei did her best to hide this, and prevent Nanaue from eating meat as she was told, but when he came of age his grandfather, hoping his grandson would grow up into a great warrior, fed him a large, meat-heavy meal. After this, the mouth in Nanaue’s back grew shark-like fangs, he became filled with a voracious hunger and found he could take on the form of a shark when he entered the water. As he grew, the hunger increased, and he could not resist eating the other villagers as they swam in the water. He was eventually found out and chased out of the village. He fled to Maui and attempted to start a new life, marrying a local chiefess, but eventually his hunger got the better of him and was once again chased off after being unable to help himself from eating a young girl, this time arriving in Molokai where he led a more secretive life. He was able to control his more violent urges for a time, but he still went into the water and took on his shark form as discreetly as possible. One night a local caught him shape-shifting and, having heard the tales of a murderous shark-man from the other islands, got other villagers together and caught Nanaue, bringing him to shore and beating him to death.
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Region of origin: Japan
Literally “Giant Demon God”, Daimajin is a massive stone statue inhabited by the spirit of a vanquished demon king, Arakatsuma, who has been kept dormant by the prayers of the inhabitants of a nearby village, his struggles against his imprisonment manifesting as occasional earthquakes. When compelled by the villagers or the statue is put under physical assault, the spirit can animate the statue and wreak havoc throughout the region, often destroying the forces of some evil warlord but also proving to not be particularly discriminate about what or who gets trampled once awakened, although it seems to show some leniency towards children or the pure of heart. After his purpose has been served, the statue will return to normal there are instances of Arakatsuma turning into a hitodama-like ball of fire before flying away, but he seems to remain bound to the statue. Despite being a carved idol, Daimajin is shown to capable of bleeding even in its dormant stage and some promotional material shows it possessing a strange array of organs and nerves.
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Echidna and Typhon
Region of origin: Greece
The mother and father of monsters, Echidna and Typhon (or Typhoeus) are attributed as being the progenitors of most of the more famous beasts and creatures of Greek mythology, including the chimaera, dragons, Scylla, the Lernaean hydra and the multi-headed hounds Orthrus and Cerebus to name only a few. Each have a variety of origins attributed to them: Typhon was often said to be born of Gaia and Tartarus in response to Zeus’ imprisonment of the Titans or slaying of the Giants and often fought the gods, eventually laying seige to Mount Olympus and attempting to overthrow them. Zeus met Typhon in combat and eventually defeated him, sealing him underneath Mount Etna, leading to an association with volcanic activity as he raged against his prison. Echidna’s origins and lineage are less clearly defined but it is agreed by several sources that she was an Oceanid nymph and her father was the sea god Phorcys, although some tellings give her parents as Gaia and Tartarus as well. She has a less storied history than her husband or offspring, but was said to live in a cave the pair shared and make a meal of any humans who happened to venture too close. In some versions of the story Echidna accompanied Typhon on his siege of Olympus but after Typhon’s defeat and punishment Zeus showed mercy to Echidna and allowed her to simply return home.
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Region of origin: Mexico and Central America
Children of the Aztec gods of agave and fertility, the Centzon Totchtin, or “Four Hundred Rabbits,” are a collection of minor rabbit-deities representing the numerous aspects of intoxication and drunken reveling, which they often partook in themselves (there may not be exactly four hundred of them, the term may be meant to imply there’s just too many of them to count). There were gods of excess, blurred vision and dance, but Ometochtli (“Two Rabbit,” also known Tepoztecatl) was the chief deity among the rabbits and considered the god of pulque, a traditional drink made from fermented agave, itself.
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Region of origin: The Kingdom of Moab
One of the seven princes of Hell as described in de Plancy’s nineteenth-century Dictionnaire Infernal, Belphegor was said to represent the deadly sin of sloth. He did this through granting an individual who made a pact with him, often after appearing to them as a beautiful woman, some clever thought or invention that would result in them gaining great wealth from as little effort as possible, becoming lazy and degenerate as a result. The name Belphegor is derived from Ba’al-Pe’or, or “Lord of Mount Pe’or”, and he was believed to be the patron deity of the nearby Moabites. He became associated with debauchery and orgies, and, with one taken meaning of “Pe’or” being “opening”, flatulence and feces resulting in him often being depicted as sitting on a commode. In more modern tales, Belphegor was sent to earth by Satan to learn if marital love in fact existed, and while he never succeeded in confirming this he did become enamored with Paris during his travels.
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Region of origin: Eastern Russian
A raven-spirit deity and trickster figure from the mythologies of the Russian Far East region, Kutkh is vital to myths of creation and providing mankind with things from light and fire and parts of the landscape to concepts like sex and language. Stories often depict Kutkh as crude, lazy and self-centered, and the resulting benefits that are imparted to the earth and its people tend to be more aftermath or comeuppance from a scheme than intentionally helpful, such as when the Kamchatka peninsula was created as the result of a drinking binge with a bear. Due to proximity of the regions and similarities between the figures, it is believed Kutkh may share some origins with the Raven myths from indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest.
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Region of origin: Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe
A fish-headed, snake-bodied river god of the Tonga people believed to live in the Kariba Gorge in the Zambezi valley, protected by whirlpools and functioning as a protector and a god of the underworld. In more modern times, Nyami Nyami’s presence was made known when outside contractors began construction of the Kariba dam in the late 1940s and 50s which required the relocation of the local Tonga. They acquiesced, believing Nyami Nyami would come to their aid and sure enough misfortune beset the project, construction stymied by years of previously-unseen levels of storms and flooding assailing the region. The dam was eventually completed in 1960, but greatly delayed and costing as many as eighty laborers their lives before it was done. It was believed the dam separated Nyami Nyami from his wife, and to this day, the relocated Tonga believe tremors in earth felt in the region are the great serpent trying to finally break the wall and reunite himself with his loved one.
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