Region of origin: Scandinavian counties
An evil spirit that plants itself on a sleeping person’s chest, feeding off their life-force while “riding” them, causing bad dreams and anxiety along with the sensation of being pinned down. Signs of a mara attack in the night include waking still feeling weary and drained, and tangled hair known as martovor or mare-locks. Mara may also attack livestock and other animals, especially horses, and even trees with particularly tangled branches are said to be victims of the mara. There was some belief that mara were distinct creatures or demons, but other origins labeled them as humans with familial ties to curses or witchcraft, whose spirits would leave their bodies at night. While traveling in this way, mara could take the form of fog, sand or will-o’-wisps that allowed them enter through impossibly small cracks and sneak into their victims’ homes. Mara are primarily female; it was thought a pregnant woman who practiced svartkonst, a form of witchcraft used to ease labor pains, would result in the children being born as mara if female or a werewolf, or varulv, if male. Rarely some male children would be born as mara or possess features of both, known as a marulv.
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Region of origin: Sumeria
Belonging to the utukku, once-human spirits that had escaped or been summoned back to Earth from the Sumerian underworld, Alû is a nightmare-inducing demon. It will travel through cities at night, entering homes and bedchambers and envelope the sleeping resident it finds “like a garment,” smothering them and causing night terrors, sleep paralysis or even comas.
Originally posted on Tumblr on September 28, 2016
Region of origin: Germany
A large demonic hag, the drude will take possession of virginal maidens or priestesses. They will leave their host’s bodies at night, capanle of taking on various forms such as other humans, animals or a vaporous mist, and sneak into homes through cracks and small holes. Once inside, the drude will assume its true form and sit on the sleeping inhabitant’s chests, causing sleep paralysis and nightmares. They are also said to participate in the Germanic version of the Wild Hunt.
Originally posted on Tumblr on September 20, 2016
Region of origin: Maryland, United States
A dragon-like creature first spoken of by German settlers in pre-Revolutionary War America, tales of sightings or attacks of the snallygaster traveled up and down the east coast for several hundred years, with newspaper reports of the animal persisting into the later 20th century and purportedly even catching the eye of Teddy Roosevelt, who wanted to attempt to hunt it down. The snallygaster would take to skies on its massive wings, terrorizing the communities it flew over, before swooping down, screeching like a train whistle and picking up people, pets or livestock in its metallic claws to carry them off and feed. In some versions it would pierce its victims’ bodies with its sharp beak and drain them of their blood. Supposedly the beast would be warded away from buildings with a seven-pointed star painted on its side.
Originally posted on Tumblr on September 15, 2016
Region of origin: Southeastern United States
A variation of the hag folklore from Gullah tradition, the boo hag is a skinless, vampiric creature who may tear the skin off a victim and wear it as their own to blend in as human. The boo hag sustains itself by sneaking into homes at night through cracks and shadows and perch itself upon the sleeping person inside, sucking out their breath and feeding off their life essence. They are associated with sleep paralysis and waking up exhausted even after a full night’s sleep.
Originally posted on Tumblr on June 23, 2016
Region of origin: Catalonia, Spain
A large dog- or cat-like creature that will come into people’s houses at night and perch itself on their chests causing sleep paralysis, breathing issues and nightmares. Their paws are heavy steel, but they have holes in them ostensibly to prevent them from taking anything from the homes they’re visiting.
Originally posted on Tumblr on April 24, 2016
Region of origin: Chile
An amphibious bovine-like creature, the huallepen or guallipen has an ill disposition and can be quite violent when encounted in the rivers and the lakes that it’s used to. It will come on to land to mate with land animals such as cows or sheep which will result in malformed, monstrous offspring. Relatedly, it is said if a pregnant woman sees or even dreams of the huallepen, the terror it inspires is so great her child will be born with physical, sometimes animalistic, deformities.
Originally posted on Tumblr on January 2, 2016