Region of origin: India
Alternatively a class of demons or nature spirits in Hindu and Buddhist mythology, the male Rakshasa and female Rakshasi are not as a species considered universally evil but are primarily known for their bloodthirsty behavior and tendency to eat human flesh. They were believed to have been accidentally created by Brahma in his sleep, and immediately attacked the god as he slept, resulting in their banishment to the Earth. The Rakshasa were depicted as large, bestial humanoids with long curling fangs and horns, but as they grew in power and age they may develop extra heads and arms, such as their king Ravana, who had ten heads and twenty arms. The Rakshasa were powerful warriors skilled in forms of armed combat and magics such as illusion and shapeshifting. They were often used in stories as threats for a hero to overcome and armies of Rakshasa were said to feast on their victims on the battlefield as they pushed forward, but some were depicted as heroic and aided the various protagonists in vanquishing whatever evil they faced.
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Region of origin: New Zealand
The Hākuturi were small fairies who serve as guardians of forest in New Zealand. Believed to be the offspring of Tāne, a god of the forests and a progenitor to birds, the Hākuturi were able to take on the form of birds and insects and hide in plain sight. In a story of the cultural hero Rata, the Hākuturi restored a tree Rata tried to cut down until he showed proper respect to the sprites and sought their permission, after which they allowed him to remove the tree and helped him carve it into a canoe.
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Region of origin: Eastern Europe and Russia
Primeival nature spirits in Slavic mythology, the biesy were malevolent entities born of the evil of the forests and dark places of the earth who tormented humans that had dared venture there, attacking them or possessing them and driving them mad. A wild animal who was making the sounds of another species was a giveaway that it was a bies in an assumed form. As Christianity entered the region, “biesy” came to be more associated with general evil spirits and was used synonymously for lesser devils and demons.
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Region of origin: Sweden
A fae tree spirit, a radande will attach itself to a young sapling and aid in its growth, the tree growing faster and more healthy than any other around it, occasionally leaving a fairy-ring around its trunk. The radande’s lifeforce becomes tied to its tree; its appearance will begin resembling the bark and leaves, and will only be able to move as far away from the tree as the shadow it casts. If the tree is cut down, the radande may die with it, or its spirit may remain and grow vengeful, haunting the forest or those who felled the tree.
Originally posted on Tumblr on November 7, 2016
Region of origin: Poland
Primordial nature spirits, the boginki would mess with humans in ways of varying severity such as ruining fishing nets and spooking cattle to sneaking poisoned vodka into wedding parties and luring men to become lost deep in swamps or drown in water. They are most known, however, for attacking women during or soon after childbirth, and replacing their newborn with a changeling, known as an odmieńce. Boginki are believed to have been created by early gods, and in some versions were once human women who had committed a violent crime or died in childbirth. Tales of swamp- and lake-dwelling boginki are thought to serve as an origin for the rusalka, a water nymph of Slavic mythology.
Originally posted on Tumblr on October 22, 2016
Region of origin: Scandinavia
A guardian spirit of the forest, the hulder appears in Norwegian folklore as a naked woman with a cow’s tail, or possibly with a fox-tail and/or a back covered in bark or exposed to be hollow like a dead tree in some regional Swedish versions. Most tales of the huldrer involve leading men into their forests for sex, killing or stealing them away to the underworld afterwards, or in some rare instances being returned with no memory of the encounter. If the tryst resulted in pregnancy, the child may be presented to the father (if he survived) or swapped out with another couple’s human child as a changeling. Other, less sexual, encounters with humans were more beneficial, such as watching over hunters or blessing their weapons to never miss, or helping keep a charcoal burner’s fire lit at night while they slept; in exchange provisions and supplies were left out for the hulder. There were stories of humans marrying huldrer but the process would cause them to lose their glamour of beauty, though in more modern versions, it was said if the hulder married a righteous Christian man she would lose her tail but otherwise retain her beautiful appearance (and also inhuman levels of strength and endurance).
Originally posted on Tumblr on August 28, 2016
Region of origin: Thailand
One of a group of spirits that appear as young women who inhabit specific trees, the Nang ta-khian is tied to Hopea odorata, or, locally, ta-khian, trees. The spirits and the trees they inhabit are revered and, in some areas, shrines are created around the tree, and offerings such as food, small carvings and clothing are left for the spirits. In return she may provide luck and wealth (with a particular connection to lottery winnings). If the tree is to be cut down, a ceremony may be performed to let her know to move on to another home or else she will remain tied to the timber and anything made from it, bringing misfortune or otherwise haunting the structure, often heard wailing in the night. Like most spirits taking on an attractive female form, she is also said to lure men in with a beautiful or mournful song and steal their life-force.
Originally posted on Tumblr on June 29, 2016