The Harikikigaki

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If you’re looking to get a little more monster each week, over on the Patreon I’ve started a CABC spin-off series of sorts: the microscopic yokai of the Harikikigaki. As Japanese travelers to the mainland brought back some of the early understandings of what would become germ theory, the blame of causing diseases shifted from the ministrations of demons and gods to a series of microscopic yokai-like critters that inhabited the body. In 1568, an unnamed Osakan published the Harikikigaki, a guide to acupuncture and natural remedies that also included a catalog of over sixty of the creatures.

Every Tuesday and Thursday for the next few months I’ll be adding a new entry on one of these guys; anyone backing the Patreon at $1 or more can check these out along with all of the other exclusive and early art that’s on there.

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Draugr

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Draugr

Region of origin: Scandinavia

Animated corpses, the draugr were spirits of the unquiet dead, remaining bound to their corporeal form for reasons such as vengeance or greed, the latter often leading to them being associated with guarding gold and treasure inside their burial mound. Draugr were thought to possess a number of magical abilities, including changing their size at will  and being able to turn into mist or animals and were known for attacking people or livestock, although even just being in their presence could lead to madness, disease or death. Methods to prevent the dead from rising including binding their feet or piercing them with needles to stop them from walking, a pair of iron scissors or other iron implements left on the corpse and a special door through which the body was placed in the crypt thought to confuse or disorient the spirit and prevent it from finding its way back out again.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X | X ]

Spriggan

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Spriggan

Region of origin: Cornwall, England, UK

Small sprite-like Cornish fae related to piskies and knockers, spriggans have earned a more violent reputation than their cousins but function more in a protective role than a malicious one, acting as bodyguards to the other fair folk or guardians of castle ruins and barrows and the treasures within. Despite their small stature, spriggans are believed to be the ghosts of ancient giants and can grow to massive sizes, as well as perform an array of magical tricks such as causing bad weather, failed crops and illnesses or leading people astray similar to an ignis fatuus.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X | X ]

Iku-Turso

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Iku-Turso

Region of origin: Finland

An oceanic deity of Finnish mythology, Iku-Turso is heavily associated with evil, considered a god of war and a bringer of pestilence, literally fathering all diseases into existence with another god known alternatively as Loviatar or Louhi*, daughter of the queen of the Finnish underworld and a god of death and disease in her own right. He is thought to live in the depths of the waters to the far north, near a frozen, evil land called Pohjola; in the epic poem the Kalevala, he was summoned by Louhi to guard the Sampo, a vaguely-defined magical artifact, before being beaten by the demigod hero Väinämöinen and his crew and is banished back to the bottom of the sea and told to never return.

*In some versions of the stories the two names seem to be used synonymously, others identify them as separate figures.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X | X ]

Tzitzimime

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Tzitzimime

Region of origin: Central Mexico

Deities from the depths of space, the Tzitzimime were undead women, primarily ones who had died during childbirth, and goddesses that traveled back to earth in times of total darkness, most powerful during solar eclipses and at the end of the Aztec century. They hunted mortals, especially children, and gathered pregnant women to add to their ranks. Rituals were performed at the end of each century to ensure the sun came back and the Tzitzimime would not run rampant, ushering in the end of the world. The Tzitzimime’s multiple eyes in their joints were considered to be the stars that made up constellations in the night sky. They wore pieces of humans as jewelry and clothing made of bones and shells which rattled as they approached their victims. Despite their apocalyptic role, the Tsitzimime were not viewed as unanimously evil, and were in some cases said to cure diseases as well as cause them and could also function as protectors and fertility goddesses.

Originally posted on Tumblr on October 6, 2016

Akurojin-no-Hi

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Akurojin-no-Hi

Region of origin: Mie Prefecture, Japan

“Fire of the God of the Bad Way,” the Akurojin-no-Hi is a living flame that may appear to travelers lost on rough or old paths in disrepair. Possibly confused with fox-fire or other local ghost-lights, they are actually a manifestation or aspect of the god of the road, created to show their displeasure over the human’s trespass. A person who shows the god the proper reverence in the form of fleeing from the fire in terror and vacating the god’s domain should be fine, however, anyone who lingers and allows the fire to approach or touch them will begin to grow increasingly ill and die soon after the encounter.

Originally posted on Tumblr on September 8, 2016

Keukegen

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Keukegen

Region of origin: Japan

Resembling a shaggy black dog, the keukegen is effectively an embodiment of filth; it appears in dirty, damp or run-down homes and is attracted to mold and garbage. When a keukegen takes up residence in a home, it can spread bad luck and disease to anyone who lives there. It can hide in small spaces or underneath floors, or often only seen in fleeting glances out of the corner of one’s eye; hard to notice and even harder to catch, the only sure way to get rid of one is to just clean the damn house.

Originally posted on Tumblr on July 4, 2016