Bultungin

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Bultungin

Region of origin: Chad

Literally “I change myself into a hyena,” it was believed some people used witchcraft to to turn a hyena, a creature heavily stigmatized as dirty scavengers. The bultungin would turn into the hyena at night and upturn graves to feast on the dead bodies. A similar creature in Ethiopia was known as a bouda, and was heavily associated with blacksmiths.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X ]

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Mara

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Mara

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.

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

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Nanaue

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Nanaue

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.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X ]

Chesma iyesi

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Chesma iyesi

Region of origin: Turkic regions

A shape-shifting female water spirit, the chesma iyesi will primarily appear as a cat but may take on numerous forms resembling other animals, fairy- and mermaids-like creatures or often simply an attractive human woman, their identity given away by the hems of their clothes being wet. Each chesma iyesi inhabits a particular well, fountain or spring. They are commonly considered dangerous, using their forms to entice young people into the water and drown them, however the kuyu iyesi is a more benevolent guardians of their wells, the water from which is believed to have curative or luck-granting properties.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X ]

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 ]

Kitsune

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Kitsune

Region of origin: Japan

One of the sub-groups of yokai of animals believed to increase in intelligence and magic power as they age, it is believed when a fox turns 100 years old it grows a second tail and gains new powers such as shape-shifting or the ability to create illusions. This continues to increase every hundred years up until it has nine tails and their fur has turned from red to gold or white. The kitstune are broadly divided into two categories, the zenko kitsune are considered benevolent and who act as messengers for the Shinto deity Inari, whereas the yako kitsune are more malicious pranksters, but both groups tend to use their magic to the end of punishing people who have done something to deserve it and respect those who show them kindness. Among their more common tricks, they can possess people and cause them to behave erratically or destructively, or they may turn into people their victim knows to sow confusion, or someone the person will find attractive to seduce them away from their families. The latter can be short-term, but there are stories where it results in an actual long-term relationship and marriage, occasionally producing half-human offspring who possess some of their kitsune parent’s magical abilities. Kitsunebi, or “fox-fire,” is a form of ignis fatuui that is believed to be magical lanterns the kitsune can summon and will use in their wedding processions.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X ]

Raróg

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Raróg

Region of origin: Eastern Europe and Russia

A fiery demon or spirit, the raróg often took the form of a flaming hawk or falcon but could also appear as a dwarven creature or a whirlwind. They were believed to live at the crown of the Slavic world tree, guarding the entrance to Vyraj, a warm, vibrant paradise that was also where migratory birds went to to escape the cold winters. They are thought to share some connection to the firebird of later Russian fairy tales, a peacock-like bird with golden feathers that continued to glow brightly even after being removed.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X ]