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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Soucouyant

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Soucouyant

Region of origin: Caribbean islands

A shape-shifting, vampiric jumbie from Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean regions, by day the soucouyant will appear as a normal human woman, usually elderly, but at night will cast off her skin and take on its true form of a flying fireball. The skin will be stored somewhere such as a mortar to protect it while the soucouyant flies out to look for victims. In this form they are said to be able to fit through any size hole or crack in a building and descend upon whoever they find sleeping there, draining them of their blood or life-force through the bottom of their feet or other limbs. The victim may eventually become a soucouyant themselves or, if drained to death, the feeding soucouyant may take their skin as a replacement for their own. The soucouyant’s hidden skin is the key to dealing with one; similar to European witches the soucouyant will be compelled to count every grain of rice or salt spilled on the ground which can prevent them from making it home and back into their human disguise before dawn. Alternatively it will give you a chance to enter their home while they’re out and find the skin before they can return to it, where you can sprinkle the skin with salt or hot pepper which will render it unlivable to the soucouyant. Witches may also take the skin to be used as a component in magic spells or rituals.

[Sources referenced: X | X ]

Matagot

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Matagot

Region of origin: Provence, France

The matagot or mandragot is a household spirit or familiar that can take on the form of various animals but is most associated with black cats. There are a flurry of regional variations regarding names,  methods of acquisitions and specific behaviors, but largely they are associated with luck and wealth, bringing coins each day to owners who keep them well fed. It was said they could be found one night a year (specifically believed to be the eve of the feast of St. John on June 23rd in the Béarn region), and could be lured to a crossroads with a plump hen, at which point you could capture it in a sack, though you must return to your home silently and without looking back. If provided for, the cat would leave in the night and fetch the money for its owner; believed to be demonic spirits or fae creatures they were able to slip between realms to reach otherwise inaccessible places. A well-kept matagot is a boon to a household, but when poorly-treated or otherwise injured or malnourished may turn on their masters, attacking them or causing them to be stricken with agonizing pain, and even the behaved ones are thought to come at the cost of your soul, associating owners with witchcraft and sorcerers. The story of Puss In Boots was thought to be inspired by matagots, and the mandrake root takes its name from “mandragot”, believing the figure-shaped plant has some relation to spirit’s magic or may be themselves some early stage of the creature’s growth.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X ]

Jenny Greenteeth

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Jenny Greenteeth

Region of origin: Lancashire, England

A river-hag related to other aquatic fae creatures like the grindylow, Jenny (or Jinny or Ginny or…) Greenteeth lived in stagnant, murky waters in western England near Lancashire and Liverpool and would pull down anyone who ventured too close to the water’s edge, drowning them. Parents would use warnings of Greenteeth to keep small children away from the water and keep them from accidentally falling in. Claiming it may her hair as she sat in the water lurking, she also became associated with pondscum and duckweed or other floating water-plants, that may in reality tangle the child up and prevent them from being able to get back out to dry land. She was similar to Peg Prowler, another hag said to inhabit the River Tees further up north.

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

Invunche

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Invunche

Region of origin: Chiloé Island, Chile

Brujos, warlocks of Chilote folklore, will employ the invunche or imbunche as a pet and watchdog of sorts, using it to guard their caves’ entrances as well as employ them on menial tasks or acts of vengeance. The invunche is created by taking an infant of a certain age, no more than a year old, and twisting its body, starting by bending its right leg back up to its neck and reshaping it as an increasingly deformed figure. It is then fed the milk of a black cat until it is old enough feed on human flesh of the recently dead acquired from cemeteries. Unless allowed to travel outside by its brujo, the invunche is bound to its cave and it cannot leave, even to feed itself. In folk medicine, it was said the fat of an invunche could be used to prepare ointments used for pain relief and the treatment of rheumatism, or very effective skin care products.

[Sources referenced: X | X ]

Trollnøste

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Trollnøste

Region of origin: Norway

Literally “demon-yarnball” and alternatively known as troll-balls and troll-cats, the trollnøste are witches’ familiars made from hair, wood shavings, farm scraps and blood and given life by invoking a pact with Satan. The trollnøste would sneak onto farms at night, stealing milk from cows and cream from inside the household and return them to their witch’s pails. In some versions, the witches are sympathetically linked to their troll-cats, and harming the latter will also harm the former, and burning any residual cream the creature might spill or leave behind will cause pain in the witch who owns it.