This sea creature, described as a five-horned bull, dates back to the seventh century. Or rather, it's mentioned in Fredegar's Chronicle, written at that time. But it is no mere bovine with a penchant for wet environments, but, as befits a proper aquatic monster, beef combined with fish. And it is not just any cattle, but the one with a lineage going back to Neptune, the god of the seas.
According to occultists and some mythologists, the quinotaur's origins must be traced back to ancient Indo-European common history. They mention the well-known Greek legend in which Zeus kidnapped the beautiful Europa in the form of a bull. The Quinotaur was supposed to have attacked and abused Chlodio's wife and thus to have taken care of the successive line of Merovingian kings. It's rather reminiscent of the Cretan origin story of the Minotaur. It was to the said island that Zeus sailed with Europa, and there she later gave birth to Minos, who took Pasiphae as his wife ... Well-known story. Well... should be. It seems (similar myths can be found in Mesopotamia) that we are on the trail of an ancient tradition, dating from the earliest cultures to the early Middle Ages.
Or did the educated Frank, eager to give his king the right (albeit pagan) proof of the noble and legendary origins of the family, take inspiration from the ancient authors?
Quinotaur in action was drawn by Roberto frison, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
1.7. 2022 (16.1.2011)
Amrum, one of the Frisian islands, is not only inhabited by people. It is also home to the Undergrounders, goblins who can sometimes be seen dancing in the moonlight. They don't behave particularly dangerously, but when some fellow once decided to dig his way into their homes and started digging in the hill they lived in, he was scared away from his intention in the same way that ghost of Letna scared away a cobbler from Prague´s Malá Strana from his treasure hunt. Both men as they straightened up to take a moment's rest from digging, saw their own houses in flames.
The Prague shoemaker and the Frisian miscreant immediately dropped everything and rushed home in terror - only to find that it was all an illusion. Both the Central European shoemaker (who, reassured, returned to Letná to continue his search for the treasure, but found no trace of his previous activity) and his northern counterpart eventually understood the warning and preferred to mind their own business.
1.7. 2022 (3.11.2019)
A certain headless horseman, a man named McGilligan, became headless truly in headless way. He rode his steed with such speed and such a passion for riding that he overlooked a branch growing in the collision course.
The wood won.
Since then, this representative of the classic style among headless horsemen has been riding around Dumfries Priory in southern Scotland, where the incident took place, being witnessed, for example, by Norwegian soldiers stationed in Dumfries during the World War II.
1.8. 2022 (27.3.2005)
is another of the myriad water creatures. It is well known to Welsh fishermen, for whom this creature in the form of a tailed and winged frog lurks in the local lakes.
Although most observers describe its tail as snake-like, there are those who (apparently from hearsay) claim that Llamhigyn Y Dwr looks like a bat and its range is the Irish Sea.
1.8. 2022 (6. 9. 2001)
When lightning strikes cattle in a storm, the Zulus say: Well, uKqili is hungry, and he chose our place. There's nothing we can do about it.
1.8. 2022 (6.2.2005)
A popular (not just) Czech water demon. An individualist inhabiting rivers, streams, or lakes.
(The Slavs of all elements were most inclined to the water element, as evidenced by many various water
creatures and mysteries, and the figure of the vodnik himself, widespread throughout the Slavic
world except the Adriatic).
By nature, he is – as has been said – a loner and a bit of a misogynist. He is gifted with the ability to shapeshift into animals, aquatic but also terrestrial, exemplified by horses (often without a lower jaw). He can work perfectly with water, he can turn a few drops into a flood, he can break the ice. He is strong in the water, but he is not very good on land.
Vodnik doesn't like to move on his own, on dry land he rides a horse or a cow; his favorite underwater vehicle is a catfish. His mischievous methods have evolved over the ages into the familiar drowning of people and hiding their souls, tearing nets, or capsizing boats. Unless he is married to a water maiden, he attracts human girls, often relying on their vanity. A successful marriage is then announced by a flood.
In terms of appearance, the vodniks follow regional customs – the Bohemian hastrman prefers a
yellow and green combination suit (with a wet coattail), and is recognizable by his froggy eyes and pompom-shaped fingers, while the east-slavic vodjanoi is an elderly, bald man with a large belly, wearing a net cap and a belt of water grass. He uses his efficient goose-like legs to swim. The Baltic anchutka takes the form of a fingerless and toeless devil, which can also fly. Vodeni (Slovenia) resembles a hunter (somewhat green one), the lower part of its body sometimes fish-like. Tatra water demons are covered with moss.
The Bolotjanyk, one of the Russian forms, living in swamps, and the Ocheretjanyk, inhabiting marshes and reeds, are the most dangerous species. They can be helpful in a good mood, but otherwise, it is advisable to avoid them and their territory. Paradoxically, these dangerous species have one day a week, Friday, which is dedicated to them, off, or they do not harm. For other genera, the calendar cannot be relied upon.
The protection is mainly botanical: the common mugwort, the white swallow-wort, and the fern. Excellent protection is the European bladdernut, consecrated on Palm Sunday. For trapping it is necessary to use a rope, woven from nine bast fibers and colored laces.
The main difference between the wyvern and the dragon is the number of limbs (or heads). Tne wivern has only one pair of legs, one pair of wings. It is usually smaller, with one head, and usually does not breathe fire. Otherwise, it doesn't differ much from its relative. Therefore, it is often confused with it or considered a female counterpart. It is a mistake only in heraldry nowadays.
A naked man, playing the violin, sometimes appears in Sweden. In order to avoid being caught by the guardians of morality (and for a water-element origin), this creature performs his shows on river stones.
Agrarian failures are most often blamed by farmers around the world on the weather or the government. But the ancient Jews knew their stuff. One of the unpleasant circumstances of their existence is the Broxa, a nocturnal bird that drinks milk from the udders of goats.
It is clear to any proper demonologist (from the age of three upwards) that there are many other creatures in the air besides birds, insects, and here and there a mammal experimenting with movement in three dimensions. And a metal object leaving a long trail of condensation vapor behind it may not be a regular Prague-Vienna line. Especially not if it's shaped like a kitchen utensil.
The most famous inhabitant of the air is, of course, the dragon, using a skin membrane design. But the experienced and perceptive Central European observer will surely agree with me that the finest spectacle of the aerial night is the Prašivec (Duster, or Dust Kite).
It belongs to the order Reptilia by origin – for it is a snake that has grown wings after seven years. Why I don't know. In any case, the old creeper stops growing in length but grows stronger in the waist. With the change in body size, it also changes color, from its original gray to a combination of blue, yellow, and green. He is probably free of natural enemies by this time, so he can afford the bright coloration. Then comes the next stage of the transformation: the development of blue wings which, if they reach the appropriate length, will allow the scabbard to take to the air.
Prašivec flies only at night, glowing fiery and sparking, leaving a fiery trail behind it instead of uninteresting contrails.
It does not have a good reputation, according to some sources it is the very snake that seduced Eve. Because of its – certainly negligible – intelligence, this creature, which like a dragon spews fire, does not follow any fire safety regulations, resulting in a fire at the place of his landing.
It has also been called Výkal hvězd (the Star Feces), which brings me back to mentioned Area 51 boogeymen. Let's say (somewhat more soberly and non-demonologically) that this intriguing creature, seen mainly in eastern Bohemia, may have had a bright bolide as one of its ancestors.
1.9. 2022 (20.3.2001)
In times of imperfect agriculture, not taking advantage of modern chemistry and genetic engineering, the care of the harvest rested on the field spirits. The more powerful beings provided it, the others at least guarded it.
Žithola was one of the most popular demons operating in Bohemia. His popularity was probably due to the crowds of unruly children who had to be chased out of the fields of ripening grain. He used truly drastic methods to do this – tacks hammered into their buttocks.
Žitný děda (The rye grandfather) from Galicia relied more on appearance: he had three heads and fiery tongues. He, too, was a contract guard of the grain fields. Žitná bába (the Rye Hag), which was at home in Ukraine – despite its name – was, however, guarding another, much tastier crop – pea pods.
Don't know how she treated the captured offenders, just hope she was more lenient than her Czech colleague, the Kosířka (Scythe-woman). She is named after her long sickle, which she used for quick execution – she cuts off heads. In Lusatia, they called her Serpolnica, Serpebaba, Serp, and several other names. The only chance to avoid decapitation was to answer the question quickly and correctly. Serpolnica also substitutes here and there for Polednica, (a well-known time demon) – at noon it drove people out of the fields. By chopping their feet, as it were.
The next group of field demons was thankfully more peaceful.
Polevik, or polevoy, found in Russia, had an interesting characteristic. He regulated his height according to the crop – after harvest, he's no taller than the stubble. In Belarus, a Belun, a pleasant demon, walked the fields, helping during the harvest and, moreover, giving gifts to his friends. In some places he was called a Sporyš, which was a white curly figure that was an image of fertility. Originally, the Sporyš was an impersonal double ear of wheat or a grain, and probably acquired human form at a time when people ran out of imagination.
In Bohemia, Obilní mužíček, a shorter gentleman with a three-cornered hat, also guarded the fields.
The field creatures were also responsible for those famous crop circles that are created when they dance.
13.9.2022 (18.5. 2001)
Demons of Islam. According to popular belief, Allah created the genies from fire, as well as angels from light and humans from dust. A lesser-known version tells they arose from dark, smokeless fire some two thousand years before the creation of Adam and will not live to see the Last Judgment. Their origins, however, are much older, as are the roots of the Qur'an. Their kinship with the human race is reflected in the djinn's ability to reproduce (and, of course, die)
Thanks to One Thousand and One Nights tales (and subsequently the The Walt Disney Company), today's genie takes the form of a rather more stocky Arab with a turban, inhabiting a battered oriental lamp or a dust-covered bottle. The real demon, however, looks like a cloud, or a tall dimmish column (according to al-Qazwini, like a large flying animal with a transparent body). It can take on various forms, mostly said to be human, jackal, wolf, viper or scorpion. Djinn can also be invisible, and can fly and walk through walls. They live in deserts, rivers and abandoned houses.
As is the case with a proper nation (or genus, for that matter), djinn are not uniform in thought, character, or appearance, and include both believers and atheists, or heretics. Atheism, however, does not prevent them from occasionally spying on angels, which they use to pass on information about the future to brave mages. As them and you know , it's not safe to get involved with demons.
Although they also do good deeds, their popularity has been gained by more or less criminal activities: kidnapping beautiful women, throwing stones from rooftops or balconies. According to some demonologists, while they did build the pyramids and Solomon's Temple (the latter by coercion), their destructive activities are mostly remembered. (Strugatsky brothers, in their fantasy book Monday Begins on Saturday, invent one of the first weapons of mass destruction - a genie, let out of a bottle, either builds palaces or demolishes them - after thousands of years of being imprisoned behind glass, he certainly won't be in the mood for the first option).
There are djinn of five levels:
2.Afrit (more commonly known as Ifrit).
3.Shaitan (or Sheitan)
The head of the entire nation is Iblís or Eblis, formerly known as Azazel, a figure almost identical in reputation, history and actions to the Christian Lucifer.
The Arabic word jinn means a spirit, thus giving a clear connection to juniper booze, or gin (FYI juniper is a good protection in the case of many European supernaturals). It is a generic term (as in English) and denotes not only demons but also the lower beings of good, the servants of Allah. But it denotes today mainly bad ones.
He was one of the original fairies of the Šumava Mountains (Böhmerwald). When humans came to the mountains (in this case Bavarian glassmakers with coal mining and other technological support, because his tale was told by German-speaking mountainers), he became friends with the newcomers. The round little man with long hair and short legs is said to have stayed overnight in the glassworks once and stayed there; he liked the skillful work of the glassmakers, he lived in warmth and no one kicked him out, so why not.
Unlike other kinds of goblins, he did not abound in wealth. But he was a clever and fast learner, and soon mastered the whole of glassmaking know-how, including the guild's secrets, and soon began to have improvements and ideas of his own. As is common, if people did not bother him and treated him with respect, he was happy to share – he was the one responsible for the legendary forest glass of Sumava. And as is also common when the original glassmaking technologies were replaced by modern machines and methods, Durandl packed up and left.
is one of the many apparitions of France. He rides around at night in a carriage drawn by four black horses. Does that remind you of anything? Ankou looks like... Ankou is... Look in the mirror, strip away the skin, the tendons, and all other unimportant stuff. And you can see. It.
There are many driving skeletons in European folk tales, of course, but this French species is not only engaged in night rides and certainly not waiting for a brave young man or maiden with a pure heart who helps him take eternal rest. He has work to do. He collects souls. Not alone in this, while he is driving, two subordinate skeletons, walking along the coach, load the souls into the carriage according to his instructions.
Although the Encyclopedia Mythica shows a cockatrice as a bipedal bird with a serpent's tail and dragon's wings, the basilisk is more often a four-legged rooster with a serpent's tail and a crown on its head. An engraving in Aldrovandi's Historia serpentum, et draconum shows it scaly (without feathers) and with eight legs. Pliny the Elder, in Naturalis historiea, describes the basilisk as a serpent with a light crown-shaped spot on its head. You can see a heraldic basilisk in the picture next to this entry, and the real basilisk is a tropical lizard in the iguana family.
The cockatrice is born from a round egg, buried in dung, or laid by a frog or snake; some sources state that the egg must have been laid in the days of Sirius. It is a dangerous creature – it can turn a living organism into stone with a glance or its breath. He may have inherited this ability (according to some sources) from the only mortal of the Gorgons, Medusa. Lucian states that all Libyan snakes were born from her blood - i.e. séps, amphisbaena, hammodytes, and basilisk. The defense against the deadly gaze is therefore identical – the mirror. The crowing of a rooster can also help.
In Hermeticism, the basilisk is a symbol of fierce fire. The name means A little king, and as can be seen from the confusion about its appearance, it is an ancient animal, even known in antiquity.
Although it seems to be two different transcriptions of the same name, these are two different creatures. The first being is indispensable to our existence; the second one is better we avoid.
One after another.
is a fish. But you won't catch it on a rod – Bahamaut floats on the surface of bottomless waters. It must not sink because it's carrying a bull on its back. The bull is also freighted, its back is burdened with a ruby rock, on which sits or stands an angel, carrying the six hells. Another version of stratigraphy of this divine space speaks of an unknown nebula, a choking wind, the Bahamaut fish, a pile of sand, a bull, a rock, water, and the Earth.
(It would seem logical, then, to illuminate the origin of the earthquake with the poor fish's attempt to get four stories up into a natural watery environment – but this interpretation is not part of the legend). Bahamaut is also mentioned in the Tales of the Thousand and One Nights. Isa (Jesus), after seeing Bahamaut, fell into a deep swoon for three days – the Arabic tales tell us that the fish swims (logically in this version) in the sea, under which there is an airy abyss, fire and, all below, the dragon Falak, who then has hell in his mouth.
who was once, in the myths of the ancient Jews, the Protector of the animals that walked the earth (while the Zíz watched over the safety of the flying creatures and the Leviathan‘s duty was the sea), is a huge animal, so huge that even his name is plural from the word behémá, (a beast). The shape of a large elephant, hippopotamus, or hybrid of these.
People usually sleep at night. Or do more interesting things. Scottish farmers, though, prefer to nap. After dark, little ugly brown men come out who are eager to get on with the chores. Hairy, cheerful, and friendly guys with a face like a discarded orange that has met a shoe on the floor, Insultingly philanthropic – if they are paid in any way for their services, they pack up and disappear. Otherwise, they remain loyal; when the family moves, they follow – even outside Scotland.
As usual, they are invisible; only children and honest people can see them. The Brownies who lived in Robert L. Stevenson's household specialized – how else – in inventing ideas. As the famous writer revealed, from their minds came, among other things, the transformation of Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde.
The Brownies are among the plethora of house elves found in various forms around the world. So you needn't worry about the pile of dirty dishes that inexorably pile up in the kitchen – just crawl into bed and skip the more interesting stuff for once.
1.11.2022 (15. 6. 2001)
Less known – almost forgotten species of Greek nymphs. They belong to the Underworld and to the goddess Hecate. Getting any information was not easy. Also disappointing was the otherwise tried-and-true trio of The Dictionary of Ancient Culture – Zamarovsky's Gods and Heroes of Ancient Myths – Graves' Greek Myths, in whose pages I begin every Mediterranean quest. Indeed, even the Theoi Greek Mythology website cites only three sources, two of which are Latin and refer to the aforementioned ladies as Nymphae Avernales (Nymphs of the Underworld). The Greek one, referring to them as Lampades, refers to the poet Alcman.
They probably got their name from the lanterns (or torches) they carried when they accompanied Hecate. Also the participants in the nocturnal Eleusinian mysteries, belonging to Demeter, carried lights and represented the Lampades.
One (perhaps the only) underworld fairy known by name is Orphne, not for herself, but because of her son Ascalaphus. Let's give the word to a real artist to raise the standard.
...and none had seen except Ascalaphus—
him Orphne, famed of all Avernian Nymphs,
had brought to birth in some infernal cave,
days long ago, from Acheron's embrace—
he saw it.
-- Ovid. Metamorphoses. Brookes More. Boston. Cornhill Publishing Co. 1922.
What Ascalaphus saw was Persephone eating a pomegranate. For those unfamiliar with this classic story, a quick summary:
When Hades kidnapped Demeter's daughter Kore (later known as Persephone), her mother searched the world for her, even stopping the growth of all crops by virtue of her as the goddess of the harvest. Eventually, she did find her and got some justice. Kore is allowed to return to the world, as long as she hasn't eaten anything in the underworld. Which, unfortunately, she did; thanks to a little snitch named Ascalaphus. Since then, Hades has had a wife and Greek myths the classic figure of the girl who dies in the autumn only to be reborn in the spring.
8.11. 2022 (12.12.2010)
At first sight, an unmistakable West of Scotland resident. His appearance is reminiscent of medieval European perceptions of Far Eastern populations and the almost identical Chinese perception of the Europeans - the Fachan has one leg, one arm, and one eye.
Inhabitants of the Isle of Man. They are strong hairy giants who like to have fun throwing big rocks and stealing cattle. Some of them hide their souls outside their bodies in some well-hidden and secret place. A practice familiar to many supernatural beings, not just in Europe.
is a Scottish forest spirit, living mostly in birch trees. Like any forest demon, he is not overly fond of humans, especially those equipped with an axe. If ghillie-style fashion ever comes into vogue, know that the right materials to make it are leaves and moss.
Some gods travel on their own or use the world's mass transportation – clouds or waves, or innate teleportation abilities. Some gods use service vehicles – perhaps the most famous is Helios' chariot.
The Brahmanic Vishnu belongs to the second group. In addition to the serpent wrapped around the sea, he also has the Garuda bird in his fleet.
Garuda is an eagle, (head, claws, wings, and so on) but its body is human. According to Borges and the Encyclopedia of Mythica, it has a white face, scarlet wings, and a golden body. Not always, ´cause the case of its identity is not clear-cut. Except being Vishnu´s carrier, Garuda is also a highly educated sage from the writings of Garudapurana – and a South Asian phoenix. That is why he can be encountered at every turn in those parts. He has become a symbol of Indonesia, where the local airline is aptly named after him. It is also called the Bird of Life and is probably the oldest of the great flying creatures – when it spreads its wings, it can cover the sky. It plays a role in the Mahabharata, being the enemy of nagas and snakes in general.
You can also meet Garuda in Thailand (again in many editions), but there that bird is called Khrut.
Ilustration of Garuda by Raja Ravi Varma / Public domain
29.11. 2022 (26.6.2001)
"Things just happen. What the hell."
* Terry Pratchett. Hogfather
Welcome to my world. For the longest time I couldn’t think of right name for this place, so I left it without one. Amongst things you can find here are attempts of science fiction and fantasy stories, my collection of gods, bogeymen and monsters and also articles about things that had me interested, be it for a while or for years. (There is more of this, sadly not in English but in Czech, on www.fext.cz)