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page twenty

Sea Monk

SEa monks engravings

Like the late sirens, the real sea monk has been revealed as an existing creature - in the picture, from 1854, you can see what it is - a cephalopod. The monks on the sides date from the sixteenth century, when the sea monk, including its head and tonsure (!), was believed to exist. It was described by Konrad Gesner, for example, and haunted for over 200 years. He retired when it became clear that creatures with human parts did not really exist. Unlike sea serpents, lake monsters, and other creatures that still haunt us today.


Illustration: Japetus Steenstrup, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

12.4.2024 (29. 6. 2003)


You can find them in the north of Scotland and Shetland. Just be careful to know who you're dealing with, as the selkie can change shape and is most often seen as a seal. Which you can tell from the name. On a full moon, however, selkies like to come ashore and dance, for which a human body is more suitable, so they use it in this case, shedding the seal skin and hiding it in a good place. Actually, not only in this case, what kind of supernatural creature would it be if it didn't occasionally make love to humans? So you can hear Scottish tales of beautiful and clever wives brought home by brave young men using the familiar tactic of confiscating – in this case, seal – skin. But once the wife found her old skin, she fled back to the sea.

Like the freshwater, continental, and central European Vodník, the selkie is equipped with Interdigital webbings between its toes, which is also, aside from its natural ability to last long underwater, the only sign by which it can be identified in human form. Though there is no reason why unless you are a demonologist driven by a hunger for knowledge since only female selkies usually take human form. And they are not dangerous. But their male counterparts sometimes are, for they rule storms and sink ships, especially when they know there are seal hunters on board.

12.4.2024 (29.6.2003)

Ura Rarape Nui

The magical turtle Ura rarape nui is one of the creatures whose life journey ends in a pot. It has lived in the waters of Te Pito o Te Henua, Mataki te rangi, Rapa Nui, or, if you prefer, Easter Island. And it is responsible - albeit unintentionally - that when Europeans discovered the island full of mysterious statues, they found a number of stone heads lying around. Particularly those of the Tongariki ahu, which lie near the quarry in the Rano Raraku crater. Fifteen moai are lying on the ground here and, as ethnographer F. Felbermayer noted, they are the work of an old woman.

She used to provide food for the two stonemasons who worked in the crater. Every evening after work, they would go fishing, deliver them to the cook and she would take care of the others.

Until one day, they couldn't get the fishing right. The nets remained empty, it was getting dark. It looked like they were going to come back with nothing when, on their last attempt, something finally got stuck in the nets.

It was the Ura Rarape Nui turtle, the desire of all fishermen, for its flesh brought a long life of joy and wisdom. The stonemasons rejoiced, returned to shore (pretty quietly, so that no one would notice their catch), and when they found that the old woman was also long asleep, they washed their hands, cooked and ate the turtle.

They may have become wiser, but they had no decency, because when the cook woke up in the morning, saw the empty shell and asked for her share, they rudely told her that there was simply nothing left. The old woman went ballistic. The stonemasons, believing that the feeble granny could do them no harm, did not get worry, suggesting that the rumor about the effects of the meat of the magic turtle was exaggerated.

The wrinkled cook did not pounce on them, scratch and bite them, or curse them. She turned her fury on their work, commanded the statues to fall, and the statues collapsed. The lesson here is that if you can't cover your tracks well, it's better to get along with your surroundings.

For the sake of completeness, I'll add that the legend explaining the fall of some of the statues has other variations, so you may also encounter Katrin Routledge's account in which the magical turtle was replaced by a crawfish.

12.4.2024 (6.7.2003)

Salmon of Knowledge (An Bradán Feasa)

was also no ordinary member of the genus Salmo salar, which the Irish have fished for centuries. Swimming in the River Boyne, it was hunted by the legendary Irish hero Finn Mac Cumhail. He didn't catch it for himself, of course, you've known the story for a while, Finn's master ordered it and Finn wasn't allowed to taste a bite. Which he did. Suddenly he was full of wisdom. Time to pay off a certain Goll Mac Morn, who had killed Finn's father years before, came.

19.4.2024 (6.7.2003)

Banshee or Bean Sidhe

As announced by J.L. Borges in Fantastic Zoology, banshees are magical creatures that announce the impending death of a family member with a wail (called a keening). However, they are very traditionalist and conservative, as they do not care for anyone whose Celtic blood is diluted with an admixture of Anglo-Saxon or Scandinavian genes. As such, they only appear in Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, Wales and Brittany.

Banshee, however, is the English transliteration of the Gaelic Bean Sidhe, women of the hills, which are ladies with long hair wearing green dresses and grey cloaks. Occasionally, several of them will come together at once, this is when they herald the death of someone really important with a sing-song lament, but mostly they appear in solo performances.

Just as the great Bohemian clans used to have their own White Lady (fulfilling, like the German Gottesklage or the Slavic bóža łošć or Melusina, the role of banshee in Central Europe), so the well-known Irish clans used the services of family bean sidhe, the Dalcasian being called Aiobhill, while Cliodna, for example, worked for the Mac Carthys.

19.4.2024 (13.7.2003)

Bean Nighe

Scottish banshees, laundresses that can be found at the ford, where they launder the bloody shrouds of those who are about to die. They are said to be the ghosts of women who have died in childbirth and to haunt in the form of banshees until the moment when their lives would be fulfilled in a natural way.

They are sometimes called caoineag, weepers, sometimes ban nighechain, laundresses, also nigheag na h-ath, laundresses from the ford. But it's still the same creature, interesting perhaps, but no one wants to meet. As in the case of

19.4.2024 (13.7.2003)

Gwarch y Rhibyn

which is an old woman with long arms, black teeth, and (sometimes) bat wings. It can be found in Wales, at crossroads, or by rapids. Listen carefully to what it whispers, it's more important than you think, as it tells you who in your neighborhood is about to die. Which is also a reminder of his kinship with the ladies mentioned above.

19.4.2024 (13. 7. 2003)


Well, in conclusion, let's go back to the roots. For at the beginning of it all was Cyhiraeth, the Celtic goddess of the streams. She too used to shriek and shout the names of the future dead, and with the coming of Christianity, she became a bogeyman, contributing, among other things, to the birth of the other banshees already mentioned.

19.4.2024 (13.7.2003)



The Scandinavian Hoenir (Honir, Höni) is a person not very well known, yet involved in key moments of divine history. This Ás was, together with Lóðurr, the one who assisted Ódin in the creation of man, at least according to the version whose protagonists are not Ódin, Víli and Vé. He was also a participant in the expedition in which Loki killed Otter; this incident led to the robbery of the dwarf Andvari and through him and subsequent stories to the art represented by the poem of the Nibelungenlied or the musical works of Richard Wagner.

Another opportunity to make history came during the peace talks between the Æsir and the Vanir: a hostage exchange was used to end a devastating war. On the side of the Vanir, as we already know, it was the father Njörd and the son Freyr, while the Æsir sent the wise Mími and Honir. Both groups of hostages were given honors and high positions: among the Vanir, Mímir became a professional adviser and Hoenir a military leader; while the former took up his position with honor, the latter, however, in time proved that the reputation according to which he had given this man his mind at his creation was probably exaggerated. Or that the Vānir had been cleverly deceived - for Hoenir, unless he had a fellow hostage, Mimir, at hand, had not said or considered much that was clever. He was vague and indecisive.

But it was Mímir who lost his head after the disclosure; Hoenir survived.

He probably liked this state so much that he will remain in it even after the legendary ragnarök. According to some sources, Hoenir will be one of the gods who will survive to rule the new world.



Hoenir in the illustration came from a seventeenth-century Icelandic manuscript [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

27.4.2024 (20.3.2016)

Black Guardians

It's not easy to hide treasure. Even the ancient Egyptians had problems with uninvited visitors to the burial chambers, and since then it has become customary to secure the hoard magically, in case some sly guy finds his way to it. In our country, everyone guarded the treasures. White ladies, ghosts of the owners, goblins, dwarves, toads, and even a flock of fierce crows (in Kojetin). I have chosen a trio of guardians more or less usual and especially similar in certain signs.


Černý pes s ohnivýma očima (A black dog with fiery eyes)

Black dogs run all over Europe and it is not usually convenient to meet them. In the British Isles, they are usually a harbinger of death, elsewhere they accompany a wild hunt; they simply haunt wherever they can. Even in the Czech Republic, where they are also among the most common ghosts.

One form of this demon is characterized by fiery eyes and if it does not haunt, that is, it always haunts, that is, if it does not run around outside but sits in the cellar, then it certainly guards the treasures. For example, at Košt'álov near Lovosice, where you can get to one treasure - and one dog with fiery eyes - on Palm Sunday. On the same day, in a secret passageway leading from the former pub of the Emperor of Austria to the ruins of Old Falkenburg Castle, there are even two. And also in Kašperk, where such a dog guards the Velhartice treasure, or in the Liptal Mountains near Vsetín, where the treasure of the famous highwayman Ondráš can be found. In Náklo, it is not certain, because the black dog with fiery eyes runs around at night like a maniac, just does not bark, probably to avoid drawing unnecessary attention to himself. Others can be found in Zvíkovské podhradí, Bouzov or Ostrava.

In Plzeň, however, it only accompanies a headless man with a wheelbarrow; in Pavlovice near Přerov, it haunts together with other phantoms the place where the robber governor Kapca hanged himself; near Mariánské Lázně, it runs after Hajman, the head of the local Štvany. So the black dog is not a specialist in guarding. But his (non-biological) relative


Černá kočka s ohnivýma očima (A Black cat with fiery eyes)

Yes, it is. It guards the treasure near Leština or in Horažďovice, in Mouřínov near Bučovice, where the treasures of the exiled anabaptists are said to be collected in three barrels, the cat sits on one of them, the second is occupied by the already known black dog and the third by the ghost of a black-clad man. In Ctěnín near Chrudim, one of these sits under an old pear tree, and of course, there is something hidden in the ground beneath it.

The black cat is, of course, an ancient magical animal and cats guard treasures in the legends of other European nations. An equally magical creature is the third musketeer,


Černý kohout s ohnivýma očima (A black rooster with fiery eyes),

It serves, for example, at the castle of Kumburk, a place famous for the action of Melusine, or at Vícov, which has a crown on its head in addition to the fiery eyes and the unpleasant habit of depriving anyone who enters the treasure outside of Passion Week of their sight. At Brno it is exceptionally the red cock.

27.4.2024 (20. 7. 2003)

Golden Poultry

Unlike the previous ones, the following creatures are not the guardians of the treasure, but the treasure itself. In Bohemia, among other things, widely spread.

The most famous golden poultry is Libuše's golden hen with twelve eggs, hidden in Vyšehrad, but you can - if you are lucky - find the same golden pieces in Hryzely, Klášterec nad Orlicí, Nehvizdy, Kostelec nad Labem and elsewhere. Most of them, however, are real pieces of precious metal and would not belong in this Bestiary if at least some of them did not show signs of (super)natural activity, an example being the hen from Machov, which can be heard calling chicks. The sitter from Friday, guarded by the souls of nuns, behaves in the same way. The chicken from Roudnice nad Labem is also likely to be alive because only the provost of the local Augustinian monastery (if he is a native) can catch it.

More alive are golden ducks. Most of them can be seen in the pond inside Mount Říp, which opens on Palm Sunday, and besides the ducks with golden feathers there is also a hen with twelve chicks or eggs. One golden duck swims on Good Friday in Hudlice, but it is guarded by a big black dog, so watch out. And of the other ducks, the one from Lukov is interesting, it lays three ducats every night. There is also a duck from Nejdek, which swims in the local Duck Well on Palm Sunday and has the key to the treasures in its beak, and a duck from Stochov, which has a golden husband, five hundred golden ducklings and lays, how else, golden eggs. This one can sometimes be seen swimming across the water in the spring.

And finally, a special treat - at Prácheň Castle, on Christmas Eve at midnight mass, you can see treasures guarded by a golden owl with ruby eyes.

27.4.2024 (20. 7. 2003)


He is one of the black dogs of the British Isles. As big as a calf, running utterly silent through the darkness, the only sound you can hear is the clicking of its monstrous jaws, as most of its kind is a harbinger of death. It's not quite so clear about its shape though, as older records speak of a phantom in the form of a bear, there is speculation that the word barghest, otherwise barguest, itself comes from the Germanic bear spirit.

27.4.2024 (27.7.2003)


A dragon or also serpent (here again alluding to the Latin serpens, meaning both serpent and dragon) monster from Albania. Like the Czech dragons, hatched from a lizard – a snake maiden, the kulshedra undergoes a certain evolution. It starts with a creature named Bolla (Bullar in southern Albania), which occasionally wakes up from a long sleep. Fortunately, this can only happen on one day a year - St George's Day, when snakes and scorpions are known to come out. Fortunately, I remind you because the bolla will gobble up whoever it encounters.

It stays in this form for seven years – well, and then it turns into a fiery kulshedra with nine tongues. (To make it less simple, the kulshedra is sometimes described as a hairy female with sagging breasts).

27.4.2024 (27.7.2003)


For today's third creature, we'll hop across the Atlantic to Brazil, or more precisely, to the Amazon River. Anhangá is the local conservationist, but instead of a Greenpeace badge, he has fiery eyes and the form of a deer.

27.4.2024 (27. 7. 2003)

Cernunnos, later and locally known as Herne the Hunter


The deer is an ancient European apotropaic and iconic animal, so I can't resist dedicating today's Bestiary to it. Well, the most famous antlered figure of European mythology is the Celtic Cernunnos.

He had a lot going for him - he was the god of fertility, life and the underworld, and of course wild animals. He was perfectly tied to the Celtic year - he was born on the winter solstice, married on the Beltine (the well-known Witch Burning, or the night from the last of April to the first of May), and died on the summer solstice. This also speaks of its calendar function, i.e., a symbol of the annual cycle. To the Celts, he was thus replacing the Moon Goddess, well known elsewhere, and in his own legend he was a descendant of the Great Goddess.

There are many depictions of Cernunnos, but because of his stag-like appearance, often much older than the god himself, the Celts readily adopted the Paleolithic drawings of the native Europeans. Yet the most famous image is their own, that of a man with antlers.

The cult of Cernunnos was one of those that survived its time and transformed into both folk demonology and official religion. In Christianity, he stuck out as the Devil on the one hand, primarily because of his antlers and strong pagan influence, and on the other as the well-known Saint Hubert, patron saint of the forest and hunting. Not many of the old gods made such a career and on such a scale.

Cernunnos' most famous echo in folk demonology is the British Herne the Hunter. He was left with the position of Lord of the Wild and the antlers on his head. Today he is talked about all over England, his original home being the area around the old oak tree in Windsor Forest, Berkshire, and this is where he came from in the Shakespearean comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor (which I don't like very much because Shakespeare spoiled the character of Sir Falstaff).

He also became one of the models for the wild hunters of the British Isles (and that there, as here, are plenty of them). Incidentally, the Celtic deer god may have been at the birth of the wild hunt in Bohemia as well, for in this form he was recognized throughout early Christian western Europe.


Gundestrup Cernunnos on the picture: Kern8, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

27.4.2024 (3. 8. 2003)


Among the protectors of wild game and deer above all belongs the Inuit Tekkeitsertok, the powerful god of the land and, in the case of deer, of hunting. As such, he is invoked during the hunting season.

27.4.2024 (3. 8. 2003)


Across the ocean, we also find the deer guardian of the Hupa Indians of California. Like the Mexican Zips, they protect the deer from hunters - who, if they follow certain rules and know, among other things, the appropriate hunting songs, get the chance to hunt a few deer for a reward.

27.4.2024 (3. 8. 2003)



You may know that word.

It translates as Enlightenment, Knowledge, or Awakening. It describes the spiritual state a Zen Buddhist would like to achieve.

But words are just tools for identification, whether of objects, sensations, or ideas. Therefore, we will choose a more convenient definition for us from the explanatory dictionary.  But don't forget the previous one.

Satori is a mountain demon from Gifu Prefecture (Honshu Island). Another translation may also be Consciousness, and thus interpreted, it indicates the ability of a hairy, monkey-like man to read minds.

The story is sometimes told that it is the immature incarnation of certain mountain gods that learns about the world in this form, but apart from infinitely faster extrasensory communication, the exploration of a passing head often has a purely practical and ungodly purpose: the satori ascertains whether the selected individual is suitable prey. For it is a man-eater. Intelligent, but - or maybe that's why - cautious and cowardly. If it could be harmed, it would rather run away. So it is said that the best defense is a perfectly purified Zen mind. It can then confuse the mountain demon. Or it will allow you to strike the anthropophagi undetected, causing it to retreat immediately.

Native mountain men are usually shunned or left alone by the satori. Whatever the explanation, it's logical: as with watermen of various origins, for example, people familiar with the environment simply know how to protect themselves from trouble both natural and supernatural. Our demon also preys on lonely women. He stumbles upon an unaccompanied pilgrim, kidnaps her into the mountains and rapes her.


Satori, drawn by Masasumi Ryūkansaijin for the book Kyōka Hyaku Monogatari by 竜斎閑人正澄 (Japanese) (scanned from ISBN 978-4-336-05055-7.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

2.5.2024 (29.3.2015)


Many creatures and beings from Greek mythology have appeared here. But even modern, Christian Greece has its supernatural creatures and demons. One of them, for example, is Vrykolakas, a vampire creature that does not rest and crawls out of the grave to feed on human blood. You're only safe from it on Saturdays. If you want to get rid of a vrykolakas, nothing will help you but fire or the chance of lightning, nothing else will send the demon permanently underground.

2.5.2024 (10. 8. 2003)


Now to Russia, to the house elf, Igosha. The creature with no hands and no feet is said to be the spirit of an unbaptized baby, and instead of trying to help with anything in the house, he indulges in pranks, making a mess, and other life-impairing pastimes. That is why people leave something to eat on the table, usually a slice of bread, or - when it is cold - a hat and gloves, so that he does not get cold and try to warm himself with some mischief.

2.5.2024 (10. 8. 2003)


Xindhi and Xindha live in Albania. They have no love for humans and usually their actions are credited to the EVIL side, but occasionally they happen to help and do no harm. It's hard to find whose side is at fault, but in any case, you can tell the arrival of a xindhi by a creaking door or a flickering flame on a hearth or in a fireplace.

2.5.2024 (10. 8. 2003)


It was born – most probably – from the Thirty Years' War, which for the Lands of the Bohemian Crown was mainly the advance of Swedish troops through East Bohemia and Moravia. It was also the place where most of the tales of invulnerable, courageous swift men defending their villages not for the sake of the monarch, but to save their own lives and property, which in the chaos of the first half of the seventeenth century was the only thing that could still be believed.

Fext was invulnerable, usually mocking the surprised and frightened Swedish officer who fired a bullet from his pistol at him, believing, as always, that this argument would open the way. But the invulnerable Zmrzlík (Frozen), as the Fexts were called somewhere, threw the bullet under his feet in derision, and the assailants had no choice but to turn into fugitives. It would have been enough, of course, to load the weapon not with a lead bullet but with a glass ball, and it would have been the other way round, but the Swedes were apparently unaware of this practice. At least mostly, Jihlava is haunted by the ghost of the Swedish general Österling, who was a Fext during his lifetime, but the girl whose lover he murdered had the knowledge and loaded the glass ammunition.

If it weren't for the later rumors, the Fext would not, with all due respect, belong here, as he is an ordinary person, knowledgeable in magical practices. However, there was also a recipe for achieving this necessary skill. For if the child was born in an amniotic sac, it was to be carefully removed, dried, stored, and when the offspring reached adulthood, handed over with simple instructions for use – Carry under the left arm, we provide lifetime guarantees.

But when the wars ended, the Fext didn't disappear, or rather, the random environmental influences left the mummified bodies that, along with the desire for invulnerability, originally gave birth to the Fexts.

And so the Zmrlíks began to haunt. Not particularly, they mostly just reacted to the stupid actions of the living. Sometimes they even remembered their native church (or were just having fun) like the one from Honbice near Chrudim, who was lying in the local morgue and between whose legs a hen laid a few eggs. When a village woman tried to pick them up, the Fext clamped his legs and only loose when the terrified woman promised to contribute to the Mass. But for the most part, the Fexts, dragged from morgues and graves, just held tight to their captors and refused to let go until they were returned to their eternal rest.

27.5.2024 (17.8. 2003)

Lesní muž (Woodsman)

Lesní muž (the Woodsman) is not a hairy, pipe-sucking, dog-driving, venomously swearing, and virtuous girl-seducing gamekeeper, a common figure in older Czech literature. This forest man is a huge, hairy, pine-crowned late descendant of the ancient forest gods and lower beings of Slavic paganism, a remnant of the belief in forest men, wild men, and the original Heykal.

In his case, the guardian of the forest has become a somewhat shy boogeyman, occasionally turning into a fallen tree or log, scolding poachers, and driving superstitious hags out of the forest. This is what remains of his original form, as are the glowing eyes with which he checks the path as he prowls the forest at night.

27.5.2024 (17.8. 2003)





"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)



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