Throughout English history, tales of spectral black dogs have provoked fear and anxiety. Often believed to be omens of death, historical accounts of malevolent black dogs can be found in almost every county in England. These nocturnal apparitions were variously described as ghosts, hellhounds, and shapeshifters, and were sometimes associated with witchcraft or the devil. Despite their sinister reputation, there are reports in which ghostly black dogs take on the role of benevolent guardian. Continue reading
Category Archives: Monsters
From Abaddon to Zuul, all fantastical creatures to be afraid of in the dark.
Monster of the Week: The Siren1
Temptation can take many forms, but the fear of being seduced by the song of a siren has haunted mankind for millennia. From a secluded island home, Sirens enthrall passing sailors with their supernatural song. Their voices cast doom on those who hear their call.
“Their song, though irresistibly sweet, was no less sad than sweet, and lapped both body and soul in a fatal lethargy, the forerunner of death and corruption.”
-Walter Copland Perry Continue reading
Pele: Hawaii Fire Goddess3
In Hawaiʻi, the name Pele evokes images of molten lava, flame, and boiling oceans. Pele is a powerful and volatile creator, known as Pelehonuamea (“Pele of the sacred land”) and ka wahine ʻai honua (“the woman who devours the land”). Through her destructive power, Pele is responsible for creating and shaping the landscape of the Hawaiian Islands in an ongoing cycle of devastation and regeneration. Continue reading
Monster of the Week: The Rougarou1
What was a loup-garou? Oh, well, it was the most terrible thing in the world. Sometimes it was a wolf, and sometimes it was a man, or a woman either, whichever it felt like in its wicked heart. And always it could take your heart out, and then you died, because you could not breathe without your heart.
—Laura Elizabeth Howe Richards, Marie (1894)
From deep within the murky bayous of Louisiana comes the legend of the dire lycanthropic creature known as the Rougarou. Rougaroux are found in French-speaking areas of North America such as Québec, but most particularly in Cajun Acadiana (in and around New Orleans), where its legend has proliferated from those of the werewolf-like loup-garou of medieval France—loup is the French word for wolf, and garou is a French word similar in meaning to werewolf. Cajun lore uses the terms loup-garou and rougarou interchangeably. A major difference between the Rougarou and the creature we more commonly think of as a werewolf is that the Rougarou has agency over its transformation, and maintains the consciousness and intelligence of its human form throughout that change. Continue reading
Monster of the Week: Jólakötturinn4
Jólakötturinn, or the Yule Cat, is an Icelandic holiday monster. He is a giant cat who is said to eat children who have not finished their autumn wool-working chores, thereby failing to have been rewarded with new clothes by Christmas Eve.
“His whiskers, sharp as bristles,
His back arched up high,
And the claws of his hairy paws
Were a terrible sight.”
—Jóhannes úr Kötlum, “Jólakötturinn” (Vignir Jónsson, trans.)
Monster of the Week: Frankenstein2
Two hundred years ago, on the shores of Lake Geneva during a dark and dismal summer, the eighteen-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin created one of the most enduring monsters of contemporary history. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was published anonymously as an epistolary three-volume novel two years later. The second edition was published in France five years after that in 1823, bearing for the first time the English author’s married name: Mary Shelley. Since then, the novel has become one of the most widely taught literary texts in the English language, and the creature commonly known as Frankenstein remains one of the most recognizable and popular monsters of the horror genre and beyond.
The Mysterious Menehune of Hawaii3
In Hawaiʻi, tales of the little people known as the Menehune have been passed down through generations. Stories of these mysterious folk can be found in ancient Hawaiian mythology and through more recent accounts. Menehune live in deep mountain forests and secret valleys, staying hidden from the modern world. Though tales of the Menehune are known throughout Hawaiʻi, they’re most associated with the island of Kauaʻi. Continue reading
Monster of the Week: Huli Jing8
Accounts of foxes with supernatural powers have existed for millennia. The huli jing (狐狸精 húlijīng) is a fox spirit that arose out of Chinese traditions, predating the Japanese kitsune and Korean kumiho. Despite attempts to suppress the practice, the huli jing was venerated at household shrines throughout China for many centuries.
The fox can be a force of benevolence or malevolence, depending on its individual nature, thus the intentions of these mischievous creatures are suspect when they interact with humans. A huli jing may attempt seduction to steal human essence, curse those they seek vengeance against, reward worshippers with wealth, or provide sage guidance.
“Without fox demons, no village is complete.” —Chinese proverb Continue reading
Monster of the Week: Metatron3
Anyone who isn't dead or from another plane of existence would do well to cover their ears right about now. — Metatron, Dogma (1999)
Metatron, the Chancellor of Heaven, is a mystical archangel who serves as the Voice of God. Metatron is both the largest and loftiest of the angels and the closest to God, being of even higher rank than Michael in ancient Judaic lore. Metatron is the Heavenly scribe, both recording the word of the Lord and transmitting it to anyone to whom God has directly spoken. As Heaven’s recording secretary, Metatron is said to be the only being ever to have been seen seated in the presence of the Almighty, and his name says as much, it being frequently translated as “He who sits behind the throne of Heaven.” Continue reading
Monster of the Week: Bunnies2
If you think that bunnies can’t be monsters, you haven’t been paying close enough attention. Below are some film and TV sources of a few of the scariest hares we’ve heard of.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: If a centuries-old vengeance demon like Anya (Emma Caulfield) is deathly afraid of rabbits, perhaps there’s something to learn there. Anya wears a bunny costume for Halloween in Season 4 because she’s told that the idea is to dress as “something scary.” Buffy lore has retconned Anya’s leporiphobia into having some relation to the fact that she seems to have bred and raised rabbits back in the Middle Ages when she was human (see S07E05, “Selfless”), but we don’t think she needs a reason. Continue reading