Monster of the Week: Spring-heeled Jack

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SHJpennydreadful

A Spring-heeled Jack penny dreadful cover

Spring-heeled Jack, “the Terror of London,” is a well-known monstrous villain of Victorian urban legend. Though generally human in appearance, Spring-heeled Jack is said to have demonic characteristics such as bulbous glowing eyes, long, sharp claws of metal, and sometimes even horns. He was often seen in England and Scotland in a bat-like, black winged cloak and a tight suit of black and white oilskin, not unlike a twentieth-century comic book character’s costume. Reports of Spring-heeled Jack speaking, or indeed making any sound, are rare, and it is possible he is mute, though there have been reports of victims hearing fiendish laughter. Another unnatural characteristic commonly attributed to Jack is his ability to spit blue flame. Spring-heeled Jack’s most famous attribute, though, is his ability to escape capture by leaping over tall gates and walls.

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Monster of the Week: The Wild Hunt

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Franz Von Stuck The Wild Chase

The Wild Chase (1889) by Franz Von Stuck

Tales of the spectral horde known as the Wild Hunt abound throughout Europe. Since pre-Christian times, the Wild Huntsman and his horde of hunters and hellhounds have hurtled through the night sky. Those who find themselves alone on a winter night may hear the sounds of a horn, the distant wail of the hounds, and the pounding of hooves as the Wild Huntsman and his supernatural companions approach. Continue reading

Monster of the Week: The Krampus

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KrampusCutoutThe Krampus is a yuletide monster of Alpine lore. He is one of the helpers of St. Nicholas, seeking out naughty children on Krampusnacht, the eve of St. Nicholas’ Day (December 6). He acts as the anti-St. Nick, frightening, and sometimes punishing—or even abducting—badly behaved children.

The Krampus, whose name likely derives from krampen, the Old High German word for claw, is of mostly humanoid form, though exceptionally furry, similar to a satyr. He has large, pointy ears, a bull’s tail, and big goaty horns. The Krampus has one normal foot and one cloven hoof, but his most distinguishing characteristic may be his huge red tongue, which perpetually lolls out of his mouth. Krampus will often carry a large sack in which to haul away bad children, though sometimes a washtub, basket or other conveyance is used. Along with a sack, his accoutrements often include chains, bells, and a ruten (a birch-twig switch) or whip. Continue reading

Monster of the Week: The Woman in White

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White Lady Teresa Fidalgo

White Lady: The ghost of Teresa Fidalgo in the Portugese short film A Curva (2004)

The Woman in White is a ghostly apparition who most commonly haunts roadways and thoroughfares, seeking the attention of travelers. She is a tortured spirit who has often in life been betrayed by a lover, has lost her children, or both.

Dames Blanche in France, White Ladies in the Philippines, Mulheres de Branco in Brazil, Weisse Frauen in Germany, and Witte Wieven in the Netherlands are all varieties of Women in White, as is Mexico’s La Llorona (the Weeping Woman). Continue reading

Gifts for the Supernatural Creature in your Life: Part 2

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salt sorrow

Who knew that abject human misery was actually good for gift giving?

How many times have you asked yourself, what do I get for the mystical being that has everything? Some days you may question why you bother to be friends with monsters who merely growl at your attempts to get them the perfect gift.

For supernatural gift-giving ideas for witches, zombies, and werewolves check out the first part of this series. If you’re wracking your brain to find a gift for a cryptidghost, or banshee, you can stop torturing yourself. Here are some presents you can get for that special supernatural someone in your life.

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Monster of the Week: The Vodyanoi

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The Vodyanoi on an early 20th-century Russian postcard.

The Vodyanoi on an early 20th-century Russian postcard.

The Vodyanoi (водяно́й in Russian) is a water-dwelling demonic creature of Eastern Europe. His appearance can be described as somewhere between that of an elderly man and a toad, with a greenish beard and dripping with muck and weeds. He is a curmudgeonly old spirit whose time outside of his lavish underwater home is often divided between murder and mayhem. Continue reading

Gifts for the Supernatural Creature in your Life

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The Walking Dead milk chocolate zombies from The Truffle Cottage

The Walking Dead milk chocolate zombies from The Truffle Cottage

Gift-buying is always hard, but when it comes to getting something for the supernatural creature in your life, it can be a nightmare. Finding the perfect present, that won’t cause a monstrous rampage, can create a lot of pressure. Here are some gifts to please the most surly of supernatural beings. Continue reading

Monster of the Week: The Banshee

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“La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” Henry Meynell Rheam, 1901

“La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” Henry Meynell Rheam, 1901

The Banshee is an ominous spirit of the Irish fairy realms whose presence foretells the loss of a life. This “woman fairy” (from bean, a woman, and sidhe, a fairy), announces an imminent death with her mournful and terrifying keening. When she can be seen and not just heard, the Banshee usually appears as a beautiful woman, often clutching a hairbrush. In Scotland she is bean nighe (the Washerwoman, whose spectral form can be seen washing the bloody clothes of the soon-to-die), while in Wales she is Gwrach-y-rhibyn (Hag of the Mist).

The Banshee is sometimes seen along with a cóiste-bodhar (coach-a-bower), pulled by headless horses and driven by her fellow Celtic death omen, the Dullahan. Although like the Dullahan (and the Cluricaun), the Banshee is usually classified in lore as a solitary fairy, it has been suggested that she may in fact be a sociable fairy who has only become solitary due to her constant sadness—unlike most solitary fairies, she is generally not malevolent, but only foreboding and frightening. Continue reading

Monster of the Week: Hellhounds

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GytrashHellhounds are great infernal dogs that hunt the damned, guard the underworld and defend their demonic masters. There are tales of hellhounds in ancient Greek and Viking writings, and legends and even stories of sightings can now be found throughout the world. Hellhounds are often described as oversized black dogs with sharp teeth and glowing red eyes. Hellhounds transcend supernatural categories, alternately considered apparitions (the Black Dogs of Britain), creatures of Faerie (the hellhounds of the Wild Hunt) or demons (the Cajedo Negro of South America). Continue reading

Monster of the Week: The Ifrit

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Ifrit” by inSOLense on DeviantArt

The supernatural creature known as the ifrit* (عفريت) arises out of the rich tapestry of Middle Eastern lore and history. An ifrit is a type of infernal Jinn. The Ifrit is able to generate fire, and withstand smoke and flames.

Traditionally an Ifrit had wings, but more recent incarnations are known for their horns and claws. The Ifrit is known to be formidable and cunning, making it a dangerous enemy.

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