White deer in myths and legends

What does it mean if you see a white deer in the woods? The deer is one of the most silent and elusive of woodland creatures in its native habitat. However, they have adapted also in our industrialised and heavily farmed landscape. Interestingly Great Britain have more deer now than at any time in the last ten thousand years, to the point where they can be a serious pest. Britain’s native deer species, the red and the roe, have been joined more recently by fallow, probably a Norman introduction, sika,…

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The owl of Cwm Cowlyd and the oldest animals in the world

In Welsh folklore the Owl of Cwm Cowlyd lived in the woods that once surrounded Llyn Cowlyd, the deepest lake in northern Wales, that lies in the Snowdonia National Park. Even if today the woods are gone, the legends live on in two tales that feature a search for the oldest and wisest animals in the world. In the first the owl is said to be among the oldest animals in the world, while in the second the owl is really the oldest. The first story is “Culhwch and Olwen”,…

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The Sluagh: Celtic spirits of the unforgiven dead

Celtic folklore has given us some of the darkest and most frightening stories in history including three-headed monsters, headless horsemen, famine-spreaders, and a variety of creepy spirits. One of the most fascinating are probably the Sluagh na marbh (host of the dead), or “Fairy Host”, spirits of the unforgiven or restless dead who soared the skies at night searching for humans to pick off, and especially the dying. Some believed them to be Fallen Angels, while others thought them the spirits of unbaptized children who had returned to earth to…

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Folklore and magic of crows and ravens

Both crows and ravens have appeared in a number of different mythologies throughout the ages. In some cases, these black-feathered birds are considered an omen of bad tidings, but in others, they may represent a message from the Divine. But, above all, they have long been synonym of doom and devastation as they destroy crops, devour corpses, act as emissaries for soothsayers and gods, and are closely linked to human fortunes. But not only, as they have long plagued farmers and gardeners by devouring their freshly planted seeds. An old…

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The legend of Richmond’s phantom Drummer Boy~

It seems there is a particular charm that attaches itself to the world of hidden tunnels, especially to ones that are held to possess ecclesiastical associations. Somewhere deep in the English imagination there seems to lurk the suspicion that the monks of yore, dispossessed and done away with during the years of Henrician terror, held close a knowledge of secret subterranean networks that connected their abbeys to other centres of worldly power and, in some instances, to realms neither secular nor holy. Hidden treasures, madness, slumbering knights and kings: these…

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The story of Dick Whittington and his faithful cat

Born in the 135Os, Dick Whittington was a poor boy even if, eventually, became a wealthy merchant and three-time Lord Mayor of London. According to legend, he made his fortune thanks to the extraordinary ratting abilities of his cat. The story of Dick Whittington and His Cat is the folk tale surrounding the real-life Richard Whittington (c. 1354–1423) and it is not just a fairy tale, but it is part of the folklore of London. Today, near the foot of Highgate Hill is the famous Whittington stone, which is supposed…

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Zhiva: the Slavic Goddess of Life

Zhiva, Dziwa, Zywa, Siwa, or Sewa are all names for the Slavic Goddess of Life. Words that derive from here name are zhizn/zycie/zhyttya, meaning life, zhivotnoye/zywiola, meaning animal/animals, zhivnost – critters, zhivot – stomach, and zhivitsa, meaning tree pitch. Zhiva is an all-Slavic Goddess of life and fertility, although Her cult is more noticeable among Western and Southern Slavs that know her as Vida. Medieval Polish sources mention Her as a daughter of Sventovit and Noncena, respectively deities of day and night, while late Polish sources call Her Dzidzilia (Great)…

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The Irish legend of O’Donoghue on May morning

One of Ireland’s most enduring legends tells us of how O’Donoghue, who was once Lord of the Lakes of Killarney, Ross Castle, and the surrounding lands, can be seen each May-morning upon a white horse gliding over the three lakes. He is accompanied by unearthly music, and attended by an army of otherworldly beings who stew May flowers in their wake, including youths and maidens who moved lightly and unconstrained over the watery plain. The following account of the origins of his May-morning visitations on the Lakes of Killarney was…

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The Inca legend of Lake Titicaca and other mysteries about its origin

We are in Peru. The history of the creation of some local cities is sometimes based on the Inca mythological legends. One of the best known is the myth of the origin of Lake Titicaca, whose main characters are the inhabitants of Puno, a city in southeastern Peru, not by chance located on the shore of lake. Lake Titicaca is the biggest freshwater lake in the world. It is located in the Andes, on the border between Bolivia and Peru, with a surface elevation of 3,812 metres, and It’s always…

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Alps: nightmare creatures of German folklore

Alps are creatures that appear in nightmares in the middle of the night. This mythical creature would appear in the dreams of men and women but prefers to disturb women more. It is defined by the Althochdeutsches Wörterbuch as a “nature-god or nature-demon, equated with the Fauns of Classical mythology…regarded as eerie, ferocious beings…As the mare he messes around with women”. They could manipulate dreams to their liking and would create horrible nightmares, and this is probably why “Alptraum” is the word for nightmare in German which if translated literally…

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Bysen: the gnome-like creature in Swedish folklore

“Bysen” is the creature who haunts the woods of Gotland, in Sweden’s largest island. Most of the time he takes form as a gnome-like creature, but occasionally he can be seen as a tree stump as well as other creatures who live in the woods. When he is in his gnome-like form, sometimes wears a red woven hat/hood, he is also wearing gray clothes, and he tends to carry an axe with him. Bysen is locally known as a “skogsväsen”, literally “forest creature”, and he is the ward of the…

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The dark story of the Little Mermaid you wouldn’t imagine

“But a mermaid has no tears, and therefore she suffers so much more.” 🧜‍♀️ The tale of The Little Mermaid is one of the favourite for many people worldwide, but well do you know the original story and its darker ending? ‘The Little Mermaid’ was originally published on this day, April 7 1837, in Hans Christian Andersen’s first collection of “Fairy Tales Told for Children”. Andersen was a Danish author, born in Odense, on the 2nd of April 1805. He had a difficult start in life, being born to poor…

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Knockers: Mine Spirits of Cornish Folklore

Many miners in the 19th century both in the United Kingdom and America but not only, believed in the existence of more or less helpful mine spirits. The supernatural creatures most commonly encountered underground are the Mine Goblins or Kobolds, in Germanic folklore, characters that sometimes stole miner’s unattended tools and food. This folklore began in Cornwall, England, where miners believed in spirits that lived and worked in mines. The most common of the subterranean British breeds are the Knockers of South-west England and the Coblynau of Wales. They were…

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Pleiades: mythology of the Seven Sisters

In Rome and in Greece, in this period, the Pleiades were remembered, and predictions were made on the illnesses of the season. In short, the Pleiades were the seven sisters who, at the time of their death, were transformed into stars from Zeus. After the spring equinox, the ancients were careful not to expose themselves to the unstable climate of the period to avoid the seasonal ills. Since the ascent of the Pleiades coincided with this period, it was common opinion that the constellation was somehow linked to the climate.…

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The Legend of the Irish Leprechaun ~

The legend of the Irish Leprechaun is a well-known one: little wee well-dressed men, often angry or drunk (or both) with a certain fondness for gold. Classed by some as a type of solitary fairy, they are usually depicted as little bearded men, wearing a coat and hat, who partake in mischief. Traditionally these fair folk are rumoured to keep their treasures at the end of a rainbow, but what is the real story behind these little moody little men and their hordes of treasure? Apparently, the legend can be…

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How the Pussy Willow got its name

Spring gets nearer, and a symbol of the season is the Pussy Willow. Salix discolor is its botanical name, and its fuzzy buds that emerge in spring are excellent for floral arrangements or stunning in a bunch by themselves. You can leave a bunch of pussy willow branches in water and they will form roots. You can then transplant these cuttings into your garden, they will grow into a new shrubs and you can take cuttings off them for many more years. But why is it that the pussy willow…

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Leshy: the Slavic God of the forest

Leshy, literally He-of-the-forest is a tutelary deity of the forests in Slavic mythology. He was depicted a tall, elderly man with a face covered with branches, while in other source his appearance was similar to a typical looking man (mostly he wore a forest ranger uniform and carried a gun or thick staff). According to some sources, though he often has the appearance of a man, his eyebrows, eyelashes, and right ear are missing, his head is somewhat pointed, and he lacks a hat and belt. In his native forest…

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The Legend of the drowned city of Kitezh submerged in Svetloyar Lake

According to a Russian legend, hidden beneath the waters of Lake Svetloyar, in the Nizhny Novgorod Region north-east of Moscow, there is Kitezh, a mythical city built by Georgy II, the Grand Prince of Vladimir in the early part of the 13th century. Its first reference comes in an anonymous late 18th century book known as “the Kitezh Chronicle” which was thought to have originated among the Old Believers of Russia. The book does not actually say that the city disappeared or that it was covered by the lake, but…

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Black Shuck: The mythic hellhound Of Medieval England

Black Shuck, Old Shuck, Old Shock or simply Shuck is the name given to a ghostly black dog which is said to roam the coastline and countryside of East Anglia, a traditional region of eastern England. Stories about the creature form part of the folklore of Norfolk, Suffolk, the Cambridgeshire fens and Essex. His name, Shuck, may derive from the Old English word “scucca” meaning “demon”, or possibly from the local dialect word “shucky” meaning “shaggy” or “hairy”. In any case, Black Shuck is one of many ghostly black dogs…

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King Frost, a Russian winter legend

The legends concerning Father (or King) Frost are inspired by ancient traditions about this mythical figure that in ancient times appeared in the tales of almost all of Europe. According to one of the most popular version, that come from Russia, once upon a time there lived an old man and his wife. She had one daughter of her own, and he had one of his own, and the old woman took a dislike to her step-daughter. Whatever her own daughter did, she praised her for everything and stroked her…

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The legend of the ghost playing the bagpipe at Edinburgh Castle

Every self-respecting Scottish castle has its own ghost, whether scary or melancholy, based on the history of each individual manor. In Edinburgh Castle, the best known in Scotland, a ghost (and maybe even more than one) could not be missing. As story goes, on a summer night of an unspecified year a few centuries ago, a red-haired boy dressed in a worn kilt probably left by his father, and with even more worn-out shoes, was chosen for a mission that did not seem so dangerous. The access to numerous tunnels…

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La Patasola: the vengeful protector of the Andes

Colombia is full of magic and mystery and there is a single village in the country that does not boast its own spirit or superstition, often passed from generation to generation. Some ghost stories have become so entrenched in the national psyche they are known countrywide, by scaring children and keeping errant spouses in their place. Imagine you are alone, deep in country’s central Andean region. Maybe you are cutting down lumber in the lush forests, or prospecting for some minerals, gold, for istance, in one of valley creeks. All…

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Adze: an insectoid source of misfortune in West Africa

As night settles in Africa, across Togo and Ghana, where the Ewe people lives, the Adze, it is said, slips through keyholes, under windows and around doors, flying to the bodies of the sleeping, appearing as mosquitos, beetles, fireflies, or simply balls of light. They prey on men and women, but especially enjoy the blood of children. For centuries, the Ewe people of West Africa have lived in fear of these creatures. According to the legend, there’s no potion, spell, or weapon that can ward one off, and no cure…

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Púca: Ireland’s shapeshifting trickster spirit of Celtic folklore

Try to imagine: you’re a normal worker, and you live in your pretty cottage just outside Dublin. It’s autumn and, despite the wind is brisk, the weather is pleasant and so you decide to take a normal nighttime stroll. You latch your gate behind you, and turn, just to find a stranger dressed in a fashionable suit. He begins to tell you your own family secrets, including sins, adultery, sorrows, destitution. Then he tells you what’s going to happen to you: your wife will leave, your money will run dry…

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The Tar River Banshee~

The Tar River flows into the Pamlico Sound after crossing much of the northeast part of North Carolina. It meanders through the fields and small towns on its way to the Sound and was once a major shipping route for tar-laden barges. In addition, as it goes with just about everything in the area, the Tar River is said to be haunted… As story goes, during the Revolutionary War, a native of England named Dave Warner came to the area and opened a mill on the Tar River. Sympathetic to…

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Bride-and-Seek: an urban legend and the origins of a Ghost Bride

After a lavish wedding in a stately mansion, members of the wedding party play a game of hide-and-seek. It isn’t long before everyone is found. Everyone, that is, except the bride. This urban legend is also known as “The Lost Bride,” “Bride-and-Go-Seek,” “Ginevra,” “The Mistletoe Bough,” “The Mistletoe Bride,” “The Bride in the Oak Chest,” “The Bride in the Trunk”, depending the version you heard…. As story goes, a young woman was about to get married, and she decided she wanted to hold the wedding in the backyard of the…

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Vrykolakas: the greek bloodless Vampire.

The “undead dead” have always been an interesting aspect of global folklore. Many cultures seem to have at least a few popular creatures or mythic beings that are near to a Vampire. However, each culture seems to have its own “version” on the common creature. I didn’t know the Greek Vrykolakas, whose journey from human to vampire, and their life afterwards, is really interesting. While most vampire legends tend to involve drinking human blood as part of the mythos, in Greece, it does not. A person doesn’t become a Vrykolakas…

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Tomino’s hell: the creepy legend of a cursed poetry.

Can some verses hurt someone? A popular Japanese story is about a poem called “Tomino’s Hell” (トミノの地獄). They say that you should only read with your mind, and never out loud. It’s said that the poem became known to modern audiences after Japanese writer and film critic Inuhiko Yomata (also known as Goki Yomata) included it in a book published in 1998 called The Heart Is Like A Rolling Stone (心は転がる石のように). However, the poem itself is much older, having originally been written by Saijo Yaso in his 27th collection of…

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Hinnagami: the spirit that possess japanese dolls and grant their owners any wish

Hinnagami are powerful spirits from Toyama Prefecture, Japan, that live inside in dolls. In Japan dolls take on an important meaning, and this is why once they become old they are not thrown away, because an ancient Japanese belief says that inside the dolls there is a soul. Therefore instead of getting rid of dolls used, the Japanese put them on an altar with the utmost respect. The spirit within the dolls is considered evil, as the Hinnagami are spirits that grant wishes to the families that own the haunted…

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Olgoi-Khorkhoi: the Mongolian Death Worm of the Gobi Desert

Deep within the shifting sands of the Gobi Desert, an area already popular due its unsolved mysteries and its legends, lives the elusive Olgoi-Khorkhoi, the Mongolian Death Worm. Or so legend has it. The Worm is a bright red worm, a mysterious cryptid said to inhabit the southern Gobi Desert. There are different local Mongolian tribesmen who claim to have seen the beast in their travels, however, the stories have never been confirmed, not even after many attempts by research expeditions over the years. Gobi in Mongolian language means “very…

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