You guys may be pretty tired of my ongoing “favorites” lists that I’ve been posting, but I really think these are some of the most fun and easy ways to discover new parts of horror that you otherwise might not have known. It’s created some great dialogue amongst us and I really think it would be fun to do one last “favorites” post… for favorite horror myths/beliefs/legends!
I absolutely adore some recurring characters from religion or mythology that tend to inspire fear rather than hope. It’s these creatures that bring some depth to older stories and also make you wonder, how did they come up with this??? What inspired this story?
So, below I’ve listed some of my favorite characters/beings, and I’ve tried to be clear which ones are just creatures of mythology and which ones people believe in. So go ahead and see which spooky creatures in lore could still keep you up at night and which ones might just inspire your next short story!
Nattmara: In Scandinavian folklore, this creature is described as a woman with a white nightgown, long dark hair, and pale skin, who climbs onto a person while they sleep and “ride” them, thus causing nightmares.
Basically, she’s one of my favorites because she blends typical Japanese horror ghosties with my beloved Scandinavia. When my brother went to Norway for winter, he came back with some strange, unexplained stories from the woods, so I feel like a lot of weird things remained unexplored up there.
Slenderman: A tad bit controversial because of the infamous Slenderman murder of the poor teenage girl back in 2014, but before the misguided actions of those girls, I was playing games and reading ALL the stores based on slenderman.
An entity who dresses in a dark suit with loooong, sometimes numerous arms and a blank, white face, Slenderman is known for stealing children and for being unshakable once he gets you in your sights. If you play any games based on him, you’ve probably had some heart attacks when you try running from him and he suddenly appears RIGHT BEHIND YOU AH
Baron Samedi: Inspiration behind a lot of the best mainstream villains (James Bond movies and Tim Burton’s villain in the Miss Peregrine movie to name a few), but he is actually a spirit from Haitian Voudou. He is a part of the group of spirits called Loa who are intermediaries between the Gods and humans, and he belongs to the Ghede spirit family.
Baron Samedi is one of the most badass depictions in religion and he functions as an escort for the dead. He brings spirits to the Realm of the dead, and also is responsible for resurrection and healing. However, he is as much a trickster as he is a drunk, and loves to drink, party, and be loud and raucous. He is actually a huge inspiration behind what I’m writing for NaNoWriMo, so I’ve done a ton of research into Haitian Voudou. I’d definitely recommend reading up on Haitian lore and the relationship they had with the Christian French. It’s an enlightening read!
Krampus: A being derived from pagan, possibly Germanic, folklore, he is essentially the antithesis to Saint Nicholas. He is the spirit who goes around and punishes the bad little boys and girls on Christmas night. He either eats them, transports them to hell, or drowns them, all while wiggling his chained wrists at St. Nick in annoyance.
I found out about Krampus through Brom’s book, Krampus: The Yule Lord. It is a BEAUTIFUL book and I earnestly plan on reading it to my cats and boyfriend every Christmas. It’s like the twisted tradition of Santa’s story.
Nephilim: I’d like to thank my boyfriend for educating me on these creatures from the Christian bible! They are the children of God and Man, the offspring of what happens when a mortal lays with an immortal. Although there isn’t anything written about them in the bible that makes them seem particularly bad, they are called “the dead ones” and were touted as the reason why God flooded the Earth.
So, not so great of a reputation.
Also, they are described as giants and were intimidating, and since not much is known about them, there’s been some awesome Nephilim interpretations in modern day media. I’d suggest Richard Kadrey’s book series, Sandman Slim, if you want a story about what it would be like to live as a Nephilim in the modern age.
Djinn: I LOVE DJINN. They are snarky and sneaky and cunning and witty… they’re so much smarter than the average human being, they have “infinite cosmic power” and they are beings from the spirit world. The Islamic translation implies they are beings of fire and smoke and are beyond the power of our industrial world.
This isn’t to be confused with genies, who are essentially the watered-down, “good” version of a djinni. My favorite interpretation is Bartimaeus from Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy, and I just think these powerful tricksters are some of the most fascinating beings in Islamic lore.
What are some of your favorite not-so-nice creatures in mythology and religion? I’d love to learn more and be inspired by more. There are some amazing Japanese creatures and some REALLY creepy Egyptian and Scandinavian creatures out there. It was honestly quite hard to narrow it down lol
I hope these provide some food for thought for future stories! [and not nightmares 😉 ]
Until next time,