March 3, 2013


Yet another creature from the lovely country of Ireland, I give you, the Banshee!

The banshee is another well known creature of folklore, though she is often mistaken as a malevolent spirit.

According to the tales, a banshee is a fey woman who begins to wail if someone is about to die. In later versions, the banshee might appear before the death and warn the family by wailing, in attempts to save them. When several banshees appeared at once, it signaled the death of someone great or holy. The tales didn't always portray her as a fey. She is often thought of as a ghost, usually either a murdered woman, or a mother who died during childbirth. In Scottish Gaelic mythology she is known as the bean sìth or bean-nighe and is seen washing the blood-stained clothes or armour of those marked for death. Alleged tales of banshees appearing have been reported as late as 1948, and as far back as far as 1380, with the publication of the Cathreim Thoirdhealbhaigh (Triumps of Torlough) by Seean mac Craith.

The story of the banshee began as a fairy woman keening at the death of important people, and in later stories, the appearance of the banshee could predict death. Banshees are said to wail only for particular Irish families, though which families made it onto this list vary depending on who is telling the story. Most, though not all, surnames associated with banshees have the Ó or Mac prefix, such as O'Malley, or MacCormack.

The banshee can appear in a variety of forms, though most often she appears as an ugly, frightening hag. However, she can also appear as a stunningly beautiful woman, and in some tales, the figure who first appears to be a "banshee" is later revealed to be the Irish battle goddess, the Morrígan. Banshees are often described as dressed in white or grey, having long, pale hair which they brush with a silver comb. This comb detail is also related to the centuries-old traditional romantic Irish story that, if you ever see a comb lying on the ground in Ireland, you must never pick it up, or the banshees, having placed it there to lure unsuspecting humans, will spirit such gullible humans away.

Although not always seen, her mourning call is heard easily across the land, normally at night when someone is about to die. In 1437, King James I of Scotland was approached by an Irish seer who was later identified as a banshee who foretold his murder at the instigation of the Earl of Atholl. Banshees are usually only witnessed by a person who is about to die in a violent way, such as murder.

Just like the changeling, there are countless variations on this heartbreaking soul. In parts of Leinster, she is known as the bean chaointe (keening woman) whose wail can shatter glass. In Kerry, Ireland, her keen is experienced as a "low, pleasant singing". In Tyrone, as "the sound of two boards being struck together", and on Rathlin Island as "a thin, screeching sound somewhere between the wail of a woman and the moan of an owl".

Whichever variation you choose to support, if you hear a wail in the night, think twice before investigating the noise.

And as always, if any of you have tales or experiences of your own involving any of these beasties, please post said stories on the monsters' respective pages!!

March 2, 2013


Told you I'd be doing my best to be more regular with this! Next up...


Changelings are extremely well known in Western European folklore, and are quickly becoming more infamous in the North American cultures as well, inspiring creepy shows and movies all around. After all, there is very little more unsettling than a creepy child.

A changeling is typically described as being the child of a fairy, troll, elf or other legendary creature that has been secretly switched with a human child, though sometimes the term is also used for the human child who was taken. The 'child' that is left behind could also be an enchanted piece of wood that would soon appear to grow sick and die. The idea of a child being swapped out was often used as an explanation for children that mysteriously became sick, or developed mental or physical disorders in a family with no history of it back in the medieval years.

There were many reasons why a human child would be taken: to be used as a servant for those that took it, because the creature that stole it had fallen in love with the child, or because the creature holds a vicious grudge against the family. Fairies were most often to blame, though Norwegian tales accuse trolls of stealing them to prevent inbreeding, using the child once they've grown old enough to work new blood into the clans, and humans were given children with enormous strength as a reward. Some cases even tell of how older fairies, on the verge of death, would switch places with the child themselves so that they could live out the last of their days being pampered and coddled by their new 'parents'. Simple charms, like an inverted coat or open iron scissors left where the child sleeps, were thought to ward them off, though the idea of leaving open scissors around a baby seems just as dangerous... other measures included a constant watch over the child, though such a feat was difficult in older times, when farm labour was time consuming and required as much help from all family members as possible.

Another belief was that, again, trolls were behind it, though would only take unbaptized children, since they did not have the protection from Heaven yet, and since troll believed being raised by humans was classy, they were always eager to snap up any child left unblessed, which was why children were baptized as soon as possible.

In other folklore around the world, the changelings are switched with the child to feed off of the mother. The kidnapped child then becomes food for the changeling's mother. Other sources say that human milk is needed for fairy children to survive. In these cases, the newborn human child would be switched with a fairy babe to be suckled by the human mother, or the human mother would be taken back to the fairy world to breastfeed the fairy babies, though the theft of a mother was always thought to be very rare, and only attempted when the mother had lost a child, thinking that the chance to nurse a fey child in place of her own would comfort her.

Some changelings might forget they are not human and live out an entirely normal human life. Changelings who don't forget, however, may later return to their fairy family, often leaving the human family without any warning whatsoever, giving rise to the belief of being 'spirited away' by fey. As for the human child that was taken, they would often stay with the fairy family forever, not being given a choice in the matter.

This is only a brief summation of changelings; the lore on them is extensive, and changing for every country. The one constant, however, is that they steal children to leave their own in place, and it's next to impossible to prevent.

And as always, if any of you have tales or experiences of your own involving any of these beasties, please post said stories on the monsters' respective pages!!

March 1, 2013


I swear, I'm going to do my best to post more regularly guys!

I figured it was time for a creature, after the flood of creepy places I gave you guys, so this time I bring to you a creepy beasty, the Shtriga!

A shtriga is a vampiric witch in traditional Albanian folklore that sucks the blood of infants at night while they sleep, and then transforms into a flying insect, usually a moth, fly or bee. Only the shtriga is able to cure those she had drained. The shtriga is often pictured as a woman with a hateful stare (sometimes wearing a cape) and a horribly disfigured face, though during the day, she seems no different than a regular human, other than a slightly unsettling feeling.

According to the tales, once the shtriga drains the life from a child, she is the only one who is able to return said life, though she has to do so by spitting into their mouth. It's also believed that if you kill the shtriga, the affected children, so long as they are still alive, will be cured. Seeing as the shtriga is a cruel, selfish creature, the second choice seems far more reliable.

Albanian folk would often hang garlic in their homes, and the children and babies that were believed to be prime targets of the shtriga would undergo a blessing to try and ward the creature off.

There are several methods traditionally considered effective for defending your family from shtriga. A cross made of pig bone could be placed at the entrance of a church on Easter Sunday after the suspected shtriga entered, rendering them unable to leave. They could then be captured and killed at the threshold as they tried to leave, though it doesn't specify how one can tell them apart from the others.

Another versions is that after draining blood from a victim, the shtriga would generally go off into the woods and vomit it back up. If a silver coin was soaked in that blood and wrapped in cloth, it would become an amulet offering permanent protection from any shtriga.

Morbid protection from a morbid creature...

And as always, if any of you have tales or experiences of your own involving any of these beasties, please post said stories on the monsters' respective pages!!