Pazuzu

 

Pazuzu is a demon of ancient Babylon, believed to have the feet of an eagle, the hands/paws of a lion, head of a dog, and tail of a scorpion with four wings. Half of his head is skinless exposing the skull to display a death like grimace.

It was believed that in demons brought pestilence within the scorching hot, and deadly winds of the Arabian desert, a place known for its wind storms, and with the great power which these winds have, it is no wonder that people could imagine some powerful and frightening entity being brought within the wind to bring terror to the people.

It was common for people to keep images of the demons in their windows facing outward, as a way to try and drive off the Pazuzu which came within the winds, in addition, they had a chance to act as an incantation against the demon:

They are seven! They are seven!
In the depths of the Ocean, they are seven!
In the heights of the heavens, they are seven.
They come from the Ocean depths, from the hidden retreat.
They are neither male nor female.
They have no spouse. They do not produce children.
They are strangers to benevolence,
They listen neither to prayer nor wishes.
Vermin come forth from the mountain,
enemies of the god Hea,
They are agents of vengeance of the gods,
raising up difficulties, obtaining power by violence.
The enemies! The enemies!
They are seven! They are seven! They are twice seven.
Spirit of the heavens, may they be conjured.
Spirit of the earth, may they be conjured.

The Pazuzu are demons which are devoid of any emotion or feeling, completely incapable of mercy, pity or sympathy, they have no sense of connection to human beings, and will spread death and disease without thought and can only be kept at bay if scared off by the frightening images of other demons.

Krampus

Last year I have you the story of La Befana, the Italian Witch who delivers presents on Christmas to children, and this year I have yet another rather unconventional Christmas figure to offer you. One of which I find most particularly intriguing.

While many children may be having pleasant dreams of sugar plums and candy, and filled with joy in anticipation of Christmas Morning, there are some whom might be left trembling in fear with their heads filled with nightmares only praying to survive the night.

Predominately in Austria, but in other parts of Europe such as Germany,  Hungary, Bavaria, Friul and Slovenia, there lives the legend of the Krampus. The name coming from the German word krampen which means claw.

The krampus is of all things a side-kick to Jolly ol’ St. Nick. But while Santa might be handing out presents and bringing good cheer and happiness to children the krampus has a rather different agenda, and a much more sinister one. Many of us might have heard the warning of our parents that if you are naughty and misbehave you will be left coal within your stalking. Well if you thought that was bad, you haven’t met the krampus.

The krampus is a terrifying demonic figure dressed in furs and wrapped within rattling chains, said to carry a wooden stick, or a switch of birch branches. He wares a frightening mask has a long red tounge pair of horns, and he follows along with Santa with the purpose of whipping and beating children who have misbehaved.

Of course legends of the krampus vary from cultures and regions between people. In some legends, he is believed to actually kidnap the children and place them in the black sack some say he carries and than make them his slaves until he finally kills them.

But just where did this figure come from? the krampus was a part of Germanic pre-Christian lore and myth that was carried over to be used as a way to try and ensure that children keep up with their lessons and do as they are told.

The krampus was originally a fertility demon, and a type of incubus who was particularly interested in the punishment of children and would visit misbehaving children in their sleep to terrify them and prey upon them sexually.

Today in Austria the krampus is a highly celebrated figure and large crowds of people will don themselves in Krampus costumes.

Changelings

The Changeling by Henry Fuseli

The Changeling by Henry Fuseli

Changelings are rather popular ones, they often appear within various works of fiction to reference an impish or mischievous child, or sometimes to just indicate a child who seems to have something otherwordly about them.

Changelings are a type of fae, but I can assure you, they are no Tinker Bell, and they are not the popularized modern conception of what a fairy is, as we have already discussed various different fairy types from Irish myth particular, but other cultures as well, that shed a darker light on just what fairies are all about.

Changelings come out of Britannia myth. Many may be familiar with the story of the changeling.  It is a common trait among the traditional myth of the fairy for fae to be portrayed as thieves of children. Even in the old beloved tale of Peter Pan (the original by J.M. Barrie not the Disney version) we see instances of fairies stealing children away.  In the myth of the changeling in order for a fairy to steal a child they must leave in its place either a carved wooden substitute, or an elderly, feeble fairy that is to play the role of a human infant.

As they age Changelings become notorious pranksters, hence why mischievous children are so oft linked to them. While it is difficult to determine if ones child is a changeling, in some culture such as England, Hungary, and parts of Africa, it was thought that children who were born with teeth were sure to be changelings.  If one suspects their children is a changeling the parent might try and trick them into revealing their true identity.

The Croucher and other Domiciles

Domicile  demons are a domestic type of demon, unlike the many various nature demons which I have frequently talked about, I will now move on to more domestic imps. These demons often find their abode within the home, or are present at important moments in human life and experience, such as marriage, childbirth, a death, and so forth. An ancient lament of these demons goes as follows:

Doors do not stop them
bolts do not stop them
they glide in at the doors like serpents
they enter by the windows like the wind

One ancient breed of domicile demon is known as the Croucher and comes from Babylonian myth. The Courcher is an invisible type of demon known as rabisu which means “the ones who wait.” While it cannot be seen it makes its presence felt, causing the hair of any mortal near it to stand on end.  Because they cannot be seen they are described by the effect they cause, rather then by physical appearance.

In Ancient Babylonia people believed that multitudes of evil spirits filled into the habitats of humans and fell into different categories; utukku, ekimmu,gallu, alu, and rabisu.  The first two are departed spirits of the dead who cannot find rest so they cause harm to the living, most often found around graveyards. The third can be seen in the image of a bull and roams the streets at night, the forth is a specter that appears in the image of a black dog (black dog myths are also a strong part of Irish Lore and thought to be ill omens by some, while others find them to be guardians.)

Most of these can be avoided by staying home, but home provides no safety from the rabisu, it is how the Croucher game about its name, because they lay in wait unseen for unsuspecting mortal victims, within the doorways of the household, because of this they are also known as entrance demons.

Other types of rabisu are thought to perch upon rooftops at the homes of expecting mothers, to prepare to pounce on the newborn babies.  In ancient Rome it was a custom to shoot arrows at the rooftops when a woman was in childbirth to protect the mother and baby. In Syria there is a rooftop demon called bar egara who waits to pounce upon men as they cross the threshold of their door on the way to work.

Many different cultures have devised ways to try and drive off these domicile demons. The spreading of salt across a threshold is commonly seen as a way of warding off evil spirits who are believed to be unable to cross salt. Wind chimes were also originally derived as a form of protection. One of the reason why churches ring bells is because the sound of a bell ringing is believed to ward off demons, and evil spirits, so hanging wind chimes in the front of the house can keep away these spirits, as the wind blows the chimes causing a bell like sound to drive them off.

Domovoi

The Domovoi (dom meaning “house”) is a guardian spirit in Russia. He is referred to as “Grandfather” behind his back. Known to be shy, he is not given to make public appearances and is rarely seen, but can be heard nightly in odd groans and creaks. When he does scurry out from behind the stove and across the kitchen floor at night, he is usually with fur and has been mistaken for a cat or a dog. This is his most frequent form, but once in a while he will take the shape of the master of the house and can be seen as a doppelganger ( a double). Reports of the Domovoi as a very old man with a bread are frequent.

When the Domovoi is not in the kitchen, he will wander into the stable, and is said to even groom the horses in the middle of the night. He is fond of horses and cows and can converse with them.

He is usually a domesticated presence, vital to the intrnisic health of the household. But, like all demonic species, he is volatile, impulsive, and subversive by nature. When a Domovoi is aggravated by homeowners, or thinks he has not been paid proper respect. For example if there is salt in his porridge offering, dishes left in the sink, or simply no special treat left for him he can quickly erupt in a violent tantrum. He throws pots at the head of household. He spreads manure all over the front door and stoop. He ties horses to the stalls so they cannot get to their food and slowly starve to death.

Ho’ok

Many of the creatures which have been featuredhere have been primarily male, and so this one was a bit of a nice change. The Ho’ok is a she-demon in the legends of the Tohono O’odham (The Desert People) in the Sonoran Desert.

In the belief of the Tohono people at the center of their lands there was a great mountain called Bapoquivari, whose vast range is millions of acres of desert extending down into Sonora from what is now known as Tuscon.  According to Tohono myth it is within this mountain that their Creator, and Elder Brother I’itoi lived, as well within the a cave in this mountain live the Ho’ok.

The Ho’ok appears to be female except for her hands in feet which are animal claws. She is a fierce man-eater and who is said to carry away children and babies which she than cooks and eats.

One of the things I wanted to mention about this, was the fact that it is common widespread among many cultures to portray “evil” females as being child eaters. It is a theme that often occurs within fairy tales, and much lore about witches tends to involve the idea of child sacrifice of the killing and eating of babies.

This can be seen in the same way in which Vampires and werewolves are often seen to prey upon women. The idea that there is nothing more vile and terrifying than the death of those that are viewed as being most innocent in pure.  As the old ideal of women was a fragile, delicate, and pure being.  And so when confronted with a female villain, what could be worse than the idea that she would target children.

Of course this also plays upon the ideas of woman as being maternal, and the old traditional views in which it is a woman’s natural instinct to always want to protect and love a child.  There is nothing which could cause more fear then a creature so monstrous she would not be affected by these instincts and could actually strike down a child.

In the same way that a werewolf can be viewed as a man who has simply abandoned himself to his “Wild” nature, and forsook civilization in refusing to allow his natural instincts to be contained and controlled, and instead of being ashamed of his animal brain, but rather relishes in it. A woman who could hurt a child, is a woman that has completely abandoned her humanity and has given into her wiles.

Namarrgon

Namarrgon or Mamaragan (Lightning Man) is an ancient, volatile, and belligerent Aboriginal spirit who lives in Arnhem Land.

In the dry season Namarrgon stays in a water hole that should be avoided. If anybody were to throw a stone, or drink from his water hole, or just touch the surface of it, Namarrgon would rise up and destroy them with a flash of lightning. He would cause flooding to drown the whole villages.

During the monsoon season he travels in the air and roars in the clouds overhead. It is his arms and legs that are the flashes of lightning, and when he strikes the ground destruction is instantaneous. Some say he throws stone axes down to create the flashes of light.

Namarragon terrified the Mimi spirits and the Aboriginal people with his displays of power, which cane be seen throughout the sky, which cause so much damage and destroy camps, and kill so many people. 

He has fathered many children who have all taken on the shape of a spectacular insect, flaming orange and blue, it mates in the early rainy season.  Sorcerers were sometimes able to enlist the help of Namarragon in  their magic.

This is what one of the children of Namarrgon is said to look like. In aculality it is a Leichhardt’s grasshopper

Palis

This is something of an honorable mention, because I really could not find sufficient information about it, but it still struck my interest and I thought was worth bringing up. One of the reasons I did want to mention this one, is because I find that it does have some similar traits with more “modern” myths if you will. The first which had come into my mind was the Chubacabra.

The Palis is a potentially deadly creature of the Arabian Desert. They are what is known as a foot-licker, for the simple fact that at night when one is sleeping in the desert the Palis will come up and lick the soles of their feet until the blood is gone.  There is no known description of the appearance of this creature.

One of the other reasons I was interested in this creature, if you have not already guessed, was because of its connection to blood. I rather enjoy blood suckers, or drinkers of any variety.

The Palis is not known to be a very intelligent creature and can be easily tricked. One of the best ways to avoid an encounter with the creature is to always sleep in pairs when venturing in the desert, this way you and your partner can sleep with the soles of your feet touching and this will confuse the Palis. Like many demons salt can also be a deterrent for the creature.

Mimi

Artist unknwn: Traditional Aboriginal depection of Mimi

The Mimi are an ancient family of Aboriginal fairylike spirits who have concealed themselves within rocks in the Arnhem Land plateau of Australia for over ten thousand years.

The Mimi are described as having such extraordinarily thin and elongated bodies that they cannot venture out on windy days because the wind would cause them to break in half. Hunting is reserved for still days. The tall, fragile beings wear bunches of leaves to cover their genitals.

They are never seen by modern travelers, they were glimpsed by Aboriginal medicine men long ago when people could still see spirits. They are assumed to still inhabit the rocks, upon which they have left images of themselves and their activities.  All Mimi have keen hearing and can detect when a human wayfarer is nearby. When Mimi hear someone coming they run to the rocks and blow on them, and the rocks open like magic doors and allow the Mimi to enter and hide. Certain noises that one hears in this area are the concealed Mimi moving around inside their homes.  Some Mimi are friendly to humans, many are antagonistic and none dependable.

The Mimi are found of singing and dancing, and some say they taught the Aboriginal people how to write songs and dance. They are also said to have taught the art of cave painting, in which their self-portraits are rendered on the stone walls along with drawings of other ancestral spirits.

Mimi keep wallabies, pythons, and certain types of kangaroos as pets as a human might have dogs. They hunt and eat wild kangaroos. If anyone injures a tame animal, it may be a Mimi pet and serious consequences will follow. Injuring a tame Kangaroo or wallaby may lead to madness or death.

The Mimi on a still day are skillful hunters and very adept at hunting kangaroo. It was in fact the Mimi who are said to have taught the Aboriginal people how to hunt and prepare the meat.

 

Devalpa

The Devalpa is a creature of the Arabian Desert. The Devalpa will most often appear along the roadside in the guise of an an innocent old man who is weary and sighing. When people pass by down the road, he will implore them to give him a ride upon their shoulders. If anyone is good enough to place the old man upon their shoulders, the Devalpa instantly shape-shifts, as long snake like legs will wrap around the victim and hold them within a death grip. And commands “Work for me!” If one wants to live, they will do just that, and spend the rest of their life as a slave to the Devalpa.

The Devalpa appears in the well known story of Sinbad. Shipwrecked Sinbad comes across a pathetic old man who he presumed to be a castaway. The old man weakly signaled Sinbad to carry him across a brook. Sinbad agreed to help the man and hoisted him upon his shoulders when he suddenly felt the old man’s scrawny legs grow powerful around his neck. He glanced at the tightening legs to see them now covered in rough black skin. He tried to take the old man off but was squeezed into unconsciousness. When he awoke he found the Devalpa still crouched over him and was commanded to walk. Sinbad found himself in position as slave to the “old man” once when walking the man around he found some grapes that he picked and fermented to make into a potent wine to make his position feel less desperate. Seeing the affects of the drink on Sinbad the Devalpa demanded Sinbad make some for him. When Sinbad gave the drink to the “old man” with its effects, the snake like legs began to lesson their pressure until eventually the Devalpa fell off Sinbad’s back drunk and Sinbad was able to escape.