Welcome to the week before Halloween. I am a recent horror convert, still wary of the film genre but immersing myself in the literature and roleplaying games! The blogs today, Friday and Sunday will all have a spooky theme!
I’m kicking things off with a look at those things that go bump in the night…
- The Wendigo
The Wendigo comes from stories told by the Algonquian peoples of the Atlantic Coast and the Great Lakes. An Ojibwe storyteller once described the Wendigo as “gaunt to the point of emaciation, its desiccated skin pulled tautly over its bones. With its bones pushing out against its skin, its complexion the ash gray of death, and its eyes pushed back deep into their sockets.” Widely considered to dine on flesh, the Wendigo would grow with each meal, meaning that it could never be full. The creatures are either a man who dined on human flesh and promptly transformed into a Wendigo or was possessed by an evil spirit and driven to cannibalism. In modern psychology, a disputed culture-bound syndrome called Wendigo Psychosis exists in which the sufferer displays an intense craving for human flesh.
In popular culture, Wendigoes have appeared in many outlets, from an early episode of Supernatural to the horror game Until Dawn.
Succubi and Incubi are demons that appear in dreams in an attractive form in order to seduce and feed on their victim. The demon feeds on the victim’s life energy and must continually feed to stay alive. There are many variations on the mythos, with each varying from culture to culture. Interestingly, classical depictions of these demons showed them as something to be feared while modern depictions cast them as enchanters and a real world threat, rather than a dream invader. Modern scholars also believe that those who recall accounts of interacting with a succubus or incubus may have been suffering from sleep paralysis, a disorder whose symptoms match the sensations described by those who claim to have been visited by such a demon.
Depictions of Succubi are commonly found in popular culture, with depictions in everything from Dungeons & Dragons to Supernatural and Sleepy Hollow.
Kitsune is the Japanese word for fox. In Japanese mythology, Kitsune are believed to possess superior intelligence, long life and magical powers as well being a spiritual entity. The main types of Kitsune are zeniko, benevolent celestial foxes, and yako, a more mischievous spirit. Kitsune are also believed to have more than one tail, with more tails being equated to an older and more powerful Kitsune. It is also believed that they possess the ability to shapeshift and take human form, often an attractive woman. The term ‘Kitsune-gao’ is applied to women with a narrow face, close set eyes and high cheekbones and is considered traditionally attractive. Kitsune also have the power to possess humans and this has spawned its own culture-bound disorder, Kitsunetsuki, in which a child believes they have been possessed by a fox, and displays a craving for rice and show listless and restless behaviour. This condition is similar to clinical lycanthropy.
Have you been bad this year? If so, you might be getting a visit from Krampus. Originating in the Germanic Alpine area, Krampus is a horned figure that punishes bad children around Christmas time. In some Alpine nations, Krampus is actually a companion of Saint Nicholas, kind of like the contractor Santa sends out to do all the necessary dirty work. He carries a birch switch with him wherever he goes and is sometimes depicted with a sack which he uses to carry bad children away in…are we sure that this guy works with Santa? And that’s the sugar coated stories! In older tales, Krampus just straight up murders the kids via drowning or eating them. So yeah, be good for goodness sake, Santa’s employing some pretty dodgy contractors.
Said to live in the mountains and forests of the Philippines, Tikbalang is a humanoid creature with disproportionally long limbs and the head of a horse. It is a trickster, tormenting travellers it encounters by leading them astray and causing them to get lost. However, some claim that the Tikbalang are guardians of the elemental kingdoms and simply believe the travellers intend to harm the delicate balance of the elements. Apparently you can tame a Tikbalang using a spine from its mane, which you turn into a Tikbalang controlling talisman.
I hope you enjoyed the first of my spooky blogs. Come back on Friday for some chilling true stories!