Entropy contributors offer up their own communal compendium of mythical(ish) beasts as a nod to those in the Middle Ages who combined the practice of scientific observation and natural history with a great deal of imagination and artistic ability to create volumes of amazing illustrated beasties. At the time, the creation of these images was fueled by speculation for some, but represented religious symbology for others.
Writers have long been fascinated by fantastical creatures. Obviously, Fantasy fiction draws heavily on fanciful beasts described in mythology, fairy tales, and bestiaries. But these creatures and a whole slew of new ones have popped up in experimental texts, scripts, graphic novels, and more, as well. If we’ve missed any of your favorites, mention them in the comment section below.
I decided to query the Google hive mind with string searches. Here are my “mythical beast meets millennial mashups.”
1) “bro centaur” About 259 Google results
2) “mermaid ballerina unicorn” About 9 Google results
3) “cyclops selfie” About 1,180 Google results
3 great cryptids
1) The manananggal, sort of like a cross between a brujo and a chupacabra (Philippines)
2) The minhocão,a giant, fanged earthworm (South America)
3) The Skunk Ape, which is really just a local Bigfoot variant, but what a moniker (Florida)
1) Slenderman. Although it’s been driven into the ground with the release of the game Slender, Slendy making guest appearances on TV shows, and other moves that devalue the myth, the first wave of Slenderman is the most perfect example of the internet’s ability to empower creativity and propagate memes. It began as a response to a Something Awful forum thread to “Create Paranormal Images” using Photoshop, over the course of which several Slender images were created and the original Slenderman mythology emerged. Some time later, a YouTube found footage series called Marble Hornets (https://www.youtube.com/user/MarbleHornets) was created, which itself evolved into an Alternate Reality Game, a LOST-style spiderweb of mysteries and plot arcs spanning the YouTube channel, a Twitter account, a Tumblr account, and even involving some geocaching. A couple of imitators (and improvers, IMO) quickly emerged, notably the blog-based Just Another Fool (http://jafool.wordpress.com/) and the YouTube series EverymanHYBRID (https://www.youtube.com/user/EverymanHYBRID), which injects some much-needed humor and actual acting chops into the Marble Hornets formula. Then even more imitators followed, eventually devolving into what we have today, but for the first few years, it was a fascinating, fully documented look at a contemporary urban legend in the making.
2) Deprong Mori. I’m going to be uncreative and just link to my favorite exhibit from Los Angeles’ Museum of Jurassic Technology:http://www.mjt.org/exhibits/foundation_collections/depmori/depmori.htm
3) Mandrake or Mandragora. An actual plant, but the mythical part is that it emits a human scream when you pull it up, killing all those who hear it. Apparently the root contains “deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids,” too, which might explain why it’s such a popular ingredient in magic rituals and potions.
1) Kappa. Akutagawa wrote a wonderful novel about a society of Kappas somewhere in a bush over there. A weird funny beeing with plate full of water on its head, with a pecker in his face, and with weird habit to pull the legs of swimming children till they get drown.
2) I double Byron and say: Slender Man. A modern beast. Fictional in a creepy way. Real in the more creepy way (recent stabbing incident). I don’t want to post a picture of Slender Man. I am scared.
3) Cthulhu, of course. Because, even if wrote by Lovecraft, it became a parentless being, more mythological than literary protagonist.
1) The Sho-jo. B/c they like alcohol and have my name and have red hair.
A shōjō (猩々 or 猩猩 heavy drinker or orangutan) is a kind of Japanese sea spirit with red face and hair and a fondness for alcohol. The legend is the subject of a Noh play of the same name. There is a Noh mask for this character, as well as a type of Kabuki stage makeup, that bear the name. The Chinese characters are also a Japanese (and Chinese) word for orangutan, and can also be used in Japanese to refer to someone who is particularly fond of alcohol.
3) I second Janice Lee #mythicalbeezy
1) Ah yes, The Great Cthulhu, this is my favorite picture of him/it. Made by Van Der Haegen. It’s an alternative version of a painting of children playing at the beach. Actually, I think I will have to put Cthulhu as my favorite mythical beast. Because he is. There is just something very primal and fascinating about Cthulhu. He sends evil dreams from his slumber in the deep sea, and promises only madness, for his followers and his enemies. Dealing with Cthulhu is a lose-lose situation all around. Isn’t that truly a mythical beast fitting for modernity?
2) The Norse world serpent, Midgardsormen, who for some reason is called Jormundgardr in English https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%B6rmungandr. At Ragnarok (spoiler), Tor will fight the serpent and finally slay it, but die himself from its poison.
3) Kraken, because the existence of giant squids turned out to be true and one was filmed in the deep sea last year.
1) Shivan Dragon
2) Martin the Warrior (or any magical fighting mice who helped to found Redwall Abbey)
3) That thing with the numerous saggy jowl-y chins from the movie Willow
Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber’d and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
— Alfred Tennyson
1) The Penanggalan (aka Krasue or Manananggal): a humanoid monster resembling an older, yet beautiful woman. However, at night she detaches her head from her torso, and levitates the head while trailing her spine and internal organs from her neck. She can manipulate each of these organs like an octopus’s tentacles to help her remove obstacles in her path, and often grows out her hair to assist her as well. In this detached state, she preys on the townspeople while they sleep. With a mouthful of fangs, the Penanggalan will devour newborn infants, although she also may choose to simply drink the blood of either newborns or women who have recently given birth.
Various defenses one can use include attaching onions and cloves of garlic to one’s windows to ward her off, as well as attaching peices of a thorny bush to catch her entrails as she tries to come in. However, her real weakness is her torso. When she detaches her head, her body begins to decompose very quickly, so she stores it in a container filled with vinegar to keep it fresh. If one applies ash or a crushed garlic paste to this empty body, the Penanggalan will die at once.
2) Harpy: In Greek mythology and Roman mythology, a harpy (Greek: ἅρπυια, harpyia, pronounced [hárpuja]; Latin: harpeia) were female monsters in the form of birds with human faces, together known as the Harpies. They steal food from their victims while they are eating and carry evildoers (especially those who have killed their family) to the Erinyes. They seem originally to have been wind spirits. Their name means “snatchers”.
Homer wrote that a harpy was the mother of the two horses of Achilles sired by the West Wind Zephyros.
Hesiod calls them two “lovely-haired” creatures, the daughters of Thaumas and Electra, who were sisters of the Iris. Pottery art depicting the harpies featured beautiful women with wings. Harpies as ugly winged bird-women, e.g. in Aeschylus’ The Eumenides are a late development. Roman and Byzantine writers detailed their ugliness.
3) Akkorokamui (アッコロカムイ): is a gigantic octopus-like monster from Ainu folklore, which supposedly lurks in Funka Bay in Hokkaidō and has been allegedly sighted in several locations including Taiwan and Korea since the 19th century. John Batchelor most notably records an account of this monster in his book The Ainu and Their Folklore when noting, “…three men, it was said, were out trying to catch a sword-fish, when all at once a great sea-monster, with large staring eyes, appeared in front of them and proceeded to attack the boat. The monster was round in shape, and emitted a dark fluid which has a very powerful and noxious odour.” It is said that its enormous body can reach sizes of up to 120 meters in length. The coloration of the Akkorokamui is said to be a striking red, often described as glowing and sometimes likened to the color of the reflection of the setting sun upon the water. Due to its coloration and immense size, it is visible from great distances. It is possibly a giant squid or an octopus.
Akkorokamui is characteristically described with the ability to self-amputate, like several octopus species, and regenerate limbs. This characteristic manifests in the belief in Shinto that Akkorokamui has healing powers. Consequently, it is believed among followers that giving offerings to Akkorokamui will heal ailments of the body, in particular, disfigurements and broken limbs. Nade yakushi is housed within the Takoyakushi-do, a shrine dedicated to Nade yakushi, along the street Teramachi-dori, meaning “Temple town,” in Kyoto. This deity receives visits by thousands of individuals per year wishing for healing. At the shrine, Nade yakushi is physically manifested as a wooden statue of an octopus. When the left hand of an individual touches the limbs of the statue, the individual’s ailments, both mental and physical, are removed.