11 Mythical Creatures People Actually Believed Existed
Monsters and mythical creatures have always been found in folklore and tradition for some strange reason. What’s even stranger is that so many people buy into hazy evidence, shady schemes, and downright false accounts that perpetuate myths that often have just one ultimate goal: intimidating and filling the masses with fear so they can be more easily controlled and kept underfoot by the elite few in power. According to several studies, however, a vast majority of people just wants to believe what can’t be explained or understood using reason and logic alone. Brian Cronk, a professor of psychology at Missouri Western State University, says, “The human brain is always trying to determine why things happen, and when the reason is not clear, we tend to make up some pretty bizarre explanations.” Here follow 11 mythic creatures that people believe in even though they never existed except in the imaginations of their creators.
Written By Theodoros II
THE LERNAEAN HYDRA
The Lernaean Hydra was a mythical water monster with many heads that resembled big snakes, and which Heracles killed in the second of his twelve labors. The ferocious monster lived in Lerna, a small village near Argos, from which its name derives. According to the myth, when Heracles cut off one head, two emerged. For this reason, Heracles’s nephew, Iolaus, burned the root of each head once his uncle cut it off, only then did they stop multiplying. When Heracles cut off the last head, which was the biggest and believed to be immortal, he buried it in the earth so it would not rise from the dead and terrorize the area again. Heracles then used its blood (which was poisonous) to make poisoned arrows and thus a deadly weapon against his enemies.
The Bubak is pretty much to Czech tales and folklore what the bogeyman is to Western European and American folklore. It was usually described as a creepy creature resembling a scarecrow, and could cry just like an innocent, unprotected baby to lure its victims to their deaths. Also, some of the most popular tales regarding the Bubak always take place on the night of the full moon when the Bubak supposedly weaves cloth from the souls of those he has killed and, like an evil version of Santa Claus, drives a cart pulled by black cats.
THE FISH-MAN OF LIÉRGANES
The fish-man of Liérganes, according to a Spanish urban legend, is an amphibious being that looks like a depressed man who had been lost at sea. Many people believed that the fish-man was one of the four sons of Francisco de la Vega and María del Casar, a couple who lived in the area, who was thought to have drowned when he went swimming with his friends in Bilbao’s estuary and was never seen again. What’s even more strange about this story is that the Spanish Enlightenment scholar Benito Jerónimo Feijoo, who was known for encouraging scientific and empirical thought in an effort to debunk myths and superstitions, examined the tale closely and was charmed by it to the point that he claimed, against his better judgment, that the story of the fish-man of Liérganes was somehow true.
n Greek mythology, Cerberus is the guardian of Hades and is usually described as a bizarre-looking monster that looks like a dog with three heads and a tail whose end is a dragon’s head. According to the ancient tragedian Aeschylus, Cerberus was born from the union of two monsters, the giant Typhon and Echidna, which would make Cerberus brother of the Lernaean Hydra. Cerberus is not considered an evil creature that hurts people intentionally, but a creature that ensures the arrival of the dead to the underworld and prevents the living from entering Hades. Cerberus is also often described in myth as one of the most loyal guards and is often mentioned in Homer’s epics.
In a free translation from Japanese to English Jorogumo means “whore spider,” and in our humble opinion that name describes this monster perfectly. According to Japanese folklore, a Jorogumo was a blood-thirsty monster, but in most tales it is described as a huge spider that takes the form of a very attractive and sexy woman who seduces her male victims, traps them in her web, and then devours them with pleasure.
The legend of the Kraken came from the Nordic seas and its presence was initially limited to the coasts of Norway and Iceland. In time, however, its notoriety grew, thanks to the wild imagination of storytellers, which caused later generations to believe it also lived in other seas as well. The Norwegian fishermen originally described the sea monster as a gigantic animal that was as big as an island and presented danger to passing ships not from direct attack but from the giant waves and tsunamis that its movements could cause. Quickly, however, people began spreading stories about the monster’s vicious attacks and aggressive behavior, which destroyed every ship that had the misfortune of passing through its waters. As for modern historians, they seem to be pretty sure that the Kraken was nothing more than some giant squid and the rest of the stories were nothing but the sci-fi creation of a wild imagination.
Those of you who are familiar with psychology have probably heard the term “Wendigo Psychosis,” which describes a psychosis to eat human flesh. The medical term takes its name from the mythical creature the Wendingo, which, according to the Native American tribe the Algonquian, was an evil creature that looked like a cross between a human and a monster, something similar to a zombie. According to legend, only people who ate human flesh were at risk to become Wendigos. Of course, this creature never existed and was a myth invented by the wise Algonquian who tried to prevent their people from engaging in cannibalism, which was apparently a problem among their tribe.
The Minotaur is one of the first creatures we meet in the history of human mythmaking since it takes us back to the days of the Minoan civilization’s prime. The Minotaur was said to have the head of a bull on the body of an extremely large, muscular man and dwelt at the center of the Cretan labyrinth, which was designed by Daedalus and his son, Icarus, at King Minos’s request. As one can easily understand, whoever was unlucky enough to get lost in the labyrinth became the Minotaur’s prey, the exception being the Athenian king Theseus, who killed the beast and was the only one who made it out of the labyrinth alive with the help of Ariadne, Minos’s daughter.
The tale of Tarasque is reported in the story of St. Martha, which is included in Jacobus de Voragine’s hagiographic (biographies of Christian saints) collection The Golden Legend. Tarasque was a dragon with a very complicated appearance and bad intentions. According to legend, he had a lion’s head, six short legs like a bear’s, an ox-like body covered with a turtle’s shell, and a scaly tail that ended in a scorpion’s stinger, and he terrorized the area of Nerluc, France.
All this, however, ended when a young devout Christian named Martha arrived in town to spread the gospel and discovered what the people were going through because of the ferocious dragon. When she found him in the forest, she supposedly sprinkled holy water on him and tamed his wild nature. She then took him back to Nerluc, where the angry locals stoned Tarasque to death before Martha could explain that the dragon was now harmless. On November 25, 2005, UNESCO included the Tarasque on the list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, in this way recognizing the immense cultural impact of the dragon’s tale, especially in medieval Europe.
The soucouyant is, according to Caribbean urban legend, specifically in Dominican, Trinidadian, and Guadeloupean folklore, the exotic black version of the European vampire. From mouth to mouth and generation to generation the soucouyant became part of local folklore, and tales about them talk about a hideous-looking old woman by day who transformed to a gorgeous-looking young black woman by night resembling a goddess. She then seduced her victims with her looks and her dance only so she could suck their blood or make them her eternal slaves. It was also believed that she practiced black magic and voodoo, and could move fast after taking the form of a fireball or enter her victims’ homes through any hole in it, including cracks and keyholes.
A draugr, according to Norse mythology, is a zombie that has the putrid smell of the dead and is amazingly powerful. It was believed that they could eat humans, drink blood, and had the power to play mind games and drive people insane. A typical draugr could also enter a mortal’s dreams just to warn their victims of what would soon follow. Basically, a draugr was a typical bastard, à la Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger, two well-known horror film characters from the ’80s and ’90s, whose creation seems to have partial origin in the Nordic monster’s tales.