Mythological Creatures

The Kraken

According to Scandinavian mythology, the Kraken is a legendary sea monster of gigantic proportions said to dwell off the coasts of Norway and Greenland. The Kraken is usually described as a giant squid or octopus-like creature, but it has also been described as crab-like. There are various tales of the Kraken attacking and destroying ships. It is also capable of making giant whirlpools capable of bringing down ships. It is believed that the myth of the Kraken could have originated from giant squids which could grow up to 18 meters long and were rarely seen by humans.

For the second time in history, an elusive giant squid, the stuff of myths and the ‘Kraken’ was caught on camera. And it wasn’t some hazy, dubious conspiracy YouTube channel posting it, but real scientists. The video, shot by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed the squid in motion from their recent expedition. Taken 100 miles southwest of New Orleans in the Gulf of New Mexico, the video was captured at a depth of 759 meters.

This video comes seven years after scientists caught the first elusive deep-sea cephalopod on video in 2012. The squid captured in this video is estimated to be about 10 feet long, which is pretty small for a species which can grow to nearly 40 feet. As the video started surfacing on the Internet, it reminded people of the instances of squid we already know about: the stuff of nightmares from H. P. Lovecraft’s tales, or from the myths of Greece, where the ‘Kraken’ is mentioned : a multiple-tentacled, huge beast, who grabs onto ships and sinks them. The ‘Kraken’ may have become a part of pop-culture, and ‘Release the Kraken’ a popular Internet phrase, but it looks like, the world did really, release the Kraken.

Wendigos

Wendigos were said to be man-eating monsters that roamed the land near the Great Lakes. Their bodies were emaciated, their ribs stuck out through their thin, pale skin, and their eyes were sunk deep down into their sockets. They looked like men who had died of starvation, walking through the world after a week of decomposing in the grave A Wendigo’s appetite could never be filled. It would attack other men and eat their flesh, but every bite would just make them larger and hungrier, until they were massive, flesh-starved giants towering over the trees.

“Those poor men … were seized with an ailment [that] makes them so ravenous for human flesh that they pounce upon women, children, and even upon men, like veritable werewolves, and devour them voraciously, without being able to appease or glut their appetite — ever seeking fresh prey, and the more greedily the more they eat.” Jesuit missionaries 1661.

Primarily focused in rural New York state and once found in Idaho, self proclaimed witnesses told stories of their encounters with a creature of unknown origin. Emotions ranged from extremely traumatic levels of fright and discomfort, to an almost childlike sense of playfulness and curiosity. While their published versions are no longer on record, the memories remained powerful. Several of the involved parties began looking for answers that year.

Werewolf

Some legends maintain werewolves shape-shifted at will due to a curse. Others state they transformed with the help of an enchanted sash or a cloak made of wolf pelt. Still others claim people became wolves after being scratched or bit by a werewolf. In many werewolf stories, a person only turns into a wolf when there’s a full moon—and that theory may not be far-fetched. According to a study conducted at Australia’s Calvary Mater Newcastle hospital, a full moon brings out the “beast” in many humans. The study found that of the 91 violent, acute behavior incidents at the hospital between August 2008 and July 2009, 23 percent happened during a full moon. Werewolves also emerged in early Nordic folklore. The Saga of the Volsungs tells the story of a father and son who discovered wolf pelts that had the power to turn people into wolves for ten days. The father-son duo donned the pelts, transformed into wolves and went on a killing rampage in the forest. Their rampage ended when the father attacked his son, causing a lethal wound. The son only survived because a kind raven gave the father a leaf with healing powers.

Werewolves are sometimes known as “Lycanthropes,” which comes from Ancient Greek wording. The origin of this name is said to have come from the 5th Century BC, when Greek historian Herodotus mentioned a trice from Scythia that could transform into a wolf. Werewolves, as an idea, became widespread throughout Europe. Almost every single country on the continent had some tale or myth regarding the monster at some point in their time. Werewolves are said to have supernatural healing that makes them completely immune to damage from an ordinary weapon. However, thanks to the Beast of Gevaudan, a silver bullet or object is supposed to hurt them.

Bigfoot

In 2015, Mitchel Townsend was featured in an article that announced that they had found archaeological evidence of Bigfoot, the mysterious ape-man said to wander the woods in the Northwest of North America. The article “Proof of Bigfoot is in the bones, college instructor says” reported that Townsend had found stacked bones in the woods with evidence of large human bite marks, and that this was evidence for the existence of Sasquatch. At the end of the article, Townsend challenges scientists to refute their findings that the chewed bones they found are evidence for Bigfoot’s existence. Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, who is a cryptid simian or ape-hominid creature that is said to inhabit the forests and woods in the Pacific Northwest region of the USA and Canada. Many native groups in this region have stories of wild or ape-like men, varying slightly by region and culture. The folklore ranges from stories about nefarious human-like beasts that will carry away children, to more benign creatures who hide in the woods and avoid the modern world. The first major compilation of stories about Bigfoot appeared in the 1920s, a collection of local tales by J. W. Burns. Burns’ articles took different native stories describing similar man-like beasts and argued that they were all evidence of a single entity, which popularized the name of Sasquatch.

Records of Bigfoot sightings by non-natives in the USA begin around the 1850s, with records of hunters being felled by beasts who walked on two legs. Other stories from the 19th century include the “Wild Man of Crow Canyon” and “The Winsted Wildman” both reporting large hairy creatures that looked like men but were not human. In 1924, a prospector in Vancouver reported that he had been kidnapped by Sasquatch, and miners in Washington State reported that they were attacked by Wildman.

Local tribes have long told the tale of man-beasts who roam the mountains. Usually in native lore, sasquatches are part animal, part human— that is, they stand in the gap between reality and the magical spirit realm. They are mentioned casually along with more conventionally-recognized animals like coyotes, ravens, and bears. No big deal.

Mermaid

With most of our blue planet covered by water, it’s little wonder that, centuries ago, the oceans were believed to hide mysterious creatures including sea serpents and mermaids. Merfolk (mermaids and mermen) are, of course, the marine version of half-human, half-animal legends that have captured human imagination for ages. One source, the “Arabian Nights,” described mermaids as having “moon faces and hair like a woman’s but their hands and feet were in their bellies and they had tails like fishes.”  there are of course mermen too, and they have an equally fierce reputation for summoning storms, sinking ships and drowning sailors.

As the early human civilization formed around the rivers and seas, their religion often had a great focus on the dangers and wonders that were hid in them. Because of that some of the earliest known gods were depicted as some combination of men and fish, with 7000 year old Babylonian god Ea (bringer of knowledge, arts and sciences, later known as Oannes by the Greeks) being first one. As the time went on female sea gods appeared, and the first one that had the greatest resemblance to the mermaid was Assyriangoddess Astargatis, who decided to hide herself from the mortals after she accidentally killed one of them. After diving below water to become fish, sea refused to hide her beauty and decided to not transform upper half of her body. Greeks adopted some parts of her origin, morphing her into Aphrodite. The clearest example of merfolk in Greek mythology was the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite called Triton, who is most often shown as mermen who blow the conch shell while riding the sea waves.

1493, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, sailing near the Dominican Republic, sees three “mermaids”–in reality manatees–and describes them as “not half as beautiful as they are painted.” Six months earlier, Columbus (1451-1506) set off from Spain across the Atlantic Ocean with the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, hoping to find a western trade route to Asia. Instead, his voyage, the first of four he would make, led him to the Americas, or “New World.” Mermaids, mythical half-female, half-fish creatures, have existed in seafaring cultures at least since the time of the ancient Greeks. 

All perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or tenuity beyond conception, filling all space, the akasha or luminiferous ether, which is acted upon by the life-giving Prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never-ending cycles all things and phenomena.”– Nikola Tesla, Man’s Greatest Achievement, 1907

Cerberus

Cerberus is featured in several mythological stories in his role as the watchdog of Hades. One of the more well-known stories involves the Thracian bard, Orpheus, who was much revered in ancient Greece. He was happily married to the nymph Eurydice. One day, she died of a snake bite. Orpheus was so grief-stricken by this sudden loss that he no longer sang or played. He decided to risk his own life in a desperate journey to the land of the dead in the forlorn hope of bringing Eurydice home.

By using his miraculous music, Orpheus was able to charm the boatman Charon, who ferried him across the Styx. Even though Cerberus was diligent in his job of guarding the gates of the Underworld, he abandoned his task and lay down meekly to the strains of Orpheus’ lyre, after which Orpheus was able to gain

Cerberus – also known as the “hound of Hades” – was the multi-headed dog who guarded the gates of the Underworld, preventing the dead from leaving, and making sure that those who entered never left. A child of Typhon and Echidna, he was part of a monstrous family, which included Orthus, the Lernaean Hydra, and the Chimaera as well. Only on three occasions Cerberus was tricked by visitors of HadesHeracles did it with his strength, Orpheus with his music, and the Sybil of Cumae with a honey-cake.

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