When the Twilight saga took the earth by storm, little did we know vampires, werewolves and monsters were slowly becoming family names. Who could forget the half giant Hagrid and his love for odd and dangerous creatures, the centaurs Firenze and Bane, and Fawkes, the phoenix from our very own Rowling’s Harry Potter. Mythology and mythical animals have always been successful in luring human attention. Research on cryptids or mythical creatures records the finding of atleast a 1000 of them from different civilizations, the Greek myths and Egyptian folklores being the most popular.
Provided below is a list of 10 mythical creatures that can help in increasing our knowledge and interest in Cryptology:
Ogres are large humanoid hideous monsters featuring not just in mythology but also in folklores and fiction. They have also made their presence in classic literature and are often referred to in fairy tales as eating babies. The word Ogre is of French origin and is often pictured to be a huge gigantic animal with a large head, abundant hair and beard. An ogre is commonly thought of as the symbol of a pure devil and is basically a man eater.
Giants have occupied a place in stories, fairy tales and novels for ages, the most popular being the evil ones who frightened man to his thickest skin. And no less is a Cyclops. It has just one eye on its forehead hence a Cyclops is also called a circlehead. Approximately 12 feet tall, Cyclopes are mentioned in the works of the epic poet Homer, Virgil and playwright Euripides to name a few.
An Encantado is a Brazilian mythical creature which is most dangerous during the night when it transforms itself into a human. They are commonly presumed to exist near the river Amazon. It assumes the shape of a freshwater dolphin or a sea snake during daytime. They behold superior musical abilities, seductiveness and attraction to parties while in human appearance and has the power to drive people crazy, insane, ill and can even be murderous. They are also known to possess the power to control storms, enchant humans to act according to their will and lure normal people into becoming Encantados. Further studies have revealed that they are also interested in abducting humans they fall in love with, children born out of illegal affairs or some stranger who can give them company by the lake shore!
The Old Testament or the Tanakha refers to the Leviathan as a sea monster. The epithets ‘wriggling serpent” and the “mighty one with seven heads” also refer to a Leviathan. Psalms describe Leviathan simply as a creature of the ocean which is not harmful, but they are known for the wreckage they cause by destroying ships and its voyagers. However, with the coming of the middle ages, Leviathans came to be used as an image for Satan endangering both God’s creation and its creatures. It resembles a giant monstrous fish because of its glowing eyes, enormous body and scaly skin. Legends reveal that God had created a male and female Leviathan but destroyed the female so as to protect sea goers from a multitude of monstrous creatures.
One of the best known Greek mythological characters, the Pegasus is a winged divine white stallion. Marked by the colour white or white with golden wings, the Pegasus is the son of Poseidon, Greek god of the sea. Friend of the Muses, he was the creator of Hippocrene, the mountain on Mt. Helicon. Legend also state Pegasus to have sprung out of Medusa’s neck when Perseus beheaded her. The Pegasus was considered the symbol of wisdom until the Renaissance, whence he came to be regarded as the symbol of poetry and the creator of sources in which the poets come to draw inspiration, particularly in the 19th century.
The banshee is a female spirit conventionally seen as an omen of death. The origin of the banshees can be traced back to the Irish mythologies. Legends testify banshees to be a fairy woman who wails when a person is about to die. ‘The woman of the fairy mounds’ is also considered as a messenger from the Other World. In Scottish Gaelic mythology, she is seen as a woman washing blood stained clothes and armour of people who are about to face death. Alleged sightings of banshees have been reported as recently as 1948. She can appear in several guises including an ugly frightening hag. A mass appearance of banshees indicated the death of someone great or holy. Though legendary tales called her a fairy, she is accounted to be the ghost of a murdered woman or a mother who died in child birth, to be precise.
Dragons are legendary creatures with serpentine or reptilian traits. Of date there are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons: the European and the Chinese. Dragons supposedly originated around 8 BC and is believed to look alike a gigantic serpent with wings of a bat. Mythology reasons spitting cobras to be what later led to the concept of fire- breathing dragons which has figured in quite a number of stories and graphic novels. In Asian Cultures, dragons are symbols of forces that govern nature, religion and the universe. The dragons in The Earthsea series for instance, represent the mysterious forces of nature. They are also associated with wisdom and are often considered to have a higher intelligence quotient than humans.
3. COMPOSITE RACE
Since time immemorial half human creatures have aroused a general round of curiosity among the normal folks. The Harpies, Minotaur, Centaur and Sphinx are the four primary mythological creatures that fall in this category. A Minotaur is a Greek mythological creature aptly described by the Roman poet Ovid as “part man and part bull”. An elaborate maze like structure called the Creten Labyrinth was the abode of the Minotaur which was killed eventually by the Athenian hero Theseus. Centaurs are part humans and part horses, with the upper part of the body taking a human shape to which is attached the torso of a horse. Harpies, on the other hand are female fatales with the head of a woman attached to the body of a bird whereas the Sphinx associated with Egyptian mythology has the head of a human and the body of a lion.
The unicorn is a legendary animal from European folklore that resembles a white horse with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead, and sometimes a goat’s beard and cloven hooves. Many believe that the unicorns once existed in the universe and later became extinct like the dinosaurs. It is considered the symbol of purity and grace and was first mentioned by the ancient Greeks. Often featured in movies and fairy tales, a unicorn is believed to be captured only by a virgin lady.Later the unicorn was considered an important mythical figure during the middle ages and renaissance. The encyclopedias even register the fact that a unicorn horn has medicinal properties. The water extracted from the horn is acclaimed to have healing powers.
The legend of the phoenix had always secured a place in several mythologies, including the Greek, Indian and Egyptian. Who can resist remembering Fawkes, the majestic phoenix with a long beautiful tail that helped Harry Potter in the Chamber of Secrets? Widely acknowledged for its power of rebirth from the ashes of its fully grown form, a phoenix is considered a good omen and was also a symbol of early Christianity. This golden plumed bird is also thought of as resembling a heron in its delicate royalty. When a phoenix nears its end, once in about a thousand years, it builds a pyre on its own adding cinnamon or some other aromatic element to it and purges into the flame, out of which is then born a new baby phoenix as the world witnesses, awestruck at its immortality.