Legends about demons and monsters are often just stories used by parents to scare their children into behaving, or simply ways to convey a moral message to listeners. However even though we know that they are not real, when we are all alone in the dark, doubt creeps in. What if those legends are true? What if something evil really is lurking out there in the darkness?
These are my choice for 5 of the creepiest demons and monsters from mythology all over the world.
Also known as the taker of children, Abyzou was blamed for miscarriages and still births, and is believed to prey upon pregnant women, attacking them to feed upon their unborn child. Abyzou herself is infertile and fuelled by envy, and angrily resents all women who are capable of childbirth.
Abyzou is a female demon whose origins lay in the mythology of Europe and the near East. She does not sleep, and endlessly wanders the world seeking out pregnant women and newborn babies. She is said to take the life of one child every night, either by feeing upon the unborn baby, or strangling a newborn baby in its crib.
She also has claimed responsibility for a whole host of other illnesses and diseases, including deafness, poor vision, and insanity.
In the testament of solomon, she is described having a “greenish gleaming face with dishevelled serpent-like hair”. She is mentioned in numerous cultures, and is believed to have her origins in ancient Greece, where her name simply meant “The abyss”. However even the ancient Greeks may have adapted the legend from as far back as Sumerian times, meaning Abyzou has terrified and preyed upon women since the dawn of civilisation.
The Jikininki are corpse eating spirits from Japanese mythology, and are believed to be the ghosts of people who led selfish and greedy lives while mortal. As punishment for their greedy and selfish ways, they are cursed to spend their nights scavenging for dead corpses to feed upon, in a sickening effort to satisfy their craving for human flesh. They are fully aware of their plight, but are slaves to their desires, and are unable to stop. They exist in a state of constant hunger, and even after consuming a corpse, are soon left feeling weak and hungry again.
Their appearance is horrifying and capable of paralysing the living with fear. Their flesh is decaying, their claws are sharp, and their eyes glow bright in the dark of night.
Similar human eating spirits appear in Indian and Chinese mythology, and seem to be a warning to the living to be less greedy in life, lest you be cursed to spend eternity devouring the dead in an attempt to satisfy your never-ending hunger.
3. Black Annis
Also known as Black Agnes, this hideous witch originates in English folklore and is described as being blue faced, and wielding viciously sharp iron claws. She is believed to lurk in the countryside around Leicestershire, emerging from her dark cave every night to hunt anyone who may be wandering nearby. Although she will attack any human, she is believed to have a particular desire for children, and will skin them before eating them, wearing their tanned hides around her waist. She is believed to hide within an oak tree, and pounce on unsuspecting passers by, dragging them back to her cave before killing them with her razor sharp claws, drinking their blood, and eating their flesh.
However should the pickings be slim, she will also venture into residential areas, reaching through bedroom windows to snatch unsuspecting people inside. Black Annis was used as a way to frighten naughty children into behaving, with the threat that if you don’t behave, black annis will snatch you while you sleep.
What makes this legend horrifying is its origins. Some believe that the legend of black Annis springs from sacrifices made in ancient times, when children were offered up to a local goddess. Others dispute this idea, believing that she was based on a real person who lived a hermit like existence in a nearby forest.
Although this may seem like a child’s story, many locals in the area have reported howling emanating from the Dane hills surrounding Leicester, and children have reported being chased by a haggard old woman. It is believed that in the 19th century, people were so afraid of her, that they built their cottages with just one small window, so as to stop her reaching into their homes at night with her long thin arms.
According to Malaysian and Indonesian legends, a Pontianak is an undead vampiric like creature, created when a woman dies during child birth or while pregnant. They appear as pale skinned women with long dark hair, and are dressed in immaculate white. Since their primary targets are men, they will often appear to be extremely beautiful, in an attempt to lure the man closer. However once he is within arms length, her true form will be revealed, that of a hideous haggard demon with razor sharp teeth and claws. She will plunge her claws into her victims stomach, ripping out the intestines and feasting upon them, before drinking his blood.
This is the punishment for men who have done no wrong. Those men who crossed the pontianak while she was still mortal have another fate in store for them. The beast will attack lower down the mans body, using her claws to tear out the mans sexual organs.
Women are not safe from this demon either. It is believed that the Pontianak relishes the taste of newborn babies, and will often attack pregnant women, or those with newborn children.
They are known to hunt their victims by scent, sniffing clothes that have been hung out to dry. For this reason, many superstitious people refuse to hang their clothes outside to dry. You will know a pontianak is nearby when a dog begins to whimper, or a baby faintly and quietly cries.
Some legends state that you can escape the Pontianak by shutting your eyes and simply walking away, but if fear gets the better of you and you open your eyes, the demon will suck your eyeballs out of their sockets.
Even to do this day, their are numerous sighting of Pontianak all over South East Asia, and they feature heavily in Asian horror films and books.
Skinwalkers originate in native American legends as shape shifters who can take the form of any animal they wish, and also make appearances in the legends of other cultures all over the world.
Although the legends will vary by tribe, all stories of skinwalkers share some main features. The skinwalker is a malevolent witch who morphs into different animal forms to take advantage of that animals characteristics, to help the witch carry out its nefarious deeds. They are a pure form of evil, and spread misery and fear wherever they go, and to obtain their powers they must first murder a close family member to prove their commitment to the darkness.
The Navajo tribe believe that they have the ability to steal a persons face, and are therefore able to move freely disguised as other humans, making them difficult to identify. They thrive on the fear of others, and use that fear to gain power and energy, and seem to enjoy inflicting fear just as much as the act of killing itself.
If you are being hunted by a skinwalker, even your home may not offer sanctuary. There are multiple accounts of them breaking into houses and attacking anyone inside, banging on the walls and tapping on the windows, as well as climbing onto roofs in an effort to both gain entrance to the property, and to inflict maximum fear upon its occupants.
Others have reported witnessing animal like figures outside their windows at night, peering in from the darkness. Their powers range from mind reading, to the ability to paralyse you with one look. It is also rumoured that once you have seen their face, they must kill you.
One particularly chilling eye witness account takes place in 1983, involving a family of four driving at night along route 163. As they took a sharp bend, something leapt from the darkness and began running alongside the car, keeping pace even through the car was travelling at high speed. They described it as hairy, and wearing a mans clothing, with yellow eyes – Its mouth hung open and arms raised above its head. It followed them for a few miles before disappearing. The family were terrified, however this was not the end of their encounter. Upon returning home they were awoken at night by loud noises coming from outside their house. Looking out of the window, they saw the shadowy forms of 3 men climbing the fence and attempting to enter their property. The intruders seemed unable to get in the house though, and instead retreated to the darkness, and began chanting, while the terrified family barred themselves inside.
Interest in skinwalkers legends has grown in the West in recent years, however obtaining information can be difficult. Skinwalkers aren’t thought of as just legends or stories by most native americans. They are considered very much real. Native americans are often reluctant to discuss skinwalkers with others, particularly outsiders, for fear of drawing the attention of one of these evil witches. There is also a fear that the person asking such questions, may in fact be a skinwalker looking for his next victim.
So thats my choice for 5 of the creepiest monsters in mythology. Let me know what you think and what creepy monsters I missed in the comments below!