Mythical creatures are almost always literary creatures that generated popularity out of literary circulation and story-telling. They are legendary creatures that at one point were believed to be real beings, while some have their origin traced from literary myths.
Mythical creatures can be divided into two groups; the first group consists of creatures that everyone agrees to have existed or still exist today and the other group is composed of creatures in which not everybody agrees as to whether they have existed or not.
While the first group is asserted only on literary works and word of mouth, its impact becomes stronger over time. The tale becomes a legend, the legend becomes a history.
The other group is considered to be consisting of more elusive magical mythical creatures that still make people wonder if they are real or not. These creatures are more aggressively shown and described on articles, photographs, journals and movies.
Here’s the Top 10 lists of the World’s Known Mythical Creatures.
10 – Puca
The Púca (Irish for goblin) is a creature of Celtic folklore, notably in Ireland, the West of Scotland, and Wales. It is one of the myriad fairy folk, and, like many fairy folk, is both respected and feared by those who believe in it.
According to legend, the púca is a deft shape shifter, capable of assuming a variety of terrifying or pleasing forms, and may appear as a horse, rabbit, goat, goblin, or dog. No matter what shape the púca takes, its fur is almost always dark. It most commonly takes the form of a sleek black horse with a flowing mane and luminescent golden eyes.The púca has the power of human speech, and has been known to give advice and lead people away from harm. Though the púca enjoys confusing and often terrifying humans, it is considered to be benevolent.In some regions, the púca is spoken of with considerably more respect than fear; if treated with due deference, it may actually be beneficial to those who encounter it. The púca is a creature of the mountains and hills, and in those regions there are stories of it appearing on November Day and providing prophecies and warnings to those who consult it.
9 – Kitsune (Also known as “Nine Tailed Fox”)
Japanese word for fox. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore and are akin to European faeries; in English, kitsune refers to them in this context. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. Foremost among these is the ability to assume human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.
Foxes and human beings lived close together in ancient Japan; this companionship gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto kami or spirit, and serve as his messengers. This role has reinforced the fox’s supernatural significance. The more tails a kitsune has—they may have as many as nine—the older, wiser, and more powerful it is. Because of their potential power and influence, some people make offerings to them as to a deity.
8 – Selkie
Selkies (also known as silkies or selchies) are mythological creatures that are found in Faroese, Icelandic, Irish, and Scottish folklore.
Selkies are seals that can shed their skin to become humans. The legend apparently originated on the Orkney and Shetland Islands, where selch or selk(ie) is the Scots word for seal (from Old English seolh).
Selkies are able to become human by taking off their seal skins, and can return to seal form by putting it back on. Stories concerning selkies are generally romantic tragedies. Sometimes the human will not know that their lover is a selkie, and wakes to find them gone.
In The Secret of Roan Inish, a fisherman steals the selkie’s pelt just after her transformation to a human. She in turn believes him to be the most beautiful human she has ever seen. She is then forced to return to his house, as she cannot escape back into the sea, and becomes his wife and bears him children.
One theory of the origin of the belief is that the selkies were based on occasional sightings around the Scottish coast of nomadic Sami from North Norway, clad in sealskins and travelling in kayaks.
7 – Leshy
The Leshy or Lesovik is a male woodland spirit in Slavic mythology who protects wild animals and forests. There are also leshachikha/leszachka (wives of the leshak) and leshonky (children of the leszy). He is roughly analogous to the Woodwose of Western Europe and the Basajaun of the Basque Country.
A leshy usually appears as a tall man, but he is able to change his size from that of a blade of grass to a very tall tree. He has hair and a beard made from living grass and vines, and is sometimes depicted with a tail, hooves, and horns. He has pale white skin that contrasts with his bright green eyes. A leshy has a close bond with the gray wolf, and is often seen in the company of bears as well. He is the Forest Lord and carries a club to express that he is the master of the wood.
Leshy is the protector of all animals and birds in the forest. Mass migration of animals supposedly happens at leshy’s instruction. He is said to have the ability to shapeshift into any form, animal or plant. When he is in human form, he looks like a common peasant, except that his eyes glow and his shoes are on backwards.
6 – Berserker
Berserkers (or berserks) were Norse warriors who are reported in the Old Norse literature to have fought in a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury, a characteristic which later gave rise to the English word berserk. Berserkers are attested in numerous Old Norse sources. Most historians believe that berserkers worked themselves into a rage before battle, but some think that they might have consumed drugged foods.
The name berserker arose from their reputed habit of wearing a kind of shirt or coat (Old Norse: serkr) made from the pelt of a bear (Old Norse: ber-) during battle. The term comes from old Norwegian berserkr (plural berserkir), meaning bear shirt and suggests a robe.
5 – Aswang (Also known as “Manananggal”)
An Aswang (or Asuwang) is a mythical creature in Philippine folklore. The aswang is an inherently evil vampire-like creature and is the subject of a wide variety of myths and stories, the details of which vary greatly. Spanish colonizers noted that the Aswang was the most feared among the mythical creatures of the Philippines, even in the 16th century.
“Aswangs” are often described as a combination of vampire and witch and are almost always female. They are sometimes used as a generic term applied to all types of witches, manananggals, shapeshifters, lycanthropes, and monsters.
Before modern medicine and science, aswangs served to explain miscarriages and other maladies. Today, aside from entertainment value, Filipino mothers often tell their children aswang stories to keep them off the streets and keep them home at night.
4 – Encantado (Also known as Elf, Fairies)
Encantado is a word in Portuguese roughly translating as “enchanted one”, and is also a commonly used greeting in Spanish meaning “enchanted”, as in “enchanted to meet you”. The Brazilian term is used for creatures who come from a paradisiacal underwater realm called the Encante. It may refer to spirit beings or shapeshifting snakes, but most often it designates dolphins with the ability to turn into humans. Although belief in them is starting to wane, there are still plenty of South Americans who believe in their existence ardently, and claim to have seen and interacted with them, or even that they are related to them. They share the most of the same themes and features as the fairies of European folklore.
There are three elements that best characterize encantados: superior musical ability, their seductiveness and love of sex (often resulting in illegitimate children), and their attraction to parties. Despite the fact that the Encante where they come from is supposed to be a utopia full of wealth and without pain or death, the encantados crave the pleasures and hardships of the human world.
3 – Wendigo
The Wendigo (also known as Windigo, Weendigo, Windago, Windiga, Witiko, Wihtikow, and numerous other variants) is a mythical creature appearing in the mythology of the Algonquian people. It is a malevolent cannibalistic spirit into which humans could transform, or which could possess humans. Those who indulged in cannibalism were at particular risk, and the legend appears to have reinforced this practice as taboo.
Wendigo psychosis is a culture-bound disorder which involves an intense craving for human flesh and the fear that one will turn into a cannibal. This once occurred frequently among Algonquian Native cultures, though has declined with the Native American urbanization.
2 – Vampires
Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person.
Although vampiric entities have been recorded in many cultures and in spite of speculation by literary historian Brian Frost that the “belief in vampires and bloodsucking demons is as old as man himself”, and may go back to “prehistoric times”,the term vampire was not popularized until the early 18th century, after an influx of vampire superstition into Western Europe from areas where vampire legends were frequent, such as the Balkans and Eastern Europe,
The notion of vampirism has existed for millennia; cultures such as the Mesopotamians, Hebrews, Ancient Greeks, and Romans had tales of demons and spirits which are considered precursors to modern vampires. However, despite the occurrence of vampire-like creatures in these ancient civilizations, the folklore for the entity we know today as the vampire originates almost exclusively from early 18th century Southeastern Europe, when verbal traditions of many ethnic groups of the region were recorded and published. In most cases, vampires are revenants of evil beings, suicide victims, or witches, but they can also be created by a malevolent spirit possessing a corpse or by being bitten by a vampire. Belief in such legends became so pervasive that in some areas it caused mass hysteria and even public executions of people believed to be vampires.
1 – Lycanthrope (Also known as “Shape-Shifters”, Most common form “Wolves”)
A werewolf, also known as a lycanthrope (from the Greek), is a mythological or folkloric human with the ability to shapeshift into an anthropomorphic wolf-like creature, either purposely, by being bitten by another werewolf, or after being placed under a curse. This transformation is often associated with the appearance of the full moon, as popularly noted by the medieval chronicler Gervase of Tilbury, and perhaps in earlier times among the ancient Greeks through the writings of Petronius.
Werewolves are often attributed superhuman strength and senses, far beyond those of both wolves and men. Though it is endowed with all the beastly implements like stout-jaws and offensive paws that a natural wolf is most likely to use during a conflict with its enemy or prey, it has been classically known to kill the others with a dagger or a knife though bite marks are also found on the (generally) dead victim.
The word werewolf is thought to derive from Old English wer (or were)— The first part, wer, translates as “man” (in the specific sense of male human, not the race of humanity generally). The second half, wulf, is the ancestor of modern English “wolf”; in some cases it also had the general meaning “beast.”
[Reference/Source: Planet-inspire.blogspot.com by Narcissus(11/27/2010)]