Since we could put our thoughts and history on cavern walls we have mentioned otherworldly beings or gods. The Egyptians even had a word for our spirit, something akin to ‘soul’ or ‘chi’─ that word is Ka. The Christian bibles (Protestant, Catholic, so on and so forth) mention a fierce, yet loving god with beings called angels to fight for humanity souls (spirits) and be at the Christian god’s side when they must purge satan, his followers, and his fallen city of angels, casting them into a burning ‘lake’ for all of eternity. Different branches also believe that you gain a second chance by finding your way from a place called purgatory into heaven or be doomed to wander this in-between forever.
This isn’t exclusively Christian. Japan’s practice of Shinto (which labeling Shinto in itself is sort of a foreigner’s way of explaining an umbrella belief of the religion, such as the many different versions of Christianity─ it is region based) goes into a very lengthy process of the family ensuring their loved one is at peace. The dead must be cremated, and the family must first remove the bones with chopsticks starting at the feet to be placed first so that they are not upside down in the urn. The ashes can be divided among family and friends, but the bones and ashes remaining must be placed at the family shrine afterward. (all of the bones!)
The older beliefs were that the afterlife was a dark realm, much like Greek mythology where there is a river separating the living from the dead. The more modern take is that people will go where their spirits are suited to go, however many funerals are a blend of Shinto and Buddhist beliefs. A popular view of the blending beliefs is to follow a 20 day step-by-step process to ready the spirit (Reikon) for death.
If you don’t, it can cause the spirit to become vengeful. (Onriyo, a generic term for ‘ghost’ or ‘spirit’ can come back from ‘purgatory’ to avenge wrongdoings in our world, known as Yurei. Or, if you happened to be the person that wronged or killed the person that is seeking revenge─ Ultimate. Payback.) This has a striking resemblance to the ghost/zombie creature from Scandinavian folklore, Gjenganger who is a monster that comes back to the world to finish up old business, or seeking revenge before passing on.
Isn’t she a cutie? ^~^
There is no stopping a Yurei, they can physically manifest themselves into our world and harm or kill people. While this is just the tip of the iceberg─ you can see how many cultures have their own unique spin on deities, spirits, or realms beyond our own.
The belief of the supernatural is still strong in many cultures, even today in 2022. The differences between many of us are the belief of power the supernatural can hold. While some believe that ghosts, even if they are annoying or scary, cannot kill or harm you─ some cultures believe ghosts can manifest into physical form and can both harm and kill you. (Like the Yurei) You can find many Eastern cultures that believe this way, most notably China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. This is why they hold festivals to honor and remember the dead to keep them happy.
Think they have some weird beliefs on death and the supernatural spirits? Check out these guys from other cultures:
Manananggal─ The Body-Separating Vampire (shapeshifter). Courtesy of the Philippines.
The name literally comes from the Tagalog term ‘to cut in half’ which in English translates to ‘separator or remover’. It prefers to prey on sleeping expectant mothers (yeah, as if pregnant ladies need any more added stress) and uses a elongated appendage, think butterfly, to suck out the heart of the unborn baby or to suck out the blood from someone that is sleeping. It also targets newly weds or men that have left women at the altar. So, not only does this horrific creature feast on expectant mothers and their unborn child─ for your viewing pleasure it also flies in the sky sans-legs complete with intestines and all.
oh. my. a-god.
The good news? If you can locate it’s lower body, just smear salt, ash, or crushed garlic on it. It won’t be able to re-join with it’s body and will die at sunrise. It’s like a vampire on steroids. o,o
Speaking of eating babies, check out the Japanese Yamauba (Female Mountain Ogres)
They are said to be the older women in town that were marginalized and then forced to live in the mountains. While they prefer babies, they will also feast on any passerby’s. The neatest part? They have a mouth under their hair. Om Nom Nom.
An older lady in Russian folklore has a bit of a mixed review on good/evil. The Baba Yaga:
She wanders through the woods, riding a mortar with a pestle cane. She offers help to those that seek guidance, but in many versions you must pay a price. And in original tales Baba Yaga is portrayed more as a witch that tricks or steals children then making them do chores, fattening them up, and then eating them. Hmm…Hansel and Gretel anyone?
Pinky Pinky – The South African Bathroom Horror
Much like our tales of Bloody Mary, or Japan’s Hanako San─ This creatures preys on women that try and use the public bathroom. Pinky Pinky has a shock of bright pink hair and is half human, half creature. It chooses to target women in their most vulnerable moment─ especially girls that wear pink underwear. It will attack and sometimes become enraged enough to murder. (Bizzaro~) According to legend only women can see it, but over the years boys have claimed to have been attacked by it.
How about the U.S. urban legends?
Check out Slender Man:
Even though this guy was created on a creepypasta internet meme on the Something Awful internet forum by user Eric Knudsen (aka ‘Victor Surge’) in 2009, it still sends thrills and chills into fans everywhere. Believe it or not, it started off as a Photoshop contest to create paranormal images. While many fans argue over which version of him is right, the most popular version is an unnaturally tall, slender entity with pale skin, wears a suit, with a featureless head and face, and tentacles. The German people had a tale about a tall man as well called Der Großman – Pronounced Der Grossman (I like to say ‘The Gross Man’ lol!)
So, here’s the deal─ Slenderman was never filed under Mythology and therefore does not have an official background story that is ‘canon’ to the ‘original’. That being said, Slender started off being a humanoid type monster that would prey on mostly children. It had a very Lovecraftian vibe to it─ madness, another dimension, fantastic/horrific creatures in modern settings. Meaning anywhere ‘safe’ you could turn, the worst can happen. Slender can slenderwalk─ travel anywhere at anytime without being detected. Some theories suggest that he is an interdimensional being or 4th dimensional creature. Others think he started as a myth and then was turned into a real being called a Tulpa. The Tulpa theory is that Slenderman can be a thoughtform creature─ meaning that people as a collective have ‘thought’ Slender into existence, making him a real being.
The one that most people can agree on is that Slenderman only starts coming around when you think about him, or talk about him. (Her? They? It?) I dare you to not think about it. 😉
Around the world we seem to be drawn to creatures of the night. They slink around our homes and prey upon our friends or families. Or how about the notorious Slender Man, Black-Eyed Children, and Shadow People─ famous urban legends in the U.S. I’m particularly fond of these myself and love the chill that runs down my spin as I imagine them waiting in the dark, ready to take me to the other realm.
So, I too find myself wondering─ Are these just urban legends or are there elements of truth to our worst nightmares? What do you think friends?