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Mythological Creatures

A monster or creature that is unverifiable or those without proof of existence, but are widely accepted and are believed to be real are known as mythical or legendary creatures. Although “mythological” and “legendary” have been widely debated upon; mythological creatures are those believed to have really co-existed with humans and have been real creatures, while legendary creatures are the ones with acceptable origins, may it be tales from travelers that have evolved from the real story or not. No matter what difference they both have, they both refer to creatures that have no evident proof of existence ever recorded about them. Whenever mythological creatures are talked about, three definite countries will not be overlooked; Greece, Japan and Philippines. You can’t talk about mythological creatures without coming up with a story or two from Greek, Japanese and Filipino mythology. Because mythological creatures are so wide ranged, this article will focus on those three mentioned countries and their own mythology.

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Greek mythological creatures

Greek mythology is a religion of ancient Greece, it is a collection of narratives regarding their gods and goddesses which are the basis of their cult and rituals. When we talk about mythological creature, Greek mythology has an array of list of their creatures according to their myth. This article will tackle the most significant creatures in Greek Mythology.

Centaurs

Centaurs are a race in Greek Mythology that has upper bodies of men and half lower bodies of horses. They are well known for their drunkenness and for carrying away helpless maidens. Perhaps that perception came from the story of Thesseus – son of Poseidon and Aegeus, the founder and King of Athens – it was said that the centaurs were invited to the wedding of Hippodamia who was a part of the Lapiths clan. In their druken state, they took a liking to Hippodamia and attempted to kidnap and carry her off. Though they were driven away by Thesseus and the Lapith, the impression of being drunk and carrying off maidens appears to have stuck with them.

Cerberus

Cerberus is the three headed giant hell dog that guards the entrance to the Underworld. The three headed dog is famous not only because of the stories it is included into, but also because of countless movies to anime adaptation and game titles. Cerberus also appears in both Greek and Roman Mythology. According to the Greeks, Cerberus is the offspring of Echidna a half woman, half serpent hybrid, and Typhon one of the most powerful myth creature in Greece. Cerberus was mentioned in the story of Hercules – a Greek god Hero – where the task of Hercules is to defeat Cerberus without any tools.

Chimera

Another offspring of Echidna and Typhon is a creature that comprises of a lion, a goat and a snake. It is called Chimera, it is often depicted as a female creature that breaths fire. Chimera was featured in the mythology in the story of Bellerophon – the greatest hero and slayers of monsters. Bellerophon with the help of his Pegasus eventually killed Chimera, it is said that because of the ability of the Pegasus to fly, it took Bellerophon to a safe distance dodging the flames from Chimera’s breath. It was killed when Bellerophon threw a spear at Chimera, when it tried to burn the spear, the spear tip that was made of lead melted and the lump was what eventually killed Chimera.

Cyclops

Cyclops are creatures that are said to come from a certain race of giants, they are believed to have only one eye in the middle of the forehead. The most common feature of the Cyclops in mythology is when Zeus – god of the sky – released three of them, each of them then went to forge and make Zeus’ Thunderbolt, Hades’ – god of the underworld – helmet of invisibility and Poseidon’s – god of the sea – Trident. Those three gods then used the weapons which the Cyclops made to defeat the Titans which are known as the elder gods, descendants of Gaia.

Pegasus

One of the best known mythological creatures is the Pegasus. Pegasus is winged horses, demi-gods often used to ride to fly. Some of the famous gods who rode Pegasus were Bellephoron and Perseus. Bellephoron, is featured in the stories to have flew Pegasus into his battle with Chimera and the Amazons, but he eventually died when he fell of the back of the flying Pegasus on the way to Mt. Olympus. According to some stories, Pegasus flew to where thunder and lightning is released; he then was tamed by Athena and given to Perseus who flew him to Ethiopa to help Andromeda, who was chained to a rock by her parents to be fed to the sea monster.

Greek mythology has a vast number of creatures that ranges from dragons, Demons, Giants and Ghosts, to hybrid creatures such as the Sphinx, Minotaur, Centaurs and Griffins. There are also beautiful Creatures such as Pegasus and Unicorns and creatures that are huge like giants and Cyclops. The creatures mentioned above are just a part of the long list of creatures Greece boasts. Mythical narration is a huge part of Greek mythology, majority of creatures ever recorded are featured in one or more of the stories of Greece.

Japanese Mythological Creatures

Japan is an Asian country that embraces tradition even the agriculturally based folk religion. The said folk religion is the root of Japan’s mythology. Many stories came up because of the said religion, stories that were passed through people to people and eventually evolved. Sometimes they are called Japanese Urbane Legends, but some people insist on calling it Japanese Mythology. It is known that Japan has its own share of mythological creatures according to their mythology. Although, there is an ongoing debate whether the Japanese Myth is the same with Japanese Urban Legend, most of their creatures whether from myths or legends are all featured or associated with stories with innumerable Kami, meaning god. There are some famous Japanese mythological creatures that are worth looking into. Some are the following:

Kitsune

Kitsune translated into English means fox. Foxes portray a huge role in Ancient Japan According to stories, foxes are intelligent creatures that possess magical abilities that increase with their wisdom and age, along with their tails. It is said that foxes grow tails with a maximum of nine whenever their wisdom or age grows. In Ancient Japan, foxes lived close together with human beings, that companionship might be the reason why there are many legends depicting the creatures. One legend has it that a kitsune may take on a human form, mostly beautiful female, the female will then pick his male victim and make him fall in love. After which the victim will be killed.

Kawauso

Kawauso is the Japanese name of otters. Kawauso, according to mythologies, are like Kitsune who fools human beings. Stories say that Kawauso shape shifts into beautiful women or children wearing checked clothing. Some stories are dreadful, like the one where it is said that one kwauso living in a castle’s moat would every now and then transform into a beautiful woman and invite men only to kill and eat them. Other stories say that they possess humans, and the human that they possessed will lose their stamina. Another one is that they transform into severed head and then intentionally gets caught in fishing nets to give fishermen a scare.

Baku

Baku is a creature that originated from a Chinese Folklore, but is adapted and quite famous in Japan as a creature who devours nightmare. In Japanese Mythology, Baku is depicted as a Chimera like creature with an elephant’s trunk, an ox tail and tiger paws. There are a lot of interpretation in stories and anime about Baku, one may seem different from the next one, but they all agree that Baku has the ability to devour nightmares. Although it might seem nice that Baku devours and takes away nightmares, it is said that it comes with a cost, after the full moon Baku will then return and devour the person’s hopes and dreams.

Ameonna

Ameonna, in Japan mythology is depicted as a goddess from Mt. Wushan who is a cloud in the morning and then becomes rain in the evening. She is also considered as a rain bringer for crops. She had been known to rain for a perion of time, but as the time grows we find her depicted in a different way. In modern stories, Ameonna is being used or featured as someone extremely unlucky, or heavily jinxed that they have the rain follow them wherever they go. Ameonna gained the reputation for ruining weddings, sporting events and other special events, which may be because of the way she is depicted now.

Inugami

In Japanese Mythology, an Inugami is depicted as a dog that is blinded by revenge and the urge to kill. The Inugami is summoned by an evoker so hungry for revenge that he does the gruesome ritual on how Inugami are summoned. First, a common dog must be buried with only its head remaining above ground, and then a bowl of food is placed next to his snout where it can smell the food but cannot reach it and left like that for days. When the dog is nearly dying, it will then have to be beheaded and the head must be buried in a busy street. After a certain time, the head and body is placed in a shrine and that would be the time an evoker can summon an Inugami. The summoned Inugami is then set to kill the enemy of the evoker.

Japan Mythology has many creatures written in their stories, although there is a never ending debate about majority of them being Urban Legends and not Mythology. Some still firmly believe that the stories are Japan’s Mythology because they came from the religion that Ancient Japanese had believed in.

Filipino Mythological Creatures

Philippine Mythology, unlike Greek and Japanese did not get their stories from religion. Philippines is home to a number of creature that originated from stories that apparently have been passed on from town to town from different dialects to the next. Although there are no recorded evidence that the creatures are real and they existed, a huge part of Filipino lifestyle mostly in the rural areas still firmly believes them and even let the stories dictate their life. There are a lot of Filipino Myth Creatures that shape some of the lives of some Filipinos.

Aswang

Aswangs are the Filipino vampires; they are the mother of all monsters in the Philippines. Aswangs are female shapeshifters that feast on hearts and liver of its victims at night. It is difficult to describe what an Aswang looks like because stories vary from region to region, although they all agree that Aswang disguises as a shy, quiet female villager in the morning but transforms into an Aswang to search for her victim at night. They also agree that Aswangs have red bloodshot eyes from staying awake at night. A number of people in the Philippines still have salt and ginger ready to ward of Aswang, it is said that salt burns their skin and ginger smells prevents them from coming to your house, much like garlic for vampires.

Kapre

Kapre is the Philippines’ Bigfoot. It is known to be a giant-like creature that inhabits big trees and smoke tobacco. Collectively, they are not known to hurt people, they are just playful, but sometimes their playfulness turns into something not acceptable to humans. That’s why Kapres are feared especially by little children. Kapre tend to play with their victims, in the victims view, he is walking toward his destination, but from the view point of other people he is just walking around in circles. To escape this, the victim must realize that although he is seeing his destination, he is not reaching it, and then he has to take off his shirt and wear it inside out to take away the effect of the Kapre’s joke.

Manananggal

Manananggals are Aswangs that can separate their upper body to the lower body to fly and search for victims, particularly pregnant women. The name Manananggal comes from the Filipino word “tanggal” which means separate. They are believed to have an appetite for fetuses inside pregnant women’s womb. Manananggals are said to look for a remote place to leave her bottom half and flies to search for pregnant women. They are said to stick their tongue into roof of houses of pregnant women until their tongue reaches the navel, and then it will suck the baby from there. According to the stories, in order to kill a Manananggal you have to find where she hid her lower body and burn the exposed flesh, to prevent the Manananggal to reconnect its body.

Nuno sa Punso

Nuno sa Punso when translated to English is literally “goblin in the mound”. They are goblins or elves living in dirt mounds or anthills. Nunos are said to give misfortune or luck to those who step on their mounds. There are still a lot of superstitious Filipino, who whenever they pass by mysterious lumps in the ground would ask the resident Nuno to let them pass with the phrase “tabi-tabe po”. Some unexplainable illness that befalls Filipinos are often attributed to Nunos, it is said that id pass by the Nuno’s mound and forget to say “tabe-tabe po” the Nuno might take it as an insult and make you fall sick.

Tyanak

Tyanaks are babies that died before being baptized, more commonly the spirits of fetuses that have been aborted. It is said that spirits of those that died without being baptized go to Limbo, a place between heaven and hell, partly like the Purgatory. The spirits then are given demon forms to return to earth. Most often than not, it is believed that aborted babies are sent back with demon form to take revenge on their Mother. Tyanaks are believed to live in the forest, when a human crosses its path, it disguises into a crying baby to catch the human’s attention. When the human leans close to look at the baby, the tyanak returns to it demon form and eat the human. Philippines is rich in folklores, some Filipino even shape their lives according to their beliefs. In some of the Philippines’ most rural and remote areas, you will still be able to find villages with houses that have ginger or garlic hanging in front to ward of Aswangs and other monsters. A lot of people, even the ones that live in the city are still superstitious, you may be able to meet one or two individual who still say “tabi-tabe po” whenever they pass a mysterious tree or mound.

Some countries like Greece and Japan have their mythology based on religion and others beliefs that have stayed since their ancient times. The beliefs have been there since the early times, and have been passed from generation to generation, resulting to their myths evolving but having pretty much the same characters and creatures. In some cases, there are countries like the Philippines that don’t necessarily have religion to thank for their mythology but a lot of their people believe nonetheless. Although no one can prove it they all seem to have origins that has been in the culture since the early times and have also been passed not only from region to region but also from generations to generation.

Every country has its own Myths and Folklores and within those are the creatures in which their people believe in. It is very hard to focus on one country and therefore more difficult to tackle all of them. Most often than not one or two countries share the same story, therefore one mythological creature may appear in one country and another bearing a different name but having the same abilities and traits depicted to them by the stories. For example, Japanese and Chinese Mythology share a lot of the same creatures, they just have different names but they in theory are the same creatures. Chinese and Japanese have been debating whether they are the Dragons’ home country or not. Their representations of dragons differ from the number of claws to the overall appearance, but each country believes that they are the home of the great mythological creature. Their stories have just evolved having been passed through different regions or countries. It is the same for Greek and Roman Mythology, since they pretty much have the same gods just different names, almost all of their myth creatures are also the same. They might have different names but they all share the same traits and characteristics.

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