21 People Share The Most Terrifying Creatures From Their Culture’s Folklore

January 22, 2023 People's Tonight 105 views

Amanda Sedlak-Hevener

Every culture hosts its own mythical creatures, birthed from ancient beliefs and customs of their region. Though mythological in context, these beings for a time had a very tangible effect upon the areas that believed in them, and thus inserted themselves into the annals of history. From sea monsters to undead Hawaiian warriors, these monsters range from benevolent to belligerent with rich backstories of their own. Recurring themes across cultures include abused and battered souls who become vengeful spirits, flesh-loving monsters, and a desire to keep the youngins away from dangerous places like open roads and water.

Collected here are Reddit accounts detailing the various creatures from users’ regional and religious folklore’s, some of these myths dating back thousands of years.

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• Draugen – A Creature From Norway

Here in Norway we have a lot of legendary creatures, but Draugen is probably one of the creepiest. Though descriptions of it tend to differ from place to place and story to story, the general concept of it is pretty much the same everywhere:

Draugen is, essentially, the ghost of a person who has died at sea. He can be seen on stormy nights, sailing in the splintered half of a boat with shredded sails. His face is fish-like, with soulless, black eyes and a wide, gaping mouth, and he has kelp and seaweed for hair. Sailors and fishermen foolish enough to head out to sea at night may hear only its shriek before they are pulled beneath the waves, only to return as Draugen themselves, doomed to haunt the waters forever.

• • The Icelandic Nykur

Iceland gives us the Nykur, yet again different from the Scandinavian versions.

The Nykur appears as a gray horse, except its hooves are backwards. If you get on its back, it’ll sprint off towards the nearest body of water, and drown you. You can’t get off, no matter how hard you try.

There is a way around it, though: This creature can’t stand the sound of its name, or its variations.

There’s a story about a lazy daughter of a farmer who’s sent by her father on an errand to the next farm over. He doesn’t lend her his horse. As she’s strolling along, cursing her father, she spots a beautiful, gray horse standing in a field. Thinking she’ll save a few hours, she approaches it and sits on its back.

No sooner it goes sprinting at full speed towards a couple of pond’s nearby.

Another name for the Nykur is the Nennir. The girl may have been lazy, but she was smart, so she exclaimed “Ah, I can’t be bothered with this anymore!” (Æ, nú nenni ég þessu ekki lengur). The Nykur immediately throws her off, finishes his run to the pond and disappears.

The girl, shocked, finishes her errand and wows never to be lazy again. The end.

• • Sinister Swedish Myths

Here in Sweden I think the two spookiest ones are Näcken, a naked old man that lives in rivers and ponds and plays a violin that places you into a trance. He then lures you into whatever source of whatever he lives in and drowns you.

The second one is the Skogsrå, who’d be a lot creepier if it wasn’t for the fact that she doesn’t really do all that much. She looks like a beautiful woman from the front, but her back looks like a rotten tree trunk with a hole in it. She lurks near the edges of deep forests and tries to seduce men. If you treat her well you’ll be bestowed with luck, but if you treat her badly you will be tormented by decease (Disease) and death.

• • Beware Of Black Annis In England

In a grim, remote Leicestershire cave hewn with her own scraping, steel-clawed hands, the old crone Black Annis was said to hang the trophy skins of flayed children. A terrifying, lonely creature which lived in the branches of a gnarled great oak- the lone remnant of a long-dead great forest, Black Annis was thought to have been the husk of a forgotten dark Pagan Goddess.

• • The Rougaru

Depends on who you ask. My grandma used to say that if you break the rules of lent the rougarou will grab you by your toes while you’re sleeping and drag you into the swamp. And it looks like a wolf man type thing.

When I was a kid my grandma’s sister told me a story about the tail bone. I’m translating from French to English from memory 20 years ago so it might be messed up, but it goes like this. Nonc Dolze was out tending to his sugarcane field one day about a month after Ash Wednesday when he sees something running in the rows. So Dolze sets his dogs on whatever it is and grabs his shotgun. His dogs start fighting with this dog/coyote thing that’s pitch black and has eyes blue like glass. So Nonc takes a shot at this thing and only manages to shoot the tail off of this animal.

Well there was hard times on the farm and Nonc Dolze just couldn’t resist a little gumbo with some meat in it, so he cooked that tail up with some okra.

Later that night he heard his dogs barking like crazy and then go silent. So he got up and grabbed his gun. As he was walking out his room he heard a scratching noise from outside. He just shrugged it off thinking it was just some little Tigris birds messing around. Dolze gets to his patio and sees the steps to his porch are all scratched up. There’s dog hair every where but no sign of his dog. As he’s scanning the cane field from his front step he sees a pair of eyes staring at him from between two rows. And faintly on the wind he hears “mon cul , mon cul, s’il trouve mon cul?” (My tail my tail where’s my tail).

Heart racing, Dolze backs into his house and shuts the door. He hears scratching on the front porch. Then in the attic above the porch. Then above the living room. He hears his dog crying outside his window. So he runs to the front door to find his dog, but behind him he hears “mon cul, mon cul, tu mange mon cul?” (Did you eat my tail) He turns around and in the moon light he sees the bluest glass eyes he’s ever seen, belonging to a man black as night with the face of a rabid catahoula, with claws so sharp he could hear the breeze whistling from them.

In a whisper the beast said “mon cul, mon cul, pourqouis tu mange mon cul” (why did you eat my tail). With one finger raised the lougarou reached out and cut Dolze’s stomach open and retrieved his tail. The next day his closest neighbors went over to his house and saw a trail of blood leading from the patio to behind his property to the swamp, and found a dog cowering under the porch without a tail.

• • Fairies Aren’t Pretty, Peaceful Creatures

A lot of modern interpretations of fairies are based off Old Irish folklore and so I have to go with them.

Fairies aren’t whimsical little sprites. They are vindictive creatures whose attitude and disposition towards you could change on a whim. Piss off a fairy, and chances are you are going to have a miserable life. Though this works both ways, and to have one in debt to you brings in mad luck… probably. Really fascinating folklore behind these creatures, I advise reading up on them.

And they aren’t small, wee people.

Traditionally, they look like you or I. Maybe a bit better looking, dressed better, more charming. Generally they have a complete disdain for human life, and actively try to harm for amusement.

The stranger you meet walking down a dark road and fall into conversation with could be a fairy. I often wonder if they’re a folk explanation for psychopaths.

• • Finnish Nakki Lurk In Lakes And Rivers

In Finnish pre-Christian religion, there’s a creature called Näkki, that lives in lakes and rivers. It looks partially like a beautiful lady but it’s half fish and will drown you if you go to the water or get close to it. It’s used sometimes to scare children from going to the water unsupervised.

• • Northern Canada’s Wendigo And Salish Legends

In northern Canada there’s a creature called the wendigo. It used to be a person that once upon a time tainted his/her soul and ate human flesh. The wendigo became so consumed with flesh after that that it became insatiable. All attempts it makes at feeding itself grows the wendigo and fails to satiate it. They are said to have eaten their own lips because they just couldn’t resist.

As the legends go you should be careful while walking the forests. As the wendigo might capture you and eat you. But it won’t just eat you in one go. It’s used to hunger. It’ll keep you alive as long as possible so that it has a food source for as long as it can during the winter.

And it’s not just in Canada. The wendigo is an Algonquian myth. So, although those peoples were mostly in what is now Canada, there were also some on the US side of the Great Lakes, into the northeastern US, and even in the Great Plains.

There is a similar theme in coast Salish tribes. The man in the woods. The Salish name escapes me, but I have a 300-year-old cedar carving of this bogeyman in my living room. Given to my grandfather by a tribe as thanks for him keeping them safe over a tough winter, it was passed to me me eventually. Grandpa owned a remote logging camp and fed the natives when it got ugly out.

They presented it to him, telling him that it was a story designed to keep kids from venturing off and getting lost.

But they admitted, that there had to be some truth to all the legends. A man lost in the woods, possible mental illness, cannibalistic due to extremes, snatching people.

Folklore can sometimes find itself rooted in fact.

• • The United Kingdom’s Kuri Creature

We have a creature called a Kuri. It is known to wait near graves of people who have died on the moor. If you walk past one of these graves, it will latch on to you.

It slowly convinces you of its existence over the course of weeks, if not months. First you may hear a faint whisper in your ear. You may dream of it or feel a cool touch on the back of your neck.

Over time its presence will start become more known. It will grab your leg in the night, start attacking you in your dreams, transpose its face onto your family members as you’re talking to them.

It will never make itself known to anyone else, making you question your own sanity. It will start talking to you, asking you to go back to the moorland, promising you your freedom back if you do.

Eventually, once the mental torment gets too much, you give in and wonder back out to the moors. It will keep telling you you’re almost there, allowing you to wonder aimlessly around. Eventually, exhaustion will strike you and you will be forced to watch your body succumb to the elements. As you lie there, unable to lift a finger, the Kuri tells you how much it will enjoy dragging your soul to hell. And like that, another grave is created.

• • Several Scary Scottish Myths

I’m from Scotland and we have quite a few. There are ones that I find more odd than creepy.

One example is the wulver. He was described as a man covered with brown hair on his body and having the head of a wolf. Though he was not malicious, apparently he was fond of fishing and would do so for hours even leaving fish on the windowsills of poor families.

And there is the selkie, similar to a mermaid, I suppose. These creatures had the skin of a seal, but could shed them when they came to land. They often came to land to have children with the men there, only going back to find their skin and return to the ocean.

• The United States Has The Mothman

The Mothman.

He’s a creepy guy with glowing red eyes and hidden moth wings who walks along roads and neighborhoods at night. I remember a story of a mother playing with her family in their living room when she looked at the door window and saw him staring at them.

When I was a kid I would always shut the blinds on all of the windows in our house, but there was one window in the kitchen without blinds. So most nights I would either go to bed hungry or sprint to get food, because if I did pass that window and there was a man’s face pressed against the glass then I would become a shrieking puddle of piss. And that would wake my parents up.

My great uncle worked on Silver Bridge and he swore until the day he died that it shouldn’t have fallen. He was one of the riveters and he said that he inspected every weld and rivet and the bridge was sound. He also agreed that the mothman collapsed the bridge.

• • Elevate Your Bed To Avoid The South African Tokalosh

In South Africa it is common for native Africans to sleep with their bed on top of bricks or other device to raise the bed. They believe in a creature called the tikoloshe, which sits on your chest while you sleep and steals your breath, causing you to gasp for air or even die. This is how it was described to me by my parents, and saw multiple Africans beds which were abnormally high off the ground.

The beds are raised because the tikoloshe is really short, so he won’t be able to climb onto the bed.

• • Baba Yega Eats People In Russia

In Russian folklore there is a character named Baba Yega. She is an old woman who lives in the deep forest in a wooden house with chicken legs. She eats people who come upon her dwelling.

I love her! She’s supposed to have iron teeth, and is as old as the world itself. She knows everything, and if you can survive her tasks and display proper respect and manners, she might let you ask a question. Her size varies according to the tale; many say she takes up most of the room in her house (nose up the chimney, sleeping on the stove, feet against the door). Some say she looks like an overgrown hill with mossy trees and stones, until it speaks to you. Her sons are Dawn, Noon, and Night, and she may be the remnants of an ancient Goddess, like Black Annis.

In the older days, it was common to have oracles of one type or another. Baba Yaga was most likely one of these, and it was not unheard of for a hero or brave commoner to earn the favor of a question answered, by right of battle, or by learning the Being’s True Name. The way I heard the tale, Baba Yaga was favored by the Gods in the ancient days, and they granted her all the wisdom she desired. Unfortunately, each time she answered a question, she aged one year. It didn’t seem like much at first, and she was still glad to help her people; but over time, she saw how stupid and wasteful they were with her gift. She denounced them as fools, and withdrew to the deepest forests and highest mountains, to be sought out only by the bravest and most worthy of mortals. In the Tale of Vassilisa the Beautiful, Baba Yaga is impressed with how the girl does the work set for her, and that she shows no fear to the Old One; only great respect. She takes care to only ask about things she has seen outside the Yaga’s hut (her three sons she encountered on the way there).

Baba Yaga is tied to the Old Ways of healing and magic. She makes potions, has familiars of several types, and often has a stable of legendary steeds fit for heroes who can earn the right to ride them. She goes out into the woods by day, riding in her tall wooden mortar and sweeping her tracks away with a broom.

• • Beware The Hawaiian Nightmarchers

Hawaii, USA – Nightmarchers

They’re the spirits of ancient Hawaiian warriors. You can tell they’re coming when you hear drums and see torches. To keep them from killing you, you’re supposed to avoid eye contact, and take off your clothes and pretend to be dead. Or just get out of these as fast as possible. I’ve also heard that if you have an ancestor marching in the party, you’re safe.

I always heard stories about them growing up and was terrified of running into them, because I have no Hawaiian blood and I’d freak the heck out if I heard their drums.

I lived on Molokai, Hawaii on a 50 acre mango farm for a while. We had five dogs and they were vicious to any trespassers or produce thieves in the night. One night they all came bursting into my room, whining and toppling over each other. I had to drag them out as they were trying to claw the wood floors. I went to check outside and saw nothing. It was totally weird but I didn’t think too much of it. I went to lie down, and about 10 minutes later I had this overwhelming sensation creep all through my body. It was like I felt something approaching my room from outside. (My room was an old train box cart converted into living space with running water.) I felt this “presence” getting closer and closer.

Suddenly I had the feeling of sheer terror, which I’ve never felt before in my life. I tried to get up, but couldn’t move. I felt as if I was sucked to my bed. Before I knew it tears were running down the sides of my face uncontrollably for no apparent reason. The presence I felt outside was almost extra-dimensional or extra-terrestrial. The whole episode subsided after about 30 min. I didn’t really tell anyone about it. About a week later, my buddy who was living in a tent about 400 yards from my room approached me with a problem. He told me that a week prior he woke up getting sucked out of his tent, screaming at the top of his lungs, then blacked out. When he woke that morning he was outside. Neither of us knew what the heck had happened.

• • The Chural Creature Of India

Indian subcontinent. The churel.

A female ghost that appears as a beautiful young woman to seduce men. Once seduced, she transforms to her true appearance. A hideously scary old woman with backwards feet, unkempt hair, long saggy breasts, claw like fingernails, long pubic hair, thick black tongue, and sharp teeth.

Some churels will simply kill a man and feast on his flesh. Others will suck his blood or semen, turning him into an old man or causing him to lose his virility.

Usually women who die in childbirth or during menstruation and were ill-treated by her family will turn into a churel. First they get revenge on the family and once the family is wiped out they will target any young man. They can be found near cemeteries, abandoned buildings or any dark, spooky place.

Some parts of the Indian subcontinent take precautions to prevent women from turning into churels. Young women that pass on may have special funeral rites. This might include nailing women’s hands and feet when burying them and having her feet shackled in chains. Note that Hindus usually cremate their dead, so burying them instead is a big deal.

Every Indian/Pakistani knows someone that knows someone that nearly fell into the clutches of a churel.

Everyone who has driven alone on the Indian national highways at night has seen one of these. Popular depiction with a white saree and a candle or lamp in her hand.

• • Two Trinadadian Monsters

From Trinidadian Folklore: The Soucouyant.

I used to be scared she would come and get me at night. She’s described as an old woman who can shed her skin and become a ball of fire or an animal you wouldn’t suspect. She sucks your blood and can turn you into things. To spot a soucouyant you have to dump 100 lbs of rice at a crossroad, and she will be compelled to pick them up grain by grain. If you know who the soucouyant is, you have to find her shed skin and put salt in it before dawn. Her skin would shrivel up and she won’t be able to get back inside.

Douens are another creature. These things haunted my nightmares. They are children’s spirits that died before baptism. They have no faces and their feet are back to front (heels facing forward). It still crawls my blood to imagine them with their backwards feet. They can steal children’s names and lure them away from their families.

• • South American La Llorona

If I recall correctly, the stories about La Llorona vary from place to place, but the basic gist is the same. The one I remember most clearly:

A young, poor mother fell in love with a rich man. They began an affair but when she asked him about marrying her he laughed it off and said he couldn’t marry a poor woman with two children.

Desperate and crazed with love, she went home and drowned her children that night thinking he’d marry her if they were gone. When she told him what she did the next day though, he was disgusted and told her to never return.

After that she realized what she’d done and went crazy. She wandered near the river searching for her children until the day she died.

Even worse, most variations of the legend say she drowned her children, and when she died and tried to go to heaven they forced her to return to our world to look for her children, knowing that she would never find them.

There are other origina stories about La Llorona. They also say she was a beautiful woman who married a military general and had fourkids together and had a happy family and all, one day her husband had to go to war or something like that, and he died while he was away. The lady goes crazy because he died and she had her kids and she was heartbroken.

So in her craziness she plans a day at the river with her kids and tells them that they’re gonna have fun, she lets them play and all and once the kids get in the river she starts walking in and gets close to one and drowns it without the rest of them noticing, and then the next one and so on.

When she’s done, she goes home and falls asleep; when she wakes up the next day she doesn’t remember what she did to her kids and runs out her house calling them and asking people if they’ve seen them, eventually going to the river and sees her kids dead in the river, and that’s when she started crying and saying “MIS HIJOS! AY, MIS HIJOS!” (“My kids! Oh, my kids!”). And she kills herself because of what’s happened, and can’t rest in peace because she’s looking for her kids.

• • Terrifying Mythical Creatures In The Philippines

In the Philippines, we have kapres

In some regions, they say kapres smoke pipes. In others, they smoke cigarettes. Maybe they vape now.

• • The Chinese Jianshe Is A Mummified Corpse

Time to throw in some Chinese! Although I’m not from China, but Chinese, so this is stretching the question slightly. Anyway, the Chinese “zombie” or jiangshi (僵尸) is a mummified corpse that has risen from the dead for various reasons. They don’t eat brains, or flesh – they drain you of your life force. They cannot walk or bend their limbs due to rigor mortis, and as such hop after their prey.

That may sound silly at first, but imagine it. Actually imagine walking on a dark road at midnight, by a graveyard. And as the cold night air brushes against your ear, you hear something.

Something like footsteps, only heavier, pounding through the grass, stirring the cool air behind you:

Thump. Thump. Thump.

You don’t want to look back. You don’t want to look back.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

I had nightmares about it when I first learned of it. Of it hopping in the dark. Its outstretched arms, wrinkled grey skin, legs locked together, dead face in a slack, frozen leer.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

• • Turkish Djinn Are Not Happy Genies

Turkish here but I guess it is more related to Islam than my country.

We have djinn. And it is nothing like the Robin Williams.

According to folklore and religion, there are good ones and evil ones. The good ones are mostly Muslim so they don’t bother you. The evil ones mostly don’t believe in god.

So if you say djinn, they are drawn to you. And sometimes they haunt you just for fun. They don’t have a specific shape because they can shape shift, but their most noticeable feature is their backwards feet. They live next to walls, abandoned houses, bushes and trees when you have to pee at night you shouldn’t pee at those or they will get angry and haunt you.

They are from another plane so normally invisible unless they want otherwise. It is always told that they like to toy with people. They like burning people, possessing people even raping the beautiful young girls. They target people who don’t believe them and who believes them and but terrified of them.

Some people claim to have power on them. These things can know everything about a person by just looking at one of that person’s belonging. They can travel huge distances in a blink.

There some verses from Quran that can make them keep distance depending on the creature’s power.

And I had a teacher, also friend of my father, who -allegedly- was perfect at fending them. According to his stories and his wife’s words, he tried to send away a group which haunted a girl. He thought he managed until the next day. One remained and tried to suffocate his newborn son with telephone cable. His wife said the phone was flying, glasses were flying and hitting them and there were no one in the house. Eventually he managed it.

I happened to saw a similar thing when I was seven. But I don’t know it was a dream or reality after all these years, but I still get the goose bumps thinking of it.

• • Strange Creatures From Jewish Folklore

There are a few strange creatures in the Jewish folklore:

Re’em: A giant mammal the size of a mountain. There are said to be only two Re’ems living simultaneously – one female and one male living in the opposite sides of the planet. At the age of 70 they meet and reproduce, and then females bites the male fatally. The female Re’em is pregnant for 11 years, and during the last year of the pregnancy, she is unable to walk. The drool from her mouth waters the fields around her to provide her food. After she gives birth, to a male-female twin couple, she dies. They male walks east and the female walks west, only to meet again in 70 years.

Golem: A man-shaped form, that has been given life by a person with knowledge of Kabbalah. He was created to help the Jews in their times of distress. He was given life by writing god’s name on a paper and placing it in its mouth, and writing the word truth (אמת) on it’s forehead. When it was no longer needed the letter א was removed, spelling the word מת = dead.

Field sleepers (אדני שדה): Men with their umbilical cord connected to the earth. It was said that if they would be detached the would die.

Arod: A snake-like creature. If bitten, the Arod and the bitten person raced to the nearest water source. The first to reach the water would survive, the second would die.

Theses creatures aren’t commonly believed, and most Jewish people aren’t aware of their existence in the scripture.

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