Folklore

Folklore: The Bunnyman

Bunnyman bridge

Today I want to talk to you about an American Urban Legend.

The Bunny Man.

Bunny man bridge can be found in Fairfax County outside of Clifton, in Virginia USA. While the bridge itself is nothing exceptional the story around the bridge is something worth indulging in.

First of all, there are multiple stories.

The first is about a mentally unwell teenager who donned a bunny costume, ala Donnie Darko, and murdered his family then took his own life on the bridge. According to the story, the teenager’s spirit haunts the bridge and disembowels passers-by.

The second story goes that a nearby insane asylum closed and inmates were being transferred. During the transfer two inmates escaped and hid in the woods, eating rabbits. At one point one of the escapees was found hanging from the bridge. The surviving inmate was dubbed ‘Bunny man’ and was never found but somehow remains at the bridge killing passers-by.

Despite the story starting here, there have apparently been bunny man sightings across the USA. Usually, Bunny man is armed with an axe and will chase down both adults and children.

My thoughts

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This is a typical urban legend in the best possible sense. It has a straightforward story with roots in some fact. In 1970 there was a manhunt in Fairfax for a man in a bunny suit who had attacked a couple out for a night. By attacked, it is said that he threw a hatchet through their car window. He was seen again a week later attacking a roof support with the axe, still dressed in the bunny suit.

He was never caught or identified.

Kind of reminds me of the spate of clowns in the 2000s

Folklore

Folklore: Bukavac

Stay away from the water

Today I want to tell you about the Bukavac.

Not a lot is known about the Bukavac in all honesty, beyond that, it lives in bodies of clear water, such as lakes and rivers. Generally, it is imagined as a large six-legged creature with large horns, and its favourite method of hunting is apparently strangulation.

Interpretations of this creature differ slightly, not surprisingly given that there’s not a lot of information out there in the first place. Some have it looking toad-like, others envision it as much larger and give it an almost dragon or crocodile-like design.

In several tellings, the creatures tend to lurk in water, much in the manner of crocodiles and alligators, with their horns looking like driftwood. Some descriptions have them as being ungainly on land due to the six legs, but others have them being extremely fast because of this. Consistency seems to be an issue.

It is Slavic in origin and appears today mostly in games, in particular roleplay type games where it is used as a standard monster for a party to face. They don’t seem to be overly popular or even that well known which makes them excellent creatures to use in fiction as they are so flexible.

Due to the lack of information and conflicts with the information that does exist it is difficult to say why people invented the Bukavac, possibly to explain deaths near water, or people falling into water and becoming trapped and entangled in plants. It is truly impossible to tell, but regardless we’ve been gifted with an interesting creature and given a hell of a lot of freedom of interpretation.  

Folklore

Folklore: The Manananggal

Vampire or witch?

Today I am writing to you about the Manananggal.

The Manananggal is another creature from the Phillipines. They are a sort of vampire witch crossover. Though they do have an odd habit of tearing themselves in half in the stomach then flying off into the night to search for sleeping pregnant women to feed upon.

When I was reading up on these creatures they reminded me strongly of the Aswang which you may remember I wrote about back in January.

Like the Aswang these creatures could have been created to explain the dangers faced by pregnant women. Death in pregnancy is a real risk, especially before the advances made in medical science that we benefit from today and these creatures could have easily been created as a way for people to explain the unreasonable deaths women suffered when pregnant.

To defend against these creatures you can use daggers, sunlight, or a buntot pagi (a whip that is made from the tail of a stingray). Or if you manage to get hold of the upper torso after they’ve torn themselves in half then you should smear it with garlic, salt, or ash, then it will be unable to re-join with its lower half and will be vanquished by the sunrise.

Interesting, yes?

Folklore

Folklore: Gashadokuro

Solid ghosts

Today I am writing to talk to you about the Gashadokuro.

The gashaokuro, also known as the odokuro, come from Japan. They are classified as a ghost or spirit, but they do have a physical substance to them aka they are not incorporeal.

Appearance wise the gashaokuro look like epic skeletons, they are around 80-90 feet tall. They gnash their teeth as they walk which I can only imagine as being very loud given their size.

They are pulled together from the bones of people who died from either starvation or warfare. Naturally, as you can imagine anyone who died in this awful manner would be pretty miffed. This makes the gashaokuro full of anger, rage and bloodlust.

Any angry bloodthirsty spirit worth its salt is going to eat people.

The gashaokuro roam the countryside during the night hunting people to drink blood from. If they locate someone, they will stalk them silently somehow before ambushing them and biting their heads off and drink the insides. There is no way to fight off the gashaokuro, the only thing you can do is run when you hear a ringing in your ears as this is the only warning you will have. Though honestly, outrunning a gigantic skeleton? Unlikely.

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The gashaokuro appear throughout modern culture both as themselves and as the inspiration for other monsters.

The gashaokuro have appeared in video games such as Chrono Trigger with the character Zombor, there are a fair few of them popping up in Castlevania. There is a gashaokuro in AdventureQuest Worlds it is a forbidden Beast of Chaos.

They also appear in animation, such as Hellboy: Sword of Storms, and the Studio Ghibli movie Pom Poko.

Lastly, they are also seen in manga and some of the subsequent anime such as InuYasha and Inu x Boku SS.

Lastly, though I’ve not seen this confirmed anywhere I got very distinct Attack on Titan vibes when I was researching this creature.

Folklore

Folklore: Myling

Tragic kids are tragic

Today I am writing to talk to you about the Mylings, these are creatures from Sweden and are tragic.

These creatures are the souls of unbaptized children, they are unable to move on once they have died and enter a kind of purgatory on earth. Their desire is to be buried in a graveyard and so hunt people to do this for them.

However, like all things this is more complicated than expected.

Mylings will jump on the backs of travellers, and while they are supposed to be children, they are exceptionally large and very heavy and when the traveller tries to take them to a graveyard, they get larger and heavier with every step. The myth says that travellers will be known to sink into the ground under the weight of the Myling they are carrying.

If the traveller refuses the task or becomes unable to move, then the Myling will become enraged and kill the traveller and then start the process again.

My thoughts

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This myth covers a few basic fears, the dangers that arise when people travel and the fate of unbaptised children.  It could be this story was created to explain why people go missing when travelling, and eventually became amalgamated with the concept of unbaptised children’s souls.

Before I go further, please know that I am not against people having religion, if you have faith then more power to you. I am however, against people using their faith to bully or control others.

So now that I’ve clarified that …

The cynic in me always sees stories about unbaptised children becoming monsters as a means of religious control, the church wanted to control the populace and how better to indoctrinate people than to do so at a young age, and how better to get young people into the church, well tell scary stories to their parents about the terrible fate that awaits their children if they don’t get them involved in the church.

So, the way I see this myth is that it probably originated to explain disappearances or unexplained deaths of travellers and then the creature responsible changed to become the Myling.

Folklore

Folklore: Futakuchi Onna

Yokai

Today I am writing to talk to you about the Futakuchi Onna.

She is a type of Yokai, or monster, from Japan.

The Futakuchi Onna, is, in its most simple description, a woman with two mouths; one in the usual place, the second on the back of her head beneath her hair (you’d get so much hair in your mouth).

Myth

The story of the Futakuchi Onna is a simple one, she is created when a woman is starving and marries a miserly husband. Any woman has the potential to become a Futakuchi Onna, as it’s more like a curse or disease than something you are born as.

The most well known story of the Futakuchi Onna is that there was one a miserly man, who could not bare the thought of spending money. He lived alone because of this as he could not stand the idea of how expensive having a wife and family would be. But then one day he met a woman in the woods, magically she didn’t eat anything (diet plan gone wrong?). The miser was thrilled because she would be cheep and took her as his wife.

Over time the miser noticed that his rice was being depleted at an alarming rate. He eventually discovered that it was his wife, the mysterious lady who did not need to eat. Apparently she did eat, just not in the usual way. The miser spied on his wife and watched in horror as when she thought she was alone, her hair parted, revealing a second mouth, then, taking on a will of its own, her hair started shovelling rice into the mouth.

Futakuchi Onna appear often in modern day culture, they pop up in astern media and western and appear across all types of media. From anime such as GeGeGe no Kitaro, to video games like The Last Blade and Pokemon (Mawile), from books like Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children to Youtube with YouTuber Futakuchi_Mana.

Folklore

Folklore: Nykur

Today I want to talk to you about the Nykur.

Today I am writing to you about the Nykur.

A Nykur is an Icelandic myth, it usually appers as a horse (kinda, a weird horse). It has a lot of similarities with the Scottish Kelpie.

The Nykur, much like the Kelpie, finds sport in drowning travellers that it lures into mounting it and then runs into water. Its skin is sticky so once the beast is mounted struggling will not free you.

In order to protect yourself you have to engage in Christian practices aka make the sign of the cross against the creature, or in the alternative you can call out the name of the Nykur. Calling its name will send the Nykur away into the water (without the victim), making the sign of the cross will calm the creature so that you can ride it like you would a normal horse.

Legend says that you can tell when a Nykur is around by the sound of cracking ice, which is supposed to be the sound of the creature neighing.  

The Nykur, like many water demons, could have been created as a way for parents to warn children away from dangerous bodies of water. They could also have been created as a way for people to make sense of the unexpected behaviour of water.

Folklore

Folklore: The Wendigo

Nom, Nom, Nom

In todays letter about spooky folklore I want to talk about the Wendigo.

The Wendigo has appeared many times in popular culture, with it appearing in countless videogames, books and films. It is also a staple of the Creepypasta genre, popping up in an unexpectedly large amount of stories.

Sometimes in pop culture the Wendigo will be referred to by its name and other times it can be given a new name, or no name at all, but will still have the traits of the Wendigo of myth.

The name, Wendigo, has also been co-opted by the medical industry, Wendigo psychosis is a mental condition in which the sufferer has uncontrollable cravings for human flesh.

But where did this myth come from and what does it entail?

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The Wendigo originates in Canada, among the First Nations Algonquin tribes. It appears with a number of tribes, each one differing slightly but all of them describing the same basic appearance and behaviours.  

It is often depicted as humanoid in shape, standing unusually tall on two legs and with two arms often ending in human-esk hands with fingers and opposable thumbs. It’s head however is not human at all, it’s head is usually that of a monstrous deer, with antlers and a great deal of exposed bone. Some depictions have the head as being a completely exposed scull, others expose some of the bone and a few have the head covered in fur.

In the stories the origin of the Wendigo differs, for some it was and is a spirit on it’s own and in other stories it is a human who has been possessed by a spirit and warped into a monster.

The Wendigo is said to appear in particularly hard winters, during periods of starvation, scarcity and famine. It embodies all of these things and the malevolent nature that comes out in people during these times. It is strongly associated with cannibalism and greed.

The Wendigo was created by the tribes to explain several things, the most apparent being the change in people during times of scarcity. The idea that men could become possessed by an evil spirit was likely a far more comfortable idea than if your neighbour is desperate enough they might eat you. It offers an explanation of the personality shifts people can undergo when times get hard. But it also serves as encouragement for people to employ moderation in times of scarcity.