Folklore

Folklore: El Cucuy

Eater of Children

Today I want to talk to you, very briefly, (because I confess, I struggled a bit with this one), about El Cucuy.

El Cucuy is also known as El Coco and a myriad of other variations.

This creature is similar to the bogeyman, and parents often invoke it as a way of encouraging their children to behave. For while this creature is not a hideous monster, what it does is, It eats children, in particular naughty, misbehaving children.

It tends to hang out on rooftops looking for misbehaving children who it will then follow home and hide, either under the bed or in a shadowy corner, until the child is along in bed and then it will emerge and eat the kid.

El Cucuy is mostly remembered via rhyme and lullaby. Though it is remembered differently in many. Sometimes is a chap in a shroud, sometimes a female alligator/dragon monster, sometimes a pumpkin headed ghost creature. The legend refers to it being able to change its shape which explains how it appears differently in different retellings.

El Cucuy has appeared in modern culture, with him being referred to in Don Quijote as a scarecrow. He has appeared in games as a foe, such as Adventure Quest Worlds an RPG type game released in 2008. He has also turned up on TV in shows like Wizards of Waverly Place on Disney channel in 2007-2012.

Lastly, he has appeared in books, such as Stephen Kings Outsider where El Cuco was the main villain.

Folklore

Folklore: Chupacabra

Beware Chupacabra

Today I want to talk with you briefly about the Chupacabra.

Chupacabra is thought to be native to Central and South America. It was first claimed to be sighted in Puerto Rico in 1995. It has since become one of the most commonly referenced cryptids known.

Like most cryptids it is rarely seen and when it is seen its usually only a glimpse. If it is photographed or filmed the footage is usually a bit shite, but this is standard fair with most cryptids.

Generally, though the Chupacabra is assumed to be quite small and will not often approach humans. It is however a predator and will drain livestock of blood, not unlike a vampire, though it leaves three holes not two.

While the most common theory is that people who claim to see Chupacabra have seen dogs with mange, the draining of blood via three holes is odd. Chupacabra was likely created to explain these odd-looking predators as well as the loss of cattle, potentially to small predators or illness.

Folklore

Folklore: Jersey Devil

A Famous Cryptid

Today I wanted to write and tell you about a piece of folklore that you may already be aware of as it is a well-known creature/cryptid.

I am of course talking about the Jersey Devil.

The story around this creature is that in the 18th century a supposed witch known as Mother Leeds discovered that she was pregnant. This was to be her 13th child. Naturally due to the connotations with the number etc Mother Leeds decided that this child was the son of the devil.

When he was born she was disappointed to see that he was perfectly normal.

However, almost instantly he changed. He became a hooved beat that killed the midwife and ran off into the woods. As you do moments after birth.

The Jersey devil is often credited with killing livestock, though it is sometimes said to have also killed small children. It is also blamed for souring cows’ milk just by being close to the cow.

My Thoughts

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Like Bigfoot, this creature has a large following and at one point a reward was offered for its capture. There was a dramatic increase in sightings in the 1900s, from seeing the creature attack a trolley to footprints in the snow.

With the creature having such a large following there have been a great many hoaxes. But such a large following also leads to a lot of dilution, it’s difficult now to see what this creature symbolised because of the number of retellings it has gone through. Perhaps it can represent the early settlers’ fear of the unknown landscape around them which already housed large predators? It could symbolise fear of the other, which crops up a lot, even today. We naturally fear what is different to ourselves and imagination can enhance that fear.

The Jersey Devil has cropped up a lot outside of its initial folklore, it lent its name to sports teams. You can purchase models and figurines of the creature, much in the same way you can of bigfoot and other cryptids. It’s turned up in tv shows like the X-files, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Real adventures of Jonny Quest and more recently Gravity Falls (an awesome show btw). It crops up in various video games, including one named after it.

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.