“Ghosts and goblins all about;
Trick or treat we sing and shout
Such a spooky time.”
It’s spooky season! Once a day to ward of ghosts and spirits in the West, Halloween is now widely celebrated as a day full of trick-or-treating and lively gatherings thanks to pop culture and social media. Though the ways we all celebrate are quite similar, scary stories shared are different across the globe.
Venture forth and explore how different cultures speak about the grim and the ghastly — if you dare…
Baba Yaga (Russia)
Baba Yaga, whose name roughly translates to “Wicked Grandmother”, has spooked both adults and children for centuries in Eastern Europe. She is depicted as a grotesque, skinny old woman or a trio of elderly sisters with sharp teeth and hugely distorted noses. If her appearance does not send a shudder down your spine, perhaps her demeanor will.
Living far from the rest of civilization, many tales revolve around Baba Yaga’s odd wooden hut, built upon chicken legs with a rooster head atop and surrounded by human bones. Human bones, you say? Precisely! Baba Yaga feasted upon the poor unfortunate souls who stumbled upon her forest grounds. She was especially fond of delectable children. Yikes!
Whether just a mere old wives tales or an actual being, her name still lives on to tame naughty little children.
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Baba Yaga, goddess of birth and death, devolved into the bogeywoman of Slavic fairy tales, a cannibal forest-witch, her name used to threaten children into obedience: “Be good or Baba Yaga will get you.” Baba Yaga doesn’t just eat children; sometimes she defends them by dispensing justice to evil step-mothers. Baba may be petitioned for fertility by those who lack it. She allegedly knows every botanical healing secret in existence; whether or not she can be persuaded to reveal these secrets is another story. Baba Yaga is the Mistress of All Witches, Lady of the Beasts, the Primal Mother who rescues, nurtures, and destroys. Her favored people are witches, herbalists, heroes, and hardworking advocates for wild nature, but be cautioned: Baba Yaga has no patience with slackers, whiners, and ingrates of: any persuasion. Baba Yaga lives in the heart of a deep, birch forest in a little hut named Izbushka (literally “little hut”) that usually stands on stilt-like chicken’s feet but occasionally on goat’s legs or even on spindle heels. Baba Yaga’s hut obeys orders. Say “Izbushka, Izbushka! Stand with your back to the forest and your front to me” and it does as directed. The house is formed from bones, personally collected by Baba herself. The doorposts are leg bones; the lock is a sharp-toothed mouth; the bolt is a hand. The fence consists of bones crowned with skulls whose empty eye sock- ets glow in the dark. The house is dominated by an oven akin to a cauldron of regeneration, and Baba Yaga stories may be understood as tales of initiation, sometimes but not always successful. // Source: Encyclopedia of Spirits by Judika Illes // #anetteprsslavic
La Pisadeira (Brazil)
Round the table, families gather to eat dinner. She watches. They ask each other about their day. She watches. Their stomachs fill with a hearty meal. She watches. And off they go get ready for bed. La Pisadeira watches.
A tall, skinny hag with long filthy yellow nails, she lingers atop Brazilian rooftops, peering into homes with her beady red eyes until sleep arrives. Legend has it that if you go to bed on your back with a full stomach, La Pisadeira’s screeching laughter fills the air before she sits on your chest. You are then trapped between sleep and consciousness, completely paralyzed and panic-stricken.
The victim and La Pisadeira are both hysterical, one utterly petrified and the other morphing into evil and hideous demon-like creatures. The lack of oxygen whilst living an awful nightmare is torturous and often leads the victim to a state of pure madness and paranoia. This is La Pisadeira, the woman who feeds of your fear. Beware, she watches.
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“La Pisadeira”- is said to be the woman of your (worst) dreams. Bearing a tall, bony figurine and skin as white as paper, the Pisadeira woman forms a major part in Brazilian myths and quite a few African legends. She has long, yellow nails, and with red, glowing eyes watches over families from the rooftop, having dinner. After the meal, when someone retires for the night with a full stomach and lies flat on their bed, the Pisadeira demoness sneaks into the room. She climbs over their body, and sits over their chest so that they are unable to move or breathe. The demoness loves to see her victims panicking in a middle state of transition, neither asleep nor awake, and helplessness vivid on their scared-out-of-wits faces. She either strangles them with her bare hands, leading to death of his victims by untraceable causes. Or she decides to visit, night after night, to fill the minds of her victims with utter terror; each night, her intensity increasing. Also, it is said that she is a shape-shifter, and she feeds on the terror of her victims, therefore, growing stronger. Interestingly, after much research, scientists have deduced this phenomenon as “sleep paralysis”: a state of fearful trance, where the affected is almost awake but is unable to move or procure a sound. The brain is said to show fearful hallucinations, and can often lead to death. Sleep paralysis has no prevention or cure; it can happen to anyone. Victims of sleep paralysis have often said that during the partial state of sleep, they often felt the presence of a dark, evil manifestation in their room. Seems so much like “La Pisadeira”, and can be well-understood how Brazilians came to the conclusion of a sleep demon. . . Research and report by @_.anurakta._ Feature by @the_gypsy_being . . #newseries #horrorstories #horrormyths #lapisadeira #sleepingparalysis #brazil #realstory #nightscar #demon #witch #victim #mythology #african #your_shutter_up #trg #instagood #instastory #terror . . To get featured with your Doodle art or Writing, Follow us @therecapgag , tag and mention us, use #therecapgag and #your_shutter_up To get featured with your photography, follow us @your_shutter_up , tag
Sometimes, combining things can create something magical. Ice cream with chocolate syrup and sprinkles? Delightful! Reading a good book with a cup of tea while the rain pours? Cozy! My personal favorite? Traveling on a full wallet and plenty of free time! However, a chimeric creature made up of a scorpion’s tail, one leg from a panther, the other from a donkey, chest of a turtle, a lobster claw for a hand, monkey’s for the other, horns of mountain goat, face of a gorilla, flaming eyes and head full of poisonous snakes creates a quite frightening combination.
This Algerian boogeyman definitely scares children and adults alike at a glance but their incredible speed enables them to capture unsuspecting naughty children. The H’awouahoua devours children and uses their skin to mend a coat it wears.
Penanggalan appears to be completely normal at first glance. During the day she is just a regular young woman, who supposedly even held a job as a midwife! However, there have been unfortunate pregnant women who have had her as midwife and lived through it.
This Malaysian creature is not at all who she claims to be. At night, Penanggalan would detach herself from the body. She moved around town as nothing but a floating head and dangling entrails. Legend says that the stench of vinegar would indicate her presence.
She is a bloodsucker with an insatiable lust for flesh, usually obtained from small animals, like cats. Her favorite comes from babies. Penanggalan terrorizes pregnant women and uses her long tongue to devour the baby from the womb, leaving the mother for dead.
Truly, the most terrifying part of this tale is that people still claim to this day to have come across this evil, inhumane monster!
Chickcharney (The Bahamas)
In the underbrush of the Bahamian Islands, if you come across two pine trees mysteriously intertwined together with a nest atop, you may have found the chickcharney’s nest. This creature is a dwarfish humanoid hideously resembling an owl, specifically a native barn owl.
Chickcharnies are mischievous in nature so one should always be respectful towards them and never look them in the eye. Failure to do so can lead to a lifetime of misery and hardships, or even a broken neck!
Legend has it that former British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain scoffed at the notion that such a beast exists. As a result, his island plantation failed miserably costing him a whooping 4.2 million pounds in today’s currency. Who is to say what the real cause of that was, eh?
Australia is a land waiting to be explored with its abundance of unique flora and fauna. Explorers wanting to temporarily take refuge from the blazing sun should avoid the lure of the wild fig tree. This tree is rumored to be the home of ghastly monster, the Yara-ma-yha-who.
A short, viciously red frog or monkey-like man with an oversized head, a large mouth with no teeth and fingers and toes tipped with octopus-like suckers, it leaves quite a comical appearance in one’s imagination. However, despite the lack of teeth, the Yara-ma-ywa-who is a bloodsucker that preys on unfortunate lone travelers. The suckers are used to drain the blood and the poor soul is swallowed whole. Then the victim is regurgitated. Gross!
Taking a water breaks and short naps in between, the process is repeated until the person (who is still alive) becomes shorter and redder, essentially transforming into a Yara-mwa-yha-who themselves.
Traveler tip: Don’t fall asleep under an Australian fig tree.
The northern Native Americans tell the chilling tales of Wendigo — the evil spirit that devours mankind or the spirit of lonely places. The story originates from a lone hunter that resorted to cannibalism to survive the harsh winter in the Northern parts of Canada. Some form of magic transformed the hunter into a gray, emaciated creature with glowing eyes; yellow fangs and the head of a mighty stag. Thus, the Wendigo is said to be created when humans engage in cannibalism for survival.
These carnivorous creatures have an insatiable appetite for human flesh with incredible hunting abilities thanks to their incredible speed, stealth and hearing. However, creepily enough, it is said that the Wendigo mimics a human voice to draw its victim away from civilization. The unfortunate victim is then never seen or heard from again. To this day, many unsolved disappearances are said to be credited to the Wendigo. Canada’s lone winter forests are truly brutal.
A comparatively newer mythical creature with stories from the 1900s, Popobawa is a one-eyed bat-like demon that prowls around the islands of Zanzibar. This nocturnal shape-shifter has the ability to take any animal or human form and is rumored to be a djinn — a malevolent Middle Eastern spirit — released by a vindictive sheikh.
Popobawa casts a wing-shaped shadow over its victims before attacking, which is where its Swahili name “bat-wing” comes from. Sometimes before the attacks, a pungent sulfuric smell fills the air or even on occasion, the patter of sharp talons upon the rooftop can be heard.
Another belief is that Popobawa will attack you again if you do not inform others about its atrocious deeds. Talk about bad publicity! Thus it can be presumed, if you spot a bat sign in the Tanzanian night sky, it is most definitely not Batman.
Horses are majestic creatures usually symbolizing power and freedom. In Iceland, if you come across an alluring gray or black horse, spare a glance at their hooves. If they are turned backwards, danger alert! Run away as quickly as you can in the other direction.
Nykurs are sinister equine creatures whose sole purpose is to lure the unsuspecting into a watery grave. They initially appear to be tame; and tempt tired wanderers to ride upon their backs and cross the Icelandic plains. However, once a person mounts upon a Nykur, they are completely stuck fast and dragged into the icy lakes.
According to the myths, there is a way to escape its clutches! Apparently, the creature absolutely cannot stand the sound of its name or anything similar to it. Yell “Nykur” and the creature would immediately drop the victim and gallop away. I guess even mythical creatures can have low self-esteem about their names.
Kuchisake Onna (Japan)
According to the tales of the past, a samurai had a beautiful yet adulterous wife. Unable to bear the thoughts of her laying with another, the samurai mutilated her face and left her to die. The woman came back as vengeful spirit, often described to be wearing a mask and carrying a sharp knife-like object.
Unfortunate victims are often questioned by the ghost, “Am I pretty?” Answer no and she will kill you. Answer yes, Kuchisake Onna reveals to you her scarred face; a mouth deeply cut from ear to ear and again repeats the same dreaded question. Saying no leads to you being viciously cut in half, and saying yes will leave you with the same disfigurement.
By answering she fairs average in the looks department, or simply throwing hard candies as means to distract the evil spirit, it may allow one to hastily escape from her clutches. Perhaps this Halloween, save the hard candies for yourself. It may be a life saver.
These horrific tales may or may not in short, be nothing more than fiction; but they do have you ready for the spooky theme that Halloween brings!
Have a safe and happy Halloween!
May the festivities leave you in good spirits… and not with the bad ones.
Header: Sašo Tušar