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Legendary Shapeshifters

Posted by on May. 16, 2013 at 6:04 PM
  • 16 Replies

Legendary Shapeshifters


Shapeshifting, also known as transformation and transmogrification, is a change in the form or shape of a person or creature. Every culture in the world has a shapeshifter lore...legends of creatures who can transform themselves into animals or other men. Usually, the animal involved in the transformation is indigenous to or prevalent in the area from which the story derives. It is worthy to note that while the popular idea of a shapeshifter is of a human being who turns into something else, there are numerous myths about animals that can transform themselves as well.


LESHY

The Leshy is a male woodland spirit in Slavic mythology believed to protect wild animals and the forests. They usually appear as tall men, but have the ability to change size and shapeshift into any form, animal or plant. Leshies have beards made of living grass and vines, and are often depicted with a tail, hooves, and horns. The Leshy has pale white skin and dark green eyes. They are the lords of the forest and hold close bonds with gray wolves, bears, and all animal life. When a leshy is in human form it looks like a common peasant, although its eyes glow. The creatures can shrink themselves to the height of a blade of grass or grow to the size of the tallest trees. It is commonly understood that leshies will lead peasants astray, make people sick, and even tickle them to death. The creatures are terribly mischievous and have horrible cries. However, Leshies can also imitate human voices and often times lure lost wanderers to their caves. They aren't always evil, but enjoy misguiding humans and kidnapping young women.

Should one ever encounter a leshy, one must thwart him immediately by turning all one's clothes inside out and backwards, and placing one's shoes on the opposite feet. The sign of the cross often works also; but in the worst case, should the leshies torment you, set the forest ablaze behind you and don't look back; he will be so concerned with putting out the fire he will forget why his mischief fell upon your poor soul.


SELKIES

Selkies are creatures found in Faroese, Icelandic, Irish, and Scottish mythology. They have the ability to transform themselves from seal to human form. Selkies are able to shapeshift by shedding their seal skin, a risky endeavor because they must reapply the same skin in order to return to seal form. Stories surrounding these creatures are usually romantic tragedies. They are allowed to make contact with humans for only a short amount of time before they must return to the sea. In many cases humans have unknowingly fallen in love with selkies. Other times, humans have hidden the skin of the selkie, thus preventing it from returning to seal form. Male selkies are very handsome in their human form, and have great seduction powers over women. If a man finds and steals a female selkie's skin then she will be under his control and is often times forced to become his wife. The creatures have been known to lure humans into the sea, by creating illusions and a false sense of reality.

One folklorist theory of the origin of the belief is that the selkies were actually fur-clad Finns, traveling by kayak. Another is that shipwrecked Spaniards washed ashore and their jet black hair resembled seals.


BERSERKERS

Berserkers were a group of Norse warriors. They are human, but in battle entered into a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury, and transformed into wolves, bears, and wild bulls. This enabled the men to fight more effectively. Their name would give rise to the English word "berserk". Berserkers were said to wear the pelts of bears and wolves as they entered battle and could make the full transformation as they felt necessary. They are characterized as having bloodshot eyes, incredible strength, and endurance. Various Scandinavian kings used berserkers as part of their army or as hired men and royal bodyguards. Similar behavior is described in the Iliad, in which warriors are possessed by Gods and given the power to exhibit superhuman abilities.


KITSUNE

In Japanese folklore the Kitsune is an intelligent and magical being. The creature's strength increases with age, wisdom, and life experience. Kitsune is a Japanese fox. They have the ability to assume human form and are great tricksters. The creatures are noted for having as many as nine tails. A kitsune may take human form when it reaches a certain age, usually 100 years. They prefer to assume the shape of a beautiful woman, young girl, or elderly man. The creatures have the ability to clone the appearance of an individual. Kitsune have a fear and hatred of dogs. They can willingly manifest themselves in people's dreams and create illusions so elaborate that they are perceived as reality. The kitsune can fly, become invisible, and often times generate fire or lightning. In some regions of the world the creatures can bend time, space, and drive people mad.


PUCA

The púca is a legendary creature of Celtic folklore, most notably in Ireland, the West of Scotland, and Wales. The púca is a mythological fairy and ultimate shapeshifter. The creatures are capable of assuming a variety of terrifying forms, including a horse, rabbit, goat, goblin, or dog. No matter what shape the púca takes, its fur is always dark. They are most commonly seen as a black horse with a flowing mane and luminescent orange eyes. Púcas have the power to use human speech and although they are known for giving good advice, they also enjoy confusing and terrifying humans. Púcas have a fondness for riddles and are sociable creatures. They love to gather and play pranks on unsuspecting people and children. In many regions of the world the púca is seen as a creature of the mountains and hills. They are incredibly respected and if treated nicely will help humans. If a human is enticed onto a púca's back, it has been known to give them a wild ride, though unlike a kelpie, which will take its rider and dive into the nearest stream or lake to drown and devour him/her, the púca will do its rider no real harm. The púca has the power of human speech, and has been known to give advice and lead people away from harm.


WENDIGO

The Wendigo is a creature appearing in the mythology of the Algonquian people. Descriptions of the Wendigo vary across culture, but they are generally described as a large alien-like canine beast. They are malevolent and cannibalistic creatures. Wendigos are strongly associated with the winter, the north, and coldness. Human beings will transform into Wendigos if they perform cannibalism. The person will become possessed by the demonic spirit of the beast, usually in a dream. Once transformed, the individual will become violent and obsessed with eating human flesh. These monsters are the embodiments of gluttony, greed, and excess. They are never satisfied with killing and consuming one person. Wendigos are constantly searching for new victims. They have been classified as giants and upon transformation the human will grow considerably in size. They populate rural and highly forested, mountainous regions. Recently the Wendigo has become a horror entity, much like the vampire, werewolf, or zombie. All cultures in which the Wendigo myth appeared shared the belief that human beings could turn into Wendigos if they ever resorted to cannibalism or, alternately, become possessed by the demonic spirit of a Wendigo, often in a dream. The most frequent cause of transformation into a Wendigo was if a person had resorted to cannibalism, consuming the body of another human in order to keep from starving to death during a time of extreme hardship or famine. Among certain native tribes, cannibalism, even to save one's own life, was viewed as a serious taboo; the proper response to famine was suicide or resignation to death. On one level, the Wendigo myth thus worked as a deterrent and a warning against resorting to cannibalism; those who did would become Wendigo monsters themselves.


ENCANTADO

An encantado is a Brazilian legendary creature. They live in a deep underwater realm named the Encante. Encantados are most commonly viewed as a type of freshwater dolphin or sea snake that has the ability to shapeshift into human form. They are characterized by superior musical ability, seductiveness, and attraction to parties. The creature's transformation into human form seems to be rare, and usually occurs at night. While in human form the encantado will wear a hat to hide its protruding forehead. It does not disappear while shapeshifting and frequently displays magical abilities, such as the power to control storms and haunt humans. They use various mind control techniques and can inflict illness, insanity, and even death. The creatures are known for kidnapping humans. Many villagers will not go near the Amazon River at night because of this. Plenty of South Americans believe in the existence of the encantado and claim to have seen and interacted with the species. The most common stories involve a type of freshwater dolphin which lives in the Amazon River called the Boto. It is larger and more primitive-looking than the other type of Amazon dolphin and said to have the ability to turn human. There was a recent claim that an encantado impregnated a Peruvian woman. The stories also involve snakes, whose kinds can vary from the common type to coral snakes.


ASWANG

An aswang is a mythical creature in Filipino folklore. The legend of the aswang is well known throughout the Philippines, except in the IIocos region. The creature is described as a combination of vampire and witch and is almost always female. The aswang is an eater of the dead and a cannibal. They are capable of transforming into either a huge black dog or a black boar. The creatures stalk and eat human beings at night. Garlic bulbs, holy water, and other objects are believed to repel aswang. Many stories revolve around these creatures eating children and unborn fetuses. In human form they appear normal, and are quiet, shy, and elusive. At night, they transform into the deadly beast. One key feature of the aswang is its bloodshot eyes. In the Middle Ages, the aswang was the most feared among the mythical creatures in the Philippines. In the Southern part of the Philippines the Aswang are classified into five distinctive types. 1.The Blood Sucker(Vampire) 2. The Barangan (Vindictive Hexer...Voodoo and the like) 3. Mananangal (Self Segmenter) A creature who can fly through the night using only the upper torso with its entrails dangling below. 4. The Corpse Eater - This is the Aswang who will try and change out the real corpse with a fake corpse made from the trunk of a banana tree. 5. The False Beast - An aswang who has the ability to change from a human into a wild pig, or dog or whatever shape suits it.


VAMPIRES

Vampires are legendary creatures said to feed on the blood of humans and animals. It is difficult to make a single, definitive description of the folkloric vampire, although they were usually reported as bloated in appearance, ruddy, purplish, or dark in color. They are shapeshifters and can take many forms, predominantly bats or humans. Vampires are typically described as the undead, although some cultures believe that they can be living. Beginning in the 19th century, modern fiction began to portray vampires as gaunt and pale. In the past, vampire superstition in Europe led to mass hysteria, which resulted in corpses being staked and people being accused of vampirism. Many violent killing sprees have been attributed to vampires. They are known to terrorize their previous neighborhoods and will seduce their victims, waiting for the right moment to attack the neck. The creatures will frequently visit their relatives, particularly their spouses. Vampires are masters of disguise and camouflage. The most recently recorded case of vampirism is that of nineteen-year-old Mercy Brown, who died in Exeter, Rhode Island in 1892. The notion of vampirism has existed for millennia; cultures such as the Mesopotamians, Hebrews, Ancient Greeks, and Romans had tales of demons and spirits which are considered precursors to modern vampires. However, despite the occurrence of vampire-like creatures in these ancient civilizations, the folklore for the entity we know today as the vampire originates almost exclusively from early 18th century Southeastern Europe, when verbal traditions of many ethnic groups of the region were recorded and published. In most cases, vampires are remnants of evil beings, suicide victims, or witches, but they can also be created by a malevolent spirit possessing a corpse or by being bitten by a vampire. Belief in such legends became so pervasive that in some areas it caused mass hysteria and even public executions of people believed to be vampires. The vampire, as well as the werewolf, have become a lasting part of modern culture through television, film and literature.


LYCANTHROPES

Lycanthropes or werewolves are mythological humans that have the ability to shapeshift into wolves or anthropomorphic wolf-like creatures. They can infect the human population with a bite and the creature's transformation is often associated with a full moon. The lycanthropes mythology originated in Europe, but many accounts are found all over the ancient world. Features of the werewolf include the meeting of both eyebrows at the bridge of the nose, curved fingernails, low set ears, and a swinging stride. They have super-human strength and senses, far beyond those of either wolves or men. The beasts are known to feed on the homeless and easy prey. A person can be identified as a werewolf by cutting into their flesh to reveal hair or by revealing special bristles under their tongue. In returning to the human form the creature becomes weak and debilitated. Up until the 20th century wolf attacks on humans were widely reported causes of mass death in Europe. A distinction is often made between voluntary and involuntary werewolves. The former are generally thought to have made a pact, usually with the Devil, and morph into werewolves at night to indulge in nefarious acts. Involuntary werewolves, on the other hand, are werewolves by an accident of birth or health. In some cultures, individuals born during a new moon or suffering from epilepsy were considered likely to be werewolves. Becoming a werewolf simply by being bitten by another werewolf as a form of contagion is common in modern horror fiction, but this kind of transmission is rare in legend, unlike the case in vampirism.

by on May. 16, 2013 at 6:04 PM
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Replies (1-10):
etsmom
by Bronze Member on May. 16, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Interesting. I only knew a few of those, but I hadn't realised that so many cultures had so many shapeshifters.

coronado25
by Silver Member on May. 16, 2013 at 6:22 PM
I am glad all these are imaginary b.s.
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SLTmom
by Silver Member on May. 16, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Vampires are hot.



hautemama83
by Bronze Member on May. 16, 2013 at 6:26 PM
Interesting. Skin walkers are still believed to be 100% real up in the Navajo nation.
NWP
by guerrilla girl on May. 16, 2013 at 6:31 PM
6 moms liked this
This makes me want to watch Supernatural
krysstizzle
by on May. 16, 2013 at 6:33 PM
1 mom liked this

The Wendigo myths have always facsinated me. I appreciate the almost literal aspect of it (eat humans, turn into a monster).

Sekirei
by Nari Trickster on May. 16, 2013 at 6:37 PM


Quoting krysstizzle:

The Wendigo myths have always facsinated me. I appreciate the almost literal aspect of it (eat humans, turn into a monster).

My grandfather would tell stories of the Wendigo. He was Inuit and he always believed the stories

fireangel5
by Gold Member on May. 16, 2013 at 8:23 PM
1 mom liked this

I've heard of a lot of these from the show Supernatural :)

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on May. 16, 2013 at 9:12 PM

It's interesting to read.

I don't believe, for a second, any thing exists but I've always been intersted in reading about it.

Euphoric
by Bazinga! on May. 16, 2013 at 9:16 PM

 I heard of the Wendigo on Charmed.

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