So Halloween is next week and I thought it would be fun to learn about the history of different known creatures or beings that are associated with the holiday. So when we say Halloween, we think about Witches, Vampires, Werewolves, Mummies, Zombies, Ghosts, Grim Reaper, Slenderman, Bigfoot, Trolls, Headless Horseman, Dragons, Demons and the Devil. Let us take a little history lesson on where theses myths originated from.
Okay so witches are actually real. You can learn a lot in my article on Paganism, however they are not green, boiled old ladies like the legends state. The origin of green witches and flying brooms during Halloween originate in the physical punishment and and drug effects suffered by the women of Salem in the 1600s.
Most of these women and teenage girls who were accused of witchcraft had only discovered the medicinal properties of native plants and kitchen herbs. A few likely suffered mental conditions like postpartum depression and a psychosis associated with it, along with symptoms of using hallucinogenic plant extracts.
Researchers were able to trace the green face to the Salem Witch Trial punishments that caused gangrenous skin, infections, burning deaths, and other damaging actions. Many faces did turn green with infection and bruising.
Many of the accused were pilloried and tied standing into stocks with their necks and wrists restrained in a yoke. They were not fed, but they were beaten regularly, bruised, and punished with broken noses, cheekbones, and teeth.
Bruises on the faces, necks, arms, and hands began to change color from black and blue to green and brown after a few days. Some of the skin discolorations were covered by fresh bruises and new bleeding as tissues underneath began to die.
Under the layers of bruises, gangrene began as the blood supply failed to reach the hands and face because of being tied tightly at the stocks and suffering damaged blood vessels. Tissues began to turn whitish-pale to blue and greenish, purple, black, bronze, and red, depending on the type of gangrene working on the tissues.
Gangrene also includes confusion and foul-smelling discharges that are a bit like the smelly rubber masks mentioned above. In Salem, this odor added to the “proof” of witchcraft. Odorous women with discolored faces were paraded through town, spat upon, stoned, and then killed. Some died during the parade.
After WWII, department stores began carrying a larger number of Halloween costumes. One of the most common features we saw was the heavy, smelly rubber mask, especially the green one for witch costumes based on the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of OZ.
The masks smelled so bad we thought they must be toxic. Plastic masks began appearing in the mid-1950s, but some of the witch masks were still green. The mask was usually green or yellowish-green, with warts, a huge hooked nose, wrinkles, and the odd bristly hair. Some even included a cobweb on one cheek.
During the 1970s, Halloween makeup became more popular and children and adults painted their faces green. People were unaware of the connection of gangrene to a green face.
So vampires, those blood sucking undead creatures, are they really real? There is an actual vampire community in our world but does that mean they are anything like the legends we grew up hearing?
Vampire superstition thrived in the Middle Ages, especially as the plague decimated entire towns. The disease often left behind bleeding mouth lesions on its victims, which to the uneducated was a sure sign of vampirism.
It wasn’t uncommon for anyone with an unfamiliar physical or emotional illness to be labeled a vampire. Many researchers have pointed to porphyria, a blood disorder that can cause severe blisters on skin that’s exposed to sunlight, as a disease that may have been linked to the vampire legend.
Some symptoms of porphyria can be temporarily relieved by ingesting blood. Other diseases blamed for promoting the vampire myth include rabies or goiter.
When a suspected vampire died, their bodies were often disinterred to search for signs of vampirism. In some cases, a stake was thrust through the corpse’s heart to make sure they stayed dead. Other accounts describe the decapitation and burning of the corpses of suspected vampires well into the nineteenth century.
Although modern science has silenced the vampire fears of the past, people who call themselves vampires do exist. They’re normal-seeming people who drink small amounts of blood in a (perhaps misguided) effort to stay healthy.
Communities of self-identified vampires can be found on the Internet and in cities and towns around the world.To avoid rekindling vampire superstitions, most modern vampires keep to themselves and typically conduct their “feeding” rituals—which include drinking the blood of willing donors—in private.
Some vampires don’t ingest human blood but claim to feed off the energy of others. Many state that if they don’t feed regularly, they become agitated or depressed.
Vampires became mainstream after Dracula was published. Since then, Count Dracula’s legendary persona has been the topic of many films, books and television shows. Given the fascination people have with all things horror, vampires—real or imagined—are likely to continue to inhabit the earth for years to come.
Speaking of Dracula, it’s thought Bram Stoker named Count Dracula after Vlad Dracula, also known as Vlad the Impaler. Vlad Dracula was born in Transylvania, Romania. He ruled Walachia, Romania, off and on from 1456-1462.
Some historians describe him as a just—yet brutally cruel—ruler who valiantly fought off the Ottoman Empire. He earned his nickname because his favorite way to kill his enemies was to impale them on a wooden stake.
According to legend, Vlad Dracula enjoyed dining amidst his dying victims and dipping his bread in their blood. Whether those gory tales are true is unknown. Many people believe these stories sparked Stoker’s imagination to create Count Dracula, who was also from Transylvania, sucked his victim’s blood and could be killed by driving a stake through his heart. But, according to Dracula expert Elizabeth Miller, Stoker didn’t base Count Dracula’s life on Vlad Dracula. Nonetheless, the similarities between the two Draculas are intriguing.
It’s unclear exactly when and where the werewolf legend originated. Some scholars believe the werewolf made its debut in The Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest known Western prose, when Gilgamesh jilted a potential lover because she had turned her previous mate into a wolf.
Werewolves made another early appearance in Greek mythology with the Legend of Lycaon. According to the legend, Lycaon, the son of Pelasgus, angered the god Zeus when he served him a meal made from the remains of a sacrificed boy. As punishment, the enraged Zeus turned Lycaon and his sons into wolves.
Werewolves also emerged in early Nordic folklore. The Saga of the Volsungstells the story of a father and son who discovered wolf pelts that had the power to turn people into wolves for ten days. The father-son duo donned the pelts, transformed into wolves and went on a killing rampage in the forest. Their rampage ended when the father attacked his son, causing a lethal wound. The son only survived because a kind raven gave the father a leaf with healing powers.
Some legends maintain werewolves shape-shifted at will due to a curse. Others state they transformed with the help of an enchanted sash or a cloak made of wolf pelt. Still others claim people became wolves after being scratched or bit by a werewolf.
In many werewolf stories, a person only turns into a wolf when there’s a full moon—and that theory may not be far-fetched. According to a study conducted at Australia’s Calvary Mater Newcastle hospital, a full moon brings out the “beast” in many humans. The study found that of the 91 violent, acute behavior incidents at the hospital between August 2008 and July 2009, 23 percent happened during a full moon.
Patients attacked staff and displayed wolf-like behaviors such as biting, spitting and scratching. Although many were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time, it’s unclear why they became intensely violent when the moon was full.
The werewolf phenomenon may have a medical explanation. Take Peter the Wild Boy, for instance. In 1725, he was found wandering naked on all fours through a German forest. Many thought he was a werewolf or at least raised by wolves.
Peter ate with his hands and couldn’t speak. He was eventually adopted by the courts of King George I and King George II, and lived out his days as their “pet” in England.
Research has shown Peter likely had Pitt-Hopkins syndrome, a condition discovered in 1978 that causes lack of speech, seizures, distinct facial features, difficulty breathing and intellectual challenges.
Other medical conditions that may have encouraged werewolf-mania throughout history are:
- lycanthropy (a rare, psychological condition that causes people to believe they’re changing into a wolf or other animal)
- food poisoning
- hypertrichosis (a rare, genetic disorder causing excessive hair growth)
- hallucination, possibly caused by hallucinogenic herbs
Throughout the centuries, people have used werewolves and other mythic beasts to explain the unexplainable. In modern times, however, most believe werewolves are nothing more than pop culture horror icons, made famous thanks to Hollywood’s 1941 flick, The Wolf Man.
Still, werewolves have a cult following, werewolf sightings are reported each year, and werewolf legends will likely continue to haunt the dreams of people throughout the world.
Mummies were the original zombies in a way. As is well known, mummification was a burial practice in ancient Egypt thousands of years ago, though it wasn’t exclusive to the kingdoms along the Nile. What are believed to be some of the oldest mummies have been discovered in Chile, the product of ancient fishing communities.
As tales of the existence of ancient mummies spread to Europe and elsewhere during the age of exploration, the wrapped ones began making appearances in fantastical stories, according to LibraryPoint. That would’ve been as early as the 18th century, but we can really thank Bram Stoker and his 1904 novel “The Jewel of Seven Stars” for spreading the mummies-as-monsters meme.
From there, Boris Karloff first brought a mummy to life on the screen, and Hollywood has revived the trope every now and then ever since, though zombies are clearly doing a better job infiltrating our brains in recent years.
A zombie, according to pop culture and folklore, is usually either a reawakened corpse with a ravenous appetite or someone bitten by another zombie infected with a “zombie virus.”
Zombies are usually portrayed as strong but robotic beings with rotting flesh. Their only mission is to feed. They typically don’t have conversations (although some may grunt a little).
The Ancient Greeks may have been the first civilization terrorized by a fear of the undead. Archaeologists have unearthed many ancient graves which contained skeletons pinned down by rocks and other heavy objects, assumedly to prevent the dead bodies from reanimating.
Zombie folklore has been around for centuries in Haiti, possibly originating in the 17th century when West African slaves were brought in to work on Haiti’s sugar cane plantations. Brutal conditions left the slaves longing for freedom. According to some reports, the life—or rather afterlife—of a zombie represented the horrific plight of slavery.
Voodoo (sometimes spelled vodou or vodun) is a religion based in West Africa and practiced throughout Haiti and the Caribbean, Brazil, the American South and other places with an African heritage.
Many people who follow the voodoo religion today believe zombies are myths, but some believe zombies are people revived by a voodoo practitioner known as a bokor.
Bokors have a tradition of using herbs, shells, fish, animal parts, bones and other objects to create concoctions including “zombie powders,” which contain tetrodotoxin, a deadly neurotoxin found in pufferfish and some other marine species.
Used carefully at sub-lethal doses, the tetrodotoxin combination may cause zombie-like symptoms such as difficulty walking, mental confusion and respiratory problems.
High doses of tetrodotoxin can lead to paralysis and coma. This could cause someone to appear dead and be buried alive – then later revived.
Though it’s rare, there are several credible reports in medical journals of people using these compounds to induce paralysis in people, then revive them from the grave.
A 1997 article in the British medical journal The Lancet described three verifiable accounts of zombies. In one case, a Haitian woman who appeared to be dead was buried in a family tomb, only to reappear three years later. An investigation revealed that her tomb was filled with stones, and her parents agreed to admit her to a local hospital.
In another well-documented case, a Haitian man named Clairvius Narcisse entered a local hospital with severe respiratory problems in 1962. After he slipped into a coma, Narcisse was declared dead was buried shortly thereafter.
But 18 years later, a man walked up to Angelina Narcisse in a village marketplace, insisting she was his sister. Doctors, townspeople and family members all identified him as Clairvius Narcisse, who claimed he had been buried alive, then dug up and put to work on a distant sugar plantation.
Of course now there are plenty of movies and tv shows on it, what do you think?
The concept of a ghost, also known as a specter, is based on the ancient idea that a person’s spirit exists separately from his or her body, and may continue to exist after that person dies. Because of this idea, many societies began to use funeral rituals as a way of ensuring that the dead person’s spirit would not return to “haunt” the living.
Places that are haunted are usually believed to be associated with some occurrence or emotion in the ghost’s past; they are often a former home or the place where he or she died. Aside from actual ghostly apparitions, traditional signs of haunting range from strange noises, lights, odors or breezes to the displacement of objects, bells that ring spontaneously or musical instruments that seem to play on their own.
In the first century A.D., the great Roman author and statesman Pliny the Younger recorded one of the first notable ghost stories in his letters, which became famous for their vivid account of life during the heyday of the Roman Empire. Pliny reported that the specter of an old man with a long beard, rattling chains, was haunting his house in Athens. The Greek writer Lucian and Pliny’s fellow Roman Plautus also wrote memorable ghost stories.
Centuries later, in 856 A.D., the first poltergeist–a ghost that causes physical disturbances such as loud noises or objects falling or being thrown around–was reported at a farmhouse in Germany. The poltergeist tormented the family living there by throwing stones and starting fires, among other things.
Some locations simply seem to lend themselves to hauntings, perhaps due to the dramatic or grisly events that occurred there in the past. Over the centuries, sightings of spectral armies have been reported on famous battlefields around the world, including important battle sites from the English Civil War in the 17th century, the bloody Civil War battlefield of Gettsyburg and the World War I sites of Gallipoli (near Turkey) and the Somme (northern France).
Another particularly active center for paranormal activity is the HMS Queen Mary, a cruise ship built in 1936 for the Cunard-White Star Line. After serving in the British Royal Navy in World War II, the 81,000-ton ship retired in Long Beach, California in 1967; the plan was to turn it into a floating luxury hotel and resort. Since then, the Queen Mary has become notorious for its spectral presences, with more than 50 ghosts reported over the years. The ship’s last chief engineer, John Smith, reported hearing unexplained sounds and voices from the area near the ship’s bow, in almost the same location as a doomed British aircraft cruiser, the Coracoa, had pierced a hole when it sank after an accidental wartime crash that killed more than 300 sailors aboard. Smith also claimed to have encountered the ghost of Winston Churchill–or at least his spectral cigar smoke–n the prime minister’s old stateroom aboard the ship. Many visitors to the Queen Mary have reported seeing a phantom crewmember in blue overalls walking the decks. Around the ship’s swimming pool, reports have been made of mysterious splashes and ghostly women in old fashioned bathing suits or dresses, along with trails of wet footsteps appearing long after the pool had been drained.
Among major cities, New York is especially rich with ghost stories. The spirit of Peter Stuyvesant, the city’s last Dutch colonial governor, has been seen stomping around the East Village on his wooden leg since shortly after his death in 1672. The author Mark Twain is believed to haunt the stairwell of his onetime Village apartment building, while the ghost of poet Dylan Thomas is said to sometimes occupy his usual corner table at the West Village’s White Horse Tavern, where he drank a fatal 18 shots of scotch in 1953. Perhaps the most famous New York ghost is that of Aaron Burr, who served as vice president under Thomas Jefferson but is best known for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804. Burr’s ghost is said to roam the streets of his old neighborhood (also the West Village). Burr’s spectral activity is focused particularly on one restaurant, One if By Land, Two if By Sea, which is located in a Barrow Street building that was once Burr’s carriage house.
Now that being said, I wouldn’t call it easy but there are ways to ghost hunt and prove to yourself.
Grim Reape is usually a skeletal figure, who is often shrouded in a dark, hooded robe and carrying a scythe to “reap” human souls. But how and when did this imagery come to be associated with death?
The Grim Reaper seems to have appeared in Europe during the 14th century. It was during this time that Europe was dealing with what was then the world’s worst pandemic, the Black Death, believed to be the result of the plague. It is estimated that about one-third of Europe’s entire population perished as a result of the pandemic, with some areas of the continent suffering far greater losses than others. The original outbreak of the plague occurred during 1347–51, and outbreaks then recurred several other times after that. So, clearly, death was something that the surviving Europeans had on their mind, and it is not surprising that they conjured an image to represent it.
Skeletons are symbolic of death, representing the human body after it has decayed. The robe is thought to be reminiscent of the robes that religious figures of the time wore when conducting funerary services. The scythe is an apt image taken from agricultural practices of the time: harvesters used scythes to reap or harvest crops that were ready to be plucked from the earth…and, well, that’s kind of what happens when humans die: they are plucked from this earth.
Slenderman, as “a mythical creature often depicted as a tall, thin figure wearing a black suit and a blank face”. In the mythology “he can stretch or shorten his arms at will and has tentacle-like appendages protruding from his back”.
Every depiction riffs on the central characteristic of the black suit and blank face. And the thinness.
The Slender Man meme began in June 2009 when a competition on the comedy web forum Something Awful asked for ideas for a modern myth with which to terrify people. One contributor, Eric Knudsen, using the pseudonym Victor Surge, responded by posting two faked photographs, purportedly from the mid-1980s, showing a tall, sinister figure lurking behind groups of children. Knudsen attached some vague text suggesting 14 young people and the photographer had gone missing.
Bigfoot is a large and mysterious humanoid creature purported to inhabit the wild and forested areas of Oregon and the West Coast of North America. Bigfoot is also known as Sasquatch, an Anglicization of the name Sasq’ets, from the Halq’emeylem language spoken by First Nations peoples in southwestern British Columbia.
Most people who believe in Bigfoot’s existence, or claim to have seen one, assert that they are hair-covered bipeds with apelike features up to eight feet tall that leave correspondingly large footprints. They are generally characterized as nonaggressive animals, whose shyness and humanlike intelligence make them elusive and thus rarely seen, though some wilderness travelers claim to have smelled their stench or heard their screams and whistles.
A few physical anthropologists, such as Jeff Meldrum at Idaho State University and Grover Krantz at Washington State University, have espoused the biological reality of Bigfoot based on their examination of the 1967 film footage of a purported Bigfoot taken in northern California’s Klamath Mountains or on their morphological analysis of footprints, some of which exhibit dermal ridges, as those found in the 1980s by a U.S. Forest Service employee in the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon. Most scientists, however, remain skeptics and dismiss the phenomenon as the product of the mistaken identification of known animals or elaborate hoaxes, with prints cleverly planted to deceive.
Over time, stories about Bigfoot have entered into oral tradition and become part of regional folklore. The historical record of Bigfoot in the Oregon country begins in 1904 with sightings of a hairy “wild man” by settlers in the Sixes River area in the Coast Range; similar accounts by miners and hunters followed in later decades. In 1924, miners on Mount St. Helens claimed to have been attacked by giant “apes,” an incident widely reported in the Oregon press. Local Native Americans used this event to discuss publicly their own knowledge of tsiatko, hirsute “wild Indians” of the woods, traditions first documented in 1865 by ethnographer George Gibbs.
After 1958, woods workers east and west of the Cascade Mountains began to report seeing creatures and discovering their immense tracks along logging roads, enhancing public recognition of the Bigfoot name. Witnesses observed these so-called humanoids crossing roads at night, striding furtively through forest and mountain terrain, or digging for and eating ground squirrels in rock piles.
Bigfoot quickly entered into the occupational culture of loggers, manifested as serious stories, jokes, chainsaw sculptures, and fabricated prints as playful pranks. By the 1970s, former Yeti-hunter Peter Byrne had established the Bigfoot Information Center at The Dalles, gaining national media attention for his documentation of eyewitness testimony and footprints adduced as evidence for a new species of primate. Footprints in dirt or snow continue to be found and reported to various organized groups who have followed Byrne’s efforts.
Native Americans in Oregon have increasingly situated Bigfoot within traditional belief systems as beings with deeply rooted cultural significance. Tribes in coastal Oregon related Bigfoot to ancient tales of “wild men” who lurked near villages and left immense tracks, as described in Clara Pearson’s tales from the Nehalem Tillamook. Members of Plateau tribes, such as those at the Warm Springs Reservation, identify Bigfoot as a “stick Indian,” a diverse category of potentially hostile beings who stole salmon or confused people by whistling, causing them to become lost. Sightings and stories continue on reservations today, representing a spiritual connection to the pre-contact past and the resilience of Indigenous cultural heritage.
More recently, Bigfoot in popular culture has devolved into a series of sports mascots, children’s entertainments, and cryptozoological reality shows. It has also been playfully promoted in state legislation and celebrations. Politicians in both Oregon and Washington have proposed bills to protect the creatures from hunters, and hairy humanoids have served as official state mascots, first as Harrison Bigfoot for Washington’s Centennial in 1989 and then Seski the Sasquatch for Oregon’s Sesquicentennial in 2009.
A number of prominent writers have reflected thoughtfully on the tradition in literature that explores changing attitudes toward the natural world. Through fiction and science writing, they have depicted Bigfoot as a kind of charismatic megafauna that emerged in the modern environmental imaginary as an icon of enchantment and endangerment, employed to remythologize connections between humans and the wild in the region’s compromised but not unredeemable landscapes. In The Klamath Knot (1984), for example, natural historian David Rains Wallace uses Bigfoot to discuss relict species, mythic themes, and evolutionary narratives in his portrait of the Klamath Mountains. In Where Bigfoot Walks (1995), lepidopterist Robert Michael Pyle writes about his personal search for evidence of Bigfoot in the mountains of the Columbia River Gorge as he contemplates the human need for wilderness and what he calls the “divide” between human and animal. Portland-based novelist Molly Gloss borrows from both Native American traditions and the legacy of feminist primatology in Wild Life, an elegant fiction of ecological sensibilities and zoological mystery on the lower Columbia River in the early twentieth century.
Like salmon, Bigfoot has become an important symbolic resource through which many Oregonians and Northwest residents have defined their identities and considered their place in the natural world.
A troll is a being in Scandinavian folklore, including Norse mythology. In Old Norse sources, beings described as trolls dwell in isolated rocks, mountains, or caves, live together in small family units, and are rarely helpful to human beings.
In later Scandinavian folklore, trolls became beings in their own right, where they live far from human habitation, are not Christianized, and are considered dangerous to human beings. Depending on the source, their appearance varies greatly; trolls may be ugly and slow-witted, or look and behave exactly like human beings, with no particularly grotesque characteristic about them.
Trolls are sometimes associated with particular landmarks in Scandinavian folklore, which at times may be explained as formed from a troll exposed to sunlight. Trolls are depicted in a variety of media in modern popular culture.
Later in Scandinavian folklore, trolls become defined as a particular type of being. Numerous tales are recorded about trolls in which they are frequently described as being extremely old, very strong, but slow and dim-witted, and are at times described as man-eaters and as turning to stone upon contact with sunlight. However, trolls are also attested as looking much the same as human beings, without any particularly hideous appearance about them, but living far away from human habitation and generally having “some form of social organization”—unlike the rå and näck, who are attested as “solitary beings”. According to John Lindow, what sets them apart is that they are not Christian, and those who encounter them do not know them. Therefore, trolls were in the end dangerous, regardless of how well they might get along with Christian society, and trolls display a habit of bergtagning (‘kidnapping’; literally “mountain-taking”) and overrunning a farm or estate.
Lindow states that the etymology of the word “troll” remains uncertain, though he defines trolls in later Swedish folklore as “nature beings” and as “all-purpose otherworldly being[s], equivalent, for example, to fairies in Anglo-Celtic traditions”. They “therefore appear in various migratory legends where collective nature-beings are called for”. Lindow notes that trolls are sometimes swapped out for cats and “little people” in the folklore record.
A Scandinavian folk belief that lightning frightens away trolls and jötnar appears in numerous Scandinavian folktales, and may be a late reflection of the god Thor’s role in fighting such beings. In connection, the lack of trolls and jötnar in modern Scandinavia is sometimes explained as a result of the “accuracy and efficiency of the lightning strokes”. Additionally, the absence of trolls in regions of Scandinavia is described in folklore as being a “consequence of the constant din of the church-bells”. This ring caused the trolls to leave for other lands, although not without some resistance; numerous traditions relate how trolls destroyed a church under construction or hurled boulders and stones at completed churches. Large local stones are sometimes described as the product of a troll’s toss.[ Additionally, into the 20th century, the origins of particular Scandinavian landmarks, such as particular stones, are ascribed to trolls who may, for example, have turned to stone upon exposure to sunlight.The Princess and the Trolls –The Changeling, by John Bauer, 1913
Lindow compares the trolls of the Swedish folk tradition to Grendel, the supernatural mead hall invader in the Old English poem Beowulf, and notes that “just as the poem Beowulf emphasizes not the harrying of Grendel but the cleansing of the hall of Beowulf, so the modern tales stress the moment when the trolls are driven off.”
Smaller trolls are attested as living in burial mounds and in mountains in Scandinavian folk tradition. In Denmark, these creatures are recorded as troldfolk (“troll-folk”), bjergtrolde (“mountain-trolls”), or bjergfolk(“mountain-folk”) and in Norway also as troldfolk (“troll-folk”) and tusser. Trolls may be described as small, human-like beings or as tall as men depending on the region of origin of the story.
In Norwegian tradition, similar tales may be told about the larger trolls and the Huldrefolk (“hidden-folk”), yet a distinction is made between the two. The use of the word trow in Orkney and Shetland, to mean beings which are very like the Huldrefolk in Norway, may suggest a common origin for the terms. The word troll may have been used by pagan Norse settlers in Orkney and Shetland as a collective term for supernatural beings who should be respected and avoided rather than worshipped. Troll could later have become specialized as a description of the larger, more menacing Jötunn-kind whereas Huldrefolk may have developed as the term for smaller trolls.
Troll, a Norwegian research station in Antarctica, is so named because of the rugged mountains which stand around that place like trolls. It includes a ground station which tracks satellites in polar orbit.
The Headless Horseman is a mythical figure who has appeared in folklore around the world since the Middle Ages. The Headless Horseman is traditionally depicted as a man upon horseback who is missing his head. Depending on the legend, the Horseman is either carrying his head, or is missing his head altogether, and is searching for it. Examples include the dullahan from Ireland, who is a demonic fairy usually depicted riding a horse and carrying his head under his arm; the titular knight from the English tale Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a short story written in 1820 by American Washington Irving, which has been adapted into several other works of literature and film including the 1949 Disney cartoon “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” and the 1999 Tim Burton film Sleepy Hollow.
Is it possible Dragons were misunderstood?
Ancient people may have discovered dinosaur fossils and understandably misinterpreted them as the remains of dragons. Chang Qu, a Chinese historian from the 4th century B.C., mislabeled such a fossil in what is now Sichuan Province. Take a look at a fossilized stegosaurus, for example, and you might see why: The giant beasts averaged 30 feet in length, were typically 14 feet tall and were covered in armored plates and spikes for defense.
Native to sub-Saharan Africa, Nile crocodiles may have had a more extensive range in ancient times, perhaps inspiring European dragon legends by swimming across the Mediterranean to Italy or Greece. They are among the largest of all crocodile species, with mature individuals reaching up to 18 feet in length—and unlike most others, they are capable of a movement called the “high walk,” in which the trunk is elevated off the ground.
Australia is home to a number of species of monitor lizards, also referred to as Goannas. The large, predatory animals have razor-sharp teeth and claws, and they are important figures in traditional Aboriginal folklore. Recent studies even indicate that Goannas may produce venom that causes bite victims’ wounds to develop infections after an attack. At least in Australia, these creatures may be responsible for the dragon myth.
Others argue that the discovery of megafauna such as whales prompted stories of dragons. Ancient humans encountering whale bones would have no way of knowing that the animals were sea-based, and the idea of such gargantuan creatures might well have led people to assume that whales were predatory. Because live whales spend up to 90 percent of their time underwater, they were poorly understood for most of human history.
However there are 7 real dragon like creatures (not like the movies) that are still alive today as well as archeologists recently finding a new dragon fossil in north Canada calling it the Dragon.
A demon is a supernatural being, typically associated with evil, prevalent historically in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology, and folklore; as well as in media such as comics, video games, movies and television series.
The original Greek word daimon does not carry negative connotations. The Ancient Greek word δαίμων daimōn denotes a spirit or divine power, much like the Latin genius or numen. The Greek conception of a daimōn notably appears in the works of Plato, where it describes the divine inspiration of Socrates.
In Ancient Near Eastern religions and in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered a harmful spiritual entity which may cause demonic possession, calling for an exorcism. In Western occultism and Renaissance magic, which grew out of an amalgamation of Greco-Roman magic, Jewish Aggadah and Christian demonology, a demon is believed to be a spiritual entity that may be conjured and controlled.
A devil is the personification of evil as it is conceived in many and various cultures and religious traditions. It is seen as the objectification of a hostile and destructive force.
It is difficult to specify a particular definition of any complexity that will cover all of the traditions, beyond that it is a manifestation of evil. It is meaningful to consider the devil through the lens of each of the cultures and religions that have the devil as part of their mythos.
The history of this concept intertwines with theology, mythology, psychiatry, art and literature, maintaining a validity, and developing independently within each of the traditions. It occurs historically in many contexts and cultures, and is given many different names—Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, Mephistopheles—and attributes: It is portrayed as blue, black, or red; it is portrayed as having horns on its head, and without horns, and so on. The idea of the devil has been taken seriously often, but not always, for example when devil figures are used in advertising and on candy wrappers.
In Christianity, evil is incarnate in the devil or Satan, a fallen angel who is the primary opponent of God. Christians also considered the Romanand Greek deities as devils.
Christianity describes Satan as a fallen angel who terrorizes the world through evil, is the antithesis of truth, and shall be condemned, together with the fallen angels who follow him, to eternal fire at the Last Judgment.
In mainstream Christianity, the devil is usually referred to as Satan. This is because Christian beliefs in Satan are inspired directly by the dominant view of Second Temple Judaism, as expressed/practiced by Jesus, and with some minor variations. Some modern Christians consider the devil to be an angel who, along with one-third of the angelic host (the demons), rebelled against God and has consequently been condemned to the Lake of Fire. He is described as hating all humanity (or more accurately creation), opposing God, spreading lies and wreaking havoc on their souls.Horns of a goat and a ram, goat’s fur and ears, nose and canines of a pig; a typical depiction of the devil in Christian art. The goat, ram and pig are consistently associated with the devil. Detail of a 16th-century painting by Jacob de Backer in the National Museum in Warsaw.
Satan is traditionally identified as the serpent who convinced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit; thus, Satan has often been depicted as a serpent. Although this identification is not present in the Adam and Eve narrative, this interpretation goes back at least as far as the time of the writing of the Book of Revelation, which specifically identifies Satan as being the serpent (Rev. 20:2).