A - Z of Mythological Creatures (Just 'A')
Mythology kills me, I must confess. I love the Odyssey and practically all Greek myths. I like the Norse, Celtic, Roman, Egyptian, Japanese, Chinese, African, Indian and all myths from all cultures. My idea is that anything that allows you to think beyond our every day boring old existence of black and white is worth paying attention to.
The thing though is, you get transported into realms when you read stories of warriors battling six-headed monsters and dragons breathing molten lava out of their mouths; and as an aspiring Film Director, I gotta tell you, it opens my mind to countless possibilities. It really does. My first and second novels are greatly influenced by mythological creatures. Take a guy like me, whose really into mystical and spiritual stuff, and is really intrigued by it, and really digs the hell out of it, and three-quarters of the time you’ll find that I like mythological stuff the best amongst all.
Here, I’m gonna begin an A-Z listing of popular mythological creatures from various cultures both ancient and extinct, as well as those still imbibed in the beliefs of present day tribes.
I like this one. The Acephali were once believed to be humans who had rebelled against the gods (that’s what kills me about myth, seriously; someone is always rebelling against the gods). Their sin against the gods had been so grave and grievous to the gods, that the gods would not destroy them utterly. But had removed their heads from off their shoulders and placed it on their chests, as punishment. So they get to spend an eternity with their heads in their chests. Some, however get to carry theirs’ about in their arms – who knows, play toss the ball with it, or in this case, toss the head.
The Afrits are Arabian evil spirits, who are often classified as a type of Djinn. In case you’re wondering what a Djinn is, well, relax, here's ‘D’ for ya. The Afrits are said to be so powerful that they can take any form they desire. You don’t wanna mess with an Afrit; that’s for sure.
Now this one is pretty weird – they are creatures whose eyes are located on their feet. They’ve gotta raise one feet up just to see things all around them. This makes them pretty weak too, ‘cause they’re basically like humans. That is, besides the eyes on the feet and all. Think about it, if you ever met an Aigamuxa, all you had to do is step on its feet. Sounds simple, huh. Well, think again. These creatures are cannibals, and have been known to have plagued the Hottentot tribes (now called Khoekhoe) in Sothern Africa. Scary, huh.
I’ve always sortta digged the name. It sounds so grand. Honestly, I use the word ‘grand’ for the lack of a better word. But here’s the thing though, a corny word like ‘grand’ doesn’t even begin to describe the Al Burak. Try a huge mule, with the head of a woman, a very beautiful woman for that matter; and the tail and feather of a peacock. Pretty cool, huh? Well, maybe not to you, but at least the Muslims think it is. It is the Al Burak that carried the Prophet Mohammed around Arabia, all the way to the Seven Heavens. Now check this, the Al Burak carried him all around the land of Arabia, and all the way up to the Seventh Heaven, and then finally brought him back, all this before a glass of water that the Prophet had knocked over before he was carried away even spilled a drop to the ground. If that isn’t cool, nothing is!
It’s a goat. Nothing special, right? Well, wrong! Try a goat that suckled the Mighty Zeus when the god was a baby. That’s gotta be something, right. I mean, that’s gotta make Amalthea like top goat of the universe or something, right. So, this Amalthea had two horns, right. Well, that should be pretty obvious, being a goat and all. But I felt the need to clarify that. After all, we are talking mythology here, right (where weird stuff happens) and not friggin’ veterinary! So, out of one horn flows nectar, while out of the other flows ambrosia, which is like the drink of the gods. But the goat died though, and here’s what Zeus did; he took the goat’s horns and put the golden apples of the Hesperides (daughters of the Evening Star) right inside them; you know, like a way to honour the goat’s memory and all.
It’s a weird two-headed creature; one head is attached to the other at the neck in such a manner that the creature is bent into a circle; this allows the creature circular motion, like a hoop. Weird, huh? I know. The creature isn’t carnivorous or anything, so nothing to worry there. Actually, the Amphisbaena eats ants. Can you beat that! The only thing, in my opinion worthy of note about the Amphisbaena is that according to the Roman Scholar, Pliny, the skin of the Amphisbaena can be used as a remedy against cold and feverish conditions. That’s if you believe that kind of stuff. Personally I don’t. It’s pretty much a known fact in scholastic studies that Pliny was a real loony, who didn’t know half of what the hell he was talking about!
They are Indian water nymphs. Now, this is something. You watch Indian movies, right? They call it Bollywood, their movie industry, that is. Why I’m I talking about Bollywood? Here’s why. If you’ve not seen a Bollywood actress, then trust me, you don’t know what ‘beautiful’ is, no kidding. Now, here’s the killer – the Asparas are supposed to be ten times more beautiful than these Bollywood actresses. I mean, they’re nymphs – inhuman. And they dance better too. They wear this gossamer clothing, and when they dance – it’s like the flow of water. They are something, the Asparas. No kidding!
This is a giant with 100 eyes. Yes, you read right – 100 eyes spread all over its body. Can you even imagine that, having 100 eyes? My guess is, hell, no! And this Argus, ‘cause he had 100 eyes and all, he couldn’t close all of them at once. Even when he slept he had at least 50 eyes open. At least. So you don’t even try crossing him; as my Cosa Nostra friends would say, “forgetaboutit!” But this is interesting though: In Greek Mythology, the goddess Hera who is of course the wife of Zeus had a priestess known as Io, and Io was fine as hell. And she should too, being the daughter of Inachus, the river god of Argos (a city lying in north-eastern Peloponnese, Greece). So here’s the thing, Zeus starts lusting for Io (Zeus is a pretty randy god, in case you didn’t know); and they start doing the naughty. But Zeus is pretty smart, I mean he is the chief god of Olympus, so here’s what he does – he transforms Io into a white heifer, just so his wife won’t suspect anything, right. But it doesn’t work for long; Hera finds out anyway, and uses her goddess’ charms against her husband, persuading him to give her the heifer, and he did! He really did. So, Hera had Io locked up, and guess who she commands to guard Io. Your guess is good – Argus, the All-Seeing.
So, Zeus in order to rescue Io from the hands of Hera sent Hermes (his son from another goddess, Maia). Now, Hermes is a real tough guy in Greek mythology, and he can sing as hell too. It’s funny how tough guys in Greek Myth always know how to sing, or play a harp or flute or something not too tough in the first place. Anyway, Hermes starts singing like a madman to Argus and all, and before the 100-eyed creature would know it, he had closed all his eyes, the whole 100. So Hermes killed Argus and busted his Dad’s Squeeze out of Hera’s jail. But Hera though pissed and all recognized Argus’ sacrifice, and so she took all his 100 eyes and placed them on the tail feathers of the peacock. You still see those eyes on a peacock’s tail feather till date, don’t ya!
These were a race of Scythians (an ancient nomadic people from the stock of Iran, from the 8th to 2nd century BCs) with only one eye. The Arimaspians were known to be mortal enemies of the Griffins (anyone who reads Harry Potter books ought to know what a griffin is, right! If not, wait for “G”), who are real wealthy creatures, with a lot of gold and all; so the Arimaspians always tries to steal the gold from the Griffins. So hence, they became sworn enemies. Don’t even mention Arimaspian to a Griffin, no!
Arion was a giant horse with two human legs. He was the son of Poseidon (god of the sea) and Demeter (goddess of agriculture). He was said to be as fast as the waves of the sea (we all know who he got that from), and was also capable of human speech.
It might interest you to know that according to folklore, the Aspidodelone was the whale-like sea monster that swallowed the prophet Jonah. Interesting, huh! Well, the belly of this monster is described to be as dark as hell. Here’s Jonah’s prayer while in the belly of the fish; Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly, and said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. Pretty good, right.
The Aspidodelone according to folklore is considered to be one of the Zaratan – an ancient breed of monstrous sea creatures. The thing about Zaratans is that they are so ancient and wide-spread that if you name any sea monster, go right ahead, name any sea monster you can think of, and chances are that it’s a Zaratan. They go way, way back. No kidding!
Also called the Nasatyas are twin-gods in ancient Hindu stories. They are said to possess golden skin and have bright eyes that have the power to melt the night away into dawn. They also possess the powers of healing, and are said to be able to heal both humans and gods.
A mouth-twister, huh! Well, it’s the primeval cow in Norse mythology whose milk formed the four rivers that nourished Ymir (the first being, and father of all giants in Norse myth). She was said to have sustained herself by licking salty rocks of rime. Audhumla existed in Ginnungagap (a void charged with magic force) before the beginning of the world, and was the first creature. She was born from the mists created when the warm winds of the south warmed the northern ice fields. In old German her name means "dark void".
It might interest you to know that this cow kept licking these rocks until it shaped into a man called Buri – who later became the grandfather of Odin, the chief Norse god and ruler of Asgard (the dwelling of the gods, comparable to Mount Olympus in Greek Mythology).
These ones are pretty mystical creatures – mountain spirits from the Peru and Andes mountain regions. They have the power to heal the sick, and so the Shamans or the area called the Brujos channel their powers through them to heal the sick. The Aukis listen to the Shamans when they whistle to them. Trust me, you might think you’re a pretty good whistler and all, but if you’re not a Shaman, I employ the use of my Cosa Nostra friends’ term once again, forgetaboutit!
...to be continued
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