So in the spirit of the season, I thought it would be cool to have a post acknowledging all the creepy characters humans have told stories about over the centuries. However, there’s no reason these creatures have to be monsters. All too often, these lists contain the stuff of nightmares this time of year. I thought it might be nice to mention a few myths you don’t have to be afraid of. Here are 4 magical myths I’ve come across that aren’t as sinister as some other, more well-known figures. 🙂
First up, the Wulver!
The Wulver is a type of werewolf originating from the Shetland Islands. It is described as a hairy man with a wolf’s head, and is not necessarily a shape-shifter, unlike many other werewolf legends. It usually kept to itself and didn’t cause any trouble, so long as it wasn’t disturbed. It was not uncommon for this wolf to catch fish for poor folks and leave it on their windowsills to lend a helping hand. 🙂
There is an Irish version of the werewolf called the Faoladh, which is also benevolent in nature. It is said that the Faoladh would guard wounded men in battle, ensuring their survival, and protect lone and lost children.
Next, we have the brownies. No, not the food (so delicious!), but the hobgoblin-like household spirit from northern Europe. These little guys are described as small, wrinkled humanoids who live in the unused parts of your house (e.g. attics, closets, holes in walls, etc.) They appear in many places under many names, but some things seem to remain constant across the board. For instance, they help out around the house! A brownie will do anything from sweeping floors to keeping animals safe. They just need you to adhere to a few ground rules.
First of all, brownies only work at night and hate to be seen, so don’t think your mythological roommate is going to be your BFF. More importantly, brownies require gifts, usually of food – they especially love honey and porridge. Don’t let up on these small presents, and definitely don’t refer to them as “payments”, and you and your household brownies should get along swimmingly. If you break the rules, however, you risk angering a brownie, and then all their household help turns into household sabotage.
There are more rules, depending on where you live and what type of brownie you have. In some places, offering a brownie clothes is seen as sure way to send your brownie away. Calling a brownie by name can also be seen as a great method of angering the helpful spirits. Sometimes, they even have a flair for social justice; there are folktales of brownies harming people who are dishonest or cruel. But if you aren’t any of those things, you should have nothing to fear from a brownie but help with the chores!
Now, to China! There, we find the Qilin. There are many, many different descriptions of this creature, but common themes seem to include an equine or equine-like body, and a head engulfed in flames.
While this might be a little scary to see (imagine a deer-dragon thing on fire coming towards you) the Qilin is generally seen as a good thing, a caring creature that doesn’t want to harm anyone. Some myths say it floated on clouds, as it was unwilling to harm even a single blade of grass while walking. While the Qilin is sometimes incredibly powerful, often this power is only revealed when it must destroy evil people to protect innocents. Overall, the Qilin is a good guy. 🙂
That’s why seeing one is considered good luck. A Qilin is said to only appear when a particularly virtuous ruler is in power, or before the birth or death of a sage (Confucius’s birth was said to be heralded by a Qilin). So don’t freak out if you spot a flaming chimerical creature; it’s a good omen!
Finally, we have the selkies. Selkies are from Scottish and Irish folklore, specially the Orkney and Shetland islands. Similar creatures appear in Scandinavia, particularly Iceland. These creatures are definitely friendly – but perhaps too much so.
Selkies are like were-seals. They don a seal skin that allows them to live as seals in the ocean. However, they will often shed those skins in order to become human. Once they do this, they are described as being incredibly attractive. There are countless tales of young women becoming almost hypnotized by the charms of selkie men in human form. It is not uncommon for these women to disappear into the ocean, either to join their selkie lovers or drown. Mortal men are not immune either. Selkie women, like their male counterparts, are extremely alluring, and will frequently take human partners. However, these tales can quickly become tragic, ending with the human lover stealing and hiding the selkie’s seal skin, trapping them on the land. Sometimes, this ends in a happy marriage; other times, the selkie regains their skin and returns to the sea. The lesson to be learned here? Whether your boyfriend or girlfriend is a human or a mythical creature, don’t hide important things from them, like your feelings, or maybe a magical seal skin.
There aren’t a lot of nice mythical monsters out there, but I hope I managed to find enough to satisfy your curiosity. 🙂 If you have any more friendly creatures, please mention them in the comments! Happy Halloween!