Mythological Creatures You’ve Probably Never Heard Of1
By Jason L. Cooper
It’s safe to assume that when people hear the word Mythology, their thoughts immediately turn to ancient Gods, Goddesses, and creatures made famous by the Greeks and Romans. That’s quite understandable. Critters like Medusa, The Minotaur, and The Kraken are hard to forget. We’ve seen images of them throughout our lives, and they’re featured prominently in books and movies. But there’s much more to mythology than just these few flashy characters. There are plenty of other fascinating creatures with mythological origins that you’ve probably never heard of.
One of these interesting mythological beasts is the inspiration for the mystery series The Vetala. The Vetala, the myth behind the storyline, originated around the 1st century A.D. in a collection of Indian stories called Baital Pachisi. A Vetala is a vampire-like entity that can inhabit the bodies of unassuming people – moving effortlessly from one body to another. By doing so, it’s able to keep itself alive indefinitely. The series puts a spin on this legend by moving the myth to modern times, following two intrepid college reporters as they work to uncover an illegal gun trafficking ring, and subsequently unleash the Vetala.
The Vetala – The Syndicate
The fact that creatures originating in ancient mythology continue to influence modern-day entertainment is clear, but what is unclear is how it came to be in the first place? One theory suggests that mythology is the embellished evolution of actual events. For example, the myth of Atlantis, the lost city, may have been inspired by an actual catastrophic event. Another theory purports that myth is allegory, a way to teach future generations about right and wrong. Still another theory maintains that myths were the way people explained strange phenomenon, like stars in the sky and earthquakes, before science stepped in.
The Egyptians are one of the many cultures with a vast library of mythologies in their history. Their stories feature not just tall tales of divine rulers and gods, but creatures as well. The Ammit, also spelled Ammut and Ahemait, for instance, is a female demon with a body that’s part lion, part hippo, and part crocodile. She is not a goddess and was never worshipped but rather served as the spiritual embodiment of everything that the Egyptians feared. Two of her many titles included “Devourer of the Dead” and “Eater of Hearts.”
Although mythology is most commonly torn from the pages of Egyptian and Greek texts, many other cultures have similar embellished beings and creatures. Japan’s Onmoraki, for instance, is a demon bird born from the bodies of recently dead corpses. The story claims that the Onmoraki are humans ghosts who are upset they weren’t given proper burying rights and have returned to seek revenge.
Not all mythological being are bad news, however. Some can be quite fun, like Saci from Brazil. He’s a sort of gnome-ish guy who appears out of dust devils and pulls pranks. As a bonus, this one-legged man with holes in his hands grants wishes – if you can catch him.
Out of Norse mythology comes the giant sea serpent Jörmungandr. Legend says that the Norse god Odin took the three sons of the Norse god Loki then threw one of them, Jörmungandr, into the ocean. He grew so large that he was able to encircle the whole world and grasp onto his own tail. When he lets go, the world will end. Consequently, Jörmungandr and Odin’s son Thor are bitter enemies. This relationship was recently featured in the blockbuster film Thor, proving once more that even the most remote of mythological tales is still relevant to modern-day storytelling – an incredible feat.
There are as many collections of myths in the world as there are cultures. At the risk of sounding like an after school special, I encourage you to read up on mythological creatures from across the globe. Each beast was born out of our ancestors’ desire to pass something along to future generations — something that could stand the test of time. Lucky for us, it has.
The Vetala – Resurrection
The Vetala – Reality Check
Jason L. Cooper is a writer who ain’t afraid a’ no ghosts. Additionally, bustin’ makes him feel good.