Here in Sweden I think the two spookiest ones are Näcken, a naked old man that lives in rivers and ponds and plays a violin that places you into a trance. He then lures you into whatever source of whatever he lives in and drowns you.
The second one is the Skogsrå, who’d be a lot creepier if it wasn’t for the fact that she doesn’t really do all that much. She looks like a beautiful woman from the front, but her back looks like a rotten treetrunk with a hole in it. She lurks near the edges of deep forests and tries to seduce men. If you treat her well you’ll be bestowed with luck, but if you treat her badly you will be tromented by decease (Disease) and death.
What about mylingar though?
Undead/ghosts from infants murdered by their mothers that well depending on the version do a bunch of different things. Haunt the places where they were buried with cries that could be heard at times.
Ask to be given a name, since they were never baptized.
Ask travellers to carry them to hallowed ground to be buried, an ardous task as the myling tends to grow bigger the closer you get.
Or perhaps ask permission to breastfeed just one time. I’ll translate the story of one from Bergslagen that’s on wikipedia.
One tale from Bergslagen tells the story of an old crofter on his way back home from the tavern. He was greeted by a small boy with the words “Grandpa, grandpa, can I suckle?” The old man first refused the request but when the boy kept asking his question he finally answered. “If you have someone to suckle then suckle, but you can’t suckle me.” After that the boy left. When the old man finally got home to his cabin he found his daughter dead in the pull-out couch with blood running from her breasts. The old man’s answer let the boy take his revenge on his mother. The story tells: “When the boy was allowed to suckle, he knew where to go”.
Black Annis – In a grim, remote Leicestershire cave hewn with her own scraping, steel-clawed hands, the old crone Black Annis was said to hang the trophy skins of flayed children. A terrifying, lonely creature which lived in the branches of a gnarled great oak- the lone remnant of a long-dead great forest- Black Annis was thought to have been the husk of a forgotten dark Pagan Goddess.
A lot of modern interpretations of Faeries are based off Old Irish folklore and so I have to go with them.
Faeries aren’t whimsical little sprites. They are vindictive fucks whose attitude and disposition towards you could change on a whim. Piss off a faerie and chances are you are going to have a miserable life. Though this works both ways, have one in debt to you and you are in mad luck… probably. Really fascinating folklore behind these creatures, I advise reading up on them
In northern Canada there’s a creature called the wendigo. It used to be a person that once upon a time tainted his/her soul and ate human flesh. The wendigo became so consumed with flesh after that that it became insatiable. all attempts it makes at feeding itself grows the wendigo and doesn’t satiate it. They are said to have eaten their own lips because they just couldn’t resist.
As the legends go you should be careful while walking the forests. As the wendigo might capture you and eat you. But it won’t just eat you in one go. It’s used to hunger. It’ll keep you alive as long as possible so that it has a food source for as long as it can during the winter.
6. Salish People
There is a similar theme in coast Salish tribes. The man in the woods. The Salish name escapes me, but I have a 300 year old cedar carving of this boogeyman in my living room. Given to my grandfather by a tribe as thanks for him keeping them safe over a tough winter, it was passed to me me eventually. Grandpa owned a remote logging camp and fed the natives when it got ugly out. They presented it to him, telling him that it was a story designed to keep kids from venturing off and getting lost.
But they admitted, that there had to be some truth to all the legends. A man lost in the woods, possible mental illness, cannibalistic due to extremes, snatching people.
Folklore can sometimes find itself rooted in fact.
Edit: took pics of it. Zouniqua or Tsouniqua was the name of the legend
Here in Norway we have a lot of legendary creatures, but Draugen is probably one of the creepiest. Though descriptions of it tend to differ from place to place and story to story, the general concept of it is pretty much the same everywhere:
Draugen is, essentially, the ghost of a person who has died at sea. He can be seen on stormy nights, sailing in the splintered half of a boat with shredded sails. His face is fish-like, with soulless, black eyes and a wide, gaping mouth, and he has kelp and seaweed for hair. Sailors and fishermen foolish enough to head out to sea at night may hear only its shriek before they are pulled beneath the waves, only to return as Draugen themselves, doomed to haunt the waters forever.
Other Norwegian folklore monsters:
Huldra: apparently a beautiful woman but with a tail – lures you into the dark forest where you die (and is eaten by her in some accounts)
Nøkken: differs from the Swedish version mentioned elsewhere in the thread. In Norway he is a beautiful young boy who sits on stones in rivers playing the fiddle (or flute), luring you to drown as it is most often in streams with strong currents he sits
Fjøsnissen: essentially a leprechaun or goblin, lives on farms (fjøs = barn), and will help you to good harvests and healty animals if you are kind and take care of your farm and him, often by leaving food out for him. If you are neglecting your farm or your Fjøsnisse, he will sabotage you leading to even worse harvests and sick/dead animals.
Dodraugen: more modern brother of Draugen, this guy lives in your toilet pipes and takes bad children when they sit down to poop.
9. United Kingdom
We have a creature called a Kuri. It is known to wait near graves of people who have died on the moor. If you walk passed one of these graves, it will latch on to you.
It slowly convinces you of its existence over the course of weeks, if not months. First you may hear a faint whisper in your ear. You may dream of it or feel a cool touch on the back of your neck. Over time its presence will start become more known. It will grab your leg in the night, start attacking you in your dreams, transpose its face onto your family members as you’re talking to them.
It will never make itself known to anyone else, making you question your own sanity. It will start talking to you, asking you to go back to the moorland, promising you your freedom back if you do. Eventually, once the mental torment gets too much, you give in and wonder back out to the moors. It will keep telling you you’re almost there, allowing you to wonder aimlessly around. Eventually, exhaustion will strike you and you will be forced to watch your body succumb to the elements. As you lie there, unable to lift a finger, the Kuri tells you how much it will enjoy dragging your soul to hell. And like that, another grave is created.
In Finnish pre-christian religion, there’s a creature called Näkki, that lives in lakes and rivers. It looks partially like a beautiful lady but it’s half fish and will drown you if you go to the water or get close to it. It’s used sometimes to scare children from going to the water unsupervised.
In the American Southwest, there is the Navajo culture’s “Skin Walker”. It’s an person versed in supernatural powers (witch doctors, etc) who have gone an extra step to committing some atrocity, like murder, and thereby gaining the ability to shape shift into an animal.
Children and women would dance around a village fire and, during this process, everyone would write their names on rocks and place them in and around said fire. When the fire started to die out they would all run home- whereas if they stayed, ‘Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta’ (a bad omen that took the form of a tailless black sow with a headless woman) would devour their souls.
Afterwards men would go from door to door holding a mare’s skull dressed as a ghost, decorated with jewellery and expensive garments – this ‘being’ is called ‘Mari Lwyd’ and she is created to ward off evil.
The reason these men would visit each house was to cleanse the residents’ home so that they would be safe during the winter time when food was scarce. By not tipping the guests, bad spirits would remain in the residents’ homes, so the men sung, read poetry and even danced and the residents would then tip them with anything they had on hand (money, bread, beer etc.) and they would continue to do the same to the next house. With each house, they would become more and more jolly due to the fact that they would become progressively more intoxicated in the process.
The following morning, a village elder would visit the dead fireplace around which the children and women had danced on the previous night. All the stones containing villagers’ names would be checked. If, however, a stone was missing, the person who wrote their name on the stone would die within one year
I’m from Scotland and we have quite a few. There are ones that I find not so much creep but definitely odd haha.
Such as the Wulver, he was described as a man covered with brown hair on his body and having the head of a wolf. Though he was not malicious, apparently he was fond of fishing and would do so for hours even leaving fish on the windowsills of poor families.
And there is the Selkie, similar to a mermaid I suppose. These creatures had the skin of a seal but could shed them when they came to land. They often came to land to have children with the men there, only going back to find there skin and return to the ocean.
Nykur – Icelandic nightmare horse
A horse that hangs around lakes. If you touch it, you are glued to it. if anyone tries to help you by grabbing you and dragging you away, they are stuck to you. The nykur then walks into the lake and drowns you.
Because Nykur exists to fuck you up.
In Ireland we have a thing called the Kelpie. It basically looks like an average horse but it’s mane is always dripping wet. It lures Women and children into riding it, and when they get on it runs into water to drown them and later eat them. Never trust a European horse.
He’s a creepy guy with glowing red eyes and hidden moth wings who walks along roads and neighborhoods at night. I remember a story of a mother playing with her family in their living room when she looked at the door window and saw him staring at them.
When I was a kid I would always shut the blinds on all of the windows in our house, but there was one window in the kitchen without blinds. So most nights I would either go to bed hungry or sprint to get food, because if I did pass that window and there was a man’s face pressed against the glass then I would become a shrieking puddle of piss. And that would wake my parents up.
17. South Africa
In South Africa it is common for native Africans to sleep with their bed on top of bricks or other device to raise the bed. They believe in a creature called the Tokalosh which sits on your chest while you sleep and steals your breath causing you to gasp for air or even die. This is how it was described to me by my parents and saw multiple Africans beds which were abnormally high off the ground.
The Chinese “zombie” or jiangshi (僵尸) is a mummified corpse that has risen from the dead for various reasons. They don’t eat brains, or flesh – they drain you of your life force. They cannot walk or bend their limbs due to rigor mortis, and as such hop after their prey.
That may sound silly at first, but imagine it. Actually imagine walking on a dark road at midnight, by a graveyard. And as the cold night air brushes against your ear, you hear something. Something like footsteps, only heavier, pounding through the grass, stirring the cool air behind you:
Thump. Thump. Thump.
You don’t want to look back. You don’t want to look back.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
I had nightmares about it when I first learned of it. Of it hopping in the dark. Its outstretched arms, wrinkled grey skin, legs locked together, dead face in a slack, frozen leer.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
In Russian Folklore there is a character named Baba Yega. She is an old woman who lives in the deep forest in a wooden house with chicken legs. She eats people who come upon her dwelling.
She’s supposed to have iron teeth, and is as old as the world itself. She knows everything, and if you can survive her tasks and display proper respect and manners, she MIGHT let you ask a question. Her size varies according to the tale; many say she takes up most of the room in her house (nose up the chimney, sleeping on the stove, feet against the door). Some say she looks like an overgrown hill with mossy trees and stones, until it speaks to you. Her Sons are Dawn, Noon, and Night, and She may be the remnants of an ancient Goddess, like Black Annis.
In Mexico it’s the chupacabra. It looks like an oversized demonic chihuahua and it kills livestock and sucks out their blood like a vampire. Every time they find a “specimen” its just some poor World’s Ugliest Dog contestant.
In the Philippines, we have tikbalang. They are creatures with the body of a man and the head of a horse. They say they live in huge trees, smoking cigarettes and waiting for their victims to pass by.
EDIT: As pointed out by u/catsup_on_EVERYTHING (I hope that’s banana catsup, mate), I mixed up tikbalang with kapre.
Kapres are the ones who smoke. They are the smokers (they will pretty much hate our president now for banning cigarette-smoking in public places nationwide). Tikbalang just roam around forests, leading their victims to the wrong trails and shit.
In some regions, they say kapres smoke pipes. In some, they smoke cigarettes. Maybe they vape now.
We have something similar in Malaysian Folklore called the ‘Penanggal’
Basically its a flying detached head of a woman with its hearts, lungs and all her entrails still attached. Goes around sucking blood and eating fetuses.
In Mexico we have the “El Nagual”:
A nagual or nahual (both pronounced [na’wal]) is a human being who has the power to transform either spiritually or physically into an animal form: most commonly jaguar and puma but also other animals such as a donkeys, birds, or dogs and coyotes.
In English the word is often translated as “transforming witch”, but translations without the negative connotations of the word witch would be “transforming trickster” or “shape shifter”.
It is said that some “Naguales” still exist and snatch children to eat them
Turkish here but I guess it is more related to Islam than country.
We have djinn. And it is nothing like the Robin Williams.
According to folklore and religion, there are good ones and evil ones. Good ones mostly Muslim so they don’t bother you. Evil ones mostly don’t believe in god.
So if you say Djinn, they are drawn to you. And sometimes they haunt you just for fun. They don’t have a spesific shape because they can shapeshit but most noticiable feature is their feet are backwards. They live next to walls, abandoned houses, bushes and trees when you have to pee at night you shouldn’t pee at those or they will get angry and haunt you.
They are from another plane so normally invisible unless they want otherwise. It is always told that they like to toy with people. They like burning people, posessing people even raping the beautiful young girls. They target people who don’t believe them and who believes them and but terrified of them.
Some people claim to have power on them. These things can know everything about a person by just looking at one of that person’s belonging. They can travel huge distances in a blink.
There some verses from Quran that can make them keep distance depending on the creature’s power.
And I had a teacher, also friend of my father, who -allegedly- was perfect at fending them. According to his stories and his wifes words, he tried to send away a group which haunted a girl. He thought he managed untill the next day. One remained and tried to suffocate his newborn son with telephone cable. Wife says phone was flying, glasses were flying and hitting them and there were noone in the house. Eventually he managed it.
I happened to saw a similar thing when i was 7. But i still don’t know it was a dream or reality after all these years. But i still get the goosebumps thinking of it.
There’s a creature named “domovoi” in Russian folklore. Basically he’s like a guardian spirit of the house, who looks after the house and its inhabitants (if he likes you – if he doesn’t, he can do stuff like tangle your beard or rattle pans or whatever lol). Once a year you are can leave some kasha for him overnight to show your love.
There’s a superstition that you if a lose something inside the house, you can say something like “Domovoi, domovoi, you’ve played with it, now give it back”, then you leave the room and he’s supposed to give back to you. One of my elderly relatives swore by this method, she said she exploited hers to fetch her stuff all the time lol.
26. Native Americans
Man… Native Americans have a lot of shit that’ll fuck up your day. In Oklahoma I heard a few, one was specifically about some land my uncle had bought. There is a bend in the creek that’s insanely deep. Easily 15 feet which is super odd considering its knee deep just a bit up the creek as well as just a bit down. Apparently it’s been like that for years. The land was well known as it had a school on it a long time ago. I met one guy who went to school out there as well as lived there. He was able to tell me about a bunch of the landmarks as well as point in the direction of several new ones we hadn’t seen. He also told me about the bend in the creek. He said it was a portal to another world. He said while hunting one day he had shot a deer. Following it he found it on the bank of the creek and it sprung up and jumped right into the middle of the bend and never resurfaced. As he stood there waiting he kept hearing laughter until he could finally make out the figure across the water as a little person mocking him. When he started to move the little person leaped into the water and disappeared as well.
He also talked about the deer woman, but that was like a bad fairytale to keep your children in line. It was like a centaur but half deer, half old woman. When a child misbehaved at any type of ceremony the deer woman would stalk them in the woods until finally taking them and eating them.
27. Jewish Culture
There are a few strange creatures in the Jewish folklore:
- Re’em: A giant mammal the size of a mountain. There are said to be only two Re’ems living simultaneously – one female and one male living in the opposite sides of the planet. At the age of 70 they meet and reproduce, and then females bites the male fatally. The female Re’em is pregnant for 11 years, and during the last year of the pregnancy, she is unable to walk. The drool from her mouth waters the fields around her to provide her food. After she gives birth, to a male-female twin couple, she dies. They male walks east and the female walks west, only to meet again in 70 years.
- Golem: A man-shaped form, that has been given life by a person with knowledge of Kabbalah. He was created to help the Jews in their times of distress. He was given life by writing god’s name on a paper and placing it in its mouth, and writing the word truth (אמת) on it’s forehead. When it was no longer needed the letter א was removed, spelling the word מת = dead.
- Field sleepers (אדני שדה): Men with their umbilical cord connected to the earth. It was said that if they would be detached the would die.
- Arod: A snake-like creature. If bitten, the Arod and the bitten person raced to the nearest water source. THe first to reach the water would survive, the second would die.
Theses creatures aren’t commonly believed, and most Jewish people aren’t aware of their existence in the scripture.
Indian subcontinent. The Churel.
A female ghost that appears as a beautiful young woman to seduce men. Once seduced, she transforms to her true appearance. A hideously scary old woman with backwards feet. Unkempt hair, long saggy breasts, claw like fingernails, long pubic hair, thick black tongue and sharp teeth.
Some Churels will simply kill a man and feast on his flesh. Others will suck his blood or semen, turning him into an old man or causing him to lose his virility.
Usually women who die in childbirth or during menstruation and were ill-treated by her family will turn into a Churel. First they get revenge on the family and once the family is wiped out they will target any young man. They can be found near cemeteries, abandoned buildings or any dark, spooky place.
Some parts of the Indian subcontinent take precautions to prevent women from turning into Churels. Young women that pass on may have special funeral rites. This might include nailing women’s hands and feet when burying them and having her feet shackled in chains. Note that Hindus usually cremate their dead so burying them instead is a big deal.
Every Indian/Pakistani knows someone that knows someone that nearly fell into the clutches of a Churel.
The Soucouyant I used to be scared she would come and get me at night. She’s described as an old woman who can shed her skin and become a ball of fire or an animal you wouldn’t suspect. She sucks your blood and can turn you into things. To spot a Soucouyant you have to dump 100lbs of rice at a crossroad, and she will be compelled to pick them up grain by grain. If you know who the Soucouyant is, you have to find her shedded skin and put salt in it before dawn. Her skin would shrivel up and she won’t be able to get back inside.
Douens These fuckers haunted my nightmares. They are children’s spirits that died before baptism. They have no faces and their feet are back to front (heels facing forward). It still crawls my blood to imagine them with their backwards feet. They can steal children’s names and lure them away from their families.
It’s funny to think of what scared me as a kid. I hated the easter bunny. I imagined a 6ft monster bunny, so I always slept in my parents bed the night before Easter.
Not just in Slovakia, but that’s where learned of it, but I’d go with Poludnica.
She is supposed to be the personification of sun stroke, a midday demon. It is said she appeared to farmers working in the fields around noon and engaged them in conversation asking a difficult riddle. If they didn’t know the answer, she would lop off their head with a scythe.
Where I grew up, there is a mountain named after her and the way I was told the story by my grandfather, it doesn’t look like much from a distance, but is in fact the tallest mountain in the surrounding range. The same way Poludnica, the demon, appears as a small, frail woman in the distance at first, but by the time she gets close, it is already too late.