CREATURES MYTHICAL MAGICAL & SUPERNATURAL
All who believe in witches and magic, also believe in magical creatures, witches and sorcerers have a telepathic link with them. Mythical creatures were said to be bringers of gifts and messages sent by the deities. These wonderful creatures can be invoked for their unique qualities and strengths and bring their magical energy to spells and rituals. The ancient Egyptians believed that these sacred creatures embodied the characteristics of their ruling goddesses and gods. Human form is not particularly important in many tribal societies, as they believe all creatures are constantly shape shifting, humans may become animals or birds, and animals or birds may become human beings. Some European warriors, about to go into battle, entered a trance state and were possessed by the spirit of the wolf. There was an archaic practice in Rome, where people would keep snakes in their homes, believing the snake to be the spirit of an ancestor.
Actaeon – Actaeon the hunter, became separated from his party during a hunt, he entered a clearing with a large pool, he inadvertently saw the goddess Artemis naked while she bathed. So angry was Artemis that a mortal had seen her naked, she turned him into a stag, Actaeon’s own hounds still hunting, did not recognise their master in his new form, he was attacked and killed by them.
Alvis – Alvis (All Wise) in Germanic mythology, was a dwarf who wanted to marry Thor’s daughter Thrud, he first had to prove to Thor, who was not happy about the pending marriage, that he had the wisdom he was famed for. Thor quizzed Alvis throughout the night until the sun came up, and like all dwarfs the daylight turned Alvis into stone.
Angrboda – Angrboda (Distress Bringer) in Germanic mythology, she was a frost goddess who was the mistress of Loki and mother of three monstrous offspring, Fenrir the wolf, Jormungand the serpent and a daughter named Hel. The gods decided to deal with these monsters quickly, they did this by binding and gaging Angrboda, then taking her and Loki’s children to Asgard. Loki banished Hel to the “world beneath the worlds”, here she was put in charge of the inglorious dead, Jormungand was hurled into the ocean by Loki and the huge snake sank to the depths after he crashed through the ice. Odin was unsure of what to do about Fenrir, the goddess of destiny warned him that the wolf would bring about his death. Odin, decided to bind Fenrir with a magic chain and keep him captive, Odin knew Fenrir would break free at Ragnarok the day of doom and destroy him, in preparation for this, Odin gathered his greatest champions to his side.
Ankou – Ankou the King of the dead and one of the most feared fairies, his task is to collect the souls of the dead and escort them to the land of the dead, accompanied by the loyal subjects.
Arachne – Depending on the circumstances, sometimes taking the form of an animal was a punishment, Arachne a Greek maiden who was gifted in the art of weaving, made the mistake of boasting that she was a far superior spinner and weaver than the goddess Athena. Athena was known for her spinning and weaving prowess, she challenged Arachne to a weaving contest. Once their looms were set up, they wove in the same room from early morning until darkness made it difficult to see, their individual work was then compared. Arachne’s cloth depicted the goddesses and gods in a most unflattering way, angering Athena even more, she was so outraged by Arachne, Athena turned her into a spider.
Artemis – The virgin huntress goddess Artemis was a goddess of women, no men were allowed to attend her rituals. Artemis was known as the Great She Bear, she took this form and was worshipped during the New Moon, bear worship was one of the most ancient ceremonies. Artemis was associated with the Bee goddess, the priests became eunuchs to serve the Bee goddesses, they were called, Essenes (drones), male bees are known as drones.
Audhumla – Audhumla was the primeval cow in Germanic mythology, the first animal to emerge from Ginnungagap (“the yawning emptiness”). Audhumla had enough milk to nourish Ymir, the first frost giant and the first live thing of all. Ymir’s children descended from the frost giants who were enemies of the gods. The cow received nourishment from an icy salt lick, with her first lick some hair appeared, next a head and finally the body of a man named Buri, Buri, he produced a son named Bor, he married Bestla daughter of a frost giant. Their sons were the first gods, Odin, Vili and Ve, the three gods battled the frost giants, slaying Ymir. The giant fell and the blood from his wounds flooded the land and drowned all his frost children, only Bergelmir and his wife were able to escape.
Baba Yaga – Baba Yaga sometimes (Jezi Baba), the hideous man-eating female dragon of Slavonic tradition. She lived in a house with legs like a chicken, the garden fence was made of human bones. She had a mouth that stretched from earth to the gates of hell, Baba Yaga used an iron kettle when she wanted to fly anywhere.
Banshee – Banshee (bean sidhe) (woman of the fairies), the fairy of the Irish countryside. After the arrival of the ancestors of the present day Irish, the goddesses and gods, known as the Tuatha De Danann, disappeared underground and dwelt in mounds. Living happily in sidhe heavens beneath the grass on the hillsides, they slowly transformed over the centuries into fairies and it was believed that the eerie wail of a banshee prophesied the impending death of a human.
Balor – Balor was the Irish Cyclops, he was a one eyed god of death and the most formidable of the violent sea gods, the Fomorii. Whoever looked upon his one eye was destroyed, a prophesy foretold that Balor would die at the hands of his grandson. This he tried to avoid by isolating his daughter Ethlinn in a crystal tower. Cian a member of the Tuatha De Danann, entered the crystal tower with the assistance of a female druid, Ethlinn gave birth to three sons, which Balor ordered to be drowned in a whirlpool. Balor’s servants were ordered to do this, they rolled the three boys in a sheet, but on the way to the whirlpool one fell out, the boy Lugh was rescued by Manannan Maclir, the god of the sea. The second battle of Magh Tuireadh, was a fierce contest between the Fomorii and the Tuatha De Danann, no one was able to withstand Balor’s deadly gaze. Lugh, the grandson unknown to Balor, noticed that Balor’s eye was slowly closing due to weariness. Lugh crept near him with his magic sling-shot, and the moment he opened his eyelid, he hurled the stone into Balor’s eye, forcing the eyeball backwards through his head, Balor was then paralyzed by the effect of his own deadly eye.
Basilisk – The basilisk is a fantastic serpent, it has a spot on its head like a crown and it hatches from a spherical egg. The basilisk has the power to cause the death of anyone it fixes its gaze upon, it had the head and legs of a cock, the tail of a snake, the body of a bird and was yellow in colour. The name basilisk comes from the Greek baseleus (king), this creature was the most poisonous on earth.
Bast – The goddess Bast in her cat form was the goddess of dance, children, music, fertility and women, summon her for matters concerning protection. She possesses the divine all seeing eye of Ra and is the daughter of the Sun god Ra, she was a beloved and revered goddess. In ancient Egypt cats were honoured, they were considered sacred animals, cat amulets were coveted and used for protection.
Bats – Bats sleep upside down hanging by their feet, they are nocturnal and make their homes in caves or in deserted properties and in hollow trees, they navigate by sonar. In many cultures bats are considered sacred and identified with the souls of the dead. Some tribes in Africa believe that the spirit of the deceased hovers near the body in the form of a bat, it is believed that the bats flying around at night are spirits coming to visit their loved ones. When witchcraft was at its height and witches were being persecuted, bats were seen as a witch’s familiar and as a disguise for the Devil.
Bees – Bees represented the soul in ancient Egypt and were said to be born from the tears of the Sun god Ra. Bees are devoted to the good of the whole, they build intricate homes and communities, not unlike the cities built by humans. Individual bees will sacrifice their lives for the survival of their community. In some parts of Europe it is believed that the ancestors return to visit as bees and over the centuries honey was considered a divine food. Socrates spoke about how it would be a reward for those who lived a good life, to be reincarnated as bees. A twentieth century scientist named Karl von Frisch, carried out an in depth study of bees.Von Frisch began to understand how the bees communicated and how they gauged the direction and distance of food, by the way they danced within the hive.
Bugudy Musun – Bugudy Musun, Siberian Mother Goddess of Animals. For centuries man has worshipped the seasons, nature, the Sun and the Moon and offerings are given to the Earth Mother. Indigenous hunters in Siberia worship Bugudy Musun, she controlled all food supplies. Bugudy Musun is old but powerful and takes the form of a huge elk or reindeer.
Butterfly – The butterfly in many customs and cultures is depicted as the soul and it is said that if a butterfly hovers over the body of someone who has died, their soul is hesitant to move on to the next realm. Another belief is that the dead person’s soul will return in the form of a butterfly hovering around familiar places. There is a traditional belief in Indonesia, that if a butterfly comes into your home, it is the spirit of a deceased loved one.
Bugudy Musun – Bugudy Musun Siberian Mother Goddess of Animals. For centuries man has worshipped the seasons, nature, the Sun and the Moon and offerings are given to the Earth Mother. Indigenous hunters in Siberia worship Bugudy Musun, she controlled all food supplies. Bugudy Musun is old but powerful and takes the form of a huge elk or reindeer.
The Black Tortoise – The Dark Warrior, better known as the black tortoise, is the creature of the Moon and a symbol of long life, the family, strength and endurance, its elements is water, which is emotional, intuitive and mysterious. Its energy comes from the north, bringing with it serenity and calm.
Cailleach – Cailleach (Veiled One), is the Mistress of the Animals in Ireland and Scotland, the form Calleach took as one of her animal guises, was the deer. She also manifested herself in the form of an old woman wearing black with a crow on her shoulder, one touch of the holly staff she carried could kill a mortal.
Camelopard – The mythical camelopard inhabited the hottest regions of Africa, it was half camel and half leopard, it was imbued with magical properties. A rope can be woven from the mane of the camelopard, it is the only magical part, a witch can then fly on it like a broomstick.
Cat – The mystical cat has been the stuff of legends for centuries, witchcraft is associated with cats and witches have cats as familiars, at times a witch takes the form of a cat. During the time of the witch-hunts, cats were executed along with their witch companion. Artemis the Greek goddess of the moon, changed herself into a cat in order to escape the serpent Typhon, she then fled to Egypt in this guise. For some people the black cat is a sign of bad luck, whereas the wives of English mariners, kept black cats as a talisman, or charm, to ensure their husbands safe return. A huge cat carried the black witch of Fraddan across the night sky on its back.
Caer – Caer was a fairy maiden, Aonghus the Irish love god fell in love with Caer in a dream, he then became ill, when he discovered the identity of Caer he asked her father for her hand in marriage. Ethal Caer’s father told him that he could not grant his wish as his daughter had taken the form of a swan. Ethal said he would agree to the marriage if Aonghus could recognise Caer from among the flock of swans. Aonghus recognised Caer immediately when the swans arrived at the Lake of the Dragon’s Mouth, Aonghus went to the shore and called her name, Caer and Aonghus were then married.
The Four Celestial Animals of Feng Shui – The bird, tortoise, dragon and tiger are the four celestial animals of Feng Shui, they are associated with constellation groupings in Chinese astrology. These archetypal animals are part of a belief system of energy balancing, which began in China, to then be embraced by Western cultures. Through the practice of Feng Shui, the energies of these creatures can be channelled and used to balance the energies within people’s homes or businesses.
The Celtic Christian Saint Patrick – Saint Patrick was travelling when he heard that an ambush upon him and his men was planned by the Druids. Saint Patrick and his men began chanting the Deer’s Cry. This created the illusion of invisibility thus protection, the Druids only saw a doe followed by fawns on the road. Those with magical abilities could do what is called psychological profile lowering, this is where they are somehow able to be there, but not be seen by the enemy. Those who did summon an animal or bird when practicing magic, found that they were able to absorb the strength and qualities of the animal.
Centaurs – The Centaurs had the head, arms and chest of a man and the legs and lower half of a horse. They lived in Thessaly, were meat eaters and given to extremely unruly behavior, except for Chiron who was a scholar and a tutor. When the Centaurs were invited to attend the marriage of Hippodamia and Pirithous, they lived up to expectations by behaving riotously.
Cernunnos – Cernunnos (Horned One). There were a number of horned gods who were revered in Celtic tradition, the name for these gods was Cernunnos (Horned One). Cernunnos is also called Lord of Winter and associate with male fertility, the underworld, animals, death and the Hunt. Cernunnos is often depicted with a ram-headed serpent and a stag.
Cerberus – Cerberus was the offspring of the monsters Typhon and Echidna, he was a three headed hound, so dreadful to look at that anyone who did was turned to stone. Cerberus was guardian to the entrance of the Greek underworld, stopping anyone trying to return to the land of the living.
Cerridwen – The Mistress of shape shifting, Cerridwen crone of wisdom, could change form and become any animal or bird she chose. Cerridwen represents the crone, the darker aspect of the triple goddess, she is the keeper of the cauldron of knowledge and inspiration in the underworld, she is a gifted seer.
Crow and Raven – The raven is a larger than the crow, it builds its nest as far away from humans as it can, preferring a solitary existence, the crow on the other hand likes to be where there are people. The raven and crow are faithful to their mates for life, if one dies the other remains loyal. Both birds have a dour aura and are associated with death and prophecy. The ancient Romans believed birds were mediators between gods and humans. Two ravens named Muninn (memory) and Huginn (thought), sat on the shoulders of the Norse god Odin, who was associated with battles. The crows flew all over the world to then bring news back to Odin. Morrigan the Celtic goddess of war, shape shifted into a crow or raven and came as a messenger of death. Brynhild – Brynhild was a Valkyrie, she defied Odin, who then banished her to earth and imprisoned her within a ring of fire. Sigurd rescued Brynhild breaking her charmed sleep and they fell in love, Sigurd gave her his ring Andvarinaut, he was unaware of its curse. Grimhild bewitched Sigurd causing him to betray Brynhild and marry Gudrun, he then helped Gunner win Brynhild. In utter despair Brynhild killed herself.
Chiron – Chiron, the famous half horse half man centaur, he was a gifted musician, a talented huntsman, warrior and studied medicine, he taught archery to Hercules and Achilles. Chiron was the son of Philyra daughter of Oceanus and the Titan Cronos. Chiron was wounded accidentally by a poisoned arrow and although he was immortal, he gave up immortality because the pain was so great, he became the constellation Sagittarius upon his death.
Dove – Many goddesses of the ancient world believed the dove was sacred, doves drew the chariot of Aphrodite the Greek goddess of love. When Orion the hunter attempted to break into the home of the Pleiades, the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, Aphrodite turned the girls into doves, enabling them to escape by flying away. The seven daughters were later transformed into stars by Zeus.
Dragons – The beautiful mythical dragons have been written and talked about for hundreds of years, it is believed that the living dragon was gigantic. The word dragon is derived from the Greek word drakon (huge serpent). The dragons of myth and legend are always described in the same way, a huge scaly reptile with claws, legs and a long scaly tail, usually fire breathing. It is believed in Oriental tradition, that it took 1,000 years for a dragon to hatch and 3,000 years to then reach maturity. The dragon in China is associated with the power of the emperor and the bringer of good fortune. It is believed these dragons sleep under the ground in pools or wells during the drought season. In the spring when the dragons awaken and mate, rain is created, these dragons scatter fireballs and pearls on to the earth. Every year during the fourth day of the first Full Moon in February, there is a celebration that begins with the procession of the Golden Dragon, signifying good luck for the New Year. Red envelopes of money are given to the young, symbolically transferring the dragon’s luck.
Dragons in Greek mythology were seen as guardians of all that was to be maintained and protected, especially treasures. The hundred headed dragon Ladon guarded the golden apples on the Tree of Life, which gave immortal life in the magical garden and was cared for by the Hesperides nymphs. Heracles killed the dragon thus fulfilling one of his twelve labors.
On the fifth day of the fifth Moon, the Dragon Boat festival, an ancient festival, is celebrated in southern China, Malaysia and Hong Kong, this is done to seek good health from the dragon gods. In Chinese astrology the Year of the Dragon occurs every twelve years, offering opportunity and prosperity, especially for those born in the Year of the Dragon. The Chinese dragons carry a fiery pearl in their mouths as they have no wings, this gives them the ability to fly to the heavens.
Thousands of years ago dragons were teachers of wisdom and writing. Celestial dragons live in the heavens and serve the gods. The male weather and air dragons bring the winds and rain to help crops. The female earth dragons have the task of preserving and caring for subterranean waters and the rivers. There are dragons who are responsible for volcanoes and earthquakes, they are the guards of subterranean treasure.
Eagle – This regal bird is extremely powerful and is associated with the Sun. The eagle is able to swoop down and use its great strength to lift large prey such as sheep, eagles make their nests in tall trees or on rocky cliffs. The word eagle comes from Latin (Aquila), the eagle is known as the, “king of birds,” the eagle is the interpreter of the deity Jupiter. The eagle was instructed by Zeus to find the most beautiful boy and bring him to Mount Olympus, he was then to become a cup bearer. The eagle captured Ganymedes (Aquarius) in his talons and delivered him to Mount Olympus.
Fairies – A fairy is a mythical creature, a type of spirit, described as preternatural, metaphysical or supernatural, all fairies possess magical powers, they have the ability to cast spells and fly. They look human, are very tiny and have beautiful translucent wings. They are often referred to as the “ageless ones”, ruling over fire, water and earth, protectors of animals, children and forests. Belief in fairies has continued for centuries, fairies live within a special dimension and it is the more awakened and intuitive people, mainly childred who tend to see them. Those who believe in and practice magic, will usually draw the attention of a curious fairy.
Flidais – An exceptionally powerful huntress goddess, the Celtic Irish animal goddess Flidais. Flidais had the ability to shape shift and become any creature she wished. Celtic deities were related to animals, the Mistress of the Animals was able shape-shift into an animal or bird form. Celtic goddesses had the ability to change into animal form to enhance their qualities. The Celtic goddesses in later times took the form of fairies and on occasion would take the shape of a deer to evade capture and possession by a hunter magician.
Freya – Freya (Freyja) (lady), the fertility and love goddess Freya took the form of a falcon by putting on a falcon skin that gave her the power to fly. Freya was the daughter of the sea god Njord in Germanic mythology, she was an important fertility goddess and a sorceress who used her magical ability to shape shift into a falcon. She was an adept at spells and charms, taught to her by the Vanir, one of the two branches of the Germanic gods.
The Giants – Gigantes in Greek mythology, were shaped like humans with snakelike tails attached to their legs. When Mount Olympus was attacked by the giants, the gods realised they could not be killed by divine hand. Zeus then fathered the hero Heracles through a mortal woman, during the battle between the gods and giants Heracles was able to slay the giants with poisoned arrows.
Grendel – Grendel (“grim and greedy, brutally cruel”) was a water monster who was invulnerable to weapons, one night he ate a sleeping warrior. Beowulf, another warrior, held the monster’s arms in a vice grip, during the struggle Grendel’s arm was torn off, causing him to bleed to death. Beowulf then went to the monster’s lair and found its mother.
The Gorgons – The Gorgons were three sisters Stheno (strength), Euryale (wide leaping) and Medusa (queen), Medusa was the only mortal of the three and like her sisters, had snakes for hair. One look at Medusa’s face could turn any living being to stone.
Irnan – Irnan, in Irish mythology was a witch who once spun a magic web in order to catch members of the Fenians, the bodyguard of the High King of Ireland. When her plan failed, Irnan changed herself into a monster and challenged any member of the Fenians to single combat. The leader of the Fenians gave permission to another Fenian, Gall, to enter into combat with the witch-monster. Goll slew Irnan, Finn, allowed Goll to marry his daughter as a reward.
King Lycaon – King Lycaon attempted to kill the god Zeus by serving him human flesh, Zeus was aware of what the king had done and did not eat the food. The angry Zeus destroyed the palace and turned King Lycaon into a wolf, he would remain in this form for the rest of his life.
Ladon – In Greek mythology Ladon was known as the hundred headed dragon, guardian of the goddess Hera’s golden apples of the garden of the Hesperides nymphes. Heracles killed Ladon and Hera the Mother goddess and wife of Zeus, rewarded the dragon for her loyalty by placing her in the skies.
Mermaids – In ancient cultures Mermaids were believed to be powerful gods and people worshipped them, often leaving gifts for them on the rocks where the water breaks. The ancient mariners sighted Mermaids on many occasions. Some sailors attempted to catch them, but the Mermaids were prepared for this and dived down deep into the water where they knew they would never be followed. Mermaids have magical powers, they make their homes in and near undersea caves where they can safely remain undiscovered, they have the ability to communicate with all the other creatures of the sea. All Mermaids and Mermen are very loyal and once they imprint on their partner they commit for life. Mermaids and Mermen are wise and soulful creatures with a quick grasp of knowledge, this they are generous with and pass down all they have learned and all they know to their descendants. The King and Queen Merman and Mermaid preside over the various domains where magical communities have been built.
Morholt – Morholt was the gigantic brother of the king of Ireland King Mark of Cornwell, the people were expected to pay tribute to Morholt each year, a practice Mark’s nephew Tristan wanted to put an end to. Triston sailed to Ireland and killed Morholt, who had first managed to injure Triston with his poisoned sword, he told Triston that only his sister Iseult could cure his poisoned wound.
Merlin – Merlin the magician was the most powerful and famous magician of Arthurian mythology, medieval tradition attributes the construction of Stonehenge to his magical power. Merlin was the child of a mortal mother and demon father, it was from his father that he inherited his extraordinary powers. Merlin was the trusted advisor and messenger for King Arthur and like many of the Celtic goddesses and gods, Merlin could magically shape shift into any form he chose.
Nidhogg – Nidhogg in Germanic mythology, was a dragon who lived at one of the three roots of the cosmic tree Yggdrasil, in the freezing mists and darkness of Niflheim, the lowest of the nine worlds, the dragon spent each day eating corpses. When he tired of the taste of dead flesh, he chewed the roots of Yggdrasil in the hope of inflicting damage on the cosmos. Yggdrasil and Nidhogg were destined to survive the final catastrophe of Ragnarok, the end of the world and the doom of the gods.
Pan – Pan was known as the Greek god of the mountainside, the pastures of sheep and goats, he had goat horns and goat legs, he was the son of the messenger god Hermes. Pan assisted in the Athenian and Plataean victory over the Persians at Marathon in 480 BC, by making the Persians panic and flee. The word panic comes from Pan and this aspect of his being.
Phoenix – The mythical phoenix is an Arabian bird with brilliant red and gold feathers, which burns itself on a pyre of fragrant incense every 500 or 1,000 years, from this a new bird rises from the ashes symbolising renewal and transformation. Perfect for spells and rituals where change is the intention. The phoenix represents the Sun and growth, the body of the phoenix signifies the five human qualities, the head represents virtue, the wings represent duty, the back represents correct behavior, the breast humanity and the stomach reliability.
Pegasus – The winged divine horse Pegasus was owned by the Greek hero Bellerophon, he was given the legendary magic bridle by Athena goddess of love, in order to help him tame Pegasus. Pegasus allowed Bellerophon to ride him and together they had many exploits, including the defeat of a monster the Chimera. When Bellerophon attempted to fly to Mount Olympus, upon the instructions of Zeus, Pegasus threw Bellerophon and he fell to his death.
The Rhine Maidens – The Rhine maidens were ethereal spirits, in the winter they dwelt in lakes and rivers, emerging only in the summer months. The moods of the nymphs were reflected in the river’s colours, when the nymphs lost their gold the rivers turned black, they cried to the gods for their loss.
Roc – The mythical Arabian bird Roc, was white, enormous and had a huge wing span, it was said to have great strength and was able to feed upon giant serpents and elephants. The Roc’s wingspan was 50 ft., its feathers were as big as palm leaves.
Satyrs – The Satyrs were the wild spirits of the Greek and Roman woodlands. They had a goat like appearance and hooves, they teased the nymphs by chasing after them and played tricks on men. They were associated with Dionysus the Greek god of vegetation, wine and ecstasy, they were always an integral part of Dionysus’s festivals.
Scarab Beetle – The scarab beetle was sacred to the god of the Sun Ra, the beetle pushes a ball of dung into an underground burrow where it then consumes it, the dung ball represents the motion of the Sun crossing the sky. Many wore amulets in the shape of a scarab beetle and beetles were often mummified and buried, after which they entered the next world.
Shaman – Shamans in various tribal societies put on animal or bird headdresses, feather cloaks and animal skins for ritual purposes. This enables them to enter into a trance and travel in their minds as animals or birds, communing with the spirits in the otherworld and seeking healing for others. The great shamans of many tribes take the form of an animal or bird, shamans shape-shifted into their animal spirits or power animals, who were their guardians. We are one with all things including nature, is the belief of the Shamans. The three human forces of intent, energy and action are necessary for transformation to occur.
Sleipnir – Sleipnir (Glider) was the eight legged horse ridden by Odin chief of the Germanic gods, he was the offspring of Svadilfari a stallion and Loki, the shape shifter who disguised himself as a mate. Sleipnir had the ability to fly over sea and through the air, he could beat any other horse in a race, Odin was carried into battle at Ragnarok, by Sleipnir.
Siren – In Greek mythology the Sirens were the three daughters of the river god Achelous, they lured sailors to their death. On dark nights while at sea, the sailors would be drawn towards the exquisite voices of the Sirens, only to find themselves shipwrecked on the rocks.
The Spirit -The ancient Egyptians believed that the human spirit returned to earth temporarily after death, in the form of animals or birds. It was also believed that the spirit (the ba) of the dead was able to transform itself into a serpent, swallow or golden hawk. The deities were portrayed in animal or bird form or wearing an animal headdress, the animals and birds embodied the positive characteristics of their ruling goddesses and gods.
Skoll – Skoll in Germanic mythology, was a wolf who pursued the Sun across the sky at Ragnarok the doom of the gods, Skoll was destined to swallow the Sun. Before this happened the Sun would give birth to a beautiful daughter and the new Sun would warm and illuminate the new earth, risen from the sea following the catastrophe. Another wolf named Hati chased after the Moon, both wolves were the sons of a giantess who lived in the woods.
Taliesin – Taliesin (Shining Brow) was a wizard, who according to Welsh mythology was the first one to have the skill of prophecy. He acquired his abilities as a young boy then named Gwion Bach, he was a servant of the witch Ceridwen. Ceridwen prepared a magic brew and whoever swallowed this potion would acquire all the secrets of the past, present and the future. While tending the cauldron for Ceridwen, Gwion accidentally spilled some of the liquid on his finger, he then sucked his finger to stop it burning. Gwion ran from the furious witch who chased him as he transformed himself several times, he was eaten by her when he changed into a grain of rice. He was reborn as Taliesin, shape shifter, poet, magician, writer, musician
Typhon – Typhon was a monster serpent with enormous eyes that shot out flames, he was conceived by mother earth Gaia when she was banished to Tartarus. The volcanic activity of Mount Aetna was caused by Typhon’s imprisonment beneath the crater, Zeus destroyed him with a thunderbolt.
Unicorns – The unicorn was first mentioned and described in 400 BC, it was discovered by a Greek naturalist when he was travelling in the Far East. Other accounts of these beautiful creatures were given by Greek and Roman philosophers who claimed to have seen them during their travels. The unicorn was often engraved on shields and armor to imbue the wearer and their family or clan with power and the mystical and enduring qualities of these creatures. The tears of the unicorn had magical healing properties. The unicorn was the most popular animal in the Middle Ages, it was always depicted in the same way, a beautiful white horse with a white horn protruding from its forehead and it was believed to be impossible to capture.
Utath – Utath (Horror) was the water giant who challenged the three Irish heroes Cuchulainn, Laoghaire and Conall, to a beheading contest. They each had an opportunity to take an axe and chop off the giants head, but they must then place their own head on the chopping block for the giant to decapitate. Only Cuchulainn agreed to the challenge, the giant proclaimed him the Irish champion, after the announcement Utah revealed to the three brothers that he was Curol the Munster king.
The Viking Berserkers – The Viking berserkers or bear men, were powerful humans and were said to shape shift. They went into battle wearing bear skins and no armor, they entered a trance state becoming fearless, unable to feel pain and howling like animals, appearing to their enemies like wild animals, terrorising those who opposed them.
Werewolf – A werewolf (lycanthrope) in mythology, is a person who morphes into a wolf, this is done either with magic powers, such as a witch covering her body with a specially made potion to create such a change. Or if a witch or sorcerer puts a curse on someone, if this happens they will transform into a wolf each time the Moon is full. Another way for someone to shape shift into a wolf, is if they receive a bite from a werewolf. Werewolves possessed superhuman strength and were one of the most feared creatures, the werewolf is only active at night.
Witches – Witches often morphed into the form of a bird or animal when they wanted to travel undetected by humans and with speed. A seventeenth century confessed witch, Isobel Gowdie, concocted a magic potion with special herbs, she swallowed the potion and chanted her spell enabling her to turn into a cat. To change back into her human form she chanted her spell backwards three times. Witches who performed black magic, shape shifted into a cat, enabling them to enter the house of their intended victim undetected. The most feared witch transformation was the wolf, the witch did this by rubbing magical ointment on her body, for the witch to return to their own form, seven magic words had to be whispered.
The White Tiger – Invoke the white tiger who’s element is metal, representing unyielding power, determination and unpredictability. The white tiger offers strength and necessary change, especially useful for those who know change is necessary and are resisting it. The white tiger also offers the energy of protection. A tiger statue can be placed in the West corner of a home or property for protection.
Xanthus – Xanthus was one of two immortal horses belonging to the Greek hero Achilles, he had the power of human speech. Xanthus assisted Achilles on the battlefield but was unnerved by the slaughter, when Achilles questioned the horse about this, Xanthus warned Achilles of his impending death. These were the last words spoken by the immortal horse as he was immediately struck dumb by the Furies.
Zonget – Zonget is a Siberian Mistress of the Herds and ruler of animals, birds and those who hunted these animals. Zonget the Mistress of the Herds, takes the form of a gray Arctic bird when she appears to mortals. In Minoan culture The Mistress of the Animals was shown as a goddess standing on a mountain in front of a shrine of bull horns, rising up on either side of her are two guardian lions. Bulls or bull horns were a representation of the son/consort of the Mistress of the Animals, she has also been depicted with wings and surrounded by lions and bees.
Human form is not particularly important in many tribal societies, their belief is that all creatures and humans are constantly shape shifting, humans may become animals or birds and animals or birds may become humans. Some European warriors about to go into battle, entered a trance state and were possessed by the spirit of the wolf. There was an archaic practice in Rome where people would keep snakes in their homes, believing the snake to be the spirit of an ancestor.
All the tales of myth and magic that have been told and retold, I often wonder how many wonderful stories of magical, mythical, supernatural and wondrous creatures are yet to be revealed.