Halloween may be over, but these spooky ghouls haunt all year round, the whole world over. Take a look at some of the weirdest, most wonderful ghouls, ghosts, and goblins from international folklore. I’m rooting for Deer Woman myself. I like her style.
1. Black Annis
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Black Annis, sometimes referred to as Black Agnes, is a child and lamb-eating crone from Leicestershire, England. She has a blue face, fangs, and iron claws. She wears the tanned skins of her prey around her waist, after devouring them. She has used her claws to dig herself a cave in the cliffs.The earliest reference to Black Annis was from an eighteenth century title deed to a piece of land known as ‘Black Anny’s Bower Close.’
She has cropped up a few times in popular culture, most hilariously in a newsletter written by J. K. Rowling for the Harry Potter Fan Club in the late nineties. In an excerpt from the ‘letters to the editor’ section of The Daily Prophet, one Annis Black writes, hitting back at the paper for its “portrayal of Hags as flesh-eating monsters,” and subsequently offering her “babysitting services in her cave in Deadmarsh.”
2. La Llorona
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Maria was a cool gal whose husband left her and she went off the rails a bit. In order to get back at him, she surrendered her status of cool chick aaaaand…drowned all their kids as revenge. Yikes. Overcome with remorse directly after drowning all their kids as revenge, she threw herself into the river. However, not unexpectedly, she didn’t make it to a peaceful afterlife and instead is said to wander riverbanks, wailing (hence her name La Llorona, meaning ‘weeping woman’). La Llorona weeps as she walks, kidnapping children, and, you guessed it, drowning them.
3. The Peony Lantern
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The story of the Peony Lantern is from seventeenth century Japan. On the night of Obon, a Japanese festival that honors the spirits of the ancestors, a widowed samurai named Ogiwara met a beautiful woman named Otsuyu, who was accompanied by a young girl holding a peony lantern. Ogiwara and Otsuyu met secretly and would spend the nights together. However, an old neighbor of Ogiwara eventually grew suspicious and snuck out to spy on them. She is horrified to see Ogiwara getting it on with a skeleton. Ogiwara (somehow) only becomes aware that Otsuyu is a skeleton that night as well. He consults a Buddhist priest who advises him to resist the woman and places a protective charm on his house. Consulting a Buddhist priest who places a protective charm on his house. Otsuyu, however, calls him from outside and he cannot resist her. Ogiwara goes out to greet her, and is led back to her home, which is a grave (lol). In the morning, his dead body is found entwined with Otsuyu’s skeleton. Cute.
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A creature from Southern Slavic mythology, Drekavac is said to be the soul of an unbaptized child. It is bony and long-fingered, with a large head, said to resemble a dog or a bird (those animals are pretty different, though, and none of the illustrations look canine or avian-like, at all. They all look like straight up goblins). The drekavac jumps on people’s backs and screams predictions about their deaths and the deaths of their cattle. Rude.
5. Deer Woman
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A creature known to several Native American tribes, especially the Chippewa, this gal shifts between the form of a woman and that of a deer although she prefers to remain in an in-between state, with the head and body of an alluring young woman and the legs of a deer. She stands near hunting trails or enters dancing circles in order to lure young men into the forest. *sunglasses emoji* Deterrents include chanting, tobacco, or noticing that her feet are hooves.
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