Vampires, vamoose! Here are five lesser-known but equally amazing (sometimes terrifying) mystical creatures from around the world.
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Selkies live as seals but can shed their skins and become human in order to come onto land. They are native to Ireland, Scotland, Iceland, and the Faroe Isles.There are many tales of selkies. They’re said to be very beautiful, being forced into relationships with humans who steal their skins. These tales almost always end with the selkie’s retrieval of their skin, often many years later, and their immediate return to the ocean. The Irish Oscar-nominated animated film Song of the Sea centers around a young boy dealing with his selkie mother’s return to the sea, and the music is gorgeous.
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Kelpies are a shape-shifting water demon native to Scotland. Though usually appearing as a horse, the kelpie can also take a human form, retaining its hooves. The kelpie lures unsuspecting people to their deaths in the water, where it devours them. Almost every large body of water has a kelpie myth associated with it and it has been offered as an explanation for the Loch Ness Monster.
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One of the earliest forms of zombie, Draugrs, native to Scadinavia, live in their graves, often guarding treasure which has been buried with them. Draugr have superhuman strength and they can grow at will. They’re murderous and drink the blood of their victims.
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Banshee, from the Irish bean (woman) and sí (fairy), refers to an Irish spirit who announces the death of a family member by ‘keening’ or howling near the home of the deceased. She is said to haunt only five major Irish families: the O’Briens, the O’Neills, the O’Gradys, and the Kavanaghs, though other sources say she will herald the deaths of members of any families descended from the Milesian Stock, beginning with O’ or Mac/Mc. She is described as wearing red or green and having fiery red hair. Her shriek has been likened to the call of a fox.
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The bake-kujira, which means ‘ghost whale,’ is, surprisingly, a ghostly whale, native to Western Japan. It appears as a whale skeleton and swims accompanied by strange birds and fish and allegedly brings misfortune wherever it is spotted.
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