top five mythical creatures
1. doppelgänger: mythology is full of shadow- and second- and mirror-selves, creatures that wear your face and maybe your dreams. in Breton myth it’s an aspect of Ankou (Death); the Irish fetch is an omen of coming death; Orkney myth tells of “trows”, who steal human children and replace them with replica “changelings”. there’s also the ancient Egyptian ka, a solid second-self with the thoughts and memories of its other; the Norse vardøger and Finnish etiäinen, “firstcomer”, a wraith-self who carries out the acts of a living person before them.
2. shtojzovalle: small and searingly beautiful forest-dwelling creatures in Albanian myth (their name means something like multiply, god, their choirs), invisible to humans unless they choose to lift the veil over human eyes. they can fly, and at night they spin the threads of human fate. if you build your house on shtojzovalle land they will haunt you with rattling iron chains; if you step on a shtojzovalle it will eat you whole; its tears are lethal. in Christian tradition, when Michael fought against Satan the neutral angels became shtojzovalle, and they weep forever in repentance.
3. Ammit: the demon “devourer of the dead” in Egyptian myth, part lion part hippopotamus part crocodile, who stands by a lake of fire. if Anubis judges a heart to be impure, she will devour it, after which the soul becomes restless, wandering in an eternal “second death”. the Egyptians never worshipped her; she was the symbol of what they feared above all else.
4. drioma, the Slavic spirit of evening and night. she appears as a little man with a soft and lulling voice, or an old kind woman with soft hands. at twilight she walks beneath the windows, and when darkness falls she enters the house through its cracks, and goes to see the children asleep—arranges the bedclothes, strokes their hair. to adults she brings nightmares.
5. Leviathan: the gigantic serpentine sea-beast described in Job, Isaiah, and Psalm 74, which has eyes like dawnlight, a mouth of fire, scales like thickest iron armour, and mighty crushing jaws. in the Middle Ages it was an image of Satan, or a crown prince of Hell, or the Hellmouth (the monster into whose mouth the damned will fall at the Last Judgement). the chaos-serpent of the sea appears again and again in mythologies—Apep, Tiamat, Typhon, Lotan, Aspidochelone, &c.