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THOSE WHO HAUNT THE EARTH: LILITH

Lilith is a figure in Jewish mythology, developed earliest in the Babylonian Talmud, who is generally thought to be derived from a class of female demons (Līlīṯu) in Mesopotamian texts. In Jewish folklore, from the eighth- tenth centuries Alphabet of Ben Sira and onward, Lilith becomes Adam’s first wife, created at the same time and from the same earth as her husband. This contrasts with Eve, who was created from one of Adam’s ribs. The legend was greatly developed during the Middle Ages. In the 13th Century writings of Rabbi Isaac ben Jacob ha-Cohen, for example, Lilith left Adam after she refused to become subservient to him. Adam complained to God, and three angels were sent to bring Lilith back to Eden, although she refused to return. Eventually, Lilith became a lover to demons, producing one hundred offspring a day. When she did not return to Adam, God punished her by taking away her children. Lilith was believed to haunt new mothers and their infants, especially sons. She was also viewed as a seductress, using men to create her demonic children.

THOSE WHO HAUNT THE EARTH: GHOUL

In Arabian folklore, a ghoul (ghūl) is a desert-dwelling demon that can assume the guise of an animal, usually a hyena. It is an evil spirit that robs graves and feeds on the flesh of the dead or on young children. They inhabit lonely places, especially graveyards. They also lure travelers into the desert, beguiling their victims with their beautiful singing and then devouring them.

THOSE WHO HAUNT THE EARTH: YUKI ONNA

Yuki Onna (“snow woman”) is a spirit or yōkai in Japanese folklore. She appears on snowy nights as a tall, beautiful woman with long black hair and blue lips. Her inhumanly pale or even transparent skin makes her blend into the snowy landscape. Some legends say the Yuki Onna, being associated with winter and snowstorms, is the spirit of a woman who perished in the snow. She is at the same time beautiful and serene, yet ruthless in killing unsuspecting mortals. In many stories, Yuki Onna appears to travelers trapped in snowstorms and uses her icy breath to leave them as frost-coated corpses. Other legends say she leads them astray so they simply die of exposure. Other times, she manifests holding a child. When a well-intentioned soul takes the “child” from her, they are frozen in place. Parents searching for lost children are particularly susceptible to this tactic.

THOSE WHO HAUNT THE EARTH: LAMIA

In Greek mythology, Lamia was once a beautiful queen and a mistress of Zeus. Jealous of the relationship, Hera killed Lamia’s children and transformed the queen into a monster that hunts and devours the children of others. In another version, the loss of her children prompts Lamia to steal and consume others’ children out of envy, eventually turning into a monster herself. She is commonly depicted as a serpent below the waist, and later stories describe her as incapable of closing her eyes, forcing Lamia to obsess over the image of her dead children. Zeus, taking pity on her, gave Lamia the ability to remove her eyes, allowing her to rest and escape from her grief, however briefly.

THOSE WHO HAUNT THE EARTH: WHITE LADY

A White Lady is a type of female ghost reportedly seen in rural areas and associated with some local legend of tragedy. Common to many of them is the theme of losing or being betrayed by a husband or fiancé. In popular medieval legend, a White Lady is fabled to appear by day as well as by night in a house in which a family member is soon to die.