urban folklor

Day 4: The Hide-Behind. Originating from American lumberjack folklore, the Hide-Behind was said to be a predatory creature that stalked its human prey stealthily. It could contort its body to hide behind any structure when its prey turned around to look. It was a convenient explanation for the unexplained and unidentified strange noises lumberjacks would often hear in the woods.

Jorogumo

The Jorogumo is a mythical creature from Japanese folklore whose name translates as ‘prostitute spider’. 

The legend comes from the Erdo period and era ruled by shoguns that lasted from 1603 to 1868. When a spider lives for 400 years it gains the ability to grow to the size of a cow and can shape-shift into an attractive young lady. One typical trick it would play to catch a meal would be to transform into an empty inn, house or shrine. Part of it would become an attractive young lady playing on a Biwa and singing beautifully to attract its victim. Some would lure the person in to eat cake and drink sake. She would then get close to her victim and cover his feet in deadly silk from which there was no escape. She like most spiders would then devour him at her own leisure.

I’ve heard some commentators refer to creepypastas and other sorts of stories that get shared around the Internet as “fakelore.” This distinguishes them from “folklore,” which, as we all know, is not fake at all, is 100% verifiably historically true, and was definitely not made up in order to entertain people and convey social truths.

Sableye

Region of origin: Granite Cave, Dewford Town, Hoenn

A small subterranean creature with gemstone-like growths on its body, Sableye burrow through the caverns in which they live in looking for minerals to consume. They are largely solitary and will avoid contact with humans, but their menacing, impish appearance, erratic movements and tendency to attempt to scare people away from their territory has given rise to a folk belief that the Sableye is an evil spirit and when their gem-like eyes flash in the dark it is attempting to steal a person’s soul. Sableye contains elements of various boggarts and dwarves, but it is primarily stylized after the Hopkinsville Goblins in appearance as well as their chittering and convulsive movement (not to mention that they’re pretty chill but humans are kind of jerks to them).

(It’s Pokémon Sun/Moon release week, so I’m doing entries of Pokémon based on mythology and folklore. Relatedly, I have a Pokémon commission sale going over on my main account.)

Name: Krampus
Area or Origin: Germany

In contrast to Saint Nicholas who rewards well-behaved kids with gifts, The Krampus is a demonic figure that deals with those who aren’t so nice. Krampus are described as having dark hairy bodies, goat legs, hooves and pointed horns and oddly, a human foot on one leg. In many variations, their sharp pointed tongue may be sticking out, but not in all cases. They carry chains, thought to symbolize the binding of the Devil, and wield a bundle of birch branches to swat children with. They are also often seen with some sort of basket or tub on their back to carry off naughty children who’d promptly be eaten or punished in some way.

The jackalope is a mythical animal of North American folklore, and is often considered an urban legend, is described as a jackrabbit with antelope horns. The word “jackalope” is a combination of the words “jackrabbit” and “antelope”.

Stories or descriptions of animal hybrids have appeared in many cultures worldwide. In Europe, the horned rabbit appeared in Medieval and Renaissance folklore. Natural history texts such as Historiae Naturalis de Quadrupetibus Libri (The History Book of Natural Quadrangles) by Joannes Jonstonus (John Jonston) in the 17th century and illustrations such as Animalia Qvadrvpedia et Reptilia (Terra): Plate XLVII by Joris Hoefnagel (1522–1600) in the 16th century included the horned hare. These early scientific texts described and illustrated the hybrids as though they were real creatures, but by the end of the 18th century scientists generally rejected the idea of horned hares as a biological species.

References to horned rabbits may originate in sightings of rabbits affected by the Shope papilloma virus, named for Richard E. Shope, M.D., who described it in a scientific journal in 1933. Shope initially examined wild cottontail rabbits that had been shot by hunters in Iowa and later examined wild rabbits from Kansas. They had “numerous horn-like protuberances on the skin over various parts of their bodies. The animals were referred to popularly as ‘horned’ or 'warty’ rabbits." Legends about horned rabbits also occur in Asia and Africa as well as Europe, and researchers suspect the changes induced by the virus might underlie at least some of those tales.

There are, of course, the famous cases of taxidermy and frauds, but the horned rabbit legends have been tainted by these fakes.


What do you think about the infamous jackalope, or other mythical horned rabbits of lore? Real, fake or simply diseased?

Spring Heeled Jack

Spring Heeled Jack is a Victorian England folklore. He was described as terrifying in appearance, with clawed hands and eyes that “resembled red balls of fire”. Many stories also mention a “Devil-like” aspect. Others said he was tall and thin, with the appearance of a gentleman. Several reports mention that he could breathe out blue and white flames and that he wore sharp metallic claws at his fingertips. At least two people claimed that he was able to speak comprehensible English.

Must be the Season of the Witch

Daily Monster 292: Pérák, the Spring-Man of Prague

Region of origin: Prague, Czech Republic

An urban legend of 1930s Prague, Pérák, the Springer or literally “Shuttlecock,” was initially a mischievous or frightening figure who would leap out of the shadows to spook passersby and then leap away, making inhumanly long bounds similar to stories of Spring-Heeled Jack from England. During the German occupation of then-Czechoslovakia in the late Thirties/early Forties, however, the figure took on more superheroic aspects with stories of him using his acrobatics and stealth to sabotage Nazi operations and becoming a folk hero to the Czech resistance, since becoming the subject of several comics, animations and films. Unlike Spring-Heeled Jack, Pérák was rarely depicted as a supernatural figure, instead achieving the feats through technology (in some instances, literally just springs on his shoes).

Daily Monster 344: Deogen

Region of origin: Sonian Forest, Brussels, Belgium

A ghostly fog that falls upon drivers traveling through the Sonian woods, deogen manifests as black spectral figures darting in front of vehicles, bloody handprints left on car windows, cries and laughter of unseen children and a large, looming figure with staring eyes from which the phenomenon takes its name (deogen a corruption of “de ogen,” or “the Eyes”). Origins of the fog are tied to a local serial killer and his victims, which included at least eight children that were found in the woods but as the urban legend spread the number has climbed as high as eighty.

According to Japanese folklore, a noppera-bō is a paranormal creature that has no face and is said to be able to shape-shift into human form. This folklore was brought to Hawaii and in 1959, a woman claimed to have seen one of these figures in the restroom of a drive-in theater in Kahala. She claimed that inside the restroom she saw a woman brushing her long red hair. When she got closer, she realised that the woman had no face.

Daily Monster 305: Black-Eyed Children

Region of origin: Worldwide

Tales of children or young teens who appear otherwise normal save for pale skin and, most notably, eyes that are fully black, approaching people alone or in pairs and asking for rides or to be let into homes, often in the middle of the night have been gaining in popularity via shared emails and message boards since the mid-Nineties, coming in from numerous countries around the world. People encountering the children describe them as, despite initally acting amicable, ineffably menacing, and they may turn verbally aggressive if they are continually denied. Most stories end with them seemingly giving up after some time; contrawise stories where the person eventually acquiesces to letting them in often results in the person contracting a disease or a sudden death not long after (the children themselves disappearing or being picked up by unseen parties in black cars in some cases). Speculation places the children in demonic, vampiric or extraterrestrial camps but their origins remain largely unknown.