Myths are a great way to uncover the psychology of humanity. Take a closer look at a myth, do a bit of research, put it all together, and you can generally decipher what the root of that myth is. But, do the same with the most horrific mythical creatures in history, and the realities you find are just as troubling as the creature itself.
It can be a dark, even deeply disturbing journey, but exploring the terrible creatures of myth can still a fascinating experience. Here are grotesque creatures of myth, and the reality behind why they exist in the first place.
Common in Native American tales, the Wendigo is perhaps one of the most bone chilling myths of all time. In short the Wendigo is a flesh eating creature, once human, now looking more like a walking, emaciated corpse. The creature seeks human flesh and will attack and eat men, women, and children. But it is never satisfied, driven on by an appetite that pushes it to insanity.
According to the myths, the Wendigo is a spirit that inhabits a human body. But the sad, terrible truth is that it is simply a story perpetuated by witnessing a person driven insane by hunger. The Wendigo is, after all, most common during times of famine.
Imagine you’re minding your own business, enjoying a game of pokies on your phone, only to be pounced on by a bloated, drowned creature, dragging you off to your death. Of course, you’d have to be playing pokies near, or in, the arctic in this case.
Qalupalik is a popular tale in Inuit culture, telling the tale of a horrible monster that lives beneath the ice. It watches and waits, spying people that wander too close to the edge. In its anticipation, it clicks its fingernails against the bottom of the ice, before finally lunging out, grabbing a victim, and dragging the poor soul into the freezing water.
It doesn’t take much to guess that this is a story told to caution Inuit children who might wander out onto thin ice. The clicking fingernails are clearly warning against the sound of cracking ice. Yes, the dead, bloated monster is what a careless child will look like if they ever should fall through, and drown.
The story of the Basilisk is fascinating. Myth says that it is a monster, a combination of a cock and snake, so poisonous that merely looking it in the eyes will strike you dead. The creature was a popular tale in medieval times, and there is more than one written account of a town being terrorised.
In this case, chances are that the stories are simply referring to a cobra, or other spitting snake. Given that sharing stories was one of the main forms of long distance communication back then, and also given how fond medieval folk were of twisting tales, broken telephone style, spitting snakes probably became a basilisk. In short; don’t stare at a spitting snake, or it will spit and blind you.