The Welsh dragon, or Y Ddraig Goch, is not only a mythical creature based in the country, but also the symbol of the flag. Legend tells of a king who was struggling to build his castle in Wales. He went to a wizard, Merlin, for help in discovering why the foundations kept crumbling. He was told that there were two dragons fighting underneath the ground he planned to build on. One was white, symbolizing the English, the other was red for the Welsh.
In Celtic and Norse mythology, Selkies are mythological beings capable of a great transformation. A Selkie may look like an ordinary seal, but if one comes on land, they can remove their coat and walk about like a regular human. In most of the fairytales revolving around selkies, they are prisoners who have their coats stolen by fishermen. Unable to return to the sea as a seal without her coat, a Selkie woman will sadly marry the fisherman.
Uktena, or the Horned Serpent, appears in many mythologies of the indigenous peoples of North America. It is a massive serpent that brings rain, floods, and can cause droughts be withholding water from the people. It is said to have antlers like a great stag by the Muscogee Creek people of the Great Lakes.
The Ojibwe, Algonquian, Menominee, Iroquois, and Siouan tribes all have versions of this mighty creature. In Algonquian mythology, the Thunderbird controls the upper world. It creates not only thunder, but lightning bolts to attack its enemies in the underworld. They were also seen as holders of justice, and would punish those who did wrong, and protect those who did right.
In folklore, a Mermaid is an aquatic creature with the head and upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish. Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, including Europe, Asia, and Africa. Mermaids can be helpful, like when they save people from drowning. They can also be dangerous, as some like to play tricks on humans and seem to forget we can’t breathe underwater.
The Unicorn is a legendary creature that is always described with a single horn, and horse-like body. In European literature and art, the Unicorn has often been depicted as pure white, with a spiraling horn. Only kindhearted maidens could ride a Unicorn, and these same girls were the ones who tried to help the beast escape hunters who were after their horns. Unicorns are massively popular in today’s culture, and surprisingly they have been for hundreds of years.
Like the European and African mermaids, the Yawkyawk is also a female water spirit. She is native to the lakes and ponds of Australia, with long seaweed hair. Seaweed that floats up to the water's surface is said, by Aboriginal people, to come from the head of a Yawkyawk. She is able to shapeshift, turning into a crocodile, a dragonfly, or a snake. She also has power over the water, making it rain where crops or forests are dying.
Behind a small waterfall in Mitchell River National Park in Australia, there is a creature made almost entirely of stone. This cave has long been a sacred place for women’s rituals in Aboriginal practices. The Nargun was considered a guardian of women and of the sacred knowledge they passed from mother to daughter. Men were not allowed to enter, so the Nargun grew more dangerous when men told her story.
The Qilin is a legendary creature that appears in Chinese mythology. It was there for the birth of the world, and is the lord of all four-legged animals. In legends, the Qilin is usually present when a great ruler is born, or when wisdom needs to be brought to humanity. One of the most famous stories of the Qilin is when it brough the written alphabet to ancient China, giving the people a way to communicate across the vast empire.
While European dragons are usually linked to fire and combat, dragons in Asia are considered much wiser, and related to water. Their long serpent-like bodies symbolize the flow of a river. They are the bringers of rain and clouds, assisting in farming and saving people from droughts. Korean dragons in myths are said to be very well spoken, charitable, and kind.
The Ccoa is just larger than a regular sized house-cat. With glowingly bright eyes, you can instantly tell this is no regular animal. Just like most cats though, it can be feisty and even rude to people who encounter it. During the rainy season, it emerges from lakes and ponds in the form of a cloud. If this creature is angered, it can sweep its tail, causing hailstorms and deadly lightning. The best way to become friends with this feline, is to give it presents.
For the Toba people of Argentina, lightning takes the form of a small, hairy creature called Qasoǵonaǵa, the Owner of Storms. It looks like an anteater, with rainbow striped patterning. This creature lives in the skies and creates storms, which includes lightning and thunder. While it is a very powerful creature, it also friendly and grateful when people help it.
The Nagini are a semi-divine race of half-human half-serpent beings that reside in the underground tunnels and caves below India. They are excellent miners, and love gems and jewels. They are also associated with bodies of water, including lakes, rivers, seas, and wells, and are guardians of treasure. In Hindu mythology, they often took the role of helpers to assist heroes in vanquishing evil monsters.
Makara are considered guardians of gateways and thresholds, protecting throne rooms as well as entryways to Hindu temples in India. This creature is a hybrid of an elephant and a fish, and was used as a noble steed to many different gods in the Hindu religion and mythology. To give it a little more interest, I researched mandala patterns, and added these to both his scales and trunk.
Have you ever seen a bird with the face of a woman? Probably not in real life. But surprisingly, many cultures around the world have something similar in their own stories. The most well-known is the Harpy in Greek mythology. In Slavic culture, they have a different take on this interesting hybrid animal. The Alkonost sings so beautifully that she can make you forget everything in your life.
The Leshi is masculine and humanoid in shape, and can change his size to fit his needs. He mostly ignores humans who enter his forests, but on occasion will help a deserving human to better hunting grounds, or a way out if they are lost. The Leshi are seen as protectors of the forest, keeping the animals and plants in good order.
Unlike a lot of water creatures around the world who can be very dangerous, the Angloolik is one whose sole purpose is to help those around her. In Inuit mythology, she is a spirit that lives under the ice in the freezing ocean and lakes. She is the guardian of seals, and will bring fish to them, polar bears, wolves, and people. She is even known to chase fish into fishermen’s nets if they ask her for help.
In Inuit folklore, the native people made an odd discovery. They kept finding wolf tracks leading into the freezing ocean. Why were wolves going into the water? To catch fish? With this question, a mythological creature was born. Its full name is: Kak-whan-u-ghat kig-u-lu'-nik, but locals and researchers have shortened it to Akh’lut, which translates roughly to orca creature. This being is a mix of two animals, the killer whale, and the arctic wolf. It is the strongest hunter.
The Lamassu is a creature native to the Middle East, originating in Assyria. They are the guardians of gateways and entrances. They are a cobbling of different animals, with the head of a man, the wings of an eagle, and the body of a bull. This mix of beings was to symbolize how all-encompassing the Lamassu is, a pure symbol of all life. Everything that walks, everything that flies, and everything that can reason.
The Jinn are supernatural creatures in the early pre-Islamic Arabian religion. They can also be found in Islamic mythology and theology. Jinn are usually invisible, and are written about more like a wind or an unseen feeling. But in ancient texts, they are often depicted in many different ways. I decided to take a route that would maybe be a little bit more understandable, as Jinn are a very surreal type of creature that is hard to pin down.
In Japanese folklore, Kitsune are foxes that possess paranormal abilities that increase as they get older and wiser. According to yokai folklore, all foxes have the ability to shapeshift into human form. Sometimes they are shown as tricksters, but other stories depict them as faithful friends, guardians, or even wives. The number of tails will tell you how old, powerful, and wise a Kitsune is. They are usually seen as either a fox with multiple tales, or a graceful woman dressed in fine clothes.
The Baku is a creature native to Japan. It may look a little funny, but this is on purpose. The story goes that when the gods of Japan had finished making all of the animals, they only had spare parts left to create the Baku. His face is like an elephant, his limbs are a tiger’s, his body belongs to a bear, and his tail is an ox’s. But his mismatched parts aren’t the only thing that make him special. The Baku you see, eats nightmares.
The Jengu is a water spirit native to the country of Cameroon in Africa. These lovely mermaid-like creatures swim in rivers and the ocean. They bring good luck to fisherman, and can cure disease if you ask for help. They can also act as a bridge between the world of humans and the world of spirits. For this reason, many religious groups have centered on the Jengu in Cameroon, and are still practiced today.
In central Africa, there is a pretty familiar looking creature to the English-speaking world: the Abada. Like the European unicorn, it is graceful and has healing abilities. Unlike its Euro cousin, it has two horns. It was believed that crushing the horns into a powder could act as an antidote to poison and disease.
This may look like a woman is just sitting on a log, but if you look closer you might see the one thing that marks this creature a being of myth. That tail has often been what blows her cover when the Huldra tries to pretend to be a regular human woman. She lives in the great forest of the Scandinavian countries, living off mushrooms and nuts and berries. She is only kind if you are kind to her first.
This creature is a water spirit, native to Norway, Sweden, and Finland. It looks like a man, with elfin features and pale green skin. The Fossegrim can be found at the base of a waterfall, living in the lakes and ponds across Scandinavia. Not only does he live in the water, but he plays a special kind of instrument: the Hardanger fiddle. Whenever he plays, everyone can’t help but dance.
While Griffins have become creatures popular in many European fairytales and myths, they actually originated from a much older culture: Assyria. The Greek version of the griffin however, is the one most recognized today. The creature is described with the head and wings of an eagle, and the paws, body, and tail of a lion. This combination symbolizes the most powerful of creatures, with the eagle being the king of the birds, and the lion being the king of beasts.
In ancient Greece, you can find all kinds of wild creatures. Many headed dragons called the hydra, massive lions with fur so tough no weapon can pierce it, and even a woman with snakes for hair. This creature is called the Gorgon. You may have heard of the most famous Gorgon, Medusa. Medusa and her two sisters were all regular women once, but were changed by the Greek gods to become terrible monsters.
Native to Thai mythology, the Apsonsi is a hybrid of a woman and a lioness. In legend, Apsonsi lived in Himavanta, an invisible mythical forest set deep in the Himalayan Mountains. She is depicted as a warrior and guardian, and you can see statues of her at the Buddhist temple, Wat Phra Kaew.
This beautiful creature is a fierce warrior in Philippine mythology. Related in idea to the Greek centaur, the Anggitay has the upper half of a human, and the lower half of a horse. Unlike the Centaur, they have horns like a unicorn, and they are all female. The most common time to see an Anggitay is when it rains on a sunny day.
Menehune are a mythological race of dwarf people in Hawai’ian tradition who are said to live in the deep forests and hidden valleys of the islands. They are described as excellent craftsman, and have been credited with many famous bridges and calm pools across the big island. If they find work undone in the night, as long as no human is looking, they will try to finish it as a gift to be found in the morning.
This massive creature is an eel native to the clear water lakes of Fiji. Unlike most eels, it doesn’t eat fish. Instead, it protects all of the animals that live in the lake, considering them its children. Fisherman are kept away by its huge tail, which it uses to cause waves to scare trouble makers away.