Mythological Creature Archive

Mythical Creature, ‘The Akkorokamui,’ a Japanese ‘Kami,’ and benevolent octopus spirit- with writing prompt

Akkorokamui

Photo Credit: http://www.havenartgallery.com/akkorokamui/

Kami (神) is a Japanese word for the spirits worshipped in the Shintoreligion. According to Wikipedia, they can be elements of the landscape, forces of nature, and beings, as well as qualities that these beings express. They can also be the spirits of the venerated dead. Many Kami are considered the ancient ancestors of entire clans. Traditionally, great or sensational leaders like the Emperor could became Kami.

Shintoism

According to the BBC, the nature of Shinto as a faith should not be misunderstood. ‘Shinto.’ is often called the ‘Japanese religion’, and has had a major influence on Japanese culture and values for over 2000 years. But some writers think that Shinto is more than just a religion – it’s no more or less than the Japanese way of looking at the world.
Because ritual rather than belief is at the heart of Shinto, Japanese people don’t usually think of Shinto specifically as a religion – it’s simply an aspect of Japanese life. This has enabled Shinto to coexist happily with Buddhism for centuries.
Shinto is involved in every aspect of Japanese culture: It touches ethics, politics, family life and social structures, artistic life (particularly drama and poetry) and sporting life (Sumo wrestling), as well as spiritual life.

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Photo Credit: http://powerlisting.wikia.com/wiki/Akkorokamui_Physiology

Many events that would be secular in the West involve a brief Shinto ritual in Japan – for example, the construction of a new building would involve a Shinto ceremony.
Although most Japanese follow many Shinto traditions throughout life, they actually regard themselves as being devoted to their community’s local shrine and Kami, rather than to a countrywide religion.
So many Japanese don’t think that they are practicing Shinto nor are followers of the Shinto religion, even though what they do is what constitutes actual Shintoism, rather than theological or academic Shinto.

The Akkorokamui

Akkorokamui (アッコロカムイ,) according to cryptidzwikia, is a gigantic part-human-part-octopus monster from the Ainu ancestors as well as Shinto folklore. This is a creature which lurks in the Funka Bay in Hokkaidō, Japan, and has been sighted in several other locations including Taiwan and Korea for hundreds of years.

According to the Shinto mythology, this creature is human-like and contains a bright red color. The 19th century account by John Batchelor confirms this. His book, free here, The Ainu and Their Folklore, provide many details of the creature. It states that it was 120 meters in length. The book specifies that the red color of the Akkorokamui a striking red, seemingly “likened to the color of the reflection of the setting sun upon water.”

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Photo Credit: http://yokai.com/akkorokamui/

The Akkorokamui is also characteristically described with the ability to self-amputate, like several octopus species, and regenerate limbs. This characteristic manifests in the belief in Shinto that Akkorokamui has healing powers. Consequently, it is believed among followers that giving offerings to Akkorokamui will heal ailments of the body, in particular, disfigurements and broken limbs.

Once, spirits cursed Rebunge, a villager of Abuta Toyoura, with destruction of his town. They sent a part-spider-part-human creature, Yaoshikepu (ヤオシケプ), to fulfill the curse. Yaoshikepu caused rampant destruction throughout the town, slaughtering so many that the streets were filled with crimson blood. After hearing the townsfolk tremble with fear, the sea kami, Repunkamui, transformed Yaoshikepu into an octopus, and cast her into the sea.
After Yaoshikepu was cast into the sea, she began to grow, eventually beginning to consume larger prey, such as whales and ships. One day, Akkorokamui gobbled up a boat full of fishermen. In her stomach, they called for help. Hearing the cries, Repunkamui poisoned Akkorokamui, causing her great pain. As Akkorokamui hollered in agony, the fishermen escaped. However, Akkorokamui learned to harness the venom, using it to attack her prey. In a 1800s sighting, John Batchelor stated that as the monster attacked the ship, it “emitted a dark fluid which has a very powerful and noxious odor,” confirming the myth’s truth! :))
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Writing Prompt- The healing powers of the Akkorokamui

According to livescience  Octopuses (this is the correct plural for octopus)  have three hearts and blue blood; they squirt ink to deter predators; and being boneless, they can squeeze into (or out of) tight spaces. They are quite intelligent and have been observed using tools.

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Photo Credit: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/akkorokamui-bibo.html

The Akkorokamui is a sacred beast. A healing sage. What is bigger or more sensational than that? A creature that still has all of the attributes of the sea creature, but is holy and benevolent?

Your writing prompt is; The Akkorokamui is living directly off of the coast of where you live. How do I know? You’ve sensed him. You are also Kami, and important, influential and dominant in the region. Who are you? (This will take research, because regions in Japan have specific dominant Kami.)

You find yourself in cahoots with Akkorokamui since there is a new spirit in town causing all matters of ill to the people. What is your special strength that can aid or hinder the Akkorokamui? Do you find yourself a conduit for good or for evil?

Or, what is more likely…do you find yourself living in the grey area, and why?

If you find this article fun and interesting and you decide to expand on this story -let me know how it continues in the comment section below, and as usual…happy writing!

Mythological Creature Archive

Mythical Creature, “the Akka,” a Sami, Scandinavian and Finnish goddess – with writing prompt

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Photo Credit: https://www.pinterest.se/pin/93942342201006265/

While the Sami, or Lapps (formerly named), are commonly thought of as the inhabitants of Lapland…they have never had a country of their own.

According to everyculture.com, the Sami live in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Their neighbors have called them Lapps, but they prefer to be called Samer or Sami, since Lapp means, a patch of cloth for mending and was a name imposed on them by the people who settled on their lands and is considered a derogatory term.

The Sami refer to their land as Sapmi or Same, and first appeared in written history in the works of the Roman author Tacitus in about AD 98. Nearly 900 years later, a Norwegian chieftain visiting King Alfred the Great of England spoke of these reindeer herders, who paid taxes to him in the form of furs, feathers, and whale bones.

Sami Folklore

Traditionally, the Sami believed that specific spirits were associated with places. Many of their myths and legends talk about the underworld. Others involve the Stallos, a race of troll-like giants who ate humans or sucked their strength out of them through an iron pipe.

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Photo Credit: http://www.norark.no/innsikt/samiske-trommer/

Many tales involve Sami outwitting these Stallos.

According to everyculture.com, another kind of villian in Sami folklore is the stallu, a wicked person who can shape shift.

The Sami creation myth, is directly related to the harsh environment around them. It tells the story of a monstrous giant named Biegolmai, the Wind Man.

In the beginning of time, Biegolmai created the Sapmi region by taking two huge shovels, one to start a funnel of wind and the other to drop huge amounts of snow, making it very difficult to live there. One day, however, one of Biegolmai’s shovels broke, and the wind died down, and the Sami were able to enter the Sapmi region.

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Photo Credit: http://www.whitewolfpack.com/2015/12/rare-old-photos-of-indigenous-sami.html

The Pathfinder

There are other Sami epics which trace Sami ancestry to the sun. In the mid-nineteenth century, a Sami minister, Anders Fjellner, recorded the epic mythical poems in which the daughter of the sun favored the Sami and brought the reindeer to them. In a related myth, the son of the sun himself had three male children who became the ancestors of the Sami. At the time of their deaths they became the stars in the heavens, and can be seen today in the belt of the constellation Orion.

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Photo Credit: http://reztycira.blogspot.com/2010/12/pramuka-island-i-saw-orion.html

One of the most famous Sami folktales is the story of “The Pathfinder.” In it, a Sami village is attacked by a marauding tribe from the east called the Tjudes. The village fights as best it can, but the invaders vastly outnumber the Sami and soon kill all but one—a young boy. The Tjudes then force the young boy to lead them to the next village where they will attack and overtake it as well. The boy reluctantly agrees, leading the Tjudes by night through the mountains. Of course it is very difficult to see at night in the mountains.

At the top of one peak, the Tjudes discussed their plotted course, deciding to wait until morning to go on. They feared they would lose their way getting down the slopes. The Sami boy, however, urges them to follow him. He says he knows the mountain well and will lead them by torch. He suggests that they all tie themselves together by rope, so none of them get lost. The Tjudes agree, grateful that the Sami boy has become so loyal to them.

As they make their way down the mountain, the Sami boy leads them to a great cliff… which only he can see. Stopping at its edge, he tosses his torch over into the great expanse, yelling, “Follow me!”

The Tjudes, tied together, unaware of what befalls them, lunge over the edge to their deaths.

The Madderakka- or Akka Spirit

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Photo Credit: http://neufjoursneufnuits.weebly.com/saacutemi/akk-ahkk

Akka,” is traditionally a female spirit in both Sami and Finnish mythologies. Akka means old woman and in Finnish it means great grandmother or ancestress.

Madder holds the meaning of earth or ground, but Madderakka is the Sami goddess of childbirth herself.

She is assisted by three of her daughters Zarakka, the cleaving woman, Uksakka, the door woman and Juksakka, the bow woman who all  watch over the development of children from conception through early childhood. The following story comes from goddesses and gods blogspot, and tells of the nurturing nature of these spirits.

“MADDERAKKA” AND HER MALE COMPANION “MADDERATCHA “WERE, ACCORDING TO THE LAPPS, THE DIVINE COUPLE WHO CREATED HUMANKIND. MADDER-ATCHA WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SOUL AND “MADDERAKKA” FOR THE BODY. TO FORM A CHILD THE SPIRIT WAS GIVEN TO “MADDERAKKA” WHO CREATED THE BODY FOR THE SOUL WHICH HAD BEEN RECEIVED FROM RADIEN, THE WORLD RULER DEITY, AND THEN PLACED IN THE MOTHER’S WOMB. WHILE “MADDERAKKA “HAD GENERAL CONTROL OF FERTILITY, HER DAUGHTERS WERE MORE DIRECTLY INVOLVED WITH HUMAN REPRODUCTION.

“JUKSAKKA “CAN CHANGE IN THE WOMB A DAUGHTER TO A SON. ZARAKKA” WAS ALSO THOUGHT OF AS THE SEPARATING WOMAN WHO MADE CHILDBIRTH EASIER AND WAS CONSIDERED TO BE A DEITY OF WOMEN IN A MORE GENERAL SENSE, AIDING THEM IN WOMEN’S CONCERNS SUCH AS MENSTRUATION. IT WAS SAID THAT SHE SUFFERS THE PAIN OF CHILDBIRTH RIGHT ALONG WITH THE MOTHER. “USSAKKA” WAS BELIEVED TO RECEIVE THE CHILD AT BIRTH AND CARE FOR IT, PROTECTING IT FROM ACCIDENTS.

“MADDERAKKA” LIVED INSIDE THE WALLS. THE PLACE OF “ZARAKKA” IS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HOUSE, BY THE HEARTH. “UKSAKKA”, THE OLD DOOR WOMAN, WAS SUPPOSED TO GUARD THE ENTRANCE TO THE HUT. THUS A LITTLE MILK WAS ALWAYS THROWN OUT OF THE DOOR AT MEALTIME IN ORDER TO WIN THE FAVOR OF THE UKSAKKA AND JUSAKKA WAS PROBABLY AT THE BACK OF THE HOUSE.

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Writing Prompt-

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Photo Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/christinesbest/saami-people/

Imagine a world where Biegolmai still roams the earth and he takes instead of creates. In this world Madderakka is anything but nurturing. She is a modern woman who is very career driven and has her three daughters working for her.

They make it look like she really can have it all. The daughters, in addition to the fertility and child rearing support have also taken on the duties of press secretary, PR manager and sales manager. For a hefty fee, you can have either a boy or a girl of your choosing, but you must pay extra for a child to be healthy and to have no birth defects.

How did the Spirits devolve into what they are today? Why have they become so self involved? They are the ones who are suppose to lead and inspire us…has working so closely with us caused our nature to become their own?

If you find this article fun and interesting and you decide to expand on this story -let me know how it continues in the comment section below, and as usual…happy writing!

Mythological Creature Archive

Mythical Creature, “the Akhlut,” an Inuit, orca/wolf hybrid- with writing prompt

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Photo Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/419045940304454322/

In Inuit mythology, Akhlut (Pronounced Ock-lut or Ack-lut) is a spirit that takes the form of both a wolf and an orca. It is a vicious, dangerous beast. The Akhlut is very keen and opportunistic, and will certainly attack you if you have fallen asleep near the edge of the water or are walking by the edge. Sometimes it goes as far as the Inuit camp to hunt. It has a furious appetite and will eat anything. Its tracks are recognizable simply because they are wolf tracks that lead to and from the ocean. Often, dogs seen walking to the ocean and/or into it are considered to be evil by Inuit tribes.

It has been said that this is a well known creature, but most of the Inuit surprisingly never consider that the Akhlut may be the one attacking them while they are trying to fish out in the Arctic Sea. The only thing they seem to take note of, where the Akhlut are concerned is, when there are wolf tracks coming out of the water.

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Photo Credit: http://quazoo.com/q/akhlut

According to cryptidwiki, there are many stories of how the Akhlut came to be, but this legend is the most popular: a man who was obsessed with the sea wanted to be around it all the time. After coming home after a long time away, he returned to his village, but his people didn’t recognize him.

He had become too obsessed with the ocean and ended up getting banned from the village.

While out on his own, he found a pack of wolves, and because he was so hungry, like a wolf, (and for revenge;) he became one with the pack.

One day, his affection for the ocean became so strong that he jumped in, to be with it. He then, transformed into an orca.

Thus, he now swims beautifully as a majestic whale, living in peace, but whenever his hunger for revenge once again shows itself, he simply comes to land and transforms into a wolf to feed.

img_0050Writing Prompt-

children

Photo Credit: https://tyronetribulations.com/2013/03/23/more-snow-in-kildress-than-in-arctic-eskimo-settlers-mostly-welcomed/

These three kids saw something that has only been a myth to them up until now. Their mother used to lightly threaten them with the Akhlut, telling them to stay away from the waters edge,

“Or Akh, will come and get you.” And then she would chuckle, because it was an endearing name for the monster.

The family even named a stray who would sometimes come into their yard, “Akh,” and the children delighted in this game. Akh, never came too close, but he was bigger then an average dog and always seemed ravenous, because of his size.

The children liked to pretend that the mythological Akhlut was their pet and that it was their job to feed him every night. It became their ritual. This particular group of children happened to be the kids of the fisherman who lived…with his wife…closest to the waters edge.

The children would sneak out after their mother and father went to bed and wait all night until the wee hours of morning hoping to see something. They would take books with them outside and warm things to drink. The Akhlut never came, but they never gave up hope that he would.

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Photo Credit: http://katepfeilschiefter.deviantart.com/art/Akhlut-627435812

One early morning, this morning, actually, their stray dog came into their yard again…it was “Akh,” but they saw him come out of the water this time and they gasped at his sheer size. They were terrified, because…he was Akh, but he had shapeshifted and was half dog or wolf and half orca, which was a completely new look for him.

The children had good reason to be afraid. The Akhlut let out a hideous bellow and sprayed them with sea water. His claws swiped for them and the children ducked and rolled away…retreating to the safety of their house.

It’s now 10 am and the children are thinking about telling their father about what had happened at sunrise this morning…though they know that they are either going to be in big trouble, or that they aren’t going to be believed. What happens next? Does the Akhlut come back?

If you find this article fun and interesting and you decide to expand on this story -let me know how it continues in the comment section below, and as usual…happy writing!

Mythological Creature Archive

Mythical Creature, “the Akateko,” a Japanese yōkai, witnessed as a dangling, disembodied red hand- with writing prompt

 

 

 

The Akateko Ghost

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あかてこ, meaning, red child’s hand, is a ghost or yōkai who lives in Japanese honey locust (Gleditsia Japonica) trees. Akateko drop down as people pass underneath them, giving their victims a scare, but isn’t known for causing any great harm and isn’t known to be evil.

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Photo Credit: https://vitoradler.deviantart.com/art/Akateko-day-6-646253587

The Young Apparition

Some have seen the figure of a furisode-wearing girl standing underneath the Akateko’s tree. Those who witness her are immediately struck with a powerful fever.

It is not clear what relationship she has to the Akateko. She may be part of the same apparition or another spirit entirely.
The story of the Akateko usually describes a certain tree in front of an elementary school in the city of Hachinohe, in the Aomori Prefecture. Maybe that is where the first sightings were.

There are local versions of the story in Fukushima and Kagawa Prefectures as well. In these areas, Akateko sometimes work together with another yokai called Aka Ashi.

Aka Ashi grab at the feet of pedestrians, causing them to stumble and fall. It has also been suggested that Akateko and Aka Ashi are two forms of the same yokai.

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Writing Prompt-

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Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/okinawa-soba/2819980890/

This photograph, taken in the 1880s by KIMBEI KUSAKABE, is one of the few shots, which take you inside this richly shadowed inner courtyard of the large teahouse.

This teahouse was the stuff of legends, and was very famous, well liked and prosperous, but had the misfortune of having the Akateko and the accompanying Aka Ashi dangling from it’s tree to the right of this photo, (this is a complete fabrication by myself for the sake of this prompt.)

There was one beautiful woman who was the most sought after woman in the teahouse. Her name was Aiko.

She was tripped by the yōkai in this courtyard and was killed. It was perhaps an accident, no one really knows, but the subsequent hauntings to the establishment happened for decades afterward. The tea house was finally met with financial ruin after the yōkai scared off the clientele. Is the woman who was killed in this courtyard, the same young woman who is sometimes seen at the base of the Akateko’s tree? Please explain, and why does she infect her victims with fever?

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Photo Credit: http://snipview.com/q/akateko%20(folklore)

If you find this article fun and interesting and you decide to expand on this story -let me know how it continues in the comment section below, and as usual…happy writing!

 

Mythological Creature Archive

Mythical Creature, “the Ajatar,’ a Finnish, female disease demon of the woods, with writing prompt

The Devil Mother, dragon of the Woods

Known as the mother of all demons. She is depicted many ways, but is an evil spirit who haunts the woods. According to godchecker.com. She is the mother of the Devil in dragon form and feeds and suckles her serpents.

Beware of her presence — her pox-ridden body is host to a myriad of infections. If you so much as peek in her direction, a swarm of diseases will descend upon you.

I couldn’t find a lot of information on this particular demon, so I will include an epic poem below for you to get more of a feel for Finnish lore. Also, I recently wrote about a different disease demon here, called the Acheri Demon, from Inuit culture…maybe any or all of this will spark your imagination.

Finnish Mythology + the heart wrenching themes and characters

Finnish folklore and myth, like those of many cultures, tell the stories of gods and their legendary heroes. Many of the myths date from pre-Christian times.

According to mythencyclopedia.com, myths were passed from generation to generation in the oral tradition, but there is one epic poem worth mentioning in this blogpost since we are talking about Finnish culture and myth. It’s called the Kalevala. Read it for free here

The word Kalevala, means “land of the descendants of Kaleva,” and is an imaginary region in Finland. The epic poem’s 50 or so songs—also known as cantos or runes—recount the story of legendary Finnish heroes and of gods and goddesses and describe mythical events such as the creation of the world.

Vainamoinen, one of the heroes in the Kalevala, and is a wise old seer who can work magic through the songs that he sings. His mother is Ilmatar, the virgin spirit of air, who is the woman who brought about creation. Another great hero of the epic, Lemminkainen, appears as a handsome, carefree, and romantic adventurer.

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Photo Credit: http://artside.unialive.com/2012/03/kalevala-tales-of-magic-and-adventure.html

Vainamoinen and Lemminkainen have certain experiences and goals in common. In their adventures, both men meet Louhi, the evil mistress of Pohjola (the Northland), and both of them seek to wed Louhi’s daughter, the beautiful Maiden of Pohjola. A third suitor for the maiden’s hand, Ilmarinen, is a blacksmith who constructs a sampo, a mysterious object like a mill that can produce prosperity for its owner.

A number of other figures become involved with these leading characters. Kuura, another hero, joins Lemminkainen on his journey to Pohjola. Joukahainen, is an evil youth, challenging Vainamoinen to a singing contest. His sister Aino, who is offered in marriage to Vainamoinen, drowns herself rather than wed the aged hero.

Another character, Kullervo, commits suicide after unknowingly “laying” with his own sister.

Marjatta, the last major character introduced in the Kalevala, is a virgin who gives birth to a king.

  • You can read about other/more Finnish lore here.
  • Here is the women’s clothing store in Finland called Ajatar, and here is their facebook site.

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 Writing Prompt

The Ajatar is waiting in the woods for her serpentine minions to arrive. She has work to do today. There is nothing like feeding time.

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Photo Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/423408802441173767/

She gives them the nutrients that they need to survive, but also, from her body…to theirs she feeds them their orders. Each demon receives their mission for the moment. There is much to do and many miles to travel.

It is the summer solstice, the first day of summer, where the sun is farthest north. The length of time between the sunrise and sunset is the longest of the year and the Ajatar is going to make use of it. She has an ancient scroll that she holds in her pestilent hand. It drips pus onto the ancient document and she snarls as the serpents arrive and attach to feed.

A large ball of light is coming in from the East…it is about to start.

What are they preparing for?

If you find this article fun and interesting and you decide to expand on this story -let me know how it continues in the comment section below, and as usual…happy writing!