Myth Monday: The Fox’s Killing Stone (Japanese Legend)

Myth Monday: The Fox’s Killing Stone (Japanese Legend)

By Kara Newcastle





I’ve been trying to get to this story since the news broke this past March. Maybe you heard, maybe you didn’t, but after all the bull crap we’ve been through the last three years, I think a lot of people heard this and said, “Soooo, a rock in Japan broke open and possibly freed the spirit of a fox demon into the world. Sure, at this point, why not?”

All right, lemme back up so you can get the full story here …

Throughout Asia, foxes are creatures to be feared. Yes, they are funny and mischievous and have those gorgeous tails, but they are also highly likely to become powerful, shapeshifting demons that survive on the life essence of human beings. Usually, when a fox is born, it’s just an ordinary fox, but should it live to be one hundred years old, it grows a second tail. For every hundred years it lives, it gains another tail, and with each new tail it becomes even more powerful. In Japan, these creatures were known as kitsune.

Japan has many legends of kitsune (see my blog Kuzunoha, The Fox Mother here), and while a handful are somewhat benevolent, the vast majority of them are evil to the core. These evil kitsune will go after any human, but a high ranking male official—like the emperor—is a special target. The kitsune will transform themselves into astonishingly beautiful and talented women and make their way into the royal court, becoming courtesans and ingratiating themselves to the emperor, princes and other powerful men. The men become so enraptured by their seductive new companion that they spend as much of their time with the disguised fox spirit as they can. Gradually, the men’s health begins to fade until they die to what appears to be some kind of wasting disease.

Then the kitsune moves on … if she isn’t discovered first.

This particular kitsune we’re going to talk about seems to be one of the most aggressive demons out there, as her destruction spread over three kingdoms and cost thousands of men their lives.


We don’t know what this nine-tailed kitsune called herself before arriving in Japan, but the Japanese remember her as Tamamo no Mae. Tamamo no Mae made her appearance first in China during the Shang Dynasty. There, she killed Daji, King Zhou’s concubine, and transformed herself to resemble the dead girl. The fox spirit enraptured King Zhou to the point where he started to slack off on his royal duties spent lavishly on her, going so far as to have a lake of wine made for her. The false Daji was sadistic, laughing at executions and torturing innocent people because she was “curious” about how their bodies worked. This became too much for the Chinese people, and King Zhou was disposed in a rebellion. The new king, Wu, ordered Daji executed. Some records say that Daji was indeed killed, but others say that the fox spirit escaped, fleeing to India, where she resumed her murderous ways.

Lady Kayo carrying a severed head

Safe in India, the demon took on the guise of Lady Kayo, and became the concubine to crown prince Banzoku (if these don’t sound very much like Indian names, remember that the source material for this story comes from Japan.) She influenced the prince with so much evil that he was prompted to cut the heads off a thousand men. In time, the fox was discovered, so she ran back to China sometime around 780 B.C. This same year a fierce earthquake struck Guanzhong, and Bo Yangfo, a fortune teller, predicted that this signaled the end of the Zhou dynasty.

Indian crown prince Banzoku terrorized by Lady Kayo in her fox demon form

In 779 B.C., Bao Si, said to be one of the most beautiful women in all of Chinese history, became a concubine to King You. She rapidly became the king’s favorite, and after giving birth to his son, Bofu, King You kicked out his wife, Queen Shen, and their son the crowned prince and installed Bao Si as the new queen. Bao Si often seemed unhappy, so, to entertain her, King You would order the emergency beacons lit. This caused the nobles from the surrounding states to gather their armies and rush to the capital, but, instead of putting down an uprising or repelling an invasion, they only found Bao Si there, laughing at them. King You did this so many times that the nobles began to ignore the beacons.

Bao Si

Meanwhile, Queen Shen’s father was outraged that his daughter had been shunted aside in favor of a bratty concubine, and that his grandson, the legitimate heir, lost his rightful throne to an out of wedlock child. The queen’s father raised an army and attacked the palace. King You ordered the beacons lit, but the nobles no longer believed that there was any danger, and no one came to his aide. King You and Bofu were killed, and Bao Si was given first to the army’s commander, then to Queen Shen’s father. The queen’s father paid Bao Si to leave the capital. Bao Si did, but when confronted by an attack by nomad warriors, she hung herself.

Or did she?

Well, if this legend is to be believed, no. No, she did not.

At some point between the 700s B.C. And the 1100s A.D., the kitsune kept a low profile and traveled from China to Japan. When Emperor Toba was crowned in 1108, the kitsune decided to come out of retirement and was hired by a rival warlord to assassinate Emperor Toba. The kitsune disguised herself as Tamamo no Mae, an exquisitely beautiful, highly intelligent and very refined courtesan. Toba was immediately infatuated and spent all of his free time with her.

Tamamo no Mae

It wasn’t long before the emperor became deathly ill. The court doctors were at a loss, as his symptoms didn’t resemble anything they were familiar with. Out of desperation, they brought in a sorcerer named Abe no Yasuchika to examine the dying emperor. After examining Toba, Yasuchika declared that he was not dying from disease, he was slowly being killed with magic. The sorcerer accused Tamamo no Mae of cursing Emperor Toba.

Initially, the court was shocked; how could it possibly Tamamo no Mae? She was so beautiful. How could something that beautiful be evil?


Abe no Yasuchika reveals Tamamo no Mae to be a kitsune

Abe no Yasuchika said he could prove Tamamo no Mae’s guilt. He suggested that he preform a holy ritual with Tamamo no Mae in attendance. At first, the courtesan resisted, but agreed after the court pressured her to join. Almost as soon as the ritual began, nine fox tails sprang out from under Tamamo no Mae’s kimino. Before anyone could react, the exposed kitsune leapt out a window and fled into the mountains.

Emperor Toba was devastated to learn that the woman he loved was actually a monster, but he knew that she had to be stopped before she harmed any one else. He ordered his generals Kazusa no suke and Miura no suke to take an army and hunt her down.

Miura no suke catches up with Tamamo no Mae

As anyone who has hunted foxes knows (and I hope you never have), it is damned hard to hunt the red rascals as they are so clever, and Tamamo no Mae was no exception. Kazusa and Miura tracked the kitsune all over the country, finally catching up to her on the plains of Nasu. There, Miura managed to shoot an arrow through her neck. As her body fell to the ground, either the kitsune’s spirit sprang out of the corpse and leapt into a boulder, or the body itself transformed into a rock. From then on, anyone who touched the boulder died soon afterwards. It became known as the Sessho-seki, “The Killing Stone.”

Sessho-seki (the boulder with the prayer rope around it)

Interestingly, the Sessho-seki is not the only stone of it’s kind in Japan, it’s just the most famous due to the legend. This boulder and other rocks like it are found in areas where fissures release toxic volcanic gas, so to ancient people who didn’t understand this sort of thing, it’s easy to see why they would assume it was the rock itself doing the killing. This particular Sessho-seki remained on Mount Nasu I disturbed for over a thousand years before unexpectedly (or, like I said before, given everything that was going on at the time, it’s no surprise that it happened) split apart. This wasn’t exactly great news for some of the more superstitious folk in the area, but some more level-headed people suggested it was bound to happen, as the boulder had cracks that would fill with water and then freeze.

Sessho-seki, shattered (by Miyuki_Meinaka, May 6 2002, wikimedia commons)

Then there was that earthquake near Fukushima about a week later, but don’t worry about that.

However, we might actually escape any nine-tailed fox demon wrath. There is a story that many years after the kitsune had been defeated, a Buddhist monk named Genno was traveling through the area when he paused to rest near the stone. The kitsune’s spirit hurled abuse at the holy man, but, rather than be frightened or insulted, Genno kindly asked the spirit to talk with him. Eventually, he got the kitsune to tell him her life story and admit that she was ashamed of what she had done. Sensing that the kitsune truly was repentant, Genno preformed an exorcism and the kitsune’s spirit moved on, promising to never haunt the stone again.

Maybe it’s true, and we’ll scrape by this one … but if any phenomenally beautiful women suddenly start hanging on to any world leaders and weird crap starts happening, I’m checking for fox tails.

Red fox, by US Fish & Wildlife, wikimedia commons






Myth Monday: Kuzunoha the Fox Mother (Japanese Legend)

May 23, 2018

By Kara Newcastle

The young nobleman Abe no Yasuna paused to take in the scenery around him. He had left home earlier that day to ride to the shrine of Inari, the god of rice, fertility and success, and he was sure that he was drawing nearer—the forest was quite beautiful, surely a blessing from Inari.

Yasuna pressed his snorting horse harder, urging it to speed up its gate as it trotted through the woodland, drawing closer to the shrine of Inari. He smiled, relieved that his destination was so near—

Branches and brush thrashed wildly and Yasuna’s horse started, rearing back and whinnying in fright. Startled, Yasuna jerked back hard on the reins, pulling the horse’s head back under control, urging it to set its stamping feet back on the ground again. Alarmed by the crashing of the underbrush, Yasuna reached for his sword. What in the world ….?

Panting wildly, a white fox shot out of the kudzu trees at the side of the road. It scrambled to a frightened stop before Yasuna’s horse, its hackles standing on end. Its tongue lolling out and sides heaving, it stared fearfully at Yasuna, then snapped its head around, looking back into the forest. A man’s voice shouted from the woods beyond.


Gasping, the fox spun around to face Yasuna. “Help me!” it shrieked.

His heart seizing, Yasuna jerked back in his saddle, his hand instinctively clamping down on the wrapped grip of his katana. The fox—it spoke to him!

Looking back over its shoulder, the terrified white fox burst into a run, springing into the undergrowth on the right side of the road . Just as the fox vanished into the growth, a sweating horse barreled through the trees from the opposite side, snorting angrily as its rider, a huntsman, pulled back hard on its reins, stopping the beast in the center of the road.

Scanning the road around them quickly, the huntsman snapped his furious eyes up at Yasuna. “You there! Did you see a white fox come through here?”

Yasuna straightened. He remembered the terror in the fox’s eyes, in its voice when it spoke to him, and he frowned at the hunter. “You would hunt a fox so close to Inari’s shrine? Don’t you know that the fox is Inari’s sacred animal?”

The hunter glared at him. “I need fox livers for medicine.”

“Let this one go. Inari would be angry if you hurt it.”

“Mind your own business, fool!”

Fury flooding through him, Yasuna drew his katana, pointing the razor tip at the huntsman. “This is my business now. Take your hunt somewhere else!”

“You dare—!” His face burning with rage, the huntsman drew his own sword, wheeled his horse around and charged at Yasuna, howling like a demon. Yasuna instinctively kicked his own horse into a gallop, his katana meeting the hunter’s own, the blades screaming against each other. They fought for what felt like hours, slashing and parrying, leaping down from their mounts to charge one another on foot. The huntsman was better trained than he appeared, and he tore open several deep slashes before then scoring a thrust at Yasuna’s ribs, punching open a bloody wound. Barely registering the pain, Yasuna pivoted and struck hard, the impact of his sword ripping the huntsman’s weapon out of his hands, sending it spinning off into the woods.

Wheezing for breath, Yasuna stepped back, planting one hand to his bloodied side as he extended his sword arm out, fitting the tip beneath the wide-eyed hunter’s chin, just barely pressing it against his throat.

“I will not kill you here, not so close to the shrine,” Yasuna rasped. “But if you continue to pursue the foxes here, I will take your life.” Lowering the sword, Yasuna backed a few cautious steps away, then waved the blade towards his opponent’s horse. “Leave.”

Aware at how close he had come to death, the huntsman didn’t argue. He sputtered a sort of thanks to Yasuna for his mercy, then turned and hurried to his horse, swinging up in the saddle and kicking it hard, racing away from the young warrior.

As the hunter disappeared over the crest of a hill, Yasuna finally began to feel his wounds and he staggered, hissing in pain. Awkwardly sliding the katana back into his scabbard, Yasuna winced, looking down at the blood on his hand, wondering how he would get back on his horse, if he would be able to make it to the shrine in time to find help.

“Um … e-excuse me?”

Startled, Yasuna snapped his head up in the direction of the soft voice. He blinked, his eyes widening in amazement as a woman—the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life, wearing the most exquisite silk kimono decorated with kudzu leaves—stepped uncertainly out of the woods. She hesitated at the edge of the road, her fingers nervously running through her waist length black hair. Her eyes widened when she saw the blood coursing down the front of his robes. “Oh, you’re hurt!”

“It’s nothing,” Yasuna said, though he was aware of how strained his voice sounded. “It’s just a … well, actually …”

Clearly not fooled by his bravado, the woman shook her head and hurried towards him, taking his free arm and draping it over her head. “Stop it. You need help.”

Yasuna opened his mouth to protest, but a wave of vertigo swept over him, weakening his legs. Grimacing, he allowed the woman to support his weight. “All right.”

“You live near here, don’t you? I’ll help you get home and treat your wounds.” Carefully turning Yasuna around, the woman helped him hobble back down the road, keeping one arm tightly around him, the other reaching for the reins of his horse as they walked past. She glanced up at him. “I saw you save the white fox. That was very brave of you. Inari will be pleased.”

Despite his mounting pain and weakness, Yasuna felt his cheeks flush at her words, and he smiled down at the beautiful woman beside him. “What is your name?”

Her own cheeks turning a shade of peony pink, the woman smiled shyly back up at him. “Kuzunoha.”

It took a bit of time, but Yasuna and Kuzunoha reached his home and Kuzunoha worked quickly to make him comfortable, treating his wounds, caring for him and his household until he recovered. Yasuna, already in love with the beautiful Kuzunoha, worked hard to regain his strength, and as soon as he was able to, he married Kuzunoha. They were completely devoted to each other and soon they had a son they named Seimei.

Seimei was unusual from the start. He looked like an ordinary boy, but it was clear early on that he was phenomenally smart and talented, more so than any child his age. Yasuna was beyond proud of his son’s intellect. Kuzunoha was proud as well, but often, when others weren’t watching, she would look at her son with a worried and knowing expression. When Seimei began to communicate and command spirits, Kuzunoha’s worry increased.

One beautiful day in early summer, Kuzunoha wandered through her gardens as five-year-old Seimei marched along behind her, stopping frequently to study various rocks and insects he came across. As Seimei paused to examine a stone, Kuzunoha bent down a bit to sniff at a lovely chrysanthemum flower. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Seimei freeze, staring at her, his mouth agape.

The boy blinked hard. “Mother?”

“Yes darling?”

“Why do you have a white fox tail?”

Horrified, Kuzunoha stood straight up and spun around. She stared in shock at her son, who only looked back at her in confusion.

Kuzunoha had to work to get her voice to come out of her throat. “What … what did you say?”

Disturbed by his mother’s reaction, Seimei hesitated, then timidly pointed to the hem of her kimono. “I saw a white fox’s tail peeking out when you were smelling the chrysanthemum. Why do you have a fox’s tail?”


Kuzunoha’s hands flew to her mouth, stifling a gasp; Seimei had somehow seen her true form. She was a kitsune, a fox with the ability to transform into a maiden. So long as she had been able to keep her true identity a secret she had been able to live happily with her family … but now Seimei had seen, and the power was undone. She had to return to the forest.

Devastated, Kuzunoha went to Yasuna’s teacher, the famed Kamo no Tadayuki and told him of her plight. She begged Tadayuki-sama to become Seimei’s teacher, to guide him and keep him from turning evil. Tadayuki solemnly agreed.

Kuzunoha then waited until nightfall when her husband and son were asleep, then removed her kimono and transformed back into a white fox. Unable to bear the thought of abandoning them completely without an explanation why, Kuzunoha picked up a calligraphy brush in her slender jaws, dipped it in ink, then trotted over to a nearby silk screen and wrote,

“If you love me, darling, come and see me.

You will find me yonder in the great wood

Of Shinoda of Izumi Province where the leaves

Of arrowroots always rustle in pensive mood.”

Stifling mournful sobs, Kuzunoha dropped the brush, slipped out of their home and ran away into the night.


The next morning Yasuna woke to find his cherished wife had vanished. Frantic, he searched all over the house until he came across the poem written on the silk screen. Reading the beautifully painted words, the memories came roaring back and Yasuna, shocked, realized that Kuzunoha was the white fox he had rescued.

Taking Seimei’s hand, Yasuna raced back to Shinoda, and as soon as they reached the shrine of Inari, father and son began to call for Kuzunoha, begging for her to come out. No sooner did they stop to take a breath than a beautiful white fox came bounding out of the shrine, her eyes filled with happy tears. Yipping in joy, she raced up to them, rubbing her fox body affectionately against their legs, standing up and planting her front paws on them and licking their hands and faces. When Yasuna and Seimei asked her to come home, Kuzunoha’s ears wilted and her tail drooped.

“I am so sorry, but I can’t,” Kuzunoha whispered, tears running down her vulpine face. “Now that my true form has been revealed, I have to return to the forest. I love you, I love you both desperately and believe me when I say that I don’t want to leave … but this is the way it has to be. I am the spirit of this shrine. I have to stay here now.”

Heartbroken, Seimei and Yasuna nodded, saddened but understanding that none of them had any power to change this situation. They embraced and petted and kissed Kuzunoha, Seimei promising to never forget his fox mother. As farewell gifts, Kuzunoha magically produced a golden box and a crystal ball for Seimei and Yasuna, and granted upon Seimei the power to communicate with all the world’s animals before sadly turning away and loping back into the shrine, never to be seen again.

In time, Abe no Seimei grew to become Japan’s greatest onmyōji (court scholar) and accomplished great feats of magic. The screen that the fox maiden Kuzunoha wrote her goodbye poem as donated to the Inari Shrine in Shinoda, and can still be seen there today.

Myth Monday: Werewolves and Their Kin (World Mythology)

October 17, 2017

Kara Newcastle

Everybody has heard of a werewolf … but have you heard of a wereshark? A werejackal? How about a werebutterfly? Are any of them real? If you’re interested, take a gander at a list I put together for you—a list I had to stop at 17 creatures, because it was getting too long!

  1. Werewolf (Europe, North America): Of course, the werewolf is the most widely recognizable shapeshifter out there, with nearly every culture hosting it’s own take on what it is, how it’s made and how you kill the pesky thing, though it seems to be more at home in Europe than most anywhere else. At once point France was rife with them, Germany was famous for the number of werewolf trials and burnings it had, werewolves ran rampant in Hungary and Central Europe, England and Scotland had it’s fair share, and Ireland used to be known as “The Land of the Werewolves.” Werewolves were thought to be people who could transform completely into wolves either through a curse, some magic doings (such as smearing on an ointment, drinking a potion or wearing a magic belt), by making a deal with the Devil, or by doing something stupid, like eating meat from an animal killed by a wolf or drinking water that was collected in a wolf’s paw print. The Vikings believed that if they wore the pelt of a wolf into battle, they would be imbued with its ferocity and literally turn into wolves as they fought. (There’s also a few hundred reports of “real” werewolves, but that’s going to have to be another blog!)

  2. Jaguar (Central America): Aztec and Mayan societies worshiped the jaguar as scariest predator out there—which it was. Like the Vikings, native Central American warriors called “jaguar knights” would wear jaguar skins and jaguar-head shaped helmets to give them fierceness and strike fear into their enemies. It’s thought that the jaguar was so revered that Olmec nobility would flatten the heads and faces of their infants to try to give them a more jaguar-like appearance.

  3. Bear (Europe, North America): While no slouch in the strength and fury department, the otherwise shy bear doesn’t seem to really have any kind of were- counterpart like many other animals. Many Native American tribes view the bear as an ancestor with human qualities, and shamans were thought to be able to transform into a bear or other animal to lure them back to hunting areas after they had become scarce. The Vikings believed that wearing a bearskin shirt would intensify their strength, making them bear-like but not necessarily turning to a bear. It’s believed that the word “berserk” comes from the Norse words “bear shirts,” and a berserker was a bear shirt wearing wild man who’d kill everything in sight.

  4. Tiger (Asia): The weretiger is an especially feared creature in Asia—an already powerful, silent, huge hunter with the ability to think like a person and escape undetected? Why wouldn’t it be terrifying? Tigers typically don’t kill humans unless they’re cornered or starving, but when they do they strike with a speed and suddenness that’s almost mystical. Some areas of rural India believe that a shaman or magic worker can change himself into a tiger at will, and while he may use that ability for good, such as protecting his farm, they generally use it to terrorize people. A famous story recounts how an anonymous Englishman was determined to see a weretiger and pestered the local Khond populace until someone directed him to a man in the woods. The man was happy to demonstrate how he turned into a weretiger. He drew a circle in the earth, said an incantation—and in a flash of light, turned into a huge, roaring tiger, chasing the terrified Englishman straight up a tree. Something about the tree drove the weretiger off, and the Englishman fled back to the village. The next day he learned that an entire family, enemies of the weretiger, had been slaughtered. Wondering how it was he was spared, the Englishman described his ordeal to a mystic in the village. The mystic explained that the Englishman had unwittingly run straight to a tree that was inscribed with the name of Vishnu, their high deity. The holy tree had scared the weretiger off. Summoning his courage, the Englishman returned to the tree, and indeed found the name “Vishnu” carved into the trunk.

  5. Jackal (Africa): Jackals don’t have a very good rap in most of Africa; they’re seen as cowardly little scavengers, though they are thought to be wise and are frequently clever tricksters in tales. It’s believed that if a witch doctor needed to travel quickly by night, they would do so in the form of a jackal. Other people would tie a strip of leather around their heads to trigger the transformation.

  6. Coyote (North America): Another ancestor spirit of many Native American tribes, the coyote is also closely associated with trickery and sometimes witchcraft. A Navajo man named David Little Turtle once told how he had gone hunting one evening and saw a large coyote. As he lifted his gun to to take aim, he was shocked to hear a familiar female voice shouting at him, warning that he was about to kill a family member. To his disbelief, the coyote faced him and pulled back part of its skin, revealing the face of a female relative. She said that if he would let her live and not betray her secret, then she would perform a sing (ceremony) for him. Knowing better to refuse, David agreed, the woman performed the sing and went on her way. David kept quiet about it for many years, knowing that these witches, commonly called skinwalkers, could be extremely dangerous.

  7. Fox (North America, Europe, Asia): The Native Americans view the fox as an ancestor spirit and wise trickster, though an evil Navajo spirit called a chindi is know to possess foxes to make it carry out its work. In Europe, there are stories of people donning a fox skin belt and turning into the little creatures in order to steal chickens and lambs from their neighbors farms. One story features a schoolteacher, determined to prove to his student that the fox belt doesn’t work, is instantly changed into a fox in front of the terrified pupils. In Asia, the fox is sometimes seen as a malevolent creature, and instead of a human turning into a fox, it’s a fox turning into a human. Though these spirits often seek to do mischief and harm, some are good and want to help humans. In Japanese legend, the white werefox (kitsune) Kuzunhoa married the hero Abe no Yasuna and gave birth to his son, Abe no Seimei, who is known as something like a Japanese Merlin. (There are lots more creatures that fit into this category, but that would make the list a lot longer! Another time, ‘kay?)

  8. Cow (Ireland, North America): Lions and tigers and … cows? Apparently so. According to monk Giraldus Cambrensius, a.k.a Gerald of Wales, in his book The Werewolves of Ossary, he visited Ireland in 1185 and his cousin Maurice Fitzgerald had in his possession a “man-ox,” a strange human-cow hybrid Giraldus himself saw. He also remarked that a “man-calf” had been born near Glendalough. And in Indiana in 1780, a French trapper named Jean Vetal discovered that a stationed American soldier, one who had loudly mocked the trappers’ beliefs, had been transformed into a cow. Having recently been cured of werewolfism himself, Jean knew what to do. Chasing down the cow, Jean managed to stab it with his knife, turning it back into a slightly wounded, highly confused man.

  9. Crocodile (Africa, Asia): In Africa, the sneaky crocodile is a terrifying monster in its own right, but it becomes all the more scary when it could actually be a witch doctor in disguise, or the reincarnated form of a vengeful murder victim.

  10. Hare (England): The hare and rabbit is kind of unique; generally, you wouldn’t think of a bunny as terrifying. If you lived in England in the 13th-17th centuries, during the great witchcraft persecutions, you’d believe otherwise. Many people believed that a witch could turn herself (or himself) into a hare, sneak into another family’s barn at night, then suck all the milk out of a cow until it was dry. These hares were particularly nasty and vicious, hard to kill and more than happy to fight back for a minute and then run like hell.

  11. Butterfly (England): As with the hares mention before, people believed that a witch could turn into this beautiful fluttering insect and steal all their butter away. This might be why we call them “butterflies” today.

  12. Dog (South America): Good luck to you if you live in South America and are an unbaptized seventh child; you’re destined to turn into a weredog, locally known as a lobizon! And don’t think you’re going to spend your days running around catching Frisbees, ‘cuz you’re not. Nope, you’re going to savagely attack any person you come in contact with, ripping them to shreds. In an episode of Destination Truth (formerly Syfy, now Travel Channel), Josh Gates and his team traveled to Argentina, where the lobizon epidemic was so feared that the president himself would baptize babies to protect them from a curse. Among his interviews, Josh met a man who claimed a lobizon invaded his house. The man beat it, noosed it and dragged it outside. He gave Josh the bloodstained lasso he used, and when it was tested, the blood was found to be human.

  13. Shark (Oceania): The shark is a revered ancestor of the Hawaiian people and was worshiped as different deities. One common burial method was to submerge the dead person in the ocean, where they would eventually turn into a living shark or be devoured by sharks and have their spirits inhabit the animals. Either way, they were supposed to protect their relatives when they entered the water.

  14. Lion (Africa): It’s believed, even now in some areas, that a shaman or a chief has the ability to transform into a lion in order to attack his enemies or drive off invaders. Like weretigers, werelions look like ordinary animals but are possessed of human intelligence. From March until December 1898, the man-eating lions of Tsavo, called the Ghost and the Darkness, killed a reputed 135 railway workmen and were so skilled at evading capture that many tribesmen believed that they had to be chieftains in lion form, there to stop the work on the railroad cutting through their lands. In modern times, it was common for warlords to capture mentally handicapped children, dress them in lion skins and torture them, making them deranged and violent, and then setting them loose on their enemies.

  15. Leopard (Africa): Possibly more feared than the werelion, the leopard carried a cult-like status well into the 20th century. Renowned for its ability to remain completely silent and unseen until it struck, wereleopards terrified people, who believed the things were completely evil. A Leopard Man cult flourished in the 1940s, with followers dressing themselves in leopard skins and attacking with hooked iron claws resembling gardening rakes, shredding their enemies and chosen victims. Many believed that they were supernaturally empowered until a few well-placed police bullets brought some of the members down.

  16. Hyena (Africa): Already hated by many people, the werehyena was especially sinister. It would stand just out of sight in the dark near its victim’s house, mimicking the voices of those the people knows. The victim, thinking perhaps that a friend is in trouble, would leave their home to investigate and be immediately pounced on by a giggling hyena, killed and dragged off, never to be seen again. The Ethiopians believed that all blacksmiths were really wizards who could change themselves into hyenas and were called bouda.

  17. Cat (Europe): Good old Europe and its witch-phobia … they made damned sure that women wouldn’t be the only ones to suffer during the Burning Times. Cats, frequently seen accompanying women who were accused of witchcraft, were maligned as diabolical servants (called familiars) or as the witches themselves in disguise. Many people believed that a witch could turn into a cat nine times (that’s most likely where the superstition comes from—and 9 was considered the perfect number to many pagan communities, being three equal groups of three, so it was just used to brand witches as heretics—in case you’re wondering) and in that form do great harm to the community, such as spoiling milk and sickening livestock and people, among other things. Thousands of cats were burned alive, and all the misogynistic religious dumbasses rejoiced … until the Black Plague hit. See, the Black Plague was caused by a bacteria that bred in rats and was transmitted by their fleas jumping off and biting people. Where there was a lack of cats, there was an excess of rats and their bubonic-plague-toting fleas. Makes spoiled milk seem like not such a big deal anymore.



Tiger: (Sultan or T72) By Dibyendu Ash 

Butterfly: By Charlesjsharp

Hyena: By Ion Tichy

Lilith the Black Cat:By The original uploader was DrL

Main picture from The Book of Werewolves

All photos obtained through Wikimedia Commons