ABC’s of Mythological Creatures – ‘B’

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ABC’s of Mythological Creatures – ‘B’

I hope you like the graphic, figured if we’re going to do this twenty-six times I might as well make it look nice.


baital

A baital (Sanskrit vetāla) is a ghost-like being from Hindu mythology.  The baital are defined as spirits inhabiting corpses and charnel grounds1.  These corpses may be used as vehicles for movement (as they no longer decay while so inhabited); but a baital may also leave the body at will.

In Hindu folklore, the baital is an evil spirit who haunts cemeteries and takes demonic possession of corpses.  They make their displeasure known by troubling humans which mainly includes affection towards God and good in the person as they want them to be evil minded.  In their course of action they can drive people mad by knowing the psychological defects of the person, kill children by making them mentally weak to commit suicide, and cause miscarriages.  They say it guards villages, but they are not doing that.  According to ancient secret texts available with High Priest of a family they say during old days bandits used to steal valuable treasure in the Hindu temples to protect them.  They made the public believe that baital are guarding the village which will be effective to keep the bandits away and believe in the same way the God will be guarding them.  They say as the good and bad people live in this world; even the baitals are good and bad where bad baitals are only extremely dangerous and good will be servants of God.


baobhan sith

A baobhan sith (pronounced baa'-van shee) is a type of blood-sucking female fairy in Scottish mythology, similar to the banshee or leanan sídhe2.  Also known as "the White Women of the Scottish Highlands," they are beautiful seductresses who prey on young travelers by night.

The baobhan sith bears similarities to both the faeries of its native Scotland and the vampires of other regions.  It has the form of a woman of supernatural beauty wearing a green or white dress.  Like faeries, the baobhan sith used their enchanting appearance to lure unwary travelers into secluded areas of the countryside.  The baobhan sith would then invite the men to dance before attacking when their victims were off guard.  They would then use their extremely sharp talons to puncture the neck.  Using these holes the baobhan sith would suck the blood or, in older versions of the tale, the life force or even sexual potency from the victim.  As with many vampires, the baobhan sith couldn't tolerate daylight and would return to their graves before sunrise.  In medieval versions of the tale, they are often depicted with cloven hooves, which they keep hidden under the dress.  They are portrayed as being unaccountably afraid of horses.


The Beast of Bray Road

The Beast of Bray Road (or the Bray Road Beast) is a cryptic, or cryptozoological, creature first reported in 1936 on a rural road outside of Elkhorn, Wisconsin.  The same label has been applied well beyond the initial location, to any unknown creature from southern Wisconsin or northern Illinois and all the way to Vancouver Island, Canada, that is described as having similar characteristics to those reported in the initial set of sightings.

Bray Road itself is a quiet country road near the community of Elkhorn.  The rash of claimed sightings in the late 1980s and early 1990s prompted a local newspaper, the Walworth County Week, to assign reporter Linda Godfrey to cover the story.  Godfrey initially was skeptical, but later became convinced of the sincerity of the witnesses.  Her series of articles later became a book titled The Beast of Bray Road: Trailing Wisconsin's Werewolf.

The Beast of Bray Road is described by purported witnesses in several ways: as a bear-like creature, as a hairy biped resembling Bigfoot, and as an unusually large (2–4 feet tall on all fours, 7 feet tall standing up) intelligent wolf-like creature apt to walk on its hind legs and weighing 400-700 pounds.  It also said that its fur is a brown gray color resembling a dog or bear.  Although the Beast of Bray Road has not been seen to transform from a human into a wolf in any of the sightings, it has been labeled a werewolf in newspaper articles.


The Beast of Gévaudan

The Beast of Gévaudan (French: La Bête du Gévaudan) is the historical name associated with the man-eating wolf, dog or wolf-dog hybrid which terrorized the former province of Gévaudan (modern-day département of Lozère and part of Haute-Loire), in the Margeride Mountains in south-central France between 1764 and 1767.  The attacks, which covered an area stretching 90 by 80 kilometers (56 by 50 mi), were said to have been committed by a beast or beasts that had formidable teeth and immense tails according to contemporary eyewitnesses.

Victims were often killed by having their throats torn out.  The French government used a considerable amount of manpower and money to hunt the animals; including the resources of several nobles, the army, civilians, and a number of royal huntsmen.  The number of victims differs according to sources.  In 1987, one study estimated there had been 210 attacks; resulting in 113 deaths and 49 injuries; 98 of the victims killed were partly eaten.  However, other sources claim it killed between 60 to 100 adults and children, as well as injuring more than 30.

Descriptions of the time vary, but generally the beast was said to look like a wolf but about as big as a calf.  It had a large dog-like head with small straight ears, a wide chest, and a large mouth which exposed very large teeth.  The beast's fur was said to be red in color but its back was streaked with black.


bhoot

A bhoot or bhut is a supernatural creature, usually the ghost of a deceased person, in the popular culture, literature and some ancient texts of the Indian subcontinent.  Interpretations of how bhoots come into existence vary by region and community, but they are usually considered to be perturbed and restless due to some factor that prevents them from moving on (to transmigration, non-being, nirvana, or heaven or hell, depending on tradition).  This could be a violent death, unsettled matters in their lives, or simply the failure of their survivors to perform proper funerals.

Bhūta is a Sanskrit term that carries the connotations of "past" and "being" and, because it is descended from "one of the most wide-spread roots in Indo-European — namely, *bheu/*bhu-", has similar-sounding cognates in virtually every branch of that language family, e.g., Irish (bha), English (be), Latvian (but) and Persian (budan).


bouda

Buda (or bouda), in Ethiopian folk religion, is the power of the evil eye and the ability to change into a hyena.  Buda is generally believed to be a power held and wielded by those in a different social group, for example among the Beta Israel or metalworkers.  The belief is also present in Sudan, Tanzania, and among the Berber people in Morocco.

Belief in the evil eye, or buda, is widespread in Ethiopia.  The Beta Israel, or Ethiopian Jews, are often characterized by others as possessing buda.  Other castes such as ironworkers are often labeled as bearing the buda.  In fact, the word for manual worker, tabib, is also used to denote "one with the evil eye."  The alleged evil power of the tabib is believed to be at a level similar to that of witches.

Buda's alleged prevalence among outsiders correlates with the traditional belief that evil eye curses themselves are rooted in envy.  As such, those allegedly possessing the power of buda might do so because of malevolent spirits.  One study specifies that they are believed to be "empowered by evil spirit".  Niall Finneran describes how "the idea of magical creation underpins the perception of artisans in Ethiopia and in the wider African context.  In many cases these skills have been acquired originally from an elemental source of evil via the paternal lineage, rather like a Faustian pact."  The power of the evil eye allows its bearer to change into a hyena, allowing him or her to attack another person while concealing his or her human identity.


brahmaparusha

The brahmaparusha is a particularly horrifying vampire of India.  This vampire is a malevolent spirit who takes delight in eating humans.  They are extremely vicious and consumed with bloodlust, and a hunger for brains.

Their appearance alone is grotesque and terrifying; these vampires would wear intestines around their necks from victims they had destroyed.  They would also wear intestines around their heads like a crown, showing off its trophies from previous kills.  It has a sick pride in its slayings.

The brahmaparusha is also known for carrying around a human skull.  When it attacks a new victim, it will pour the blood out of the victim’s neck into the skull.  It will then drink the blood from the skull, using the human skull like a cup.  After it has drained the victim completely of blood, the vampire will then go on to eat… brains.

For whatever reason, this vampire will always devour the brains of the victims it has fed on. And then it will go on to rip out the intestines of the poor soul.

The bloodlust of this vampire is so great that the brahmaparusha will feast on many humans before it has had its fill.  There are no known ways to protect against this especially ferocious vampire; running away and hiding is basically the only chance of escape.  After the brahmaparusha has finished feeding, it will wrap the intestines of its newest victim around its waist and begin a ritual dance around the corpses.


Bunnicula

Bunnicula is a children's book series written by James Howe (and his late wife Deborah in the case of "Bunnicula") about a vampire bunny that sucks the juice out of vegetables.  It is also the name of the first book in the series, published 1979.

The story is centered on the Monroe family and their pets and is told from the perspective of their dog Harold.  The Monroes find a bunny at the theater where they were watching a Dracula film.  Because of this, they name him Bunnicula.  Their cat Chester, however, is convinced Bunnicula is a vampire and attempts to get Harold (the dog) to help save the Monroes from the perceived menace.

A 1982 animated TV special by the same name was created based on the first book and aired on the ABC Weekend Special.  The animated special deviated heavily from the novels and actively depicted Bunnicula using vampiric powers, which did not occur in the novels.

The full name of the first book is Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery.  The second and third books of the series are Howliday Inn and The Celery Stalks at Midnight.  Nighty-Nightmare followed in 1987, followed by Return to Howliday Inn in 1993.  In 1999, Bunnicula Strikes Again! was published.  Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allan Crow was published in 2006, and appears to be the final book in the Bunnicula series.

Following the end of the Bunnicula series, James Howe began a spin-off series called Tales from the House of Bunnicula, which are "written" by Howie, the dachshund puppy introduced into the series in Howliday Inn.  There is also a series called Bunnicula and Friends: Ready To Read.  They are a series of six picture books about adventures of the characters from the stories.  They are aimed for beginning readers.

 

Notes:

1.  A charnel ground  in concrete terms, is an above-ground site for the putrefaction of bodies, generally human, where formerly living tissue is left to decompose uncovered.  Although it may have demarcated locations within it functionally identified as burial grounds, cemeteries and crematoria, it is distinct from these as well as from crypts or burial vaults

2.  In Celtic folklore, the leannán sí "Fairy-Lover" (Scottish Gaelic: leannan sìth) is a beautiful woman of the Aos Sí "People of the Barrows" who takes a human lover.  Lovers of the leannán sídhe are said to live brief, though highly inspired, lives.  The name comes from the Gaelic words for a sweetheart, lover, or concubine and the term for a tumulus or burial mound.

 

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