Some mythical creatures have their origin in tradition and tales from the distant past. Each culture is associated with a multitude of interesting and odd creatures...many of these beings are humanoid. This is the 2nd part of the series...a compilation of traditional humanoids:
Banshee, Harbinger of Death
The Banshee, from the Irish bean-sídhe ("woman of the síde" or "woman of the fairy mounds") is a female spirit in Irish mythology, usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld. Her Scottish counterpart is the bean shìth.
According to tradition, the Banshee can only cry for five major Irish families: the O'Neills, the O'Briens, the O'Connors, the O'Gradys and the Kavanaghs. Intermarriage has since extended this select list. The Banshee can appear in a variety of guises, most often as an ugly, frightening hag, but can also appear as a beautiful woman of any age. In some tales, the figure who first appears to be a Banshee is later revealed to be the Irish battle goddess, the Morrígan. The hag may also appear as a washer-woman who cleans the blood stained clothes of those who are about to die. Although not always visible, her mourning call is heard, usually at night when someone is about to die and usually near woodlands. The Banshee may also appear in a variety of other forms, such as that of a crow, hare and weasel, most any animal associated in Ireland with witchcraft. Banshees are frequently described as dressed in white or grey, often having long, fair hair which they brush with a silver comb.
In 1437, King James I of Scotland was approached by an Irish seeress or banshee who foretold his murder at the instigation of the Earl of Atholl. This is an example of the banshee in human form. There are records of several human banshees or prophetesses attending the great houses of Ireland and the courts of local Irish kings.
In Welsh folklore, a Banshee-like entity is referred to as the Hag of the Mist (Gwrach-y-Rhibyn or the Cyoeraeth). Like the Banshee, the Hag of the Mist is portrayed as an ugly woman, whose shriek or cry is said to forewarn of misfortune or death. Often invisible, she can sometimes be seen at a crossroads or stream when the mist rises. If it is death that is coming, the name of the one doomed to die will be heard in her "shrill tenor". The misfortune may be coming to the person hearing her voice, or to someone in their family.
There are also tales of a Banshee in the Badlands of South Dakota. Thought to have been either a white victim of a red man's jealousy or an Indian woman who was killed there, the Banshee's cries have chilled the blood of many cowboys and prospectors. By moonlight, when the scenery is most suggestive and unearthly, and the noises of wolves and owls inspire uneasy feelings, the Banshee is seen with her hair blowing, her arms tossing in strange gestures.
If war parties, emigrants, cowboys, hunters, any who for good or ill are going through haunted country, the rocks are lighted with phosphor flashes and the Banshee sweeps upon them. As if wishing to speak, or as if waiting a question that it has occurred to none to ask, she stands beside them in an attitude of appeal, but if asked what she wants she flings her arms aloft and with a shriek that echoes through the blasted gulches for a mile she disappears and an instant later is seen wringing her hands.
Sometimes the Banshee is accompanied by an unfleshed skeleton that trudges about the ash and clay and haunts the camps in a search for music. If he hears it he will sit outside the door and nod in time to it, while a violin left within his reach is eagerly seized and will be played on through half the night.
Genderuwo, Evil Seductor
Genderuwa (from the Java language: 'Genderuwo') is a Javanese myth about a type of the jinn or spirit that can manifest into human-like apes, big and stout with reddish black color, his body covered with thick hair. Genderuwa are most widely known in Java, Indonesia. Sundanese people call it "Gandaruwo" and the Javanese people generally call it "Gendruwo".
They are said to dwell in large trees that are shaded or damp corners of deserted buildings. According to myth, this creature resides in forest areas such as Teak Forest Nature Reserve Danalaya, Slogohimo district and in the White Weak, Purwosari, Girimulyo in Kulon Progo.
This entity is believed to communicate and make direct contact with humans. Various legends say that Genderuwo can change the appearance of its physical form to follow someone or to entice people. The Genderuwo creature is believed to be idle and dissolute, has the tendency to tease people, especially women and children. Genderuwo is sometimes happy slapping a women's rump, caressing her body while she slept, or even to switch women’s undergarments to others. Genderuwo occasionally appear in the form of furry little creatures that can grow in an instant. Genderuwo also like to throw stones at people’s houses at night. The Genderuwo is known to tempt lonely wifes when husbands leave or those that become widowed. Sometimes, Genderuwo have sexual relationships with these women in order impregnate them and produce more Genderuwo.
According to legend, The Genderuwo has a very strong ability to attract women. Genderuwo's sexual game is said to be unusual and that women feel often satisfied and extend extraordinary favors. Genderuwos have very strong libidos and possess seduction skills far superior to men.
There is a legend that states Genderuwo can enter and remain happy in the womb of a woman if an intimate relationship forms between the woman and the Genderuwo and that the desire never wains until one dies...which is usually the woman. At that point, the Genderuwo moves on to his next sexual conquest. There is little a woman can do to deter the advances of this creature.
The Genderuwa myth has been widely used in many modern entertainment media forms, mainly in horror films from Indonesia and Malaysia where Javanese communities still practice the beliefs and culture of Java. An Indonesian man who seems to possess an unusual knack for seducing women of all ages is seen as a Genderuwa and considered to be touched by evil and capable of committing horrible acts.
Orcs, the Warrior Monsters
Traditionally, Orc is a word used to refer to various races of tough and warlike humanoid creatures in various lore settings. The Orc is a demon of Tyrol alpine folklore. It lives on mountains, Almen, rock holes, or valleys. It warn the noble game of hunters or can be savage and destroy cattle. As a dwarf, the Orc was a well-behaved kobold or house spirit in home wine cellars.
Orcs are often portrayed as misshapen humanoids who are brutal and warmongering (J. R. R. Tolkien's used Orcs in Lord of the Rings or as Goblins in The Hobbit). However, some settings and writers describe them as a proud warrior race with a strong sense of honor (Morgan Howell's Queen of the Orcs). They are variously portrayed as physically stronger or weaker than humans, but always high in numbers. They often ride boars, wolves and wargs. In many role-playing and computer games, Orcs mainly have green skin (in such games as Warhammer Fantasy, Warcraft, Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons). Usually Orcs use a shamanistic magic unlike several other races such as Elves. However, their fighting skill is honed to maximum power and efficiency.
In Tolkien's writings, Orcs are of human shape, of varying size but always smaller than Men...ugly, filthy, with a taste for human flesh. They are fanged, bow-legged and long-armed, and some have dark skin as if burned. In a private letter, Tolkien describes them as "squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes...degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types".
Orcs fight with ferocity so long as a guiding 'will' (ex. Morgoth or Sauron) compels/directs them. In some instances, Tolkien describes Orcs as mainly being battle fodder (ex. The Battles of the Fords of Isen). Orcs are used as soldiers by both the greater and lesser villains of The Lord of the Rings — Sauron and Saruman.
Orcs eat all manner of flesh, including human. In The Two Towers, Grishnákh, an Orc from Mordor, claims that the Isengard Orcs eat Orc-flesh, but whether that is true or a statement spoken in malice is uncertain; what does seem certain is that, true or false, the Orcs resent that description. However, knowing what they are like and from later events, it seems likely that Orcs do eat other Orcs.
There are few differences between Orcs and Goblins as described by fantasy enthusiasts. Goblins are a lesser kind of Orc who dwell in caves. They can see in total darkness and can scale walls which help them to survive. Orcs are basically warriors, though there are more menacing Orcs. For example, Morranon Orcs are the same height of just under 6 ft., whereas normal Mordor or Isengard Orcs are a lot smaller. Uruk Hai are an advanced breed of Orc (possibly a hybrid of Orcs and Men). Uruk Hai all stand about 6 ft tall and resist the light of the sun better than Orcs, though their night vision is limited. The Berserkers are the top tier Orc, as demonstrated in The Battle of Helms Deep. They are shock troops and are trained to just kill opponents and as fast as possible. They are about 7 foot tall, 300 pounds and use a 5 foot long sword. Berserkers are said to drink human blood before battle in order to turned them into frenzied killers. Traditional Berserkers where said to be a race of Norsemen who fought unclothed and sent ahead of the regular warriors in order to inflict as much horror as possible.
Orcs are described as male creatures, though earlier references may have originally included females. The word Orc may actually be inspired by an Old English word in the poem Beowulf. Orcneas is termed as 'evil spirits of the dead' and is further explained as originating from 'the practice of necromancy, by which evil spirits were conjured by means of corpses back from the world of the dead.' Thus, there may be no need for female Orcs for reproduction.
On the other hand, a Tolkien enthusiast has referred me to the following passage:
"But of those unhappy ones who were ensnared by Melkor little is known of a certainty. For who among the living has descended into the pits of Utumno, or has explored the darkness of the counsels of Melkor? Yet it is held true by the wise of Eressea, that all those of the Quendi who came into the hands of Melkor, ere Utumno was broken, were put there into prison, and by slow arts of cruelty were corrupted and enslaved; and thus did Melkor breed the hideous race of Orcs in envy and mockery of the Elves, of whom they were afterwards the bitterest foes. For the Orcs had life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Iluvatar; and naught that had life of its own, nor the semblence of life, could ever Melkor make since his rebellion in the Ainulindale before the Beginning: so say the wise." - The Silmarillion.
His assertion is that female Orcs were kept separate for breeding purposes...only to have contact with the males when more warriors were needed.
The War of the Jewels: The Later Silmarillion, Part Two (History of Middle-Earth)
The Lord of the Rings
Morgoth's Ring (History of Middle-Earth, Vol. 10)
British Goblins: Welsh Folk-Lore, Fairy Mythology, Legends and Traditions (Classic Reprint)
The Hobbit; or, There and Back Again
Encounters with Flying Humanoids: Mothman, Manbirds, Gargoyles & Other Winged Beasts
The Cryptoterrestrials: A Meditation on Indigenous Humanoids and the Aliens Among Us
Monster Files: A Look Inside Government Secrets and Classified Documents on Bizarre Creatures and Extraordinary Animals
Phantoms & Monsters: Cryptid Encounters