The Myths behind the Creatures - folklore behind the Dragon, Kitsune, Unicorn, Kappa and Selkie

Sticker packs are here!

       

 

I've just released my new sticker packs (and I swear I've already used half my inventory plastering them around my house) and I've found a lot of people don't recognise all of the creatures in my Mythical Creatures set. 

 

I've been absolutely obsessed with myths, legends, fairytales - ANY story I could get my hands on since I was about 5 years old. So I recognise that I might have included some slightly obscure ones, and I figured that a blog post was a good way to share the stories with anyone who wanted to find out more.

 

Dragons

 

Probably one of the most well-known mythical creatures out there! Dragons are amazing creatures, no matter how cute and friendly, or fierce and nasty they are. Long known to hoard gold and/or treasure (like this little cutie with his very first coin), they will defend it with their lives.

 

For a long time, western dragons (the more “typical” dragon, lizard-like with wings and 4 leg) were only portrayed as villains- monsters to be overcome, slain and generally feared or hated. They were the obstacle in hero’s tales and little else for a long time.

 

Around the 18th/19th century, people had heard so many stories with dragons in that more inventive, subversive tales started to spring up. These stories with dragons were funny rather than serious, and the dragons themselves were rather more harmless (even if they didn’t do so much).

 

It’s only been very recently (late 20th century) that stories with good or friendly dragons have gained traction. Modern day games (Dungeons & Dragons being a prime example) feature them more heavily too and bring a lot more depth to the personalities and characteristics of both good and evil dragons.

 

Kitsune

 

Named after the Japanese word for fox, this creatures are usually depicted as tricksters (though some are known to be guardians of shrines, or help protect people and those who have earned their trust).

They are all said to have the ability to shapeshift into humans and sometimes other creatures, but the more tails they have in fox form the wiser and more powerful they are (9 tails being the limit.)

 

Unicorn

 

Much like the dragon, unicorns are also one of the most famous mythical creatures there are! Said to symbolise purity and innocence, supposedly only a virgin could capture it from the wild or gain its trust.

 

The horns of the unicorn were said to have magical healing properties – and even though they were only stories, there are several accounts of narwhal horns being sold as unicorn horns for exorbitant prices!

 

Kappa

 

The name is a combination of the Japanese words for river (kawa) and a variant form of the word child (wappa) – named for their child-like forms, but are most commonly translated as water sprites. Even though they’re small in stature, they are stronger than a full grown man!

 

Kappa myths vary immensely, and they can be anything from helpful to downright murderous.

 

If the little pool of water on their head dries up or spills out, they become immensely weakened or even die! Between this and being a lot more clumsy on land, they usually don’t leave their rivers unless they can avoid it.

 

Famously obsessed with both cucumbers and politeness, one of the most common ways to trick a Kappa is to bow deeply to it. It will feel compelled to return the bow, through politeness, and it will spill the water from its head as it does!

 

It’s said that if you refill the water in its head after it empties, the Kappa will serve that person for all eternity – through sharing valuable knowledge like medicine, or through helping farmers irrigate their lands.

 

Selkie

 

I love tales of the selkies. They’re a Scottish myth of a people who could transform between seals and humans by shedding their seal skin. However, if something happened to these seal coats once they were shed (like if they were destroyed, lost, or locked away), the Selkie would never be able to return to the sea again.

 

There are lots of stories where a human wished to marry a Selkie and so stole their seal coat. Those who never reclaim it usually spend their days wistfully staring at the sea and are never truly happy kept to land, but those who manage to get their seal coats back usually (but not always) find a happy ending back in the sea.

 

Song of the Sea is a beautiful animated film about the Selkie myth if you’re interested!

 

Fun mythology fact

 

Some countries even have mythical creatures as their national animal! It’s always been a disappointment to me that Scotland gets a unicorn, Wales gets a dragon and England gets... a lion. Not even a chimera or a griffon with lion bits in it! Enjoy your mythical mascots if you live in these countries and know that I’m not at all jealous.

 

 


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