Mythological creatures are interesting because of the wide range of roles they played (and continue to play) in the human imagination of how the world works. They’re a way for us to transform the random chance of systems far beyond our control into relationships with beings that we might have some hope of influincing. I’ve recently been considering using one particular mythological creature as inspiration for a project that may, or may not, at some point become a piece of publishable fiction. But in my pursuit of more options to choose from, I decided I needed more than just a few options. I needed ALL the options.
Thus having created a rabbit hole to throw myself into, the methodology I settled on was simple: start at known mythological creatures, open any and all related Wikipedia pages, and try to summarize my favorites.
But I am throwing in a couple of occult ideas which are fairly modern for fun. I’m treating everything about them as a fact for simplicity.
This list is definitely not comprehensive, because otherwise I would never post it. I’ve excluding totems, shapeshifters (unless they have other supernatural qualities), ghosts, mostly-modern paranormal creatures, succubi, and specific entities (eg Krampus). I haven’t read the 1818 book of the same name, nor have I delved deeply into the more arcane methods of the classification of demons. If this list is missing your favorite demon / spirit / mystery entity, please send an entry to email@example.com and it will be considered for inclusion in the next publication.
Archon. In Gnosticism, the builders and rulers of the material universe, generally considered evil.
Asura. A titan in Buddhist cosmology. Addicted to emotions like wrath, pride, envy, insincerity, falseness, boasting, and bellicosity, they are plagued by envy for the devas, whom they can see just as animals perceive humans.
Bannik. A bathhouse spirit in Slavic mythology. Must be appeased by offerings or your bathhouse may burn down. Not truly settled into a new bathhouse until a child has been born in it.
Daimon. A lesser deity or guiding spirit such as the daimons of ancient Greek religion and mythology and of later Hellenistic religion and philosophy.
Deva. In Buddhist cosmology, a class of beings or a path of the six paths of the incarnation cycle. It includes some very different types of beings which can be ranked hierarchically according to the merits they have accumulated over lifetimes.
Domovoy. Household ancestral spirit in Slavic mythology. They are protective of the household and especially children.
Egregore. An occult concept representing a distinct non-physical entity that arises from a collective group of people.
Engkanto. Filipino nature spirits that are unbounded to a place, and often take an interest in human affairs. From Spanish encanto.
Etiäinen. A premonition, often of a person, possibly caused by the Haltija of that person.
Fairy (also fay, fae, fey, fair folk, or faerie). A type of mythical being or legendary creature found in Celtic, Slavic, Germanic, English, and French folklore. They have a human appearance and are characterized as mischievous.
Fox spirit. Foxes who can shapeshift; sometimes portrayed as tricksters and sometimes as faithful friends, guardians, and lovers. Korean kumiho, Vietnamese Hồ ly tinh, Japaese kitsune, and Chinese Huli jing are all examples of this.
Fylgja. A spirit which accompanies a person in connection with their fate or fortune in Norse mythology.
Gallu. one of seven devils (or “the offspring of hell”) of Babylonian theology that could be appeased by the sacrifice of a lamb at their altars.
Genius. A spark of divinity that follows each person until their death in Roman mythology. Genii were also attached to places (Genius loci), giving them their special quality. It was extremely important in the Roman mind to propitiate the appropriate genii for the major undertakings and events of their lives.
Hanitu. Term for spirit of the Bunun of Taiwan.
Haltija. A spirit, gnome, or elf-like creature in Finnish mythology that guards, helps, or protects something or somebody.
Hamingja. A protective female spirit in Icelandic folklore, usually appearing during sleep in the form of an animal. Can be lent out or passed down generations.
Hidebehind. A creature in American folklore that preyed on humans who wander the woods. Repelled by alcohol.
Hiisi. A Finnic spirit of hill forests, possibly related to burial sites. Used as the term for goblin in the Finnic translation of Lord of the Rings.
Hob. A mischievous spirit found in England who could cause trouble but also cured diseases.
Huldufólk. Elves in Icelandic folklore. Even today they are sometimes cited as the cause of delays in road building.
Hyang. A divine or ancestral spirit in Indonesian mythology. Often inhabiting high places such as mountains, and only move in straight lines.
Kami. The spirits, phenomena or “holy powers” that are venerated in the religion of Shinto. They can be elements of the landscape, forces of nature, as well as beings and the qualities that these beings express.
Kawas. A supernatural entity in Ami (indigenous Taiwanese) folklore, categorized into gods, ancestors, souls of living, spirits of living things, spirits of lifeless objects, and ghosts.
Kijimuna. Small wood spirits according to Okinawan mythology.
Kupua. Hawaiian supernatural entities, some of whom are vindictive monsters and some kindly spirits.
Landvættir. A spirit in Norse mythology tied to a specific place, promoting its flourishing.
Lamassu. An Assyrian and Mesopotamian protective deity. Many stone sculptures of these exist, bearing a human head, bull’s body, sometimes with the horns and the ears of a bull, and wings. Originated from a mediating goddess.
Mare. A malicious entity which sits on people while they sleep, bringing on bad dreams.
Mimi. The Mimi taught the Australian Aboriginal people how to paint, and how to hunt and cook kangaroo meat. The Mimi are considered to be mischievous but generally harmless.
Mononoke. Japanese spirits possessing an individual, causing sickness and death.
Nephilim. Entities in Genesis generally translated as giants or fallen angels.
Oni. An evil ogre in Japanese mythology. Sometimes used as a totem to dispel wickedness.
Ovinnik. A malevolent spirit of the threshing house in Slavic folklore that must be placated.
Piru. A kind of Finnic poltergeist, often involved in hauntings and battles of wits.
Qareen. A personal accompanying spirit in Middle Eastern tradition, which can encourage good and bad deeds.
Qutrub. Described as an “Arabian werewolf”, these shapeshifters haunt graveyards and eat corpses.
Rabisu. Evil vampiric entities in Akkadian mythology that lurk in dark corners waiting to attack people.
Servitor. A psychological complex that appears to operate autonomously from the magician’s consciousness; i.e., as if it were an independently existing being.
Shatans. Neutral characters that act as symbols of idleness and laziness in Belarusian mythology.
Shedim. Jewish spirits which can often cause misfortune and malady, but are not considered evil.
Shen. Chinese life-force, referring both to the spirit in a human as well as supernatural forces.
Tulpa. An object or being that is created through spiritual or mental powers, from Tibet but adapted by modern occultism. Also called a thoughtform. Practitioners conjuring such creatures exist on Internet forums and refer to themselves as tulpamancers.
Udug. Akkadian spirits, both good and bad.
Wekufe. A malicious spirit in Mapuche (indigenous Chilean) folklore, which can posess bodies and be manipulated by a dark sorceror (kalku).
Wendigo. A malicious possessing spirit of the First Nations and other Native Americans, said to bring about greed and a desire to cannabalize others. The word may come from an Algonquian term meaning “owl”.
Yidam. A manifestation of Buddhahood, sometimes used as a meditation device.
Yōkai. Japanese beings that can be both helpful and malevolent. The word yōkai is composed of the kanji for “attractive; calamity” and “apparition; mystery; suspicious.” Also known as ayakashi, mononoke or mamono.