Wakmangganchi Aragondi

Variations: Wakmabitchi Warak Wakkimbi (“Primordial Head of the Strong-Teethed Swine Family”)

Wakmangganchi Aragondi was the greatest and most terrifying monster in the folklore of the Garo people of India. This primordial demon once lay waste to the Garo Hills before it was slain by the god Goera.

Long before Goera’s birth, his maternal uncles descended into the subterranean region along with the fisherman Gonga Tritpa Rakshanpa and his dog. From there they took the progenitor of all the world’s birds back to the surface. The three uncles also brought with them a little pig, which they named Wakmabitchi Warak Wakkimbi.

The tiny piglet was kept in sty made of rocks, and there it grew and grew, until the sty had to be torn down to set it free. By then the pig was so big it could no longer be controlled; it wandered at will, feeding wherever and whenever it liked. People continued to feed it from a safe distance, until the day when it knocked the three uncles into its feeding trough and ate them alive. From then on, nobody dared approach it, and it continued to grow and increased in power. From then on it became known as Wakmangganchi Aragondi.

The mere mention of Wakmangganchi Aragondi was enough to strike fear into the bravest warrior – and with good reason. The colossal boar was the biggest and mightiest creature in the world, as tall as a mountain. When standing up, Wakmangganchi Aragondi’s snout touched the Dura Hill, while its tail lay in the Songdu River. It had seven heads emerging from its neck, each head with seven tusks like double-edged scimitars, and each head with a single piercing eye in its forehead glowing like the full moon. On Wakmangganchi Aragondi’s back grew seven clumps of bamboo, seven plots of thatch grass, and seven stalks of bulrushes. Seven perennial streams flowed down its back. The microcosm on Wakmangganchi Aragondi’s back was home to a pair of langurs and their offspring, and seven pairs of moles.

Wakmangganchi Aragondi roamed where it pleased, ate anyone it encountered, and destroyed crops at will. It had a particular fondness for gourds, melons, pumpkins, and yams. Nobody could stop it.

Such was the monster that Goera faced. When the hero-god was born, two more of his uncles went to the market to buy a goat, but they were intercepted and devoured by Wakmangganchi Aragondi. Thus Goera, upon coming of age, decided to destroy this plague that terrified his people.

To fight Wakmangganchi Aragondi, Goera sought the aid of the giant crab Songduni Angkorong Sagalni Damohong. He used it to threaten his grandmother into telling him all she knew about Wakmangganchi Aragondi. He then befriended various supernatural beings, including the progenitors of Steel and Dolomite. From Dygkyl Khongshyl, the smith-god, he obtained a magical two-edged milam sword and a magical bow and arrows that could shatter trees and cure disease. He allied with Tengte Kacha, king of the Elfs, and Maal the dwarf god – both barely two cubits tall, but possessed of great magical powers.

Now fully armed, Goera set out to find Wakmangganchi Aragondi. He found the gigantic boar wallowing in mud, asleep, at Ahnima Gruram Chinima Rangsitram. Goera sent his servant Toajeng Abiljeng to strike the boar from behind and awaken it.

Wakmangganchi Aragondi awoke in fury, and charged Goera. But the hero-god stood his ground and fired a hail of burning darts at it. That was too much for the monster, and Wakmangganchi Aragondi ran for the first time. It galloped east, with Goera in pursuit firing volleys of arrows that lacerated its body. Then Wakmangganchi Aragondi turned north, then back, making wild sallies across the region, making the whole world rumble and quake.

Maddened beyond reason by pain and rage, Wakmangganchi Aragondi tried at last to turn on its tormentor, but Goera avoided its charges by creating piles of rock to climb and hide on. Finally, one of Goera’s maternal uncles in the subterranean region shot an arrow through Wakmangganchi Aragondi’s armpit. The monster staggered and finally collapsed at Ahguara Rongpakmare Shohlyng Janthihol. There Goera decapitated it with a triumphant cry.

The battle had taken seven summers and seven winters. When Wakmangganchi Aragondi was cut open, Goera’s two uncles were found inside, alive but blinded. They recovered their eyesight with time. The meat of Wakmangganchi Aragondi was divided among the people of the area, with the rest left to decompose.

The rock piles created during the battle can still be seen. They are known as Goerani Ronggat, the “Stone Piles of Goera”. Wakmangganchi Aragondi’s droppings are rocks in which seeds can still be seen, and red areas of land are where the monster-boar’s blood was spilled.

References

Bhairav, J. F. and Khanna, R. (2020) Ghosts, Monsters, and Demons of India. Blaft Publications, Chennai.

Rongmuthu, D. S. (1960) The Folk-tales of the Garos. University of Gauhati Department of Publication, Guwahati.

Wolpertinger

Variations: Oibadrischl (Germany), Rasselbock (Thuringia), Dilldapp

The Wolpertinger is a taxidermist’s chimera native to Bavaria, known since the 16th century. It has fangs, wings, and deer’s antlers on the body of a hare. Variants across Germany include the oibadrischl, the Thuringian rasselbock, and the dilldapp, all of which may have different combinations of antlers and/or fangs.

The wolpertinger and its many variations may have some biological truth to them. Rabbits and hares infected with papillomavirus develop strange tumors on their bodies. When they grow on the head and face, interpreting those tumors as horns or fangs is not difficult.

References

Panafieu, J. and Renversade, C. (2014) Créatures fantastiques Deyrolle. Plume De Carotte, Toulouse.

Zimmer, C. (2011) A Planet of Viruses. University of Chicago Press.

Worm of Haftvad

Among the many stories told in the Shahnameh, the Persian Book of Kings, is that of Haftvad. Haftvad had seven sons, as his name indicates, and lived in a poor but hard-working town on the Persian Gulf during the reign of Shah Ardashir.

It came to pass that Haftvad’s daughter, who was busy spinning cotton, interrupted her work to eat an apple. Inside her apple there was a worm. Instead of tossing it aside in disgust, she saw it as a good omen, and put it in her spindlecase. “Thanks to this lucky worm”, she told her friends, “you will be amazed at what I’ll do”. The other girls laughed, but by the evening she had spun twice as much as she usually did.

Thus Haftvad’s daughter went on spinning, and every day she fed the worm a piece of apple, and the cotton practically spun itself into fine thread. Her industriousness did not go unnoticed by her parents, and she willingly showed them her secret. Haftvad decided to abandon all his work to care for the wondrous worm. He fed it nourishing food, and the worm grew larger and larger, outgrowing the spindlecase. Its skin was like black musk with a saffron-colored pattern on it, and Haftvad put it in a black chest.

The worm brought fortune to Haftvad and the whole town. Eventually a nobleman complained about Haftvad’s success, but Haftvad recruited an army from among his followers, took control of the town, and killed the nobleman.

By then Haftvad’s power had grown – and so had the worm. Now too big for the chest, it was relocated to Haftvad’s mountain fortress, where a specially-built stone cistern accommodated it. There it was fed on rice, milk, and honey by Haftvad’s daughter till it grew as large as an elephant.

Haftvad was unstoppable. Backed by armies, a fortune, and the good luck that the worm brought, no power on earth could stand up to him. His renown finally reached Shah Ardashir, who sent two armies to destroy Haftvad – but the power of the worm could not be undone, causing the defeat of the first army and the demoralization of the second.

It was then that Ardashir was informed of the worm’s true nature. It was no ordinary worm, but a devil in disguise, a creation – perhaps even an incarnation – of Ahriman. Only its death would allow the defeat of Haftvad.

Armed with this knowledge, Ardashir and a hand-picked group of men infiltrated the fortress disguised as merchants. They brought with them gold, jewels, wine, two chests of lead, and a bronze cauldron. “I have prospered thanks to the worm”, announced Ardashir to the guardians of the fortress, “and have come to pay homage to it”. As a further sign of good faith, he offered wine to all those that the worm commanded – and soon, the keepers were drunk.

That was when Ardashir made his move. The lead was melted in the cauldron and brought over to the worm’s cistern. The worm raised it head, opened its mouth, and stuck out its red tongue in anticipation of its meal, only to have boiling lead poured down its throat. Its death throes shook the very foundations of the fortress.

The death of the worm brought an end to Haftvad’s fortunes. His fortress was rapidly captured, and he and his eldest son were gibbeted and riddled with arrows.

References

Ferdowsi, A.; Davis, D. trans. (2006) Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings. Viking, New York.

Welch, S. C. (1976) A King’s Book of Kings: The Shah-Nameh of Shah Tahmasp. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Wulver

Wulver

The Wulver lives alone in a cave halfway up a steep knowe on the Isle of Unst in Shetland. He stands upright like a man, but has a wolf’s head and a body covered in short brown hair.

A peaceful loner, the Wulver never harms people as long as he isn’t harmed. He likes to fish, and for hours will sit upon a rock, the “Wulver’s Stane”, and catch yearling coalfish. Frequently he will leave a gift of a few fish on the windowsill of the poor and old of Shetland.

References

Angus, J. S. (1914) A Glossary of the Shetland Dialect. Alexander Gardner, Paisley.

Fleming, M. (2002) Not of this World: Creatures of the Supernatural in Scotland. Mercat Press, Edinburgh.

Saxby, J. M. E. (1932) Shetland Traditional Lore. Grant and Murray Limited, Edinburgh.

Wapaloosie

Variations: Geometrigradus cilioretractus (Cox)

Wapaloosie

Wapaloosies are found in Pacific Coast forests, and appear to be the mammalian answer to the inchworm. A wapaloosie is as big as a dachshund, with velvety fur, woodpecker-like feet, and a spike-tipped tail that aids in its caterpillarish climbing. And climb a wapaloosie does, moving effortlessly up the tallest of trees to feed on bracket fungus.

The wapaloosie drive to climb continues long after death. One lumberjack in Washington shot a wapaloosie and made a pair of fur mittens out of it. When he grabbed an axe, the mittens immediately shimmied up the handle to the top. They proceeded to do so with everything the lumberjack tried to hold, so he was forced to discard them. The mittens were last seen clambering over lumber slash.

References

Cox, W. T. (1910) Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods with a Few Desert and Mountain Beasts. Judd and Detweiler, Washington D. C.

Wako

Variations: Waco

Wako

The Wako are tsawekuri, animal spirits in the folklore of the Cuiva of Colombia and Venezuela. They look like pacas, with spots and long vicious fangs. Wako dig caves with many small exits and hiding-places, and live there in large numbers. Their call sounds like ao, ao, ao, ao.

Wako are carnivorous and anthropophagous. Anyone who ventures into their caves is hunted down and devoured. However, they refuse to chase anyone who is naked.

A Cuiva man who was left by his wife once made the suicidal decision to dig into a wako nest. Despite his son’s entreaties, he dug into the hole where a wako had been seen, feeling around with his hand and pulling it out quickly. His actions startled the wako, who ran out of their burrow calling ao, ao, ao, ao. There was nothing left of him after they were done.

Another man descended into a wako cave to avenge his pregnant wife, who had been eaten by the wako. He successfully exterminated the entire nest of wako.

References

Arcand, B.; Coppens, W.; Kerr, I.; and Gómez, F. O.; Wilbert, J. and Simoneau, K. eds. (1991) Folk Literature of the Cuiva Indians. UCLA Latin American Center Publications, University of California, Los Angeles.

Wingoc

Variations: Wing (obsolete), Wingocak (pl.), Wingwak (pl.)

Wingoc

The Wingwak are the Algonquian spirits of sleep. A wingoc appears as a somniferous fly or butterfly, with greater numbers appearing to bedevil people into sleep (they typically show up five per person). The term wingoc is also used for sleep; compare ingwac, to be sleepy, and ingwam, to sleep.

A man playing in the sky once fell through a hole to land on Earth. There he found people sleeping, and one man sleeping more than the others. The heavenly visitor fashioned himself a small bow and arrows and started shooting at the clouds of flies above the sleeper. With some of the wingwak killed and others set to flight, the sleeper awoke. The celestial man then imparted his wisdom to the Algonquians, warning them of the arrival of the bearded men who would be the end of their race.

Expressions include ni nisigok wingwak (“the wingwak kill me”, i.e. “I am overwhelmed with sleepiness”) and wingwak ondjita manek (“there are so many wingwak”, i.e. “everyone’s asleep”).

References

Chamberlain, A. F. (1900) Some Items of Algonkian Folk-Lore. The Journal of American Folklore, 13(51), pp. 271-277.

Cuoq, J. A. (1886) Lexique de la Langue Algonquine. J. Chapleau et Fils, Montreal.

Lemoine, G. (1909) Dictionnaire Francais-Algonquin. G. Delisle, Chicoutimi.

Whowie

Variations: Whowhie

Whowie

The Whowie was the terror of the Murray River in the Riverina district of Australia. He was like an enormous goanna, about twenty feet long, with six goanna legs and a huge frog-like head; he was perhaps somewhat like the huge monitor lizards that once roamed southern Australia. While very slow in his movement, he had no reason to be fast, as everyone fleed in terror from him. At night, the whowie would crawl into grounds where people were sleeping, and proceed to devour anyone who couldn’t get away. Thirty to sixty people could disappear down his cavernous mouth during one of those raids. During the day he would sleep in his cave on the Murray River, or bask along the riverbank; his movements created the sandhills of Riverina.

With the passage of time, the depredations of the whowie were starting to take their toll on the inhabitants. The water-rat tribe was first to convene, as they had suffered most from the whowie’s attention. The chief solemnly announced that they had no choice but to flee to a safer land or face certain annihilation. “I shall let you decide what we shall do”, he told his people. It was an elder who stood up and implored his people to stay. “We have lived here all our lives; we have always had plenty to eat, and much to do along the river. Now we dare not go there because of the whowie. Let us think of some other way by which we may be rid of this menace”.

A strict night guard was instated, and the aid of several other tribes was called for. The water-rats searched for the whowie, and found footprints leading into the cave’s one opening. As the whowie’s cave was many miles long, they knew it would take a week for him to return to the outside, and so they had all the time they needed.

Soon help had arrived from all over, from the kangaroo, platypus, eagle, magpie, cockatoo, lizard, snake, opossum and crow tribes, and many more besides. After holding a corroboree and spending a night in celebration, dancing, and storytelling, all of them busied themselves gathering sticks. The sticks were gathered into bundles and piled up halfway in the cave and at the entrance. Then, when they believed the whowie was soon to appear, they set the wood on fire.

Smoke and flames filled the cave, and the whowie roared and coughed angrily – but what good were his teeth and claws against smoke and fire? He struggled upwards through the cave for six days and appeared on the seventh burned, blinded, and gasping for breath. That was when the tribes descended upon him with spears, axes, and nulla-nullas, inflicting mortal wounds on their enemy. The giant lizard could only drag himself back into his cave, and was never seen again.

Now the whowie can still be heard sighing from deep inside the cave on the Murray River. He is dying, or perhaps his spirit has survived underground in some form. But either way he is harmless, and has become nothing more than a bogey with whom parents can threaten their children into good behavior.

References

Molnar, R. E. (2004) Dragons in the Dust. Indiana University Press, Bloomington.

Reed, A. W. (1965) Myths and Legends of Australia. A. H. and A. W. Reed, Sydney.

Smith, W. R. (2003) Myths and Legends of the Australian Aborigines. Dover Publications, Mineola.