I write about the supernatural, though admittedly, my books are more along the lines of Ghostbusters / Scooby-Doo than real horror. As such, I spend an unhealthy amount of time researching spirits, and believe me, there are some weird, wonderful ghouls and ghosts to be discovered!
Here are just a few of my favourites.
The Egg Ghost
Yes, it really is a thing. This Korean spirit (the dalgyal guishin in its native tongue) is called the egg ghost because it’s literally the shape of an egg. That’s right, no arms, no head, not even any facial features. Sounds pretty harmless, you might think. Well, according to legend, if you spot one of these eggy creatures, you’ll die. Hmm. Not so innocent now, eh?
I fell in love with this spirit so much that I ended up putting it in my first book (rather randomly getting lost in a British MP's private woodland). The Amefurikozo is a Japanese spirit that wears an umbrella over its head, and works for the rain god Ushi. You’ll be relieved to hear that it’s not a menacing spirit, but actually a child, though sometimes it's depicted as only having one eye. However, never make the mistake of stealing its umbrella. If you do, you’ll end up never being able to take it off again. In the rainy UK, this might not be such a hardship…
The Moddey Dhoo
No one does folklore quite like the Isle of Man. One of their best spirits is undoubtedly the Moddey Dhoo – a big, black ghost dog that haunts Peel Castle. Well, I say big, black dog, but some reports claim it’s a spaniel, which isn’t quite as scary. Back in the day, this ghost-dog stalked around the castle protecting the inhabitants – though if not respected, things could turn nasty. One unfortunate soldier dared to mock the Moddey Dhoo and ended up dead three days later, so let that be a lesson to you.
The Hairy Hands
I couldn’t compile a list like this and not include the famous Hairy Hands of Dartmoor, given that I live nearby. This is possibly one of the weirdest spirits ever – a pair of hairy hands that like to randomly pop out on lonely Dartmoor roads, seize the handles of a passing motorbike, and drive it off the road. One poor couple were camping in their caravan when they awoke to see one of the hands clambering up the window. Eek!
The Domovoi is a Slavic forest spirit, who creeps into timber-built houses when no one is looking and does their cleaning for them. I know, I know – why can’t we get some Domovoi over here, eh? I could seriously do with the help. However, they’re not all good. If you don’t leave them gifts, or if you’re too untidy, the Domovoi gets angry and starts making eerie knocking noises, just to freak you out. And one thing’s for sure, they certainly won’t carry on doing your housework for you.
Hag of the Dribble
Again, a personal favourite of mine - for the amazing name, if nothing else. The Hag of the Dribble doesn’t go around salivating on people (thank goodness). This Welsh banshee prefers gathering stones in her apron, then waiting for people to pass by. You guessed it, when she spots an unsuspecting victim, she releases her apron and pours the rocks on their heads. Ouch.
Also known as the ‘hopping’ spirit, this Chinese horror appears as a stiff corpse, which can’t walk (due to rigor mortis), so has to hop instead. By moonlight, it likes to drain its victims of their life force, then when the sun comes up, it lurks in dark places like caves. Now, by day, the image of a spirit bouncing around the room isn’t perhaps that scary. By night, however…
According to Hindu mythology, these unpleasant spirits inhabit the bodies of corpses, using them to move around and harass any humans they encounter. Even worse, they’re associated with causing madness, bringing on miscarriage, and even murdering kids. Yikes!
The Wandjina possibly scoop the award for one of the most ancient spirits in history. Hailing from Australia, they’re depicted in Aboriginal cave drawings, which date back 4,000 years. Dreamtime tales say that the Wandjina created the environment and the people in it, and have control over the weather. If you annoy one of these guys, they’ll send flood, storm or a cyclone, so it pays to stay on their good side.
The Cadejo is a spirit from Central American folklore, who, like the girl with the curl of her forehead, can either be very, very good, or horrid. A nice Cadejo finds travellers at night and makes sure no harm comes to them. A naughty cadejo does the exact opposite. Legend depicts them as big dogs with hooves like a goat.