Five Monsters Rooted in Religion

Posted on 06/24/2010
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We’ve all had one of those nights—our really sweet babysitter told an awful bloodcurdling story, or we didn’t cover our eyes during the scary part of that movie when mom told us to, and all of a sudden it’s the middle of the night and you’re gripping your sheets over your head and sweating buckets, or running full speed down the hall to your parents room. However, most of us have been lucky enough to not have been subjected to this terror in church…or have we? Here’s a list of five monstrous creatures that actually come from religious texts and beliefs.



This mythical Jewish monster actually, initially, fights for the good guys. The idea is that if a person is close enough to God (usually a rabbi, but not a necessary qualification) they are somehow bestowed with a modicum of his powers. In this case, the person can create a half-person out of dirt by writing a few letters on his (or I suppose, her) head, or by putting a piece of paper with the magic word on it in the mouth. The creature can then be deactivated by scratching out the letters, or making the word written spell something else—for example, the Hebrew word emet, truth, loses one letter to become met, death. Unfortunately, the zombie-esque result can’t talk, usually ends up turning on his creator and killing him, and takes instructions entirely literally (you can see how this might be a little troublesome). The most famous alleged case of a Golem comes from the 16th century, when Judah Loew ben Bezalel used his new found power of creation as a free bodyguard service to protect against the vicious anti-Semites in a Prague ghetto. Apparently, however, the golem had to be decommissioned after the overzealous golem created a nasty incident in synagogue (as previously mentioned, a pretty standard staple in golem stories).



In Zoroastrian literature, Dahag, also known as Azi Dahaka, is one of the Azi (serpents, or dragons) that hold a reign of terror over the world. He is a snake-like monster with three heads, three mouths, and six eyes, who apparently lived in an impassable fortress somewhere in Mesopotamia, where he regularly asked the more powerful divinities of water and wind for help with his hobbies, namely, depopulating the earth of humans, stealing cattle, sorcery, and collecting all the possible sins in the world (his name means “having ten sins”). He was created by the “father of lies”, Angra Mainyu, who created him to counter Truth. With his paternal influence, and at least in part due to the traits he inherited from his mother ,Odag (who was so wooed by Dahag’s good looks that she felt compelled to have an incestual sexual relationship with him) he managed to become one of the most influential and feared evil forces in Zoroastrianism. He ruled the world with sorcery and the help of daevas (demons) for 1000 years, following the death of the good King Jam. His reign was abruptly brought to an end when he was nearly beaten to death and imprisoned in a magic mountain by his nine year old successor, Fredon. He was not merely killed because he was filled with venomous creatures that would be let loose if Fredon were to kill him. Near the end of time/ judgment, he will be let loose, but will eventually be killed in the fiery river Ayohsust.



Very unlike the beneficent, joking genie in Disney’s Aladdin, the jinn, according to Muslim teachings, live in a sort of parallel universe to humankind. They were created at the same time as Allah created people, but out of fire instead of dirt. These creatures are invisible to humans, and are separated into three categories: jinns with wings, jinns that look like dogs or snakes, and jinns that endlessly wander the earth. Shaytan (Satan) is a jinn that used the free will given by Allah to disobey an order to bow to Adam and was banished into hell. This, of course, has made the jinn lifelong adversaries to people. They often possess humans due to lust, infatuation, revenge, or as a favor to black magic practitioners, or pretend to be humans to trick them. They set up elaborate deals with people, with ridiculously explicit and devious rules, and delight in punishing them when they inevitably fail to live up to the terms of the bargain. Also, each person is individually assigned a jinn that whispers in their ear all their life, attempting to make them do evil deeds.



In Christianity and Judaism, Lilith is tentatively labeled as the first wife of Adam. She is the bearer of illness, death, disease, and infertility. Allegedly, Lilith became extremely upset with Adam’s misogynistic attitudes towards females, and left him alone in the garden of Eden (not exactly the best behavior from a “helpmate”). On her tours outside the garden, she managed to attract the eyes of the archangel Samael. They became romantically involved, and began having half-breed human/angels. As punishment for leaving, God set up a system where 100 of her demon-children would die every single day—a development that did not seem to slow Lilith and Samael’s licentious activities. God was pretty angry at this insubordination, and moved on to castrate Samael. The sexually frustrated Lilith then turned to other men, namely those who experienced “nocturnal emissions”, and now wanders the earth stealing sex from sleeping men. She has been classified, therefore, as a succubus, but doesn’t just stop there—she also can steal babies (males for eight days, females for twenty), unless they are wearing an amulet to ward off her thieving eyes. In modern myths, Lilith is seen as the incarnation of male lust, main consort to the devil, a demon with homosexual henchman and a legion of women-warriors who willfully seek abortions. She has also been classified as a vampire, a child-stealing witch, and the mother of all werewolves.



Created from Brahma’s right foot, these second-stage incarnations of very wicked people run amok in the world, wreaking havoc. They are recognized in both Hindu and Buddhist literature as malignant spirits, supernatural humanoids who specifically terrorize and prey on the human race. Allegedly, the creatures are magicians and shape shifters, who provide a very real and dangerous threat to humans because they eat an enormous amount of them (they also have ridiculously long, venomous fingernails and sharp, pointy teeth). The rakshasa Bakasura required a regular delivery of huge amounts of provisions (including the person taking the delivery) from the people surrounding him to keep the peace. One especially famous rakshasa is Ravana, who supposedly possessed ten heads—and thus, ten mouths with which to eat people. In the Ramayana, Ravana steals the hero Rama’s wife, Sita, and holds her captive (no worries for Sita, however—she is eventually rescued by Rama and his powerful gang of monkeys). They can also mate with humans, as in the case of Hidimbi, the betrayer and sister of the rakshasa Hidimba (their parents were apparently very unimaginative) and the hero Bhima, who birthed a half-rakshasa named Ghatotkacha, who eventually ended up fighting in the Battle of Kurukshetra.

Author: Alexandra Wayson Copyrighted © One page article

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