Tag Archives: Legendary Creature

The Desk Fairy


LC: In my class, we do the desk fairy. So, she sometimes comes if your desk is really clean and she leaves you a treat. The, so what I do is not, I don’t do it regularly. I probably should do it more than I do. Um, but my students are in first grade, so they have some responsibility for their belongings. Um, they know that they need to, you know, keep their desk neat. They know if they don’t have a pencil that they can always get another one. But if you got one this morning, you really should be able to keep up with it for the day. Um, things like that. And our school specifically requires them to be ready, respectful, and responsible. That is our like mantra or whatever every day. And so one way that I teach responsibility is that you have to keep your desk clean. And so a few times a year, I probably should do it like monthly, but you get busy, you forget. But a few times a year I will go through, especially like maybe right before a day when we’re gonna be gone for a week or more. And I don’t want ants and things. Um, I will tell them to clean their desk out, like on a Friday or whatever. And then I go through after school. And if it’s clean enough to my standards where I feel like they can find everything, stuff’s not falling out of their desks, they don’t have trash in it. Then I give them a little treat. Sometimes it’s like this year it’s been little Smarties, you know? Um, they get that on a note that says that the desk fairy visited them. Um, and so it’s really fun to do it. Like the first time you do it, it’s really fun to have, like, almost everybody get one. Cause then they know what’s at stake. But then like as the year goes on, I might walk around the room and only, you know, six kids really have neat desks. And so they come in that morning and like those six kids are super pumped that the desk fairy visited them. But the other kids they’re like, Hmm. And some kids really don’t care and they’re like, my desk is gonna be a mess all the time. And then other kids they will actually clean their desk that day and hope the fairy will come right back and leave them something. So it’s just kind of a way to teach them to keep their space neat and just reward those that all always have their stuff together.

Me: Where did you get the idea for the desk fairy from?

LC: I think it originally, I think maybe I heard it from a, a colleague or a friend or I saw it like on Pinterest or something. Um, or Teachers Pay Teachers. The, the little note that I stick on it is from Teachers Pay Teachers. It’s like, it was a free resource that somebody posted. I know that it’s something that I had growing up. I think a couple of my teachers did it over the years.  

Background: LC has taught first grade in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia for seven years. She graduated from the same school district that she now works in. Teachers Pay Teachers is an educational resource sharing website. 

Context: This story was told to me over a phone call. Analysis: This immediately reminded me of another classroom tradition I collected, the leprechaun that visits on St. Patrick’s Day. However, I found it interesting that the Desk Fairy doesn’t have a specific time associated with her arrival. L said that the fairy often comes before a break, or when the classroom is getting particularly messy, but the continuation of the fairy tradition is ultimately up to the teacher.

The Hodag


This story came from lumberjack camps In Northern Wisconsin. The Hodag was first reported in the late 1800s, and since has become a figure representative of the region surrounding its supposed place of origin. During my informant’s youth, the town just north of him, Rhinelander, used the Hodag as its symbol, also acting as the high school mascot there. They even have a huge country music festival called the Hodag.


The informant, my grandfather, says that the Hodag is an important piece of lore to everyone in North Wisconsin. So much so, that my grandparents had their first kiss at the Hodag music festival, and my grandpa’s band played there. Early accounts of the Hodag were even published in the local newspapers, so it’s an important and ever-present aspect of the culture there.

Main Piece:

“So the Hodag is this weird creature that has like a frog kind of head, a fat, squat lizards body, with bulldog-like legs, with big horns protruding out of its head and down its back, and a big horn at the end of its tail, so it was a weird-looking thing. So there were–it was supposed to roam the north woods of Wisconsin, and probably where the story came from was in the lumberjack camps in Northern Wisconsin. Um, one guy–I don’t know his name–it’s said that he actually caught a hodag and burned it. And they published a picture with ashes and a pile of horns. Some people believed that, but to make it really convincing they actually made a taxidermy one and toured it as a sideshow with the circus. When the Smithsonian sent someone to verify it, the guy who created it admitted it was false. Later I was doing some research as the director of Marathon County Historical Museum and reading through some old papers from the 1890s, and there were a couple articles I found really interesting. One claimed that “all kinds of mischief” was going on in the lumberjack camps in Northern Wisconsin, North of Rhinelander. I don’t remember much detail, but there was a bunch of chaos in the camps and the lumberjacks thought there was Hodag in the woods near them. And the other instance, there was a lumberjack that disappeared in the woods and it was blamed on the hodag–they said it ate him.”


Following some more digging, I was able to find out that the Hodag is believed to have come about as a response to the abusive treatment of animals, especially oxen, in lumber camps (Kearney). This seems reasonable because it was not the only terrifying beast to have originated from such camps. As a giant lumberjack, early Paul Bunyan stories also often featured the Hodag. What I find particularly interesting, however, is how this manifestation of abuse and cruelty made its way into the hearts and minds of so many locals in the area. Although it may have sprung from cruelty, the fact that the Hodag once made it into state and even national news headlines completely transformed it. When it had been seen by the nation, outsiders began to think of Rhinelander as the home of the Hodag, thereby associating the two. Because the legend of the creature had been scaled up, it grew from its original representation of cruelty to become a symbol of pride for the locals of the area.

For More on the Hodag and Other North American Beasts:

Kearney, Luke Sylvester (1928). The Hodag and Other Tales of the Logging Camps. Madison, WI. pp. 9–17.

Sirin, Alkanost, and Gamayun


The informant is a Russian-American-Bulgarian woman who spent the first half of her life in Russia. She currently resides in Boston, MA and the interview took place over zoom in which I interviewed her about the Russian folklore that she grew up with and that she feels represents the Russian people and culture.

Transcribed and translated from an interview held in Russian

“In pagan folklore, there were these mythological creatures of three birds: They were known as Sirin, Alkanost, and Gamayun.  I cannot really remember what the distinguishing features were for all of them. I believe Gamayun, I think, is known to be able to tell the future. I do not know a lot about it, but I once heard a song in which it is said that the bird tells the future. Anyway, a more familiar character to me in Russian folklore is that of the Zharptsitsa, it’s like this fire bird that many characters in folktales always seek to find and claim for themselves. I don’t know the origins of this bird, but my guess is that it originates from these older mythical birds.”

Analysis:The immediate oicotype that springs to mind with the Zharptsitsa  is a phoenix. The one main difference being that the Zharptsitsa does not rise from its ashes after it dies. It is unclear of these two originate from the same root, or if they were just created in the folklore of different cultures and happen to have similar features. It is quite likely. Birds exist worldwide, as does fire. Combining the two in folklore to create a legendary creature can occur in more than one culture.

Black Cat; Halloween Mythical Legendary Creature/Tradition

Informant-  When I was little I firmly believed in the Halloween Black Cat creature. The Black Cat would visit the night after Halloween to collect my candy. I would know to gather all of my candy and place it at the foot of my bed. The cat would take all of the candy and replace it with a toy or money. 

Interviewer- Did you ever see the Black Cat?

Informant- No the Black Cat always visited in the late hours of the night. I would stay of late trying to catch the cat but never found him. 

Interviewer- Were you ever afraid of the Black Cat? Did you ever not give away your candy? 

Informant- No, the Black Cat was a friendly creature and always gave me the best gifts or a few 2 dollar bills. I remember my brother always tempted me to not give away my candy but in the end, we both were too excited about the possibility of a new gift. 

Interviewer- Do you remember any specific or recurring gifts?

Informant- When I was younger, I remember receiving toys like dolls or stuffed animals. One year I received a cool new toy called, Chatitude, a walk talky toy I could share with my friends. Later in my childhood, I started receiving money. 

Interviewer- When did the Black Cat stop visiting? Do you still believe in the Black Cat or thing you will carry on this tradition?

Informant- When I was around 12 years old I realized the Black Cat was actually a tradition that my parents carried out to make my Halloween healthier. Even though I no longer believe in the Black Cat, I still believe it is a great family tradition. 

Background: My informant recalled this folk belief from her childhood. The tradition was carried out by her parents every year. She no longer holds the childhood belief that the Black Cat is a real creature, but plans to carry out the tradition with her children. 

Context: This piece was collected when visiting a childhood friend. She grew up in Marin County in Northern California. She believed in the Black Cat for many years. I grew up with her and remember hearing about the new Halloween toy exchange every year. 

Thoughts: Kids are drawn to mythical creatures and tales. The Black Cat represents a legend, occurring real-life and possibly being true. These folk creatures bring the children into a new reality of imagination. Halloween is a very superstitious Holiday with much room for tales and folk beliefs. This belief gave the family a fun tradition to lift Halloween spirits and imagination. 

The Legend of Kurupi


This piece is about a legend from Paraguay called Kurupi who has a long penis and uses it to impregnate girls while they sleep.

Main Piece:

“T: So my dad’s from Paraguay, and here I am, this was maybe five or six years ago. And I’m just walking around in this village place we were just passing through. And all of the sudden, I see this really weird looking statue, it’s made out of wood and not really tall… maybe four feet high. But it’s basically this really creepy looking dude with… a really long downstairs region. Basically, he had very long genitalia that was wrapped around his waist and I was very confused. I asked my father what is this? Why? I thought it was some kind of joke or something. Like some weird tourist gift thing and I was confused. But then my father told me it was some kind of creature from the jungle. I was very confused, but then I googled it the next day and was like “wow this is a real thing.” So apparently what this thing is called is Kurupi. Basically what he is, is this evil guy in the jungle who had… basically he was the king of the jungle, he had dominion over the lands. But he also happened to have a very long penis [laughter]. And basically it had the capability of going inside someone’s house while he was on the outside. So the legend goes that women when they were sleeping in bed could be impregnated during their sleep! By this guy. And sometimes it was used by adulterous women to excuse illegitimate children and their cheating. Also used as a tale to scare young girls because it would say you know if you’re doing bad this guy will impregnate you in your sleep and basically this guy was also used as a possible explanation for some disappearances of young women for his own purposes. But basically yeah, it was a curious piece of my own culture that I found out.”


The informant is a 19 year old student from USC who has lived in many different places growing up. His father is from Paraguay and his mother is from Lebanon. His family currently resides in Washington DC, but he is not a full citizen yet. He grew up living in Bolivia, Paraguay, and the United States, moving around due to his father’s job. He views himself as an American, but values his cultural background as well.


I think the informant touched on how this legend can be seen in society and the underlying views on females it brings out in Paraguayan culture. The fact that the creature is literally raping girls in the story, and is still viewed as a revered “king of the jungle” already shows how the gender dynamics in Paraguay are set up. Though it is humorous that the creature has a long penis, the idea that he takes girls for his own pleasure is disturbing as well. I thought it was interesting that the informant brought up the fact that adulterous women use him as an excuse for when they become pregnant. This was interesting because in the story the females are being raped – almost like it is preferable to an adulterous woman.

For another version and more information of this story, visit these links: