Tag Archives: mythical creatures


“Jinns are in the Quran and they are creatures made by Allah and they can’t be seen by the human eye. They were created before mankind was created. Unlike ghosts or spirits they are a separate entity, just like cats and dogs and birds and other species, and human beings can’t really see them and they were created from a smokeless flame or something like that, like how God created humans from dust and dirt. When God made Adam, jinns were made before Adam, God asked all the jinns to bow down to Adam and one jinn did not. This jinn refused to bow down to Adam which earned him the wrath of Adam. This jinn became Shaitan, or Satan. There are good and bad jinns though.Growing up in Pakistan it was a very inherent factor of our culture to believe in jinns, my mom was a big believer and my dad was very pragmatic. My mom used to hide it from my dad and go to this shaman or preacher who would read from the Quran to get the bad jinns away from my mom. My mom had a very troubled life and her mother believed it was the jinns causing this trouble so they went to this person. Fast forward many years and my sister was unwell so the religious person came to my house, and my dad had a garden he loved. The garden had this wooden statue, and the woman came over and said that a jinn was in this statue. I was a bit naive, and I went to that statue and threw it out so my sister would be better. It didn’t work though, I just got in a lot of trouble with my dad. They say some people could see them and they could take the shape of different things, like they could be this chair. There was actually a second hand belt I had got somewhere and in my mind I was so convinced it was a jinn. So eventually I drove it outside and I pulled out my zippo lighter and I burned the belt. And I was kind of susceptible at the time, a lot was going on in my life at the time. I’ve become more pragmatic now but there’s a part of me I can’t shake off. I was convinced i got rid of the jinn after burning it. Even if I didn’t really get rid of it, I got rid of one element, one thing that was bothering me, now I can move on. 


J is a 47-year-old woman who grew up in Pakistan until she was in her mid-twenties. Her family is Muslim, though she’s currently no longer actively practices the religion. 


Jinns seem to be a part of the Muslim religion’s sacred creation story, part of the myth of how the earth was created. They were created before man and there is myth surrounding their own creation, they are believed to have existed way before humans and continue to exist in the world. The speaker mentioned how Disney has turned these religious figures into a mythical, magical version of a blue “genie” in a lamp. This is another example of how Disney has taken folklore through tales and myths and turned them into caricature versions of themselves. Because of Disney’s prominence, this is the idea we first get when we think of jinns, even though it’s very far removed from the actual beliefs surrounding jinns. Through her information I can see the connection between the jinn and the genie lamp, because jinns are able to transform into objects. jinns aren’t actually a magical blue creature as Disney has sold us though, they seem akin to angels to me. Islam is an Abrahamic religion, so it has similar roots and stories to Christianity. The story of Shaitan is extremely similar to Satan and the story of Lucifer being cast from heaven and turned into the devil for not bowing to Adam. The speaker then shares her personal experiences with jinns. Her last story highlights the importance of ritual. She says even if there wasn’t really a jinn in the belt, that ritualistic burning helped her move forward and release trouble that was going on in her life. This exemplifies how even when folklore isn’t supported by science, it doesn’t mean that it is false. These rituals and creatures can provide real experiences for people that are very meaningful and impactful. 

Mythical Guardians: The Ogre and The Snake

Context: According to my informant, her grandmother has stated that the story of the Ogre and the Snake date back to the beginning of Buddhist temples in Thailand, and they serve as protectors that ward off evil. The Ogre is more of a gate guardian, they say he is a scary-looking beast. When entering a Buddhist temple, it is also suggested that one does not step on the segment of the door frame that lies beneath their foot. This is a sign of disrespect towards the protector and can lead to bad omens for the individual. The snake, on the other hand, is not embedded in the door, but rather on the railing of the stairs leading up to the temple. The snake serves to entangle enemies within its grasp to prevent them from reaching the door, and if the evil manages to get past the snake, it must face the ogre. These beasts are not just passed down between oral description, but are sometimes physically engrained and carved into the physical door and railings of temples, as noted by the informant who has seen them in real life.

Analysis: In many cultures, scary beasts are used as protectors since they are daunting enough to ward off other monsters. This specific case of the ogre may remind one of the seraphim within the bible, which were often depicted as beautiful within modern-day media until most recently. The seraphim would actually have to announce their presence and well intent when revealing their true forms to humanity, for they were rather grotesque. The ogre in the story is described as having a row of tusks along his jaw, which can be connected to the rows of wings that surround the seraphim. The snake is another sly entity within many cultures, but overall it represents serenity within destruction, reflective of the monks’ altruism and pacifism. These scary mythical beasts contrast with the peaceful men within the temples for their presence must be starkly different in order to serve as purposeful protectors. 

Tabi Tabi Po

M is 50, and was raised in the Caloocan area of metro Manila, Philippines and currently resides in San Gabriel, California.

Growing up, she was always told that “when you pass by a mound of dirt in the Philippines” you must say “tabi tabi po”. This translates to something along the lines of “excuse me” or “I’m passing by.” This was to show the “nuno sa punso” that you respected their home. Upon asking why this was done so frequently, M responded that you are “not supposed to kick it or trample it or something bad will happen to you.”

Upon further research, I read that the nuno sa punso was a catch-all term for any folkloric spirit that could be dwelling within the mound. Additionally, “tabi tabi po” is the shorthand term for “tabi, tabi po baka kayo mabunggd” which translates more formally to “excuse me, sir, lest I bump into you”. In addition to this phrase, it appears that there are different variations of the same phrase uttered in similar situations that vary in different regions and dialects, perhaps suggesting that there is a general reverence/fear surrounding the figures of Filipino folklore.

Loch Ness monster


Y: So, when I was a kid- like elementary school- I was super afraid of the Loch Ness monster. I don’t remember where I learned about it. I think maybe my dad had watched some show about it. But I was terrified. Like, if I was in a pool, like not in the shallow end, I thought the monster was swimming beneath me. I think a kid had told me that monsters lived in pools and would, like, grab your legs and drag you down, right? So I thought the Loch Ness monster would grab me in the pool. 

Me: What did you know about the Loch Ness monster at that time?

Y: Just that it was big and green and had a long neck and hid in the water all the time. 

Background: Y is a 20 year old who was born and raised in New Jersey. She now resides in Los Angeles, California. 

Context: This story was told to me at a hangout among friends.

Analysis: I was drawn to Y’s story because I had never considered the lore surrounding the Loch Ness monster to be scary. Instead, it seemed in the same vein as Bigfoot or Mothman, who people just wanted to search for in an attempt to prove their existence. Instead, Y’s exposure to the lore at a young age affected her perception of the myth, and the myth combined with other childhood lore to shape her fear. 



K is a 21 year-old woman with a mixed heritage. She grew up for most of her life in California but spent most of her childhood with her Lolo (grandfather), who told her stories from the Philippines. She learned several stories about Philippine mythology and shares them with friends to preserve her cultural heritage,

The context of this piece was during a game of Loteria when the card of the mermaid came across the deck. She explained the story of sirenas to the participants,


K: “That looks like the Sirenas my Lolo would tell me about”

Me: “He’d tell you about mermaids?”

K: “He’d call them Sirenas and would always tell me about them since I was so obsessed with Princess Ariel as a kid. He said that they were beautiful creatures that looked like women at first, but they had fish tails! They sang so pretty though. They would sing to fishermen that passed by them in their boats and would lure them to their deaths. My Lolo said they would usually drown them but occasionally they would suffocate them first.

Me: “Would the fisherman just fall into the water once they heard them singing or how would it happen?”

K: “The Sirenas would usually hide behind rocks at the shore and start singing so that the fishermen would crash into the rocks. If they sang while they were in the ocean then the sirenas was hypnotize the fishermen into jumping into the water to join them.”


I found this interview with K really interesting because she told me about a creature I had already heard of yet she told me details I had never heard of before. Sea creatures like mermaids are well-known in western culture as they appear frequently in films and television shows. In the western entertainment industry, mermaids are often depicted as warm, playful creatures that meant no harm. This is the exposure I had as a child so I had positive connotations to mermaids and which is why I was surprised by some of the things discussed in this interview. The introduction to the Filipino counterpart of the western culture’s version of these sea creatures was interesting to learn about. I felt that they were almost similar to sirens as the sirenas used their voice as a weapon to seduce men into their deaths. It was interesting to hear in person how different folklores can transcend through different cultures. It was especially interesting to hear the similarities between the western mermaid and the Filipino sirenas and how they were different as well.