A ghoul is a shapeshifting, cannibalistic creature/demon that transforms from its human form and feasts upon human flesh. In ancient Arabian folklore, the ghūl (Arabic: literally demon) dwells in burial grounds and other uninhabited places. In the Arabic language, the female form is given as ghouleh and the plural is Ghilan. The wendigo is a demonic creature appearing in the legends of the Algonquian peoples along the Atlantic Coast of the United States and Canada. The creature was a monster that had physically transformed from a person. It is particularly associated with cannibalism. All cultures in which the wendigo myth appeared shared the belief that wendigos could turn into their true form once they ever resorted to cannibalism, or, alternatively, become possessed by the demonic spirit of a wendigo. Once transformed, a person would become violent and obsessed with eating human flesh.
By extension, the word ghoul is also used in a derogatory sense to refer to a person who delights in the macabre, or whose profession is linked directly to death.
The Species of Ghilan
- Main article: Ghoul
Ghouls who are well-fed on human flesh are indistinguishable from normal humans. The longer a ghoul goes without feeding, the less human it looks. A ghoul in the later stages of starvation will be extremely thin and pale, with veins clearly visible through the skin, and will have long, claw-like nails. Ghouls have the ability to take on the abilities and appearance any person whose body they have eaten. Some ancient stories claim that ghouls can also turn into jackals, hyenas, or other animals, but so far the ghoul’s ability to take on animal form remains unverified. Ghouls also tend to be slightly stronger than humans. Ghouls must eat human flesh on a regular basis in order to survive. A ghoul who denies his hunger for flesh for too long will begin to suffer the physical effects of starvation (even if he eats other food) and will suffer mental deterioration. As the condition grows worse, the ghoul loses all semblance of humanity.
- Main article: Wendigo
The Wendigo is a demonic creature appearing in the legends of the Algonquian peoples along the Atlantic Coast of the United States and Canada. The creature was a monster that had physically transformed from a person. It is particularly associated with cannibalism. All cultures in which the wendigo myth appeared shared the belief that wendigos could turn into their true from once they ever resorted to cannibalism, or, alternatively, become possessed by the demonic spirit of a wendigo. Once transformed, a person would become violent and obsessed with eating human flesh. The Wendigo is a cannibalistic spirit resembling a zombie. In some forms, the Wendigo is the size of a human, while in others, it can be fifteen-feet-tall. The earliest description of the Wendigo was that of similar appearance to a corpse, with a skeleton-like, thin body with gray skin, sunken eyes, bloody lips, yellow fangs and a long, slimy tongue. Later myths say that the Wendigo is a lipless ape, with giant fangs, that devours human flesh. It can turn a person into a Wendigo, which was one of the worst curses to the Algonquian-speaking Native Americans of Canada.
- Main article: Jenglot
A jenglot [ˈdʒɛŋlɔt] is a type of ghoul in Indonesian culture and mythology. It is described as looking much like a tiny, living human doll. It is usually depicted as a mythical creature, sometimes seen in cryptozoology, and occasionally purported to have actually been a human body. Its appearance also resembles the Medusa of Greek mythology. Jenglot 'keepers' feed their creature with blood, either animal blood (goat) or human blood. Those who feed the creature with human blood buy it legally from the Indonesian Red Cross. The jenglot is said to not drink the blood directly. The person places the jenglot near the blood, but the jenglot doesn't even move or touch the blood. It is said that the jenglot will get the nutrients of the blood in their own way. Some say it comes alive and consumes the blood when it is alone. In Indonesia there has been several "exhibitions" of jenglot specimens found and showcased. Most being found on the islands of Java and Sumatra, and are held as private collections of supernatural researchers and fans. Many were found to be hoaxes, being masterful taxidermist fixings of monkeys and fish, however, not all specimens were examined, and the jenglot is an actively believed myth that many natives believe to be real.
According to an Indonesian legend, Jenglot was an ascetic who wanted to learn the "Ilmu Bethara Karang" or the way to eternal life. It also said to be a hermit whose worship demons and gain a certain power and ability. They say if a person with great supernatural power meditates in a certain cave, they'll become jenglot.
The banshee ("woman of the sídhe") is a female spirit in Irish mythology, usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld.
In legend, a banshee is a demon woman who begins to wail if someone is about to die. In Scottish Gaelic mythology, she is known as the bean sìth or bean-nighe and is seen washing the bloodstained clothes of those who are about to die. Alleged sightings of banshees have been reported as recently as 1948. Stories of banshees can also be found in America in the late 18th century. The most prevalent of the American stories comes from Tar River in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. However, in this variation of the story, the banshee is simply a ghoul, as opposed to a sign of misfortune.