Shape Shifters

Dragons of South America: Bachue’!

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Bachue’ is a mother goddess from Muisca Colombian mythology. She is the mother of humanity, and emerged from Lake Iguaque with a baby in her arms, who grew up to become her husband. The two populated the earth, and after creating all of humanity, they turned into serpents and returned to the now-sacred lagoon from which they arose.

Her name means “she who has naked breasts”, and she also watches over the crops that sustain man.

It is believed that Bachue’ returns on occasion to guide her people.

 

 

Dragons of Europe: Melusine!

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In the time of the Crusades, Elynas, the King of Albany (an old name for Scotland orAlba), went hunting one day and came across a beautiful lady in the forest. She was Pressyne, mother of Melusine. It is not clear whether he knew that she was of faierie blood. He persuaded her to marry him and she agreed, only on the promise that he must not enter her chamber when she birthed or bathed her children.  Pressyne gave birth to triplet daughters. When he violated this taboo, Pressyne left the kingdom, together with her three children—Melusine, Melior, and Palatyne— and traveled to the lost Isle of Avalon.

The three girls grew up in Avalon. On their fifteenth birthday, Melusine, the eldest, inquired as to why they had been brought to Avalon. Upon hearing of their father’s broken promise, Melusine sought revenge. She and her sisters captured Elynas and locked him, with his riches, in a mountain. Pressyne became enraged when she learned what the girls had done, and punished them for their dishonor to their father. Melusine was condemned to take the form of a serpent from the waist down every Saturday. In other stories, she takes on the form of a mermaid.

Raymond of Poitou came across Melusine in a forest of Coulombiers in Poitou in France, and proposed marriage. Just as her mother had done, she laid a condition: that he must never enter her chamber on a Saturday. He broke the promise and saw her in the form of a part-woman, part-serpent, but she forgave him. When, during a disagreement, he called her a “serpent” in front of his court, she assumed the form of a dragon, provided him with two magic rings, and flew off, never to return.

Werewolves: The Nahual!

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A Nagual or Nahual (both pronounced [na’wal]) is a human being who has the power to transform either spiritually or physically into an animal form, such as a puma, jaguar, coyote, wolf,dog or sometimes even a donkey or bird.

A Nagual is believed to use their powers for good or evil according to their personality. n modern rural Mexico, “nagual” is sometimes synonymous with “brujo”, or “witch” one who is able to shapeshift into an animal at night,drink blood from human victims, steal property, cause disease, and the like. One’s birth date often determines if a person will be a Nagual. Mesoamerican belief in tonalism, in which every person has an animal counterpart to which his life force is linked, is also part of the definition of nagualism. Each day is associated with an animal which has strong and weak aspects. A person born on “The Dog Day” would have both strong and weak “dog”aspects.

Monsters of Europe: The Pooka of Ireland!

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Don’t be fooled by the cute name. The púca ,pooka, phouka, phooka, phooca, puca or púka–however you spell it—is considered to be a bringer both of good and bad fortune. In pookas’ various forms, they can help harvest or ruin an entire crop.
The pooka is a skilled shapeshifter, capable of assuming various pleasant or terrifying forms. A pooka can take a human form, but then will often have animal features, such as ears or a tail. It will most commonly appear as a horse, cat, rabbit, goat, or dog,or something in between, and almost always has a dark coat.
The pooka is a creature associated with the Samhain harvest festival, when the last of the crops are brought in. Often the reapers leave a small share of the crop as “The Pooka’s Share” to placate the beasts.

 

*Housekeeping note: This image was painted in ink, and for some reason refused to scan without being blurry. I had to take a photo of the page so it is a bit blurry for that reason as well, but believe me, it still looks better.
I should probably leave some grain out for the pooka.