March 18, 2016

Mythical L

        Welcome to another episode of Mythical Creatures, where we celebrate the strange and wonderful magical beasts who inhabit our world beyond the realms of mere fact.  Today’s creatures are brought to you by the letter L, and in acknowledgement of St Patrick’s Day, we’ll begin with

leprechaun - the stereotypical Irish fairy, a small bearded personage who lives a solitary life as a cobbler, but delights in playing practical jokes on humans.  Humans often attempt to capture leprechauns, because they may bargain for their freedom by granting wishes or paying ransom from their hoard of gold hidden at the end of a rainbow.  In the past century leprechauns have updated and standardized their look.  They used to wear red, but now wear exclusively green; they used to wear a variety of hats and coat styles, but now invariably wear something like a green top hat with a buckle.  They appear in all manner of tales from sugar cereal commercials to horror movies.  A fairly traditional depiction is “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” the Disney movie based on books by Herminie Templeton Kavanagh, which I have not read.  An interesting new depiction is the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer.  (And don’t forget about the wild ape-leprechauns of Borneo!)  (Irish)

lindworm - a dragonoid that is usually wingless, and either limbless or with only front legs.  It’s venomous rather than fire-breathing.  Many of the dragons in older Germanic/Norse mythology can be classified as lindworms, including Fáfnir, Jörmungandr, and the Lambton Worm.  (northern European)

llamhigyn y dwr - Also known as the Water Leaper, this strange creature is like a giant frog with no legs, bat wings, and a long tail with a stinger tip.  It skips across the water and wreaks all kinds of evil up to and including devouring fishermen.  In addition to the stinger, it can stun prey with a horrible screech before dragging it into the depths.  I’d never heard of this one before, and am quite delighted to have discovered it!  (Welsh)

leshy - a forest protector, this is usually a large humanoid with long hair and beard of growing plants, but leshies (Russian plural leshiye) can shapeshift into any plant or animal form.  They are often accompanied by wolves or bears.  They can be harmful to travellers by leading them from their way or playing tricks on them, but they can also be helpful by protecting herds from straying into the forest, or even teaching humans the secrets of magic.  (Slavic)

lylit - Also known as a leaf baby, the lylit is a small jungle creature with very large, round emerald green eyes.  Its forelimbs are wings, like a bat but retaining a thumb and two long fingers at the wrist, and like a bat it eats insects.  The tail is long and furry and usually curled in a tight spiral when the lylit is perched.  Their fur is greenish and changes in tone from pale lichen-grey to dark forest green depending on mood or for camouflage.  Lylits have no voice, but can share mental images with anyone whom they trust, so that they can communicate in pictures.  (from the Otherworld series by AEGN)

long or lung - Chinese dragon, longer description here  (Chinese)

leviathan - biggest sea monster ever, previous post here  (Jewish)

[Pictures: The Lupracaun or Fairy Shoemaker, illustration by Warwick Goble from The Book of Fairy Poetry edited by Dora Owen, 1920 (Image from Internet Archive);
The Bride & the Lindorm, illustration by Henry Justice Ford from The Pink Fairy Book edited by Andrew Lang, 1897 (Image from MonsterBrains);
Lylit, drawing by AEGN, 2016;
Chinese Dragon, linoleum block print by Ruth Hayes, 2014 (Image from her Etsy shop ruthsartwork).]

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