Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture

Mythical Folklore Monsters: How Culture Connects Us

Spooky season is finally here and Halloween is right around the corner, and what better way to get immersed in the spirit of Halloween than to retell the tales of monstrous creatures from our ancestors. From one generation to another, these myths have been passed down time and time again until each generation has formulated their very own interpretations of said myths. Every culture has its version of the boogeyman and whether they’re simply told as campfire stories or used to scare children, you better believe that folktales are what keeps traditions alive.

Aswang

I want to start off with something that I’m very familiar with. In Filipino folklore, the Aswang has haunted us ever since Spanish colonization. The Aswang is a flesh-eating shape-shifting monster that has a hunger for pregnant women. It can essentially be linked to a vampire. The elders of society say that Aswangs take the form of animals such as birds, dogs, or pigs during the day and at night they transform into their monstrous human-like forms. People say to be careful during the night because that’s when Aswangs are out hunting. It’s believed that Aswangs make a “tik-tik” sound and as you get closer to them, the quieter the “tik-tik” becomes. This is how they outsmart their prey, they trick their victims into thinking they’re getting farther away from the danger, when in fact the Aswang could be perched right above them on a tree.

La Llorona

From classic Latin American folktale, La Llorona has been a source of nightmares for generations of children. The origins of La Llorona (in English, “The Weeping Woman”) come from tales about a woman who murdered her own children and in turn, weeps and roams around rivers to look for more kids to drown. Of course, there are many different variations of how the myth goes but generally speaking, La Llorona is a mourning woman in white that’s cursed to have her spirit roam aimlessly until she finds her next victims.

Skinwalkers

The infamous Skinwalker originated from the Navajo culture. It has been believed that Skinwalkers are either demons or witches that can transform into animals or people. In some versions of the tale, Native tribes believed that a person can turn into a skinwalker once they perform a ritual. One thing I’ve always found amusing is that whenever the topic of skinwalkers came up, believers would be adamant about not continuing the conversation due to fear just like Hogwart students refused to say Voldemort out loud.

Nine-Tailed Fox

The Nine-Tailed Fox is a classic myth in East Asian cultures. China, Japan, and Korea all have their own interpretations of this creature. What I want to specifically focus on is the South Korean version of the Nine-Tailed Fox or Gumiho. In South Korea, elders believed that the Gumiho is an evil and spiteful fox that can transform into a woman who seduces men in order to kill them for their organs (specifically the heart). I am particularly drawn to this myth because it reminds me a lot of the 2009 horror comedy film Jennifer’s Body.

Duwende

The myth of the Duwendes has always been intriguing to me. I grew up learning about these small mischievous creatures in the Philippines and after living here in Texas, I quickly learned that these magical elves are also very popular in Latin American culture. If you’re not familiar with Duwendes, they are small elves that like to mess with humans. Now, as long as you don’t mess with them, then they won’t bring you harm. The most that Duwendes will do is live in your house and hide some of your belongings. That’s why when we look for something that’s missing and can’t find it at first then later it somehow magically reappears, it means that a Duwende is messing with you.

Whether if you do believe these myths or not, it’s always fun to share them with your friends and learn about similarities and differences between folktales. Personally, I love sharing ghost stories mostly for the cultural aspect of it. The fact that Halloween is coming up just gives me another excuse to talk about traditional myths. Do you have any childhood monsters that still creep you out ’til this day?

Her Campus Placeholder Avatar
Casey Reyes

TAMUSA '25

Hi! I'm Casey, I am a freshman at TAMUSA and I'm majoring in Biology with hopes of becoming a PA in the future. I am a proud Filipina and there is nothing I am more passionate about than culture and women empowerment.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️