Hannya: Horned mask demon

Japanese demon mask small

Image via Wikipedia

This post is part of Bad Girls month!

Okay, so now I’m reduced to citing tattoo websites for demon stories…

But I love all things Japanese (except maybe the Samisen music, and even then, well, there’s the Yoshida Brothers, isn’t there? ), and when I hear about a Japanese demon, I want her on my blog.

In Noh theatre, there’s a mask called the ‘hannya,’ with horns and fangs, its face in a grimace. When I found that this mask is based on a demon, and on a female one at that, I had to know more.

Guiley says that the hannya was a demon-possessed woman with cannibalistic tendancies.

I looked for more on the Interweb, but only found a references to the mask, except for a couple of tattoo websites. The best one told the story of Kiyo Hime — Hime is an honorific that means ‘princess’.

The princess fell in love with a travelling monk, who returned her love, but he refused to relinquish his vows. She became enraged, and these feelings turned her into a demon with a twisted, horned and fanged face and a snake’s body.

The monk hid under a large iron bell, but the hannya found him, and breathed fire onto the bell. It melted and the molten metal burned him to death.

Okay, I have to go listen to some more Yoshida Brothers now.


The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters
The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters

by Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Kitsune: Hey foxy lady

The kitsune Kuzunoha. Note the shadow of a fox...

Image via Wikipedia

The beautiful fox-shifter maiden of Japanese lore is the ‘kitsune.’ Legend has it in Japan that female foxes can turn into lovely women of particular grace. Sometimes you see a male kitsune. Not often.

Also, the fox-spirit’s tail shoots fire. How cool? Very cool.

To turn into a human, the fox has to put a human skull on her head, turn around and bow to the Big Dipper (or whatever they call it in Japan). If she does it without the skull falling off, presto-change-o.

Fox maidens don’t have a clear modus operandi. Sometimes, they punish bad people, sometimes they do mischievous tricks, sometimes they attract and captivate men sexually, in a kind of energy vampirism. And sometimes they fall in love and marry a human man, regretfully leaving him when their true nature is revealed. Their human offspring are supposed to have long lives, intelligence, and magic.

Kitsune are associated with Inari, the Japanese fox god of rice.

Hey, you know back when I said kappa are possibly the only demons with sushi named after them? Kitsune don’t have sushi, but their patron god, Inari, has inari sushi, rice in a sweet package of deep fried tofu (Kappa maki is better, trust me). But kitsune have kitsune udon and kitsune soba, noodles topped with deep fried tofu, which they are supposed to really love.

You can get possessed by kitsune, but only if you’re a girl. The kitsune enters your body through the breast or my sneaking under your fingernails. Symptoms of fox possession, or ‘kitsune-tsuki’ include hearing a fox spirit speaking inside your head and getting a craving for red beans and rice (not the southern U.S. dish, just the beans. Also the rice).


The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters
The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters

by Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Mati-Syra-Zemlia: A goddess so mysterious that we’re not sure that’s really her name…

Okay, not a demon, but she absolutely belongs in this blog.

Ancient Slavic (From Russia and Eastern Europe) people would invoke a powerful goddess in a ceremony each August, chanting Mati-Syra-Zemlia, which means ‘Moist Mother Earth.’ They would recite the phrase to the compass points, asking the goddess to intervene on their behalf with the bad-weather gods, and ask the good-weather gods to visit the crops.

But the Slavs didn’t leave written records of their religious beliefs, so it’s hard to know if Mati-Syra-Zemlia was the name of the Earth goddess, or just the way to invoke her in this particular ritual. She doesn’t have any particular form, she was just.. the Earth.

What we do know about her was that you could talk to her by digging a hole in the ground and asking a question. Then you listened for the answer by listening to the hole.

She oversaw oaths, to keep people honest. After all, you can’t lie to Mother Earth.

You could also invoke her in times of plague by digging a furrow around your house, to unleash her spirit to combat the plague spirits.

She was a very powerful goddess in her day, one of the primary deities of most of the population–and you have to wonder if maybe her worship has survived in the form of respect for “Mother Russia.”



Mike Dixon-Kenned, Encyclopedia of Russian & Slavic myth and legend, ABC-CLIO, 1998


The Greeks sure love their vampires, part 6: Lamia

This post is part of Bad Girls month!

There are a lot of vampires in Greek folklore. In fact, where we have one name for undead creatures who inhabit corpses and suck the blood of the living, they have a crapload of them. I’ll feature one of them today, Lamia, who used to be the queen of Libya.


Zeus was the king of the Greek gods and boy, you did not want him to have a crush on you. Sure, it sounds great to have a boyfriend who could snap his fingers and give you the world, but he was fickle and his wife was the jealous type.

Lamia (first version) by John William Waterhou...

Image via Wikipedia

Seriously, if Zeus thought you were cute, you were between a rock and a hard place. You couldn’t say no to the king of the gods, but his wife was bound to find out about it. It happened over and over. Zeus would have an affair on Hera, his wife. Then she would find out about it and do something evil to the woman he had an affair with. Typical jealous woman (Ancient Greeks didn’t think much of women in general).

In Lamia’s case, the punishment was really bad.

Lamia was the queen of Libya when she caught Zeus’s eye. She bore him a bunch of children.

As these things go, Hera found out about her husband’s affair and she decided to punish Lamia by killing her all children except Scylla, who would later be turned into a monster herself.

Lamia went crazy, turned into a monster, and started killing other women’s children and sucking their blood.

Her folklore gradually developed so that in addition to sucking the blood of babies, she also had sex with men and killed them. She may or may not be a beautiful woman who can also transform into a snake.

The word lamia eventually became plural, and instead of being a single person, ‘lamiae’ are a group of female vampires who prey on kids.


The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters
The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters

by Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Demonspotting 8: Lilith

Okay, you guys knew I had to start Bad Girls month with the grandmama of them all… It’s Lilith, Queen of all Demons.

Enjoy this Classic post… It’s an exciting month though, so come on back Saturday for an all new demonic broad.


Demon’s wings are as angel’s wings.
Their halos are as shining bright.
They sing as well as angels, too.
But only when it’s night.
– Calvin Miller

Demonspotting 8: Lilith: The queen of the demons

Lady Lilith by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Supposedly, Lilith was the first wife of Adam, before Eve. She was created at the same time and demanded equality with her husband. God said no, so she left Eden to go hang out with Satan.

Because of this, she’s been kind of held up as a proto-feminist heroine: www.lilithfair.com/

Lilith has a fondness for killing babies. I think we can agree that is less heroic.


Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft, and Wicca
The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft, and Wicca
by Rosemary Ellen Guiley
DictionaryAngelsDictionary of Angels
Gustav Davidson
devilbookThe Devil: A Visual Guide to the Demonic, Evil, Scurrilous, and Bad (Hardcover)
by Tom Morgan, Genevieve Morgan

Bad girls month. I mean it this time. Really

Hi guys:

I promised a Bad Girls month a while back, and did I actually do it? Nope. Other things got in my way, but NO MORE.

May is Bad Girls month on the Demon of the Week blog. We’ll be featuring demonic bad girls from all over the world, and revisiting some of our old favorites. I’ll introduce you to some twisted princesses, not just *a* witch, but *the* Witch, and some members of Satan’s harem.

Watch for the first post tomorrow.