Maritime lore is filled with tales of vicious sea serpents and scaly-skinned fish men, but few creatures of the deep have struck fear into sailors’ hearts like the mighty kraken. Tracing its origins back to a giant fish from Norse mythology called the hafgufa, the kraken first entered popular folklore as a titanic octopus or squid spotted by fishermen off the coasts of Norway and Greenland. One 18th century account by Bishop Erik Pontoppidan described it as a squid-like beast so large that when any part of its body stuck out of the water it resembled a floating island. The kraken supposedly used its many tentacles to ensnare ships’ masts and drag them to the icy depths, but it could also create a deadly whirlpool just by submerging itself underwater. Tales of the kraken’s wrath might be embellished, but the creature itself is not entirely fanciful. The legend may have been inspired by sightings of actual giant squid, and some paleontologists have argued that the prehistoric oceans were once home to 100-foot-long cephalopods that fed on whale-sized Ichthyosaurs.
An intimidating blend of two different predators, the griffin was said to possess the body and back legs of a lion as well as the wings, beak and talons of a hawk or eagle. Tales of the flying behemoths most likely originated in the Middle East, but they later became a popular motif in ancient Greek literature. The griffin legend was later picked up in the 14th century in a largely fictional travelogue by Sir John Mandeville, who described the creatures as “more strong than eight lions” and “a hundred eagles.” Griffins were revered for their intelligence and dedication to monogamy—they supposedly mated for life—but they could also be ferocious. The beasts ripped flesh with their razor sharp talons, and they were also known to fly their victims to great heights before dropping them to their deaths. According to researcher Adrienne Mayor, legends of the griffin could be inspired by early encounters with dinosaur fossils. Scythian nomads in central Asia may have stumbled across the bones of the dinosaur protoceratops and mistook them for a bird-like creature, resulting in the myth of a terrifying flying beast.
One of the most forbidding of all mythical creatures, the manticore was a bloodthirsty quadruped that supposedly sported the head of a blue-eyed man, the auburn body of a lion and the stinging tail of a scorpion. The legend of this deadly hybrid first began with Greek authors such as Ctesias, who chronicled it in a book about India. Ctesias and others described the manticore as having three rows of teeth like a shark and a tuneful bellow that sounded like a trumpet. Most terrifying of all, it had an insatiable appetite for human flesh. After using its blistering speed to chase down its prey, the beast was said to slash at them with its claws or sting them with its tail before devouring them bones and all. According to Ctesias, the manticore was even capable of paralyzing or killing its victims from a distance by firing stingers from its tail “as if from a bow.”
Accounts of the fearsome basilisk date back to the first century Roman writer Pliny the Elder, whose famous “Natural History” included entries on fantastical creatures and exotic races of deformed men. Pliny described the basilisk as a snake-like animal with markings on its head that resembled a crown, but by the Middle Ages it had morphed into a fiendish serpent with the head of a rooster and the wings of a dragon or bat. The basilisk was said to possess a deadly bite and venomous breath, but it could also kill a man just by looking at him. Would-be basilisk hunters countered this death stare by carrying mirrors in the hope that the creature would meet its own gaze and drop dead, but they also enlisted the help of weasels, which were believed to be immune to its poison. The basilisk supposedly originated in North Africa, but tales of European encounters with it are found throughout the Middle Ages. One particularly dubious account from 1587 in Poland describes how a man clad in a mirror-covered leather suit hunted and captured a basilisk after it killed two small girls and a nursemaid.
Along with legends of grotesque monsters and sea creatures, ancient and medieval travelers often returned to Europe with tales of so-called “wild men” living in the unmapped regions of Asia and Africa. One of the most unusual groups was the Blemmyae, a race of hairy primitives who lacked heads but had a face situated in their upper body. The tribe first appeared in Herodotus’s “The Histories,” where they were described as a species of “headless men” from North Africa “who have their eyes in their chests.” References to the Blemmyae or creatures like them later cropped up in writings by Pliny the Elder, the reports of Sir Walter Raleigh and even in Shakespeare’s “Othello.” Their exotic appearance served as an object of both fascination and disgust for Europeans, and they became a common motif in folklore and art in the pre-Enlightenment era. Other famous “wild men” included the Sciopodes, who had a single leg with a foot so large it could double as a parasol; the cannibalistic Anthropophagi; and the Cynocephali, a race of creatures with the bodies of men and the heads of dogs.
A popular myth among travelers and merchants, the roc was a giant bird of prey rumored to be so strong that it could snatch an elephant from the ground. Stories of the giant fowls originated in Arabic fairytales and mythology before making their way to the West in accounts by travelers like Marco Polo, who noted that the roc’s preferred hunting method was to drop its victims from deadly heights and then “prey upon the carcass.” The Moroccan wanderer Ibn Batutta later wrote that he once confused a roc for a floating mountain because of its size, and other legends stated that its wingspan—typically described as being about 50 feet—was so huge that it could blot out the sun. Researchers have since suggested that the roc legend may be partially inspired by sightings of so-called “elephant birds,” a species of massive, flightless birds that existed in Madagascar until as recently as the 17th century.
Christian theologian and professor of New Testament, Rudolf Bultmann wrote that: 
The cosmology of the New Testament is essentially mythical in character. The world is viewed as a three storied structure, with the earth in the center, the heaven above, and the underworld beneath. Heaven is the abode of God and of celestial beings -- the angels. The underworld is hell, the place of torment. Even the earth is more than the scene of natural, everyday events, of the trivial round and common task. It is the scene of the supernatural activity of God and his angels on the one hand, and of Satan and his demons on the other. These supernatural forces intervene in the course of nature and in all that men think and will and do. Miracles are by no means rare. Man is not in control of his own life. Evil spirits may take possession of him. Satan may inspire him with evil thoughts. Alternatively, God may inspire his thought and guide his purposes. He may grant him heavenly visions. He may allow him to hear his word of succor or demand. He may give him the supernatural power of his Spirit. History does not follow a smooth unbroken course it is set in motion and controlled by these supernatural powers. This æon is held in bondage by Satan, sin, and death (for "powers" is precisely what they are), and hastens towards its end. That end will come very soon, and will take the form of a cosmic catastrophe. It will be inaugurated by the "woes" of the last time. Then the Judge will come from heaven, the dead will rise, the last judgment will take place, and men will enter into eternal salvation or damnation.
Myths as traditional or sacred stories Edit
In its broadest academic sense, the word myth simply means a traditional story. However, many scholars restrict the term "myth" to sacred stories.  Folklorists often go further, defining myths as "tales believed as true, usually sacred, set in the distant past or other worlds or parts of the world, and with extra-human, inhuman, or heroic characters". 
In classical Greek, muthos, from which the English word myth derives, meant "story, narrative." By the time of Christ, muthos had started to take on the connotations of "fable, fiction,"  and early Christian writers often avoided calling a story from canonical scripture a "myth".  Paul warned Timothy to have nothing to do with "godless and silly myths" (bebēthous kai graōdeis muthous).  This negative meaning of "myth" passed into popular usage.  Some modern Christian scholars and writers have attempted to rehabilitate the term "myth" outside academia, describing stories in canonical scripture (especially the Christ story) as "true myth" examples include C. S. Lewis and Andrew Greeley. [n 1] Several modern Christian writers, such as C.S. Lewis, have described elements of Christianity, particularly the story of Christ, as "myth" which is also "true" ("true myth").    Others object to associating Christianity with "myth" for a variety of reasons: the association of the term "myth" with polytheism,    the use of the term "myth" to indicate falsehood or non-historicity,      and the lack of an agreed-upon definition of "myth".    As examples of Biblical myths, Every cites the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 and the story of Eve's temptation.  Many Christians believe parts of the Bible to be symbolic or metaphorical (such as the Creation in Genesis). 
Christian tradition contains many stories that do not come from canonical Christian texts yet still illustrate Christian themes. These non-canonical Christian myths include legends, folktales, and elaborations on canonical Christian mythology. Christian tradition has produced a rich body of legends that were never incorporated into the official scriptures. Legends were a staple of medieval literature.  Examples include hagiographies such as the stories of Saint George or Saint Valentine. A case in point is the historical and canonized Brendan of Clonfort, a 6th-century Irish churchman and founder of abbeys. Round his authentic figure was woven a tissue that is arguably legendary rather than historical: the Navigatio or "Journey of Brendan". The legend discusses mythic events in the sense of supernatural encounters. In this narrative, Brendan and his shipmates encounter sea monsters, a paradisal island and a floating ice islands and a rock island inhabited by a holy hermit: literal-minded devotés still seek to identify "Brendan's islands" in actual geography. This voyage was recreated by Tim Severin, suggesting that whales, icebergs and Rockall were encountered. 
Folktales form a major part of non-canonical Christian tradition. Folklorists define folktales (in contrast to "true" myths) as stories that are considered purely fictitious by their tellers and that often lack a specific setting in space or time.  Christian-themed folktales have circulated widely among peasant populations. One widespread folktale genre is that of the Penitent Sinner (classified as Type 756A, B, C, in the Aarne-Thompson index of tale types) another popular group of folktales describe a clever mortal who outwits the Devil.  Not all scholars accept the folkloristic convention of applying the terms "myth" and "folktale" to different categories of traditional narrative. 
Christian tradition produced many popular stories elaborating on canonical scripture. According to an English folk belief, certain herbs gained their current healing power from having been used to heal Christ's wounds on Mount Calvary. In this case, a non-canonical story has a connection to a non-narrative form of folklore — namely, folk medicine.  Arthurian legend contains many elaborations upon canonical mythology. For example, Sir Balin discovers the Lance of Longinus, which had pierced the side of Christ.  According to a tradition widely attested in early Christian writings, Adam's skull lay buried at Calvary when Christ was crucified, his blood fell over Adam's skull, symbolizing humanity's redemption from Adam's sin. 
The myth of the golem originates in the idea that human beings might be able to form living creatures from clay, just as God made Adam. The most famous golem is the one made by Rabbi Judah Loew, the Maharal of Prague, who inscribed a clay man with the word emet meaning truth, and then spoke the divine name and brought him to life. The golem protected the Jewish community from persecution, but was also difficult to control and ultimately dangerous, so the rabbi deactivated him by erasing the first letter of the word emet, leaving the word met &ldquodead.&rdquo The golem tales of early modern Jewry find parallels in other early modern tales of the creation of life, including Frankenstein and &ldquoThe Sorcerer&rsquos Apprentice.&rdquo The golem remains a favorite monster in popular culture to this day.
In Jewish tradition, the Leviathan is a terrifying primordial sea monster, perhaps having the form of a giant crocodile, sea serpent, dragon, or whale. The Leviathan is referenced throughout the Hebrew Bible, in Psalms, Job, and Isaiah and, according to tradition, is very ancient, having been created by God at the beginning of time. Leviathan has a counterpart land monster, called Behemoth. In some version of the legend, Leviathan is the female mate of Behemoth. In others, God originally created two Leviathans, male and female, but slew the female so they could not reproduce and destroy the world. There is also a Jewish legend that in the messianic era the Leviathan will be slain and the righteous will dine on its flesh.
If you look deep into Russian mythology, you will find they believe in a creature known as the Domovoi. He appears as a bearded man and can often shape shift into a house pet or even a human. It is believed that every home has one and that they are affected by the cleanliness of the house. These creatures are not known to be evil in anyway, however, if your home is not kept at least slightly clean, they will turn on you and become very mischievous, making your life a little worse than usual. Definitely not a ghoul you should ever mess with. But as long your home is clean, worry is out the window.
16. The Minotaur
The Minotaur originally began as an Ancient Greek mythological creature but was soon adopted by the Romans when the cultures began to blend more. The creature was one of the top monsters of its believed time. Described by the Roman Poet Ovid, the Minotaur was both part man and part bull. He lived at the very center of the maze-like construction known as The Labyrinth. Of course, the Labyrinth was ordered for construction by the Crete King Minos. This all began when Minos prayed to the God Posideon for a snow-white bull to show the Greek God&rsquos favor in him.
[Image via Delcarmat/Shutterstock.com] But he got on the wrong side of the Sea God and thus, Posideon made his wife fall in love with a bull. She then birthed The Minotaur. After growing into an adult, the creature became untamed and ferocious, causing it to eat humans. That was when The Labyrinth would be designed by Daedalus and his son Icarus. Warriors from all over the known world were said to have tried to best one of the world&rsquos top monsters in The Minotaur. With the head of a bull and the body of a man, it was apparently powerful and God-like. The creature even killed the Athenian Warrior and Hero, Theseus. Few myths compare to The Minotaur.
[Image via Momentaj]
These imaginary beasts fueled nightmares around the world
Monsters may seem like a thing of the past, but for eons humans have used them to understand the unexplainable.
You may think you don’t believe in monsters—and you certainly aren’t afraid of them—but monsters are fundamental to how humans make sense of the world. For eons, when people have encountered a scientific or natural phenomenon that they don’t understand, they’ve invented a monster to explain it.
Take fossils. Some two thousand years ago, Scythian gold miners in the Gobi Desert stumbled upon skeletons with beaks, claws, and broad shoulder blades jutting out of the sand. They couldn’t imagine the creature that belonged to those bones so they invented one: the griffin—half eagle, half lion, and fierce defender of hidden gold. (What they’d found was probably a protoceratops.)
Elsewhere, monsters took the blame for causing earthquakes. Tribes in the Pacific Northwest told of great battles that split and shook the earth and pointed the finger at A‘yahos, a shapeshifter who took the form of a giant snake. Landmarks mentioned in the tales closely track the Seattle fault line, allowing scientists to date geological events and discover ancient quakes. (This is how earthquakes really work.)
In Japan, the temblor terror is a giant underground catfish called Namazu, who shakes the ground whenever it stirs. Indeed, it’s still a common belief that ordinary catfish can predict earthquakes, folk wisdom that turns out to be supported by research. Today, Japan’s earthquake early warning system uses a catfish as its logo. (Here's how science explains the chupacabra myth.)
Although most of the creatures from the ancient world no longer terrify us, we’re still inventing monsters to embody modern anxieties. Earlier this year, a chicken-woman hybrid called Momo spooked the internet, sparking fears that it would induce kids to commit suicide as part of an online dare—just as kids had answered the Tide Pod challenge by eating poisonous clothing detergent. The trolls that once lurked under bridges now prowl social media platforms.
As long as humans keep nudging the edge of the known world, we will be haunted by the monsters we create.
Abandoned town, monster beneath NC lake: 6 eerie legends with real historic roots in NC
Raleigh, N.C. &mdash North Carolina's historic folklore dates back for hundreds of years and encompasses a variety of magical legends – from fairies in the North Carolina mountains to Bigfoot in the Uwharrie Forest from mermaids in the Cape Fear, to an abandoned community and Loch Ness Monster beneath Lake Norman.
Our state has folklore great and small – from the eerie Santer to the mysterious Moon-Eyed people – with roots in oral and written historic tradition.
While no North Carolinian knows the real stories behind these strange myths, we do know the tales date back generations and play an important role in the overall culture of North Carolina.
For locals who love mystery and hidden history, here are six mystical creatures with historic backgrounds in North Carolina.
1. Mermaids in the Cape Fear River
The legend of Mermaid Point dates back to the 1700s, when Revolutionary War soldiers claimed to see mermaids sitting on a sandbar, washing seawater from their hair in the moonlight. According to the legend, the mermaids swam up the Cape Fear from the Atlantic Ocean.
Near the sandbar, which is a real place that earned the nickname Mermaid's Point, was at the intersection of the Deep River and Haw River, right near the headwaters of the Cape Fear. On the riverbank stood a watering hole named Ramsey's Tavern, where soldiers congregated for drinks in the evenings.
Mermaids were spotted multiple times throughout the war – but it's notable that they were always seen after a long night of drinking, and during a particularly stressful time in American history.
Ramsey's Tavern and mill played a major role in serving patriots during the Revolutionary War. The British Army seized control of Ramsey's Mill after the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in 1781. Several skirmishes played out in the area – and after the battles, the mermaids were never seen again.
Over the passing decades, Mermaid's Point eventually flooded and is now underwater. Ramsey's Tavern is also gone without a trace, save a historic roadway sign marking Ramsey's Tavern.
2. The Big Cat – The Santer, the Beast of Bladenboro, the Vampire
The mysterious Beast of Bladenboro is thought to be responsible for the brutal killing of hundreds of dogs, goats and other small pets and animals within a 200-mile stretch of North Carolina, from Bladenboro to Charlotte.
The legend began in 1953, when terrified locals claimed to find their beloved pets with crushed skulls – or with all the blood drained from them.
According to local papers, the townspeople first began finding the remains of mangled animals back in 1953.
"According to some locals, the killings happened nearly 200 miles apart, stretching from Bladenboro to the Charlotte area," explains an article in Bladen Online, "Some people said the beast was living in the swamp."
The beast was described as an eerie twist between a cat and a dog, looming nearly 5 feet long, with long vampire fangs and wild black hair.
Dating even farther back, the tale of the Santer – another local beast that hunts livestock and pets – originates in the late 1800s.
Although the Santer's legend is decades older and based in the Statesville area of North Carolina, it's depicted similarly. It appears as an unearthly cross between a dog and a cat, with long fangs. However, the Santer's fur glows in the darkness, and its long tail can be used as a weapon. Its cry is a piercing, baby-like wail, according to one paranormal website.
In 1897, an issue of the Carolina Watchman described a terrifying encounter with the Santer near Salisbury. “On Monday night it visited the houses of two widow ladies. It reared up against the door and growled. Mrs. Cozart screamed loud enough to wake up the wife of a neighbor."
The wife opened the front door to check on her neighbors, when the Santer sprang at her in the darkness. However, her husband got his pistol and chased the creature away before it could harm her.
Given that the Beast of Bladenboro was said to wander up to 200 miles, is it possible the Beast and the Santer are one-in-the-same?
3. Bigfoot in the Uwharrie National Forest
Tucked away in the 50,000 acres of the Uwharrie National Forest is the legendary home of North Carolina's own Bigfoot.
Even as visitors camp, hike, boat and fish in the idyllic forest, they may not realize they've tramped right into Bigfoot's habitat. The nearby Town of Troy embraces their connection with Bigfoot to increase tourism.
Locals and hikers have reported mysterious sounds coming from the Uwharrie National Forest – everything from unearthly screams to knocks on tree trunks, so loud that the echoes carry for miles. Hikers have also claimed to have their tents shaken in the night.
Then, of course, there are the mysterious footprints.
Several locals have created casts of huge muddy footprints discovered in the woods. The reports are credible enough that Animal Planet visited the area in 2011 for their series "Finding Bigfoot."
For hikers searching for the perfect, spooky Halloween adventure, the Uwharrie National Forest is a wild land full of ancient mountains and eerie legends of Bigfoot – and UFO sightings, too.
4. Normie: The Loch Ness Monster of Lake Norman
Just as the infamous monster of Loch Ness in Scotland is known as Nessie, the mysterious monster of Lake Norman near Charlotte is known as Normie.
In fact, many unusual things lurk beneath Lake Norman.
Before Lake Norman, which is man-made, was filled with water in the 1960s, the land held an entire community of houses, churches, farms and buildings. Similar to Jordan Lake, some remnants of the flooded community remain beneath the surface of the water.
According to one local real estate website, "Only a few of the taller buildings were demolished because of the risk they may have posed to boats traveling on the lake, and a few standalone graves as well as entire cemeteries were relocated. Besides those few items moved or destroyed, everything else in the town remained as water began to flood the city."
Divers who go deep enough can find remnants of the lost city.
Also hidden beneath the expanse of Lake Norman is a crashed airplane – similar to Kerr Lake's underwater train.
It is amongst the sunken city and airplane that a monster named Normie is rumored to live. Fishing boats claim to have seen an enormous creature swimming through the lake. Some describe Normie as having the appearance of a large alligator others say Normie is a sturgeon.
Some extra-large fish have been caught in Lake Norman, perhaps due to the unusual topography which allows for more hiding places and protection from predators. Is it possible the 'monster' of Lake Norman is just a sizable catfish who has outlived its normal years – or has the 60-year-old lake already drawn a monster, who has made a home in the lost city beneath the surface?
5. The Moon-Eyed people of Appalachia
The legend of the Moon-Eyed people dates back centuries in Cherokee, North Carolina.
The Moon-Eyed people were described by indigenous tribes as very small people with white skin and huge blue eyes. They were considered to be their own tribe, and some locals thought them to be immortal. Their wide, blue eyes were easily blinded by the sunlight, so they lived in dark woods and caves, only coming out at night.
Small humanoids with stark white skin and wide blue eyes who only hovered across the mountains in the dark – the sight would have been quite unusual and memorable to the tribes who lived in the area.
In the 1800s, a European farmer unearthed a haunting effigy: A statue that matched the description of the Moon-Eyed people.
Historians say that rather than being carved, the statue was 'pecked' – a much older art form that involves hitting the stone with another stone. Because of the way it was made, historians believe it to be very old.
"One legend finds the Moon-Eyed people driven from their home by the Creek tribe from the South. The story goes that the Creek waited until the light of the full moon became even too bright for the nocturnal cave-dwellers to face, ambushed them in their weak moment and drove them from their homeland into parts unknown," said one account.
Other historic accounts from the 16th century speak of a man named Prince Madoc, who was believed to have sailed from Wales across the Atlantic and landed in what is now Alabama. This would have happened in the 1171, long before European settlers made their way to North America.
Some believe Prince Madoc and his Welsh crew ventured into Appalachia and vanished. Centuries later, some European explorers claimed to discover an indigenous tribe with lighter skin, blue eyes and who spoke remnants of the Welsh language. It's possible, then, that the Moon-Eyed people were, in fact, a real tribe of direct descendants of Prince Madoc's expedition.
To this day, many historians cannot fully explain the legend of the Moon-Eyed people, but many believe they could have been another tribe that lived among indigenous people prior to the arrival of European settlers.
6. Fairy Crosses
Fairy crosses are an extremely rare formation, only existing in five areas of the world – including the mountains of North Carolina.
European settlers attached their own legend to the small stones, which they believed were connected to the cross of Jesus. However, the legend dates back much farther than the settlers' arrival.
One legend states that the Cherokee spun a tale of 'little people,' such as fairies, nymphs or spirits who lived deep in the forest.
The Little People were known to play with the Cherokee children and help guide them home. However, when the Cherokee were forcibly marched to Oklahoma, the fairies remained behind and cried, their tears becoming fairy crosses.
European settlers reinterpreted the tale, saying the fairies cried upon hearing of the death of Christ, which is why their tears formed the shape of a Christian cross. However, the cross shape was also important in Cherokee culture, symbolizing the four cardinal directions.
Whatever their origins, locals have held fairy crosses as totems of protection or magic for centuries. Even today, the rare stones, properly known as Staurolite, maintain a mystical and mysterious significance in North Carolina – perhaps proof that fairies once danced, and wept, in the Appalachian Mountains.
More eerie North Carolina legends
If you enjoy exploring lost legends and mysterious folklore, the eerie history of the Devil's Tramping Ground dates back centuries, long before the arrival of European settlers.
From tiny stone villages to our own version of Stonehenge, explore the seven wonders of North Carolina.
Agamemnon and Clytemnestra
Like Jason and Medea, Agamemnon and Clytemnestra violated each others' expectations. In the Oresteia trilogy the jury couldn't decide whose crimes were more heinous, so Athena cast the deciding vote. She determined that Clytemnestra's murderer was justified, even though Orestes was Clytemnestra's son. Agamemnon's betrayals were the sacrifice of their daughter Iphigenia to the gods and bringing back a prophetic concubine from Troy.
Clytemnestra (or her live-in lover) murdered Agamemnon.
What is a dragon?
Dragons are fantastic, mythical creatures that inspire our imagination but also fill us with dread. The name comes from the Greek drakon, and it means 'penetrating gaze.'
The dragon is a large, serpent-like creature, with wings similar to those of bats or flying foxes, capable of breathing fire which they mostly do for protection. They're also described as having above-average intelligence.
The fact that dragons are seemingly reptiles makes their categorization a little complicated at times. In ancient Greece, for example, dragons were known as giant snakes with legs that could also live in water.
As mythical creatures related to reptiles, dragons are oviparous (they produce young by laying eggs) and base their diet on fish and various mammals (ranging from polar bears, seals, cattle, hippopotamuses, and sometimes even humans if they feel threatened).
Modern Interpretations of Jinn
Although the Jinn were widely accepted in early cultures, the modern day perspective on these beings has changed quite significantly. There are those who still believe in the Jinn as literal being and those who think the creatures may have more of a metaphorical implication.
Despite the recognition of the Jinn by Islamic traditions, there are also scholars who do not believe in the existence of Jinn at all.
Metaphorical Creatures/Unruly Humans
There are some who think that while Jinn are not actually the spirit like entities that they are portrayed as in mythology and religious texts, they were very real. Many who hold this opinion suggest that Jinn was a classification for a specific group of humans that lived outside of the societies of our ancestors. They hypothesize that these were very sinful and unruly people who evil and prideful in their ways.
There are, of course, those who refuse to believe in the existence of Jinn. The most common argument for this is that we would have developed a way to prove their existence by now if they did, indeed, exist.
Many skeptics argue that if the Jinn are real, they have to be either made of solid or ethereal materials. The argument is that if the Jinn are made from solid bodies, they would be visible to human beings and would not be a mystery. If they were made from ethereal bodies they would not be able to lift solid objects and would not be capable of what was spoken of in the myths and legends.
There are also those who wonder if the Jinn are simply beyond our comprehension as humans. Many who hold this opinion believe that because the Jinn are also a creation of Allah, it is arrogant to assume that the human mind has all the answers for what can and can’t exist.
The religious texts such as Surah 72 are very specific in their documentation of Jinn. This means that the Jinn must exist and our own human limitations are likely the reason we can’t prove their existence. There are some who try to take a scientific approach to this belief – often pointing to the many discoveries that are made each year. However, most supporters of this belief take a traditional approach.
A Result of Waswas
There are also a few who think the reports of Jinn and other similar creatures are likely a psychological response to loneliness. Human minds are very creative and imaginative. It is thought that when a human becomes lonely or it must find a way to entertain and soothe itself. One of these ways is to play mind games with itself and to engage in wishful thinking. In arabic terminology, these thoughts are known as waswas.
Waswas are most easily understood as whisperings in the mind. It is often believed that these whisperings are caused by Satan. These whisperings are thought to result in the belief that something is ‘there’ when in reality nothing is present. This imagined being goes on to become a legend that is passed down to children and other family members. When these children grow up and become lonely, the waswa stories that were given to them by their elders serve as a powerful suggestion to their imaginations. It is these suggestions that create other supposed sightings of the Jinn and cause belief in these beings to extend into modern day.
The Manifestation of Sickness and Disease
Other scholars believe that their ancestors may have simply had a different way of expressing their scientific understanding. Some people believe that the reference of Jinn in Islamic texts and mythology may have been another way of expressing how microorganisms – like bacteria and viruses – are able to ‘live’ among humans without being perceived. These microorganisms may not be visible, but are known to cause much trouble and misery among humans – much like the supposed Jinn. It is also notable to mention that many Jinn are found in areas where bacteria and other hazards are known to flourish – like abandoned houses and cemeteries.
This theory also extends into different types of energy that exist in the world but are unable to be perceived or understood by humans. It is thought that this is possibly why Jinn are described as being made from ‘smokeless fire.’
A Very Dangerous and Real Threat
Last, though certainly not least, it is common for people to simply rely on the warnings provided in religious texts that Jinn are dangerous creatures who should be avoided at all costs. There are varying extents of this belief, but there are many who heed literal translations of Islamic texts.
Because religious texts tell of a Jinn’s ability to possess humans, the threat of Jinn is taken very seriously by literalists (who are often Salafists). Saudi Arabia (which practices a strain of Salafism nationally) implemented the death penalty for cases dealing with Jinn in an effort to prevent sorcery and witchcraft from becoming rampant. To the practitioners of Salafism, summoning a Jinn is no different than summoning a demon – especially because demons are simply unbelieving Jinn.