15 Terrifying Paranormal Superstitions From Around the World

Kayla Boyd | Sep 14, 2017 Home & Garden

giant skeleton spirit
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Halloween isn't the only time for scary stories. In fact, ghosts, supernatural creatures, and other terrifying things have been passed down since the beginning of time, in every area of the world. Every culture has its own superstitions, and whether people still believe in them or not, they're definitely worth repeating. Some may sound absurd, but people have claimed to have seen many unbelievable things. 

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Cultural superstitions have been used to scare children into behaving the right way for centuries, but some were believed to be true by adults and kids alike. Sometimes the evidence and witnesses are so convincing that it makes you second-guess what's possible and what's not. 

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From man-eating creatures to horrifying ghosts, there is plenty to be scared of around the world. We're not saying these are real, but we're not saying they aren't either! So prepare to get spooked out.

Here are 15 superstitions from around the world that are actually pretty terrifying. 

  • Manananggal

    1

    In the Phillippeans, the Manananggal is a pretty woman by day that transforms into a vicious, half-bodied monster at night. It is said that the Manananggal will sneak out of her house near midnight to hide in the bushes or banana trees. Then, she rubs her body with a certain type of oil and minutes later, she will sprout bat-like wings and her body gets cut at the waist. The body from the navel down will stay grounded while the top half will fly around looking for something to eat.

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  • Skin-walker

    2

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    The Navajo belief of skin-walkers is that they walk freely among the tribe and secretly transform at night. "A skin-walker is a medicine man or witch who has attained the highest level of priesthood in the tribe, but chose to use his or her power for evil by taking the form of an animal to inflict pain and suffering on others," according to NavajoLegends.org.

  • Chupacabra

    3

    Back in the 1990s, the legend of the chupacabra ("goat sucker" in Spanish) began when goats and chickens turned up dead in Latin America with their blood drained. It is mostly described to look like a coyote with a skin disease. Other accounts describe it as a gray, lizard-like creature with large eyes, according to Animal Planet. One has never been captured, but it is widely studied and there have been many people claiming to see one. 

  • Diao Si Gui

    4

    The spirits of the hanged, or Dio Si Gui, are the Chinese ghosts of people who committed suicide or were sentenced to death. They are usually depicted with long red tongues and they wander the earth to try to convince people to join them. 

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  • Bunyip

    5

    This huge water-dwelling monster in Australia eats women, children, and foreigners. Those who stray too close to the edge of swamps and lakes are in danger of becoming one of its victims. Accounts often describe the bunyip as having traits of both land and water animals.

  • Gashadokuro

    6

    Japanese Gashadokuro are giant skeletons that are 15 times taller than an average person and said to be created from the amassed bones of people who died of starvation. They roam after midnight and grab travelers. Then they bite off their heads and drink their blood. 

  • Kelpie

    7

    Kelpies are basically Scottish sea monsters. They are shape-shifting water spirits that inhabit the lochs and pools of Scotland. They're usually described as appearing as a horse, but are able to adopt human form as well. They are mostly known for luring victims in (men, women, or children) and then dragging them into the water to kill and possibly eat them. 

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  • Nyaminyami

    8

    According to Ranker, in the 1950s, construction started on a dam on the Zambezi River in Kariba, Zimbabwe, and "the project was fraught with accidents and deaths." According to legend, a river god called Nyaminyami was to blame. Nyaminyami has the head of a fish and the body of a snake. People believed he was unhappy about the dam being built and the only way to please him was to offer a sacrifice.

  • Black Shuck

    9

    According to folklore in England, the Black Shuck terrorized East Anglia in the 16th century. He was a seven-foot-tall dog with red eyes, sharp teeth, and shaggy black fur. In 2014, remains of the legendary hound may have been found during a dig in East Anglia, according to the Daily Mail.

  • Popobawa

    10

    The Popobawa is an evil spirit with one eye and bat wings, originally believed in by residents of Zanzibar. It can take either human or animal form and metamorphoses from one into the other. Popobawa typically visits homes at night and will attack men, women, and children. 

    In 2007, men in parts of Tanzania were living in fear of a night-time sex attacker and some blamed it on the Popobawa, according to BBC News

  • Rusalka

    11

    Similar to many mermaid or siren myths, a Rusalka is a Russian water nymph, often the ghost of a young woman who can be found around bodies of water. Rusalka can either be beautiful or hideous, but her purpose is always to terrorize people by scaring their cattle, stealing children, and seducing men and drowning them.

    In Russia, the first week of June is commonly known as Rusalka Week. During which, women ward her off by not washing their hair and men wear decorations made from garlic and walnuts, according to Hypebeast.

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  • La Llorona

    12

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    La Llorna, or "The Weeping Woman," is an iconic ghost in Latin America. The tale is about a woman named Maria who ends up drowning her children to death in a river as revenge against her husband who left her for a younger woman. Devastated and regretful of what she had done, she ends her own life by drowning herself too.

    Legend has it that Maria was turned away from heaven and forced to exist between the living and the spirit world wandering, looking for her children. She will kidnap kids who resemble her own children and will drown them also. It's been claimed that she appears by the lakes and rivers screaming the words, "Oh my children!" Anyone who hears her cries are doomed to death, according to Hypebeast.

  • Alp

    13

    Originating from German folklore, the alp is a vampire-like spirit that can shape-shift into certain animals. It's a male demon that appears in people's nightmares. They were believed to cause sleeping problems, such as sleep apnea, sleep paralysis, and sleep walking. It was believed they could be defeated by pointing shoes toward the bed and hiding old pieces of metal in the straw where you slept.

  • Manticore

    14

    This Persian monster has the body of a lion, the head of a man, porcupine quills, and the tail of a scorpion. The word manticore comes from an Old Persian word meaning man-eater. The creature later showed up in Greek mythology and was said to devour humans whole, leaving nothing behind for their families to find. So many missing people were thought to have been eaten by the manticore

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  • Jersey Devil

    15

    And of course it's only right to leave off with a tale from our home country. This American horror story originated in New Jersey. According to popular folklore, the Jersey Devil stems from a Pine Barrens resident known as Mother Leeds. Mother Leeds was a mother of 12 known for doing witchcraft. After finding out she was pregnant for the 13th time, she cursed the child.

    During 1735, Mother Leeds had the baby and although it was born as a normal child, it changed to a creature with hooves, a goat's head, bat wings, and a forked tail. It killed the midwife and then flew into the pines. In other versions, the Devil himself was the father of the child.

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