Bestiary #012: Jesus Breath

2015-09-15-Heraldic Panther Color

Name(s): Heraldic Panther

Country of Origin: England


Here for your enjoyment, the Panther Incensed. A piece of heraldry that is just the tip of the iceberg of “Fun things you didn’t know were on shields”. For as silly as a polka-dotted panther looks, this actually has a pretty bad butt origin.

So all Bestiaries are fun to read (hence…this entire project) but there are some entries that are really interesting because it’s an animal we recognize, and the description for it’s behavior is very, very, wrong. Like, did you know giraffes (or camelopardus) are just a cross between a camel and a leopard? That’s modern science at work, guys. If you lived a millennia ago. Very cutting edge.

Our panther here has a better story than just being a cross between other known creatures. In the 13th century, this here was the only creature in nature that could take down a dragon. It roars a breath or fire so sweet, that it attracts all animals to it. Save for the dragon, which is repelled by it’s natural enemy, and so plays dead in its cavern. This purple fire, and the whole deal with slaying serpents – there’s your Jesus allegory. A figure whom everyone wants to hear its roar/breath/fire? Gather round heathens, a panther Jesus is here to address you all.

Bonus fun fact from Pliny – clawed creatures rarely give birth more than once. Near birth, the children start tearing at the womb from the inside.

Gotta love bestiaries.


Badke, David. “Panther”. The Medieval Bestiary. The Medieval Bestiary. 15 Jan. 2011. Web. 7 Jan. 2014.

Barber, Richard. “Panther”. Bestiary. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1999. Print.

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Bestiary #011: PyschoAwesome

2015-09-08-Xolotl Color

Name(s): Xolotl

Country of Origin: Mexico (Aztec)


Psychopomps fascinate me. These are any mythological figures that help usher someone to the land of the dead. Often they have an affect on both the real world and the after life. Other popular psychopomps: Hermes, Anubis, Charon, and of course, the Grim Reaper.

Xolotl is more than just a guide to death, he’s also the twin of arguably the most important figure in Aztec mythology, Quetzalcoatl. So you could pray to Xolotl with more than just your final travel plans. He was associated with disease and fire and lightning. …I’m not sure of the connection.

So yeah, we’ve got a dog, skeleton, sometimes backwards-footed, being that put the sun to bed every night. Not too shabby. Oh, we can also thank Xolotl for fire. Good dog.


Voorburg, Rene. “Xolotl”. Aztec Calendar. Rene Voorburg. Web. 3 Jan. 2014.

“Xolotl”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Web. 3 Jan. 2014.

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Bestiary #010: Dream-Time Protector

2015-03-16-Baku Color

Name(s): Baku

Country of Origin: Japan


I really like Tapirs. A lot. So this chubby wonder, based on the Malaysian Tapir, makes me a very happy person.

Called a “Baku” the explanation for this creature comes from the Japanese. It might be depicted just as a Tapir. Or like my sketch, you can have elephant tusks and tiger paws. It can also have the head of a lion and body of a horse (with paws of a tiger). Because why not mix and match our favorite animals!

Now, what’s neat about Baku’s are their helpful abilities. They maintain their rotund figure by feeding off of nightmares. So they’re a jolly animal dreamcatcher.

For fans of Pokemon, these might sound and look familiar. The dream eating abilities and appearance of first Drowzee, then later Munna come directly from Baku lore.



“Baku”. Monster Mythos: A Folklore Bestiary. Tiki Machine, LLC, 2010. Print.

“Baku”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Web. 10 Jan. 2014.

Rose, Carol. “Baku”. Giants, Monsters & Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend and Myth. 2000. Print.

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Bestiary #009: This Cat Likes the Water

2015-03-09-Underwater Panther Color

Name(s): Underwater Panther

Country of Origin: Native American (Anishinaabe Tribes)


I think Thunderbirds are pretty well known, but this underwater lurker is it’s deep-dwelling counterpart. Scaled, horned, and as agile in water as it would be on land, the underwater panther is a lord of it’s realm. Revered by tribes around the Great Lakes, there was nothing in it’s territory that didn’t fear it.

This was another entry that was inviting because of it’s simple design:


Rose, Carol. “Underwater Panther”. Giants, Monsters & Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend and Myth. 2000. Print.

“Underwater Panther”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Web. 9 Jan. 2014.

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Bestiary #008: When Rabbits Fly

2015-03-02 Wolpertinger Color

Name(s): Wolpertinger

Country of Origin: Germany


It’s like an improved jackalope!

Now unlike all of the previous entries, I don’t have any stories for the Wolpertinger. That happens every once in awhile with an entry. The monster isn’t famous for causing terror, or battling it out with a legendary hero. They’re just remembered for being…odd.

A bunny mixed with a bird mixed with a deer? Yeah, that’s odd.


“Wolpertinger”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Web. 5 Jan. 2014.

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Bestiary #007: Heartbreaker

2015-02-15-Ammit Color

Name(s): Ammit

Country of Origin: Egypt


Who doesn’t love a classic? Ammit is waiting right next to the Egyptian equivalent to the Pearly Gates. The catch? If Anubis weighs your heart and it’s found wanting, he’ll toss it right into the gaping jaws of this beauty.

A cross between a crocodile, lion, and hippopotamus, the Egyptians wanted to make sure you were scared. Instead of just threatening your immortal soul’s mauling by a scary animal, they combined the three most powerful animals in Egypt into one being.

Gotta love ‘em.


“Ammit”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Web. 4 Jan. 2014.


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Bestiary #006: I Didn’t Make This Up

2015-02-02-Teehooltsoodi ColorSo I started this project a year ago…and it’s starting to dawn on me how poorly I prepped some of the research.

Most of the creatures come from very specific entries in favorite bestiaries. And then there are some like….this guy…where all I did was punch something into google and draw my version of a picture I saw.

SO. This is called a ‘teehooltsoodi’ according to my notes. There’s an entry in Giants, Monsters, and Dragons, but it’s not very substantial. Basically, there’s a lot of work I need to do when digging into Native American myths.


Rose, Carol. “Teehooltsoodi”. Giants, Monsters & Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend and Myth. 2000. Print.

Mostly this picture:

Which….oh man, I didn’t research hard at all. I’ll do better in the future.

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Bestiary #005: Oh, Deer

2015-01-26-Peryton Color

Name(s): Peryton/Perytion

Country of Origin: Greece


From Atlantis, these half-stag, half-bird beauties hold a terrible secret. Though hard to detect, if you spy their shadow when they’re in full light, you’ll see the silhouette of a man.

What happens when you die out of reach of your gods? Your soul transforms into a Peryton. Haunted by their plight, their goal is to kill another human. If they can manage that, their soul will be released and they can finally rest in peace.

It’ll be left to the new peryton to wander and seek out it’s own prey.


Borges, Jorge Luis. The Book of Imaginary Beings. New York: Penguin Group, 2000. Print.

Bestiary #004: Hungry Like the Immortal Wolf

2015-01-19-Fenrir Color

Name(s): Fenrir/Fenris

Country of Origin: Scandinavia

Description: What do you do when you discover there’s a giant wolf that will one day cause the downfall of your religion’s presence on Earth?

You tie that sucker up.

There are a lot of great tidbits about Fenrir, but I like when the gods (who will NOT go near him – except Tyr) try and convince Fenrir into chains. They figured they need him bound so he can’t cause the end of their world. They challenge him by appealing to his pride, “You say no bonds can hold you, but how do we know you’re strong unless you allow us to test you?”. They’ve tried similar tactics with Fenrir’s dad, so it’s a good plan.

Except Fenrir is not exaggerating, and he breaks out of every known chain. So now we need a miracle.

That’s where the dwarves come in. They’re very handy, and manage to come up with a supple, thin ribbon: Gleipnir. Composed of the roots of a mountain, a woman’s beard, the breathe of fishes, the sinews of a bear, a bird’s spittle, and the footsteps of a cat, there was nothing stronger.

He’s tricked, tied, and tossed a mile underneath the ground. In the process Tyr loses a hand, but it’s a small price to pay to have saved Odin and the whole Norse pantheon.

Of course, prophecies have a neat way of working out. On the day of Ragnarok, Fenrir will break his bonds, eat Odin and fight against the gods on the side of giants.

He’ll fall to Vidar, Odin’s son, but not before the damage is done.

Gotta love giant wolves.


“Fenrir”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Web. 31 Dec. 2013.

Rose, Carol. “Fenrir”. Giants, Monsters & Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend and Myth. 2000. Print.

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Bestiary #003: Part of Your World

2015-01-15-Ichthyocentaur Color

Name(s): Ichthyocentaur, Ichthyocentaurus

Country of Origin: Greece

Description: Related to centaurs, icthyocentaurs are both man and horse, but also have a dolphin or fish tail. Generally calmer than their land-bound cousins, Ichthyocentaurs make their home in the ocean. They peacefully coexist with with nymphs and other sea creatures.

The most famous Ichthyocentaurs from mythology are Bythos and Aphros.


“Ichythocentaurs”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Web. 31 Dec. 2013.

Rose, Carol. “Ichthyocentaur, Ichthyocentaurus”. Giants, Monsters & Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend and Myth. 2000. Print.

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