There are many different types of magical beings in the world and it can be hard to keep track of them all. This guide will help you learn the different definitions for magical beings so that you can better understand them. With this guide, you will be able to know the difference between a witch and a wizard, or a fairy and an elf.
You are reading: Definitions For Magical Beings – Best Guide 2022
With the release of the new Fantastic Beasts movie, there has been an increased interest in magical creatures. While many of these creatures are fictional, there are actually a few that do exist in the real world.
This guide will also teach you about some of the more obscure magical beings, such as the leprechaun or the banshee. Whether you are just starting to learn about magic, or you are a seasoned practitioner, this guide of Pennbook will be a valuable resource for you.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top List Of Mythical Creatures
- 1.1 Abiku
- 1.2 Alchemist
- 1.3 Aqrabuamelu
- 1.4 Banshee
- 1.5 Basilisk
- 1.6 Centaur
- 1.7 Dragon
- 1.8 Werewolf
- 1.9 Loch Ness Monster
- 1.10 Dybbuk
- 1.11 Exorcist
- 1.12 Druids
- 1.13 Enchantress
- 1.14 Fairy
- 1.15 Griffin
- 1.16 Faeries (or Fairies)
- 1.17 Goblin
- 1.18 Hydra
- 1.19 Necromancer
- 1.20 Unicorn
- 1.21 Mage
- 1.22 Minotaur
- 1.23 Bigfoot
- 1.24 Phoenix
- 1.25 Pontianak
- 1.26 Chimera
- 1.27 Seer
- 1.28 Golems
- 1.29 Gorgon
- 1.30 Sorcerer
- 1.31 Oni
- 1.32 Trolls
- 1.33 Mermaid
- 1.34 Valkyries
- 1.35 Psychic/Seer/Diviner/Medium
- 1.36 Cyclops
- 1.37 Vampires
- 1.38 Ogre
- 1.39 Warlock
- 1.40 Bogeyman
- 1.41 Witch
- 1.42 Leprechauns
- 1.43 Bruja
- 1.44 Gnomes
- 1.45 Fauns
Top List Of Mythical Creatures
Abikus are mythical creatures originating from the West African Yoruba and Dahomey tribes. They are known to be evil spirits that live in the trees, putting curses on children and causing them to die before the age of twelve. The children who perish are also referred to as Abikus themselves.
Abikus in fiction:
In The Famished Road by Ben Okri, the narrator, Azaru, is an abiku child.
The Oxford dictionary defines an alchemist as “a person who transforms or creates something through a seemingly magical process.” But that doesn’t mean that all magicians are alchemists. Alchemists practice science and experimentation to achieve magical results rather than holding a magic wand and chanting a few verses.
During medieval times, alchemy was practiced in the real world as a chemical science and speculative philosophy that transformed base metals into gold. Alchemists are also known to have explored the medicinal properties of elements in the hunt for a cure for disease and a way to prolong human life.
In fiction, alchemists have been mythologized and often appear as wise and mysterious characters capable of performing the seemingly impossible through a mixture of science, mythology, and magic.
Alchemists in fiction:
The most famous example is probably from Paolo Cohelo’s bestselling book, The Alchemist, and Harry Potter’s famed alchemist, Nicolas Flamel, the inventor of the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Similar to a centaur, yet much more terrifying, Aqrabuamelu are part men, part scorpion creatures from ancient Mesopotamia. They first appeared in ancient mythology in the Babylonian creation myth, Enûma Eliš (Enuma Elish). Said to have been brought to life by the ocean goddess Tiamat, she dreamed them up as a way to destroy her nemesis Apsu and wage war against the younger gods of the realm.
Aqrabuamelu was also tasked with guarding the gates of the sun god Shamash in the Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Aqrabuamelu in fiction:
Aside from their roots in ancient mythology, these part scorpion, part man hybrids have appeared in various fantasy fiction series, including the famous series ‘The Mummy.’
You know that famous phrase, ‘screaming like a banshee?’ It stems from Irish folklore, where these supernatural female spirits appear as if someone is about to die. They show up howling or wailing as a kind of grim confirmation that you really are at death’s door.
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These mysterious beings also show up in Slavic folklore, where they are known as božalość.
Banshees in fiction:
Rachel Vincent’s ‘Soul Screamers,’ a series of 7 books, features banshees periodically throughout the saga. For a deep non-fiction dive into the myths and legends surrounding banshees, check out The Banshee: The Irish Death Messenger by Patricia Lysaght.
Originating in legends from Europe, a basilisk is a reptile-type creature known as a serpent king who can kill its enemy with a single glance. They are sometimes depicted as serpent-like creatures with a rooster’s head, referred to as a ‘cockatrice.’
In some legends, these disturbing entities also can turn silver into gold. Traditionally, the basilisk’s weakness is the odor of a common weasel.
One famous example from folklore is the legend of the Warsaw Basilisk, where the creature was outwitted and killed by a local doctor, who disguised himself in a costume made of feathers and mirrors.
Basilisks in fiction:
In JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry battles a giant basilisk known as The Serpent of Slytherin.
One of the more recognizable creatures on this list, a centaur’s top half is human, and the bottom half is the whole body of a horse. They possess two huge hearts, three times the size of a human nature, with one in the upper body and one in the lower. These hearts beat simultaneously in a powerful rhythm.
Centaurs stem from ancient Greek mythology, where they were typically barbarian in nature, causing death, destruction, and chaos. Mythological heroes such as Heracles and Theseus are famed for defeating centaurs in battle.
Centaurs in fiction:
Like many mythical and magical beings on this list, centaurs appear throughout JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, living as near-human creatures in the Forbidden Forest. They are more gentle and docile than they are commonly depicted.
Another famous example is in C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, where a tribe of centaurs joins Aslan in his battle to defeat the evil White Witch.
This most famous mythical creature appears in folklore from Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. There are various depictions and descriptions of dragons depending on their origins. Still, their unifying features are their fire-breathing abilities and scaley, serpent-like bodies.
In Europe, dragons are often used as a symbol of royal power. Still, they can also symbolize evil in Christian traditions. The famous legend of Saint George tells of his defeat over an evil dragon that demanded human sacrifices. As such, he remains a prominent figure and patron saint of many regions across Europe.
On the other hand, in Eastern Asia, dragons often symbolize wisdom, strength, and sometimes even supernatural powers. Across much of China, a dragon is seen as a representation of good luck to those worthy of receiving it, and it is thought that a dragon has the power to ward off floods, tsunamis, and typhoons.
Dragons in fiction:
The dragon is one of fiction’s most commonly seen magical creatures, so the list is endless. A great classic example is the dragon Smaug, which features in JRR Tolkein’s The Hobbit. The archer Bard kills Smaug after Bilbo Baggins discovers a weak spot amongst his supposedly impenetrable scales.
The history of the werewolf or lycanthrope is incredibly diverse, with stories from Germanic pagan cultures, Slavic Europe, and classic Greek mythology. Despite such ancient origins, werewolves have obviously remained popular until today! Generally speaking, a werewolf is a human who can transform or shapeshift into a wolf. However, stories may differ depending on lore. The full moon may or may not be involved.
Loch Ness Monster
Surprisingly, the myth of the Loch Ness Monster, colloquially referred to as Nessie, dates back to the Picts, a people group in ancient Scotland. Scottish folklore is full of mythical water creatures, but Nessie is the most famous.
In appearance, the Loch Ness Monster resembles a plesiosaur, a water-based dinosaur. Since most photographic or eye-witness accounts are considered hoaxes, the creature is widely assumed to be a myth. However, many still believe Nessie is out there today!
This chilling entity from Jewish folklore is the soul or spirit of a deceased person who occupies a new body to complete their unfinished business. They are often depicted as evil forces who committed terrible sins during their time on earth.
The only way to rid oneself of dybbuk is to let it carry out its final wishes or seek help from an exorcist.
Dybbuks in fiction:
The Warsaw Anagrams by Richard Zimler is narrated by a dybbuk who tells of the terrible events and atrocities in Warsaw during the second world war.
The Dyke and the Dybbuk, a satire fantasy novel by Ellen Galford, also features a dybbuk who possesses the body of a modern-day lesbian living in London.
Any horror fan will be familiar with exorcists. They battle demons and remove them from people who have been possessed. Exorcists in popular media tend to be men, sometimes good-looking men, like the Winchester Brothers in Supernatural.
Much of this takes place under Catholicism since becoming an exorcist in the Catholic church is still something you can do if you are an ordained priest or bishop.
They even have their own organization: the International Catholic Organization of Exorcists. If you’re a man who likes to meet interesting people from the other side, this might be the career path!
Fiction Example: Abbey in My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix.
Before the contemporary tales of druids in fiction, they really did walk the earth as high priests in the Celtic traditions of Ireland, Great Britain, and France.
They were polytheistic, believed in many gods, and frequently practiced ritual human sacrifice. Their barbaric nature helped ward off many of the Roman invaders during this period before they were eventually overthrown.
Despite being real historical people, druids have since been mythologized in literature and popular culture. The fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons repurposed druids as powerful beings whose magical spells are harnessed towards nature and the animal kingdom.
Druids in fiction:
The Druids series by Morgan Llywelyn weaves history, myth, magic, and legend to retell ancient Celtic folklore.
These mythical female beings use magic and sensuality to lure men to their untimely demise. Enchantresses are often portrayed as witches or other magical feminine creatures who use their charms to tempt men away from their noble paths.
Enchantresses in fiction:
DC comics character June Moone, who first appeared in issue 187, Strange Adventures, is depicted as a supervillain enchantress who can manipulate magical energy and walk through walls.
Another prominent magical being in fiction, fairies, appear in various folklore worldwide. Still, their most famous origins are in Irish and British mythology.
These little winged creatures are often depicted as cute, mischievous creatures that live along the forest floor. Still, in some stories, they have a more sinister nature too.
Fairies in fiction:
Brian Miller’s novel ‘The Good Fairies of New York tells the tale of two Scottish fairies who find themselves in the middle of New York City.
Griffins, also sometimes spelled ‘gryphons,’ possess a lion’s body with the head, wings, and feet of an eagle. They are often found fiercely guarding the treasure. In medieval times, a griffin’s feathers and claws were said to hold magical powers.
These temperamental creatures represent concepts of strength, courage, and ferocity and are often used in military symbolism and royal motifs.
Griffins in fiction:
The White Gryphon, part of the Mage Wars fantasy series by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, features several griffins and griffin-like characters.
Faeries (or Fairies)
Faeries, also known as fairies, fey, or fae, can be traced back to Old French medieval romance stories. These supernatural creatures or spirits are famous across a wide variety of myths, legends, and reports, leading up to the present day.
Generally, when we think of fairies or faeries, we think of small, winged, magical creatures. However, faeries were rarely depicted with wings outside of Victorian artwork. In folk tales, faeries flew using magic and occasionally caught a ride on the back of a friendly bird!
Goblins possess similar powers to fairies and tend to use their magical powers for mischief. However, they are not quite as endearing as their winged counterparts; instead, they are usually short-tempered, mean, rude, and greedy, and they don’t fare as well in the looks department.
Goblins are most prominent in European folklore and are usually tiny creatures. However, they can also be human-sized.
Goblins in fiction:
Endless books are written that feature goblins, both as the main cast and lesser-known characters. The Goblin Wars series by fantasy author Kersten Hamilton follows an ongoing battle against the goblin kind.
Stemming from ancient Roman and Greek mythology, a hydra is a mighty sea monster with many heads. But it’s not easy to defeat; if you cut off one of the hydra’s heads, two more will grow back in its place, making this one of the most formidable oceanic monsters in myth and legend.
Hercules was commanded to slay the Hydra of Lerna, which almost led to his demise. His tactic was to cauterize the wound with fire as soon as he chopped off each head so that nothing could grow back to replace it.
Once he’s removed the monster’s last remaining ‘immortal head,’ he buried it deep in the ground, under a huge rock, so that it could never be resurrected.
Hydra in fiction:
Rick Riordan’s The Sea of Monsters, the second book in the beloved Percy Jackson series, features a hydra who garners her powers from an unlikely source; a mysterious donut store.
Time to cue the creepy music and scare the neighbors because we are raising the dead! A “Necromancer” is anyone that brings the dead back in some form. Generally, they aren’t usually bringing them back in pristine condition.
They might raise a few ghouls, a gargle of zombies, or entire armies of the undead. This category can slide into science fiction; Victor Frankenstein is one of the most iconic necromancers. Pros: Always have backup dancers for your Thriller flash mob. Cons: Clean-up.
Fiction Example: Harrowhark Nonagesimus from Gideon The Ninth by Tamsyn Muir.
Unicorns, a horse or goat-like animals with a single horn, are commonly depicted as mythical creatures. From ancient mythology (in Mesopotamia, India, Greece, and China) into the modern age, people have been fascinated by these majestic creatures.
Unicorns were said to contain healing properties. For example, if you drank from a cup made from a unicorn horn, you would be protected from poisons.
The root of this word can be traced back to the Magi, or the Three Wise Men, from the Christian tradition. From ‘magi,’ the word ‘magician’ was spawned and its synonym, ‘mage.’
A mage, just like a magician, is a practitioner of magic. Usually fully human in form, mage study and harnesses supernatural powers through their knowledge and wisdom of the occult.
Mage is just one word used to describe a person with magical attributes. It can also be used interchangeably with ‘wizard,’ ‘warlock,’ and ‘sorcerer.’
Mages in fiction:
Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea explores how wizards, or mages, learn their art.
With the body of a human and the head and tail of a bull, the legendary Minotaur is said to have been the offspring of the Cretan Queen Pasiphae and a magical bull. The story goes that the Minataue was trapped at the center of a labyrinth constructed by the mighty yet ruthless King Minos of Crete before being slain by Athenian Theseus.
Minotaurs in fiction:
Minotaurs also appear fairly frequently outside Greek mythology, including in Dante’s Inferno in the seventh circle of hell.
While many think Bigfoot or Sasquatch represents the missing link between apes and humans, it is usually believed to be a mythical monster. According to legend, Bigfoot is a big, hairy humanoid monster standing between six and nine feet tall.
According to North American legend, Bigfoot sightings have been reported in Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.
Phoenixes appear in mythology from several ancient civilizations, although they are most often associated with ancient Greek myths and folklore. This strong sun-loving bird lives for millennia before bursting into flames and being replaced by a new phoenix rising from its ashes.
The Crown of Feathers series by Nicki Pau Preto shows an empire created on the backs of Phoenix Riders, who fly through the sky on the backs of these mythical birds.
According to Indonesian and Malaysian tradition, these terrible spirits are considered the cosmic ghosts of women who died while pregnant. They are usually shown with long, lank hair obscuring their faces, pale complexion, and white attire, and their fingernails are occasionally long and pointed.
The Pontianak is known for seducing unwary males before slicing their tummies open and consuming their organs. Her presence is originally connected with the lovely perfume of frangipani flowers, which is eventually replaced by the revolting odors of decaying flesh.
In fiction, the Pontianaks are:
Ponti, the first book by Singaporean novelist Sharlene Teo, follows three women whose lives are entwined by the myths and traditions of the Pontianak, owing to the creation of a B-grade horror film about the mythological monster.
The Chimera was a legendary fire-breathing creature connected to creatures like Cerberus in Greek mythology. It was commonly represented as a lion combined with a goat and a serpent. However, the word chimera is now often used to designate any creature that is a cross between two or more creatures, with components that are frequently radically dissimilar.
Seers are thought to be able to see into the future. They are granted access to knowledge that is not available to the general public. Seers may frequently communicate directly with the gods and explain the divine meaning of happenings and omens in addition to forecasting the future.
Seers in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books have the traditional abilities mentioned above. However, unlike many other magical talents taught at Hogwarts, being a seer is inherited via a lineage.
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Golems are described as entities made of inanimate substances, such as clay or mud, that have been brought to life to fulfill some purpose in Jewish mythology. In some legends, a golem is made to protect Jews from antisemitic assaults.
According to folklore, golems are very loyal and would carry out commands to the letter. Thus their makers had to be very cautious about what they requested them to accomplish.
The Gorgons, like the renowned Medusa, were deadly creatures capable of turning their captives to stone with a single glance. The Gorgons’ look was a strange blend of lovely and terrifying, with their most distinguishing trait being that they wore living snakes instead of hair. The mythology of Gorgons teaches us not to be fooled by appearances alone.
Sorcerers, or sorceresses, are thought to be comparable to mages and wizards, if not the same. The only actual distinguishing characteristics of a sorcerer are that they are generally at the top of the magical food chain.
An apprentice magician or wizard is seldom given the title of Sorcerer; they must study and practice for years before earning this prestigious title. Sorcerers are also thought to have a natural skill or inherited gift for practicing magic.
Sorcerers in fiction include:
Morgan Rhodes’ fantasy novel Falling Kingdoms tells the story of magical warfare, terrible rulers, and great sorcerers in Mytica’s three kingdoms.
Oni is persons who were so profoundly terrible in their lives that they converted into demons in hell, according to Japanese mythology. Some people were so wicked that they were converted while still living! The servants of hell are generally gigantic, fearsome beasts with red or blue skin, horns, and tusks.
They punish evildoers with violence and will consume almost anything, even people. Oni is usually portrayed as a frightening and strong antagonist, regardless of the tales or portrayals.
Trolls are gigantic, hideous monsters that reside in caverns, beneath rocks and bridges, or in the innards of mountains, according to Scandinavian mythology as well as myth and legend in the British Isles. They are often aggressive and hostile toward humans, and some, but not all, have magical abilities.
They will explode into flames or turn to stone if they are exposed to direct sunlight. Therefore they prefer to do most of their work in the dark.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff, a Norwegian fairy tale written by Peter Christen Asbjornsen and Jorgen Moe and originally published in the 1840s, is the most renowned troll story.
Mermaids have fascinated humans throughout history because of their special charm. The origins of myths about half-human, half-fish beings may be traced all the way back to Babylon. Merpeople may also be found in Syrian, Polynesian, and Greek mythology.
While some civilizations saw mermaids as lovely and charming (in Irish legend, mermaids might shift into human form and marry humans), other societies portrayed them as dangerous and capable of foretelling and delivering tragedy.
Another mystical creature from Scandinavia is one of several female characters from Norse mythology. Valkyries, which means “choosers of the fallen,” ride into combat on horseback with horned helmets, determining who will survive and who will die. The deceased are subsequently transported to Valhalla, the deity Odin’s palace, by the Valkyries.
Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson, part of the Valkyrie series, gives this old Norse myth a contemporary spin.
People who can view or interact with the spiritual world or across time fall into this supernatural group. These titles are either occupations or are shown as professions.
A seer has the ability to see into the future. A diviner has the ability to see into the past, present, and future. A medium who lives on Long Island may be a conduit to the spiritual world, speaking or listening to ghosts and spirits.
“Psychic” may be used to describe any of them, but it’s also become a catch-all word for anybody with strong, innate, supernatural abilities. This may contain a combination of all of the aforementioned abilities, as well as telekinesis or mind reading. People are born with these skills in most depictions.
However, some people, like Cass from Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts, may become seers or mediums after having a near-death experience. Psychics may be found in a variety of genres, including Horror, Science Fiction, Action/Adventure, and Romance.
Faith NightStar from Nalini Singh’s Visions of Heat is a fictional character.
The cyclops (which literally means “circle-eyed”) initially appears in Greek mythology as a behemoth with one eye. The cyclopes, who lived in seclusion and tended sheep or goats without any government, society, or community, are less well-known than the ancient Greek gods.
The cyclopes were the ones who developed Zeus’ thunderbolts, Hades’ helmet that rendered the user invisible, Poseidon’s trident, and Artemis’ silver bow, despite being despised for their lawlessness. As a result, we should give them credit for their inventiveness.
Without the vampire, modern fiction’s greatest friend and antagonist, no list of mystical, mythological creatures would be complete.
The majority of current vampire portrayals are based on 18th-century Romanian legend of the strigoi.’ These tales gave rise to the vampires we know today, those that live indefinitely and feed on the blood of living people.
They despise garlic, won’t come inside until invited, and the only way to kill them is to put a wooden stake through their heart, as we all know.
So, where do I start? Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series is my favorite vampire series, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
Ogres appear in folktales from all across the globe, and although the term comes from the ancient Etruscan deity Orcus, the monster itself is derived from the man-eating god Orcus.
Many of us are familiar with ogres because of Shrek, but Shrek isn’t your usual ogre. Ogres are typically enormous, powerful, and hairy, with a voracious appetite. They’re either characterized as boring and dimwitted or as vicious, but who knows? Perhaps they’re layered like an onion.
A warlock, like a mage, wizard, or sorcerer, is a person who practices magic and witchcraft; however, most warlocks are men. Another characteristic that might be ascribed to warlocks is their use of the dark arts.
Wizards, sorcerers, and mages may all use both white and black magic, but warlocks tend to lean toward the dark side.
In literature, there are two types of warlocks:
Wilbur Smith’s novel Warlock is part of a larger series of tales set in Ancient Egypt.
Did you ever believe that if you didn’t behave, the bogeyman (also known as the boogeyman) would come after you? The bogeyman was developed solely for the goal of frightening youngsters into good conduct. It’s difficult to trace the origin of the bogeyman since there are variants in every culture.
In addition, the bogeyman’s appearance varies by culture since he is occasionally shown with horns, claws, talons, or hooves. The bogeyman narrative, in its many manifestations, is, nonetheless, a nearly universal myth.
A witch is a more well-known version of a warlock who performs witchcraft, magic, and occult arts. Despite the fact that witches may be male or female, most fictional representations of them are female.
Witches might be benign entities that cast helpful spells, or they can be forces of evil who practice black magic and curse innocent victims. They may also be a combination of the two.
These classic Haloween figures were widely seen as malevolent, doing the “devil’s work” in early Christian Europe. This resulted in a disastrous period of ‘Witch hysteria,’ which lasted from the 1400s through the 1700s. Across the continent, witch hunts and witch trials were conducted, and the convicted were mercilessly punished, either by hanging or by being burnt at stake.
Leprechauns are well-known and readily identifiable, particularly if you’ve ever eaten a certain breakfast cereal. Leprechauns were first mentioned in medieval Irish tradition, although they did not become well-known until much later.
Leprechauns are lonely creatures that like mischief and practical tricks. They are smaller, miniature human-like entities. Surprisingly, a leprechaun’s look and attire might vary by area, according to folklore!
“Bruja” is the Spanish word for “witch,” hence “Brujeria” (Noun. f) refers to the practice of witchcraft. In common use, the phrase refers to anybody who engages in mystical or magical activities.
You don’t have to be a bruja to participate in brujeria; however, certain Brujeria (horoscopes, protection from the evil eye) may be useful precautions against malevolent forces, the evil eye, or ill luck.
In literature and pop culture, the masculine form of the term “Brujo” (Noun. m) has been used to describe a male or masculine-presenting witches. We’ve also witnessed a rebirth of the phrase as Latinx people rediscover traditions that were repressed by colonialism.
Alex from Zoraida Cordova’s Brooklyn Brujas Series is a fictional character.
You could imagine a garden gnome as a little, joyful protector of flora and animals when you think about gnomes. In some ways, this portrayal isn’t wholly inaccurate.
Gnomes, or dwarf-like earth spirits, guarded hidden riches in European mythology. Gnomes were represented in medieval tales as creatures who looked like tiny old men, generally with slumped-over backs.
The Greek Satyrs brought the Fauns, or goat men, to Roman mythology. Satyrs, on the other hand, were modeled after the deity Pan. With goat-like legs and tail and a man’s upper torso. They also have horns and pointy ears, which are goat-like traits in art. These goat men provided assistance to lost travelers.
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