Published on Dec 24, 2019

Mythical Creature Background Images

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The intrigue and possibility of strange mythical creatures has always fascinated us. Whether it is ghosts and spirits, the little people, shape-shifting humans with magical powers or peculiar beasts of myth and legend still continue to entertain and bemuse us.

But what are ‘mythical’ creatures? Who decides what is ‘mythical’ anyway?

Evolving knowledge

The origins of many mythical beings can be found in old accounts of beasts that supposedly roamed our world. Pliny the Elder compiled aimed to document all the known animals in ‘Historia Naturalis’ (77AD), which included the Manticore, Murex and Skiapod. In the 16th century Ambrose Pare in ‘On Monsters and Marvels’ (1582) stated that some mythical creatures such as the Incubus and Succubus were completely untrue but he still held onto beliefs of bizarre races of men. Over time as our understating of our world increased it became apparent what creatures were real and which were suspicious. Such suspicious animals like the Unicorn and Griffin became mythical. Although these beasts sound so strange, we must remember that even today we make recent discoveries about animals. Did you know that octopuses come onto land to traverse small terrain or to lay eggs? We do not know which mythical creatures were exaggerations, which were species that are now extinct or which are so rare that have not been seen again.

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Faith, Superstition and Science

Mythical creatures are not confined to flesh and bone as many take on invisible or otherworldly forms such as ghosts, spirits and angels. The rise of science and its impressive understanding of the world has caused many beliefs of supernatural creatures to become fantasy as they cannot be scientifically proved. But they can also not be disproved. Science details physical phenomena but not so much the mental phenomena of our world. When we consider many beings become possible. Buddhist and other eastern philosophies explain the existence of spirits through an understanding of what the mind is and thus what a living being is. Furthermore the book of biodiversity is not closed, new species are discovered all the time, the ocean has not been fully explored and we cannot know for sure what creatures are extinct and which still remain. This inability to fully prove or disprove creatures based on sightings is what has caused many creatures like ghosts, spirits and Bigfoots to become classed as mythical creatures.

What Mythical Creatures Are Not

Since we still adore the tales of Giants, Dragons and monsters, we have incorporated these into the arts and entertainment. Shakespeare used mythical creatures like Caliban and Oberon to populate his play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (1590) which were based upon mythical creatures. In the 20th century JRR Tolkien revolutionized mythology in his books ‘The Hobbit’ (1936) and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (1955) turning Norse mythical creatures into new fictional versions starting a new genre: fantasy. Since then many mythical creatures have evolved and been elaborated to feature in fantasy books, films and games. The typical Orc, a blob with tusks became the green-tusked warrior now embellished by companies like Games Workshop and Blizzard’s ‘World of Warcraft’.

Many mythical beings based on sightings and spiritual connections which neither can be proved. We have not fully completed our encyclopedia of Earth’s animals and still have to journey into the spiritual philosophies of the elusive Far East. But either way the old stories and descriptions of fabulous beasts is an increasing resource for popular entertainment in books, films and games.

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