As William Congreve once said “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”. Legends of female spirits abound throughout the world, and many of them are terrifying. Women have the ability to create life, something that many cultures deem a sacred power. Yet in death, female spirits seek to steal that very gift away, haunting the dark nights, looking for their next victims. From ancient legends to modern day stories, these spirits still roam the streets of modern cities. So, reader beware, you don’t want to run into these ladies on a dark night.
For many women, motherhood is an amazing time. Mothers are seen as sacred and given a high honor. In ancient Sparta, women who died in childbirth were given the same honors as men who died in battle. Across the world there are ghost legends that center on mothers, though perhaps the saddest one is that of La Llorona. While there are many different variations of the legend, they all have a common thread. The legend tells of a single mother who fell in love with another man. However, her lover didn’t want children, and therefore refused to marry La Llorona. In a fit of madness, she took her two children to the river and drowned them. When she regained her sanity, she realized what she had done and drowned herself as well. Upon reaching heaven, the gatekeeper asked her where her children were. Having no answer, she was sent back to Earth until she could find them. Even now, she wanders the river banks, searching for her children. If she runs into other children, she might steal them away and drown them, trying to exchange them for her own kids.
Most people in Western society have heard of the urban legend of Bloody Mary. Often used in slumber parties and sleep overs, teenagers have been scaring themselves silly with this legend for years. According to the legend, there’s a simple way to summon Bloody Mary, all you need is a dark room, a mirror, and some candles. You go into the room, light the candles around the mirror, and stare into it. As you stare into the mirror, you chant “Bloody Mary”, though the number of times chanted differs depending on the teller. Once summoned, Bloody Mary will appear in the mirror, sometimes covered in blood. Sometimes appearing and screaming is all she’ll do, but other times, Mary attacks the people who summoned her, strangling them, drinking their blood, scratching their eyes out, or even stealing their souls. When all’s said and done, perhaps you should be cautious if you’re considering playing this game.
Merfolk are one of the most popular legends in the world, different versions of the water spirit exist all over the world. Yet not all are the happy, kind, Disney versions like Ariel, some of truly terrifying. The Rusalka of Slavic mythology are a terrifying take on the old merfolk legend. While, according to Vladimir Propp, a Russian folklorist, the origins of the Rusalka come from Pagan fertility spirits, they have taken a much darker turn. In modern lore, Rusalka are unclean spirits that haunt the water, waiting for their next victim to drown. Always female, Rusalka are the spirits of women who either committed suicide by drowning, usually because of a husband or a lover, or were violently killed by drowning. If her death is avenged, then the Rusalka will be allowed to rest in peace, but until then her goal is to lure young men to the water. Once they enter the water, she traps them in her long red hair and drags them under the surface. With her slick body impossible to cling to, they soon drown.
Also known as the slit-mouth woman, this legend has haunted Japan since the Edo period, with sightings as recent as 2004. The legend says that the Kuchisake-onna is a woman wearing a surgical mask wandering the streets. In older legends she had a cloth mask, a scarf, or a fan that covered the lower half of her face. When she approaches a victim, she asks the person if they find her attractive. If they answer no, then she will kill them with a pair of scissors. However, answering yes isn’t a safe answer either. If the victim answers yet, she’ll take off her mask, revealing how she got her name. According to legend, when she was alive, her husband mutilated her, slashing her mouth open from ear to ear. When she removes the mask, she reveals this horrible sight, she once again ask her victim if she’s beautiful. If they answer no or they scream, she’ll cut them in half. And they’re not safe if they say yes either, in that case she’ll cut their mouth to match hers. There are three ways to escape, the first is to tell you have a prior obligation and she’ll apologize for her rudeness. If you answer her first question, then you can either ask her if you’re pretty and then escape while she’s considering this, or toss candy or money at her. Perhaps the creepiest part of this legend is, in 1970 there was reports of a woman in a surgical mask who was chasing children and ended up being hit by a bus. When the autopsy was done, her mouth was split open ear to ear.