The Tokoloshe

Have you ever laid restlessly in your bed, with the covers pulled up to your neck, listening to all the things that go bump in the night? Every tick, every fan swirl, even the soft knocks you hear in the subtle shift of your walls? You feel a presence, like something is watching you, yet you cant see a damn thing, let alone your own hand in front of your face. The tension has filled the room and your waiting. For what exactly? You’re not sure, but its freaking you the F out.

This “presence” you feel could be chalked up to be “absolutely nothing” or your imagination “playing tricks on you,” but we all know that other worldly creatures loom in the darkness of your bedroom corner. So, what is it? In many stories across the globe, people describe tons of creatures, demons, and sprites that torture them in the night; The Tokoloshe is no exception.

In Zulu mythology, South Africans have blamed the Tokoloshe (Toe-kohl-osh) for the unexplained tortures of humans. The small gremlin like water sprite is considered to be very hairy, gray in color, with empty eye sockets. Why? Oh, you know, because the Tokoloshe was created out of a DEAD CORPSE. Yes, you read that right. The Tokoloshe isn’t just a normal creature that goes about his business, no. He is created by none other than a witch. How? Ill tell you.

Now, nobody knows the exact ritual in creating a Tokoloshe because most witches remain anonymous, but it is believed that women of the dark arts possesses a dead corpse, gouges out the eyes to take away the soul that once inhabited it, and then a hot poker is used to create a crater in the front of the skull; obviously to fill the creature with its objective of torture, commanded by the witch. And then after some crazy chanting and sprinkling of herbs, the original, human body, shrinks into a what we know as the Tokoloshe (weird, I know). Interestingly enough, this Zulu magic, is almost a rare combination of Voodooism and possession.

Once a Tokoloshe is made and summoned, the witch will dedicate the little fur ball’s life to reeking havoc on the one who wronged them. Divorce, sickness, and death are the creatures favorites. Unfortunately, children are the only humans who can see them in the flesh, so we adults are screwed. The only way a Tokoloshe can hide themselves or “disappear” is by swallowing a small pebble or drinking water (UM, Gremlins movie? water is BAD). BUT, if you do happen to see one, DO NOT acknowledge it. Though they cant see, their other senses are heightened to find their prey. And they WILL find you.

If you decide you need protection from the Tokoloshe, a lot of South Africans would place bricks under the legs of their beds to keep the creature from climbing upon their chests in the night to strangle them. The Tokoloshe is not the best climber, so the higher the bed, the safer you are. Better start collecting those bricks outside your house.

Other than the fact that the Tokolshe is an aloof, scary, night murderer, I wanted to compare this creature to some of the famous ones we always see in fictional stories and movies. Where would fantasy fiction be without its monsters and evil critters? Multiple authors do research on the daily to find new and refreshing ideas of beasts they can plug into their plots as well as fears that they can instill within the depth of a foggy forest or the endless black space under the bed. We have to have weirdness within our writing. Do you really think J.K. Rowling made up every single creature from the top of her head? Absolutely not. She researched, evolved, morphed, and then created her own.

So, my advice to aspiring writers is, research. Research until your eyes pop out… or let a witch cut them out, whichever you see fit. (again, with the puns)

In the comment section, tell me if you have heard of this mythological creature before. Or better yet, tell me about a nightly encounter that scared you beyond your wits. Happy sleeping ❤

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