Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER NEIL ARNOLD: Dutch Zooform Phenomena Part Two

It is with great pleasure that we welcome Neil Arnold to the CFZ bloggo with this first guest blog. I have known Neil for fifteen years now since he was a schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippie who merely wanted to start a club for people interested in unknown animals. Nothing much has changed over the years. We are just both a tad older...

The first instalment of Dutch zooform phenomena spoke of a variety of monsters whose motive it was to pounce on the back of victims and weigh them down. The Drommedaris is a Dutch water spirit, said to prowl the Hoornse Dijk (Hoornse Dyke) at Haren, Groningen, the most north eastern province of the Netherlands.

It also jumps upon the backs of unsuspecting wayfarers and is said to lay its trunk over its victims shoulder. Another water dweller is the black demon known as the Nekker, said to resemble a frightful horse which each year demands a sacrifice to appease its fiery anger. The Ikker is a black monster that drags its victims into the depths before feasting on their blood as they drown. Another creature of dense colour is the Bullebak which is considered a nursery bogey throughout the Netherlands, and is said to have the head of a bull but also the characteristics of a frog or toad. The Watersnaak is a bogey apparition used to ward children away from waterways. In some legends it resembles a monster pike.

The Meuse River at Brielle, which rises in France and also winds through Belgium, was once said to harbour a creature known as the Capirussa. Its name is said to originate from a corruption of the word caperisca, said to be a small goat-like beast. The folkloric description is far stranger for the critter is said to have a human face, the tail of a dog and goat-like feet, the ears of a hound and a set of bells worn around its neck. The creature has, in symbolic terms become a supporter for the Brielle arms. The monster was first mentioned in the 17th century by a priest but later depictions, particularly on the Brielle coat of arms show the form as a centaur-like entity with the blood-red background representing hell. The same beast has also been reported from Indonesia where it seems most prevalent.

Interestingly, another creature resembling a centaur is also strong in Dutch folklore. The Hommelstommel is a ghostly horse-like creature, sometimes reported headless, said to haunt Groningen province. The main difference between this beast and the mythical centaur description however is it reversal of traits. In this instance the monster has the upper body of a horse and the lower of a human!

However, the awful presence of one Blauwe Gerrit (Gerrit Blue, Blue Broek), in Dutch lore, remains a disturbing apparition said to take on the form of a blue ape-like humanoid and often leaping onto victims, especially those who travel through isolated places in parts of Veluwe, in the province of Gelderland. The entity acts as a trickster spirit in the sense that should one be grasped and enveloped by such a spectre, then considerable weight is added to the traveller who by the time they get to civilisation, will surely be exhausted by the presence. Its antics echo many other Dutch monsters who are feared as nocturnal terrors. Again, such a fiend can alter its appearance to aid whatever cause it undertakes. It is often reported as a misty blue light or a dancing shadow, and is said to push travellers to the ground especially if they should reach a crossroads on their journey.

One particular tale speaks of a greedy miller who shovelled more than he deserved of grain, and so the spirit weighed down his shovel.

Coincidentally, there is an old German saying that, ‘The werewolf sits amid the grain’, for up until the 19th century children were warned of their own hairy apparition, the Roggenwulf or Rye Wolf, often said to lurk in the harvest fields and wait to devour any traveller or wandering child. In Dutch mythology, the Ghierwolf is a similar bipedal dog-headed man said to roam several districts of the Netherlands alongside the Korenwolf who skulks in local cornfields.

Meanwhile, Gerrit is also said to attack wagons on dark nights, especially if those in the carriage indulge in too much drink. The spook is able to weigh down wagons, so that the horses struggle to a halt, but the spectre always remains invisible to the eye. Folktales Almanac translates another Blue Gerrit story of a kidnap of a young girl by a local man, but as soon as the abductor had thrown his victim onto his horse, the animal could suddenly not move, for the sheer weight of the invisible presence was upon him. Dutch lore mentions also that were-creatures are known to attack their victims from behind and ride on their backs.

One other classic man-beast tale from the Netherlands reads as follows:

‘A man had once gone out with his bow to attend a shooting match at Rousse, but when about half way to the place, he saw on a sudden, a large wolf spring from a thicket, and rush towards a young girl, who was sitting in a meadow by the roadside watching cows. The man did not long hesitate, but quickly drawing forth an arrow, took aim, and luckily hit the wolf in the right side, so that the arrow remained sticking in the wound, and the animal fled howling to the wood.

On the following day he heard that a serving-man of the burgomaster's household lay at the point of death, in consequence of having been shot in the right side, on the preceding day. This so excited the archer's curiosity, that he went to the wounded man, and requested to see the arrow. He recognized it immediately as one of his own. Then, having desired all present to leave the room, he persuaded the man to confess that he was a were-wolf and that he had devoured little children. On the following day he died.’

To be continued:

1 comment:

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