The Children of Ana
We touch on world mythology and folklore every Halloween season and usually more than once, but this year, I saved it for one of our very last posts, an elaborate and monstrously grotesque tale I've been researching off and on ever since a friend introduced me to it, and have been working on illustrating for a couple of months now. It's a fable that comes to us from the oral traditions of the Romani people, most famously those who lived in Transylvania and other parts of Romania [it's important to point out here that Romani and Romanian are not interchangeable terms. Not all Romani come from Romania, and not all Romanians are Romani] but the oldest written documentations of it only date back to the 1800's, likely with some degree of European embellishment or misunderstanding.
I should also probably let you know up front that there's no way to talk about this legend without getting darker and more graphic than what you might be used to from this website. Specifically, this story involves non-consensual pregnancy, a theme I never really thought would ever come up on Bogleech outside explaining the biology of bedbugs, so fair warning.
In this horrific situation, Ana would give birth to nine children, and the abusive, loveless, evil nature of their conception would ensure each was more abhorrent than the last. Collectively, in fact, these children are none other than sickness itself, in every form that it takes. From dandruff to the black death, all microbial disease, all genetic conditions, all mental illness, all allergies and cancers and aches and pains are solely the work of these heinous progeny, and they're every bit as grotesque as the torments they create, each with their own documented origin, abilities and highly specific animal-like forms, beginning with...
Melalo - "The Dirty One"
Melalo resembled a filthy, gray and green bird with two heads and large, vicious talons, though the exact variety of bird is seemingly never specified. It's been said that as recently as the 1950's, a violent or unscrupulous person was still sometimes referred to as "Melalo's son-in-law." Despite being the first child, Melalo would continue to be one of the most feared of his entire family, since he was responsible for both mental illness and all senseless acts of violence, including murder and sexual assault, sometimes even entering and possessing human bodies to commit atrocious acts of cruelty. Though small, he was also capable - and very fond - of tearing out human hearts.
The king was not satisfied with his first son, or in fact any of his subsequent children. He desired a more "normal" child, perhaps somewhere between nymph and demon, and would continue trying. Melalo, however, knew that this would never happen, plotting to use his own parents to flood the world with more misery, pestilence and death.
[Another real-world fact worth mentioning: contrary to widespread and long standing cultural presumptions, the "mentally ill" aren't much more prone to violence than anyone else, but are much more likely to be victims of violence. See here, here, here, and here ]
Lilyi - "The Viscous One"
This second child took the form of a fish, even specified in early records of the legend as a hagfish, one of our favorite fish of all! This hagfish, however, had an eerily woman-like face, and on each side of her body were nine long, slimy filaments. It was with these tendrils that Lilyi inflicted disease on mortals, passing through their bodies to inflame the mucous membranes and cause good old cold and flu symptoms. All the snot and phlegm diseases are Lilyi's doing, as well as all forms of dysentery. If your body expels something disgusting, Lilyi is to blame. Her incestuous marriage to her feathered brother would result in even more demons, who would in turn marry amongst themselves and continue flooding the world with new forms of illness.
Tculo - "The Fatty One"
Tculo even invaded and tormented his own perpetually pregnant sister, Lilyi, and Melalo knew the only way to get his fat little brother out of his slimy fish wife was for the butt urchin to get a wife of his own.
Tcaridyi - "The Hot One"
Like their siblings before them, Tcaridyi and Tculo would have many children of their own, and all of them ostensibly "women's" diseases, though it's difficult to define what that's actually supposed to mean. This is a tale at least centuries old, it's not exactly going to be up to speed on biology.
Silali - "The Cold One"
Silali specialized in fever and especially rigor, the sensation of being icy cold when your temperature is actually rising. Like Tculo, Silali persistently pestered her own brothers and sisters, apparenty lashing out due to loneliness - and perhaps because, for whatever reason, her particularly unnatural birth disgusted Ana more than the previous demons, and Silali was one of the most hated by their mother. It's almost a little touching that any of these things might still care about their mother's love, but you really can't blame someone for rejecting a child they were traumatically forced to have. That, and they're innately evil monsters who exist to biologically torture all known living things.
Bitoso - "The Fastening One"
Lolmischo - "The Red Mouse"
The Red Mouse specialized in all types of skin diseases, inflicting mortals with eczema, blisters, warts, boils, pimples and painful ulcers by simply walking over them in their sleep.
Minceskre - "The One From the Genitals"
Minceskre herself resembled a tiny beetle with a hairy back, and in at least one early depiction we've already seen, she may have kind of also resembled a crawling vulva. By creeping over and sometimes into mortal bodies, Minceskre created every single venereal disease known to mankind, as well as several deadly diseases of the blood. Taking the red mouse as her husband, she would also give birth to the demons responsible for the horrific smallpox, scarlet fever, measles and many more.
By now, both Ana and her fellow Keshali were desperate to end the nightmare once and for all, and the fairy folk believed they could sicken the demon king with a special cake containing the hairs of a cat, the hairs of a demonic dog, and the powdered remains of a dried snake.
The Keshali got what they wanted in the end, but only at a horrible, horrible price.
Poreskoro - "The Tailed One"
A bunch of dog and kitty heads doesn't sound all that bad, but Poreskoro was apparently so hideous that their own demonic father fainted from the shock, so, I did my best. It was due to Poreskoro that the king finally conceded he would never have a "normal" child and that this forced relationship totally wasn't working out. Being an amoral monster, he would still only divorce and release Ana under a set of strict conditions, including that his people would leave the Keshali alone only for as long as Ana lived, and that every Keshali would be given over to the demons on her 999th birthday. Ever since, queen Ana has resided in a black, stone castle, feeding on nothing but three drops of blood each day from three different Keshali. This is what continues to keep her alive and keep her people safe while she lives in hiding, doing her best to protect mortals who invoke her.
Bizarrely, Ana is said to appear in none other than the form of a golden toad to impart humans with medical advice.
....So who was that golden toad?!
Meanwhile, the offspring of Ana and the demon king are said to have continued interbreeding deep beneath the ground, every generation more degenerate and bizarre than the last. Every time we discover a new medical condition, every time a virus mutates into another new strain, we can supposedly blame an incestuous orgy of slimy devils seething deep beneath our feet.
The story of Ana touches on some horrible subject matter that I wasn't really eager to bring up on my website, but you can see why this legend needed a home here. From even their roughest descriptions, these disturbing beings overall hit on my aesthetic tastes better than virtually any other folklore I've ever discovered, and if this is how strange and horrific Ana's children turned out, the imagination boggles at what those countless grandchildren and great-great-great-great grandchildren must be like.
.....Or do we already know?
Halloween 2014 Archive: