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Nemesis, Baba Yaga… Do you know these female monsters?


Symbols of divine warning or characters who question societies, who are these female creatures who populate legendary and mythological stories?

From mythological stories from Antiquity to medieval legends, from the Far East to the Americas, deities, phantasmagorical beings and monstrous creatures have populated the collective imagination.

Even today, various provinces and regions cultivate their beliefs in these symbolic creatures, messengers of divine warnings or questioning societies.

To discover

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We have several characters in mind: the famous minotaur, who represents man dominated by his instinctive impulses;

the Ankou, the spectral personification of the community of the dead in lower Brittany;

Dracula, who questions the limits between beast and man, Good and Evil;

or Wendigo, who, among the Algonquian peoples of North America, crystallized the tensions around the practice of cannibalism.

Many of these beings have in common that they are men.

However, as Dominique Lanni and Aurore Petrilli take time to show us in

Bestiary of female monsters

(Arthaud), witches, witches and ogresses also participated in common stories.

do you know them?


Winged goddess of revenge and punishment in Greek mythology, Nemesis (derived from the verb "némein", "to distribute equitably, to distribute what is due") is presented, according to various sources, as the daughter of Ocean or the fruit of the union of Nyx and Erebus.

"Scourge of mortal men"

, as described by Hesiod in


, this feared goddess carries out the judgments pronounced by Zeus and transmitted by Hermes towards those who commit serious faults.

She is known for having chastised Croesus, having tried to rise above her condition, and for having resisted the advances of Zeus, then transforming herself into a goose to escape the god of gods.

He convinced her to marry him nonetheless, and from their union were born Hélène, Castor and Pollux.


Depicted as a bare-breasted goddess, Ran is, in Scandinavian mythology, the wife of the sea giant Aegir.

Sovereign of the marine kingdom of the dead - whose name would come from the old Norse "to reign", "to plunder" - it is by deliberately triggering the storms that she captures the sailors who venture out to sea.

Using her net, she lures them into the dark depths, her home.

"The ferocious Ran/Has ravaged around me/All those I loved/She has seized their remains"

, writes Egill Skallagrimsson in



The irremediable loss of sons


Read alsoFive expressions that come to us from Greek mythology

Baba Yaga

It is in the black forests of Russia that a nameless ugly witch lives.

Feared by all the surrounding villagers, they nicknamed her

"bone leg"


"To get around, she climbs into her big leaping mortar and rows with the pestle to move it forward

," note Dominique Lanni and Aurore Petrilli in their book.

With her broom, she erases her tracks behind her.

[...] His isba is mounted on chicken legs, and is surrounded by a fence made of human bones.

Surrounded by creatures from the beyond who help her with her daily tasks, she has a habit of devouring those who have the annoying habit of prowling around her home.

He is a recurring figure in Russian folk tales.


“In Bacharach there was a blonde witch/Who left all the men around to die of love/Before his tribunal the bishop summoned her/In advance he absolved her because of her beauty/O beautiful Loreley to the eyes full of precious stones/What magician did you get your witchcraft from”

, asks Apollinaire in

La Loreley


A water fairy raging in the Rhine Valley, Lorelei has been mentioned in texts since the 12th century.

From her castle, the suave blonde uses her charms to seduce navigators and sailors with her songs, in order to lose them in the waters.

One day when she was judged by a bishop for witchcraft and condemned to enter a convent, she rushed into the Rhine.

Since then, says the legend, the place where the tragedy took place is where navigation is the most perilous.

Many men perished there.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-03-28

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