Worldbuilding Wednesday 7/27/22: Other Mythical Creatures of Narnia (Narnia XXXVIII)

germanic Wolpertinger

The Germanic Wolpertinger

This week’s post is a little different. I’m running out of things in Narnia to name, so I’m going to post a list of possibilities for Narnia fanfic writers: Aside from those mentioned in the books, what other sorts of mythological creatures might have resided in Narnia?

Lewis himself had a pretty catholic list of inhabitants, to excuse the pun. Most were from Greco-Roman myth: satyrs, centaurs, naiads. Others, mostly hostile, were from European myth: giants, witches, dragons, sea serpents. Then there are those dating from the legends and crude, printed bestiaries of the Medieval age: monopods, salamanders, unicorns. It’s a real mash-up, and one that fellow inkling J. R. R. Tolkien took issue with: he didn’t like the mixing of beings from different times and cultures. (Personally, I think Lewis also received inspiration from Disney’s Fantasia; it came out in 1940.)

It is interesting to note also what Lewis left out. There are no evil creatures from Greco-Roman myth, no harpies or gorgons or cyclops. (Some of these did make it into the movies, however.) There are no American creatures, North or South, or Asian ones. Though Jinn are mentioned in passing and what might be a lammasu, no Middle Eastern creatures reside in Narnia either, or Indian, or African. That the Indian subcontinent was left out is puzzling, as Lewis grew up when it was still part of the British Empire. They should be there, but they aren’t.

So, if Narnia-the-series had gone on and on, like the Wizard of Oz series did, what other creatures might be found?


Other Mythical Creatures that Might Live in Narnia

Alkonost and Sirin: Two mythical bird-women from Slavic mythology, rather like the Greek harpy, but good in nature. They were depicted as large, pheasant-like birds with the heads of beautiful women. Their singing had the power to bring joy and happiness to the good, and sorrow and pain to the evil. I could see there being a race of such bird-women.

Fairies/Sylphs/Cherubs/Putti: These winged humanoids are not mentioned as being inhabitants of Narnia, but they clearly belong there, if only to fill the elemental role as creatures of the air, as dwarves were of the earth and naiads of the waters. Oddly, they are mentioned in The Magician’s Nephew as living on Earth in ancient times.

Gajasimha: A lion with an elephant’s head from Hindu myth.

Hieracosphinx: A lion with a falcon’s head used in Egyptian art. Not a gryphon because it has no wings and doesn’t have the front body of the bird.

Hippogriff: Prominant in E.R. Eddison’s The Worm Ouroboros, the hippogriff is a horse that has the front part and wings of a giant eagle. It is not a mythic animal but one invented by a 15th century writer Ludovico Ariosto for his epic fantasy poem Orlando Furioso. Hippogriffs would serve Aslan as the gryphons do.

Icthyocentaur: The marine equivalent of a centaur. Humans from the waist up, sea-horses from the waist down.

Makara: A sacred animal from Hindu myth, a giant fish with the head of an elephant.

Merstag: A deer with a fish’s tail. These do not figure in myth, but were employed as decorative elements by the Romans.

Naga: A Hindu and Buddhist spirit/creature, a human who is a snake from the waist down. Nagas might live in the warmer or desert parts of Narnia.

Pantheon: An imaginary animal used in heraldry. It looks like a white doe with the tail of a fox and is spangled with markings on its coat that look like stars.

Roc: Jinn were mentioned in books 1 and 6 of the Chronicles, so why not a Roc? I can imagine it being a side adventure in The Voyage of the Dawn Trader.

Sea-lion: Basically, a merlion. A lion with a fish’s tail and, sometimes, webbed feet. An animal appearing on some European coats of arms and also in Southeast Asian myth.

Selkie: Shapechanging beings from Celtic myth who change from humans to seals, and vice versa, by putting on or taking off a fur skin.

Simurgh/Senmurv: A creature from Persian myth and art, appearing as a giant peacock with the front part of a canine and the legs and paws of a lion. It is benevolent, wise, and tender-hearted. It lays eggs but also suckles its young.

Sphinx: A sphinx has the body of a lion and the head of human.  From its shoulders grow the wings of a bird. I could see these being wise and benign creatures in Narnia, unlike the one of the myth of Odysseus.

Wolpertinger: A small animal from German folklore that combines the features of several forest animals, most commonly a hare with stag’s antlers and bird’s wings. Its Western Asian cousin is the al-mi’raj, a hare with golden fur, sometimes spotted, that sports a single horn, unicorn-style, on its head.

Yale: A large antelope-like creature the size of a hippopotamus, with fierce tusks like a boar and two long, curved horns it can swivel to attack from any direction.

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