I know there are a lot of people that may be lost on how I like to bring up strange and paranormal metaphors. It may seem like an oddity, but I have read many things about the outside influences that tend to have their way when the cold air intensifies and we tend to remain indoors.

The reigning power of the winter months is darkness, as the nights seem long and shadows tend to play tricks on the mind as they are cast away from the flickering fire.

When Winter arrives, my mind often turns to stories of magic and how the secret powers use their influence to shape our beliefs. I know there are many people who tend to think that magic is all a fairy tale parlor exercise. But as a man who has witnessed folk magic, I am willing to believe that the mind is a very powerful tool.

Magic, of course, can be written off by those who believe it is fantasy. However, there is power in the will. Curses and prayers have impact and there is always that fine line between those who witness the power, who utilize the power, and those who abuse their power and fall into a type of psychosis.

It is hard at time to determine the stages and so we must assume that while magic is real, the person who uses it has the potential to abuse it and when this happens the ether can open up and this is when we hear of the arrival of monsters.

We are all told there are no monsters, that there are no real monsters; however, a monster is also a matter of how you think, what you observe. A predator can be just about anything from a mountain lion to a wolf. Their hunger is overwhelming and their need to feed in the Winter months is also something to consider.

The arrival of Winter in ancient times was not as casual of an affair as it is now. The darkness of the solstice would envelop the villages and the countryside and many people would see it as a time of sickness and in some cases it was a time to prepare for death.

Even before Christmas was even celebrated there were rituals that were performed that included the building of large fires and lighting trees with candles.

These rituals were meant to keep the Winter beasts of the forest away.

During the cold Winter months these beasts would search for food and their prey would often be the animals of the farm. The sheep, the pigs, and even the dogs were found mangled and disemboweled as these shadowy creatures would move through the farmland.

It was also normal for these beasts to attack children.

Most of these creatures were quite possibly wolves, or bears. However there were other creatures that were reportedly seen that were described as cannibalistic giants that fed off of the blood of humans. They were unknown creatures of the woods. Their growls and howling were heard nightly and the crunching of the snow as they walked through town kept the little children under their beds and in the cellars where they could find safety.

For the pre-Christian Norse and other Germanic peoples, humans were far from the only intelligent or conscious life forms in the world. Every animal, plant, rock, river, lake, and other element of what we today would call the “natural world” had its particular animating spirit. The world was also filled with countless beings that were indescribable.

Some were invisible, while others would be seen crouching at your bedside waiting to pounce and rip your heart out.

The giants, more properly called the “devourers,” were the chaotic spirits of night, darkness, winter, and death.

In the movie ‘The 13th Warrior,’ an adaptation of the book ‘Eaters of the Dead: The Manuscript of Ibn Fadlan Relating His Experiences with the Northmen in A.D. 922‘ by Michael Crichton – the Persian Ambassador is captured by a group of Vikings. He is then forced to do battle with “The Mist Monsters.” They are appear to be beasts on horseback; quite menacing and kill the women and children. It is then realized that they are a clan of “skinwalkers.”

A tribe of cannibalistic savages that would wear the skins of bears and transmogrify into these creatures in order to hunt down and eat the flesh of humans.

These half-man, half-bear creatures were known as werebears, which are similar to the tribesman who would wear wolf skins and take on the persona of a wolf.

For the longest time beasts of the north were sighted, The Inuit would identify them as Frost giants or the Yeti and the native tribes would call the beasts, Wendigo.

Scientists recently discovered that the Yeti are real creatures. In fact, while the idea of the creature being a giant ape man similar to Sasquatch has captured are imaginations of investigators for centuries – the Yeti are in reality an as of yet unknown species of bear that live in the Himalayas.

What is most interesting is that we probably know less about these very unusual bears than we “know” about the Yeti.

Scientists from the the University at Buffalo figured out that Himalayan brown bears split off from the rest of the regional bear population several thousand years ago, which is why they’re so genetically distinct from most other brown bears. Living in geographic isolation for so long has separated them from other Asian brown bears, and even from their relatives on the nearby Tibetan plateau.

They even look different.

In fact they are claiming that the bear itself is a Hybrid species that would appear quite massive if it was seen standing on its hind legs.

Is this the culprit behind the stories of the frost giants?

Or is there more to the story?

Correcting Yeti misconceptions is only the beginning of a journey where dots can be connected to many of the terrifying predators that existed in the woods and terrified villages all over the north and northeastern parts of the world.

These creatures have obviously been responsible for the many legends that have been handed down from generation to generation around the time of the Winter festivals.

In the Alpine woods it was the Krampus, the wild monster that would terrify villagers and became a legendary staple in Christmas celebrations.

Krampus, is thought to punish naughty children during the German Christmas season. The demonic creature is said to capture the worst offenders in his sack and carry them away to his lair. Krampus is said to be hairy, usually brown or black, and has the cloven hooves and horns of a goat. He has a long pointed tongue that he lolls out.

Depending on the story, Krampus may have chained shackles on his wrists, signifying his enslavement to St. Nicholas. Generally though, Krampus will be wearing several large bells (as a warning to any who hear them that he’s coming), along with a large wicker basket and birch rod.

If someone has been bad, Krampus will either threaten a beating with his birch rod or actually give one. If his target has been particularly bad, then Krampus stuffs them into his wicker basket, and drags them off to punish them for their crimes.

Krampus, whose name is derived from the German word, “krampen,” meaning claw, is said to be the son of Hel in Norse mythology. The legendary beast also shares characteristics with other scary, demonic creatures in Greek mythology, including satyrs and fauns.

The legend is part of a centuries-old Christmas tradition in Germany, where Christmas celebrations begin in early December.

For most people, before the 1800s, Christmas was not a domestic quiet holiday; it was a holiday characterized by unruliness and irreverence. It was sort of like a combination of Halloween, New Year’s Eve and Mardi Gras.

Krampus was created as a counterpart to kindly St. Nicholas, who rewarded children with sweets and gifts. Krampus, in contrast, would swat “wicked” children, put them in his bag or basket and send them to Hell.

Nearly 400 years ago, it was customary to open the windows and the doors of the household to banish the shadow entities into the howling winds of Winter. A candle was lit in every household to protect it from the Winter demons. Prayers were offered and families would kneel on the cold floors praying that demons of the North would pass over their homes and give them yet another year of life.

It was 456 years ago that the Moon had turned to blood in the night sky. It was the lunar eclipse falling at the time of the Yule. It signified the birth of the unconquered sun, and the power of the Triple Goddess in all of her forms. It opened the metaphysical door way for all of the creatures of twilight, known and unknown to go about their reverent and profane activities.

There were no celebrations of the Christ child’s birthday at this time. This time was a dark time and people were cleansing their homes of anything foul that might enter in. Many knew that as the nights grew longer and colder, the nocturnal creatures would visit and do damage to homes and farms. There were many stories about hobgoblins and gnomes that would crawl down the chimneys at night to smell the shoes and socks of the children. If the socks were clean, they would leave a nugget of gold or silver in the toe of the stocking. If they were not thoroughly clean and there was an odor in the shoe or the stocking, then there were little spies namely fairies or gnomes that would report to Krampus.

It was great way to keep children in line; however, it was based on a very real premise that if a child was not obeying their parents they most certainly would be devoured by a predator lurking in the woods.

Children would tell their parents that dreadful little goblins smelling of sulfur, looked half-human and half-animal. These Gnomes appeared under beds, near chimneys and would hide in woodpiles. The Goblins reportedly walked pigeon-toed and some children claimed that these little demons had a cloven hoof with long tails and goat’s legs.

The Old Fathers of the Catholic faith would actually go to villages and conduct blessings, anointings and exorcisms and warned that parents should never invoke the Krampus in order to keep their children from wandering off or misbehaving.

In ancient times anxieties that existed when the darkness gathered were released by sacrificing a child to the horned god, Molech. Krampus seems to be the mirror image of Molech. What is even more chilling is how Molech and the horned Image of Krampus has evolved over time and how in biblical times that ancients knew of the Saturnalian sacrifices to a horned devil.

If you open the Bible to Isaiah chapter 57:5, we read about the ancients placing idols of worship under a tree. They inflame themselves under near the evergreen trees and sacrifice their children in the sanctuaries to horned idols.

In the 1920’s, an explorer had found 6000 funerary Urns in Carthage. They were sacrificed in the sanctuary of Tanit. It was believed that the children were killed in order to provide safety from evil entities and to insure that the Sun would return. This would bring peace and good will to all men according to the ancients.

Molech in effigy had the head of a horned bull.

The horned god had arms where the child would be placed. Ropes and pulleys would raise the arms to heaven. The child would then fall out of the arms into a pile of burning oak. This was the gift under the trees. The gift to Molech would be an exchange for the birth of the Sun, or “Sol Invictus’ the unconquered sun.

It is historically evident that both Krampus and even Santa Claus, or version of him predated the Christian celebrations of Christmas.

Like many legendary characters, including St. Nicholas himself, Krampus’ image has evolved over time and throughout regions, but Krampus represented a balance of light and dark, providing a harmony between good and evil.

Today’s image of Santa Claus is vastly different from the one that many believe was the inspiration behind the icon in the first place. Far from being a rotund jolly man with rosy cheeks that is instantly recognizable today, the Turkish monk St. Nicholas was a much more humble-sounding man. While his exact date of birth isn’t known, it is generally assumed to have been around 250 A.D. in Patara which was, at the time, in a town called Myra.

We all know Christmas is really just an extension of ancient winter solstice celebrations recognized the world over. Krampus and his do-gooder pal Clause are examples of established pagan figures adapted and assimilated to meet the needs of Christianity, in this case the biblical devil and a benevolent saint, likely modeled after the Roman god Saturn. But tradition and culture have a way of bending with time. Today Krampus is still used by parents as deterrent, but his main role is as a continuation of cultural narrative in remote alpine regions of Austria and Germany.

Krampus has also arrived in the United States as a symbol of those who are anti-establishment and loathe the commercialism of the Christmas holiday.

Each year in the US, there are more and more celebrations of Krampusnacht.

While many people fear that this is just more proof of the war on Christmas, it can be seen as an ironic and obvious twist on the Grinch or even Ebenezer Scrooge.