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Joker’s Card, Jokawild, and Mothman

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 7th, 2008

The Joker is wild. But so are a many other things overlapping with The Dark Knight.

This is a Fortean piece, so if you were looking for something cryptozoologically pure, be afraid, be very, very afraid. The posting you are about to read contains twilight language musing and other treks on side streets you may have only rarely been down.

Following my posting on “The Dark Knight Curse”, a phenomenon that was even discussed on CNN yesterday, some questioned whether or not the Joker is actually holding a “calling card” with a decapitated head. I was told that in the actual movie the Heath Ledger character has another card in his hand.

First to clear up what is on the card. Here below is a closeup of the card from a movie props site, labeled specifically “Dark Knight, The (2008), Joker’s Calling Card.” The card shows an inverted decapitated head.

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See larger version at bottom of posting.

Death cards and Joker’s cards are usually a little more subtle than what you are seeing here from The Dark Knight.

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The Ace of Spade has traditionally been a “death card” left on bodies in military situations, as depicted from the Vietnam War in Apocalypse Now (1979). Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight is merely continuing that tradition.

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The images of what the Joker is holding may have been changed in final post-production or in later publicity images, as reflected here in this promo poster of the Joker and of one of the Batman.

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But in the early trailers, initial publicity photographs, and early posters, they all certainly do show the decapitation on the Joker’s calling card.

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The spooky links to the decapitation death of Tim McLean, who was beheaded on the Greyhound bus, continue to be found. Shown following is the routine media image of the victim, whose head is unfortunately found free-floating within the frame, with Vince Weiguang Li, the 40-year-old suspect being transported by Canadian law enforcement personnel.

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Below is the MySpace head shot of the victim McLean. I mentioned on August 2, on various forums, that on his MySpace profile, McLean called himself “Jokawild,” had three tattoos, owned an iguana and loved loud music and motorcycles.

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Todd Campbell writing of Tim McLean at his blog Through the Looking Glass has dug up information that reveals one of the passions of the victim’s, he was a big fan of Insane Clown Posse.

Campbell also found photos of Tim McLean wearing clown makeup and of his large clown tatoo on his back.

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As I mentioned before, Tim McLean, who loved being a carny, was headed to Winnipeg after working with the carnival in Edmonton. It was McLean’s third stint as a summer carnival worker at Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition, where he worked for LL Enterprises, which provides midway games such as rollerball and darts to carnivals across the country.

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Perhaps the most famous stunt in the new Batman movie is when Joker’s semi-truck completely flips over. As you can see above, the truck’s side is painted with images of a ferris wheel and a roller coaster at a carnival or circus.

The melodrama of the real-life decapitation of the clown-covered carny on a Greyhound bus and the real-life decapitation of an adolescent by the Batman roller-coaster synchs strangely with the character and death of Heath Ledger, the Joker, holding a Joker’s Card with a decapitation in The Dark Knight.

The Dark Knight was released on July 18, 2008. The incident on the Canadian bus where a man beheaded a fellow passenger occurred on July 30th.

A 17-year-old South Carolina teen Asia Leeshawn Ferguson, of Springfield, S.C., was decapitated by the “Batman the Ride” rollercoaster at Six Flags Over Georgia about 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 28, 2008. It was the second Batman ride-related death at the Cobb County park. Six years earlier, a 58-year-old park worker, Samuel Milton Guyton of Atlanta, was killed on May 26, 2002. Guyton was in a restricted area on a platform when he was kicked in the head by 14-year-old girl on the front car of the ride. The girl was hospitalized with a leg injury.

In March, 2007, a worker dismantling a ride at Six Flags Great America near Chicago fell 40-feet to his death. In 2004 at the same park, a maintenance worker was hit by a roller coaster and killed.

A 55-year-old disabled man was killed in May 2004 when he was thrown from a ride at Six Flags New England near Springfield, Mass. Five years ago, a grandmother strapping her 4-year-old grandson into Six Flags New Orleans’ Joker’s (!) Jukebox ride was hit by a spinning car when the ride began operating before she was out of the way.

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Heath Ledger modeled his Joker character after “Alex” in A Clockwork Orange.

The Joker = Heath Ledger was found in his fourth-floor apartment at 421 Broome Street, between Crosby and Lafayette Streets in SoHo, New York City, on the day of the Full Moon, January 22, 2008.

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I’ve written extensively of the Name Game (e.g. Lafayette = little fairy, little enchantment), of the specialness of time and place and their ties to weirdness. I’ve penned words on the Phantom Clowns, a phase I coined in 1981, to capture the strangeness of killer clowns out to abduct young people, even before the seemingly free-floating head of Stephen King’s It (below) terrorized the masses.

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As the years pass by, if there’s one movie which may become a magnet for the Macabré (the dance of death), it would surely seem that The Dark Knight shall join films such as the original The Omen, which tops all other films in having the most cinematic decapitation in history.

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Batman and Zorro

A word definitely needs to be inserted about the movie showing on McLean’s Greyhound bus. It was The Legend of Zorro.

Zorro and Batman are linked in the fictional literature ~ symbolically, historically, and closely.

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In the column, Batman Begins and the Comics, Part : Sequential Culture #34,” (17 June 2005/updated 9 Aug 2005) Julian Darius writes:

“The death scene has been depicted countless times, but none as memorably as in the flashbacks in [Frank Miller's graphic comics Batman:] The Dark Knight Returns and Year One. The most startling change [in director Christopher Nolan's 2005 Batman Begins] is that the family emerges from the opera before being killed: in the comics, it has been a movie. Though the particulars have changed, the film tends to be a Zorro film. In the first chapter of Year One, it was The Mark of Zorro. In the silent flashback version in The Dark Knight Returns, only ‘Zorro’ is visible on the movie theatre’s marquis, though the elderly Wayne seeing The Mark of Zorro on television triggers the memory.”

The sequel to Batman Begins is, of course, The Dark Knight, based on Frank Miller’s use of that name in his graphic novels.

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Wikipedia also talks of this link between Batman and Zorro, under its discussion of the 1940 film, The Mark of Zorro:

“In the DC Comics continuity it is established that The Mark of Zorro was the film which the young Bruce Wayne had seen with his parents at the cinema, moments before they were killed in front of his eyes by an armed thug. Zorro is often portrayed as Bruce’s childhood hero and an influence on his Batman persona. There are discrepancies regarding which version Bruce saw, The Dark Knight Returns claims it was the Tyrone Power [1940] version whereas a story by Alan Grant claimed it to be the silent [1920] Douglas Fairbanks original.
In the animated series Justice League Unlimited, a flashback of the fateful night establishes that for DCAU continuity, the young Bruce and his parents also were attending The Mark of Zorro, though there is nothing to indicate which version.”

The version of the film being shown on the Greyhound bus in which the decapitation occurs was The Legend of Zorro, a 2005 sequel to 1998′s The Mask of Zorro, both directed by Martin Campbell, and both starring Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

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In the previous movie in the series, The Mask of Zorro, there is a fictionalized version of a famous beheading.

The tale that merges reality with fiction within the movie is the one of Joaquín Murieta, (1829?–1853), a real-life California bandit, who was born in Mexico.

From 1849 to 1851, Murieta worked in the California gold mine fields. After he and his family were mistreated by American miners and driven from their claim, he became the leader of a band of desperadoes. For two years, his robberies and murders terrorized California, until the legislature authorized Captain Harry Love, deputy sheriff of Los Angeles County, to organize a company of mounted rangers to exterminate Murrieta’s band.

Surprised at his camp near Tulare Lake, Murrieta was shot, decapitated, and most of his followers were killed or captured. Murrieta’s head was displayed for all to see afterward.

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In The Mask of Zorro, Matt Letscher plays Captain Harrison Love, who kills Zorro’s brother, and shows the brother’s head in a jar.

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A synch headnote about Mothman: it is a headless creature specifically seen in the Point Pleasant, West Virginia, area from 1966-1967. At first called a “big bird” by locals, an Ohio newspaper’s copyeditor, who was a fan of the “Batman” series on television at the time, coined the name “Mothman” for a headline. It stuck.

There is no “Mothman” character in any of the Batman TV programs. It appears the copyeditor merely came up with the invented name because of the sound of the word.

The Mothman Prophecies, a 1975 book by John A. Keel, was made into a 2002 movie, directed by Mark Pellington.

One of the most dramatic scenes was the re-creation, of the 5:04 PM, December 15, 1967, collapse of Point Pleasant’s Silver Bridge during rush hour. A total of 46 people perished, and 44 bodies were recovered. Several seemingly related deaths have ended up on the “Mothman Death Curse” list.

Mothman
For more Mothman details, see: Mothman and Other Curious Encounters.

As the movie began screening on January 25, 2002, one group of the original witnesses, the Mallettes were attending a funeral in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Stephen Mallette, who was one of the first four witnesses, was mourning the passing of his brother, Charlie, due to a brain tumor. Charles Putnam ‘Charlie’ Mallette, 43, of Point Pleasant, died Thursday, January 22, 2002, at his home. (This happens to be the same date as Heath Ledger’s death date, six years later.)

Over 80 people are on the list, including, on July 30, 2004, Jennifer Barrett-Pellington, 42, wife of The Mothman Prophecies director Mark Pellington, who died suddenly, in Los Angeles, after a short illness.

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About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


24 Responses to “Joker’s Card, Jokawild, and Mothman”

  1. Our Lady of the Massacre responds:

    About the publicity image with the Joker holding the custom Batman card: I realize the red swath by Batman’s legs is supposed to be the Joker’s smile. But the first thing I thought of when I saw it was: the crescent moon. It’s an ancient symbol of goddess worship, occult activities, and of course the night itself. It was later adopted by religions like Islam…and even Christianity.

    You can still find Virgin Mary icons with crescent moon motifs. The connection is debatable: some say it represents Mary’s status as Queen of Heaven (Stella Regina). Others say it symbolizes Christianity’s triumph over pagan traditions that worshiped the sun and moon (i.e. Mary has defeated and taken the place of the Mother Goddess). Or, it’s an outright connection to the old goddesses. It’s saying that Mary IS a queen goddess, on the same footing as Isis, Hera, Inanna, etc.

    So what does that mean for Bats? I think that since part of Batman’s “mystique” is to make people believe he’s a demon, ghost, or otherwise inhuman, the crescent is referring to the fact that he is a “mystical warrior” in a modern world. Many of his methods rely on modern technology (his “wonderful toys”). But the core of his persona relies on him being perceived as not belonging to our world. Hence the connection to the crescent moon, and the mystical aspects of the night.

    Thoughts?

  2. krvega responds:

    Where are you getting the images of those sweet dark knight posters? I want one!
    Someone please inform me.

  3. TimmyRyan65 responds:

    Since this is a Cryptozoology website; in “The Dark Knight” anyone catch the picture of “Patty” Bigfoot on the wall of the Gotham City Police station as a possible suspect of Batman’s secret identity?

  4. Andrew Minnesota responds:

    I worked with a guy who once told me that he thought there were connections with everything and most people just over looked them, but he added he might just read into things too much. I can’t say that I’m convinced this is anything more than coincidences, but who knows? I suppose if there is truly a curse time will tell.

  5. cryptidsrus responds:

    Great post, Loren.

    Another possible “coincidence/connection” between decapitations and Greyhound:

    Greyhound just pulled ads in Canada which said “There’s a reason you’ve never heard of Bus Rage!!!” Weeeeeird.

  6. Voorhas responds:

    Thanks for the post…fascinating stuff, Loren. As a Bat-fan I have to add that, in most versions of Batman’s origin story, the Wayne family are leaving a screening of Mark of Zorro the night they’re attacked by a mugger (leaving Bruce an orphan).

    I found a lengthy blog post, years ago, detailing all the “connections” between Batman and the Zodiac Killer (secret identity, signature symbol, etc.) but Google isn’t turning it up right now.

  7. Ayala responds:

    That stupid “It” clown still freaks me out. I had nightmares for 2 weeks after *reading the book* (the movie wasn’t as good). I have a strong curiosity about Mothman (there’s a family connection of sorts). I also wonder if there’s any truth to the reports of bat-like men or flying humanoids in the Southwest and Mexico. The deaths surrounding Mothman and now the string of tradgedies/controversies surrounding people associated with the new Batman movie have me wondering. What if, somehow, there’s a type of energy created around these projects that latches on to the people involved? I know this is way “out there,” but if there’s anything to these coincidences – it’s gonna be WAY out there. :)

    It would be neat if there were a website out there, kind of like “Snopes.com” where (for lack of a better term) “Fortean encounters” could be listed (catalogued) and a rating could be given to them by someone knowledgeable (strong evidence, possible hoax, viral marketing effort, etc.). I know Cryptomundo has a lot of incidents listed here (good info!!) and I don’t mean to take anything away from this site at all. :)

    I’ve reached my daily quota on parentheses, so I’ll stop writing now. LOL

  8. larryclow responds:

    To add just another level to the weirdness, and to tie Zorro back to The Dark Knight–in the Batman comics, it’s cannon that the movie young Bruce Wayne and his parents saw the night of his parents’ murder was ‘The Mark of Zorro.’ Not sure which writer established this, but it’s referenced pretty heavily in a number of comics, most notably Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” and “Year One”.

  9. Loren Coleman responds:

    Updated with more images, and the firm connections within the Batman=Zorro links.

  10. O. Stanton responds:

    Along with the “dark knight curse”, you could say that Red Flags is cursed, i guess.

    Creepy.

  11. red_pill_junkie responds:

    Great article.

    Indeed, “Dark Knight” taught us that Laughter is just one letter shy of Slaughter O.o

    PS: TimmyRyan65, yep; that was a good gag ^_^

  12. Lightning Orb responds:

    The theory that Mothman caused the Silver Bridge collapse has something eerie about it. The Silver Bridge crossed over a river. Vampires, werewolves, and other demons of the grave are supposed to be warded off by silver crosses…

    Most of the stuff about the Mothman/Batman curse seems perhaps more coincidental than anything. As it has been mentioned, a lot of people have been involved in Mothman/Batman-related events, they can get awfully stressed from it, and everybody dies eventually. The thing that remains most unexplained is, of course, not the “curses”, but the sightings themselves. I think the Mothman deaths may have had more to do with people being stressed from all the tragedy caused by the Silver Bridge collapse in some cases. The deaths of stunt men and people working on carnival rides is not the least bit surprising – I think the only curse here is at our own hands; we think we can build these things, perhaps get the curse of over-confidence, then overlook something, and it all comes down. This can also happen with bridges.

    But if alleged monsters like Mothman are really connected in any way to such disasters, I see two more likely possibilities than that they’ve come from hell to terrorize us. 1, perhaps they are a sort of psychological thing – maybe like a self-formulated premonition – like we can sense at times when things are starting to go wrong, but we don’t know what, so our minds try to show us images of fear. 2, that if there really were such creatures, they were here not as a curse, but as a warning of the real curse (like I said earlier, that humans sometimes build bridges and related structures very poorly).

    As for the joker thing, I’m open-minded to a degree, but suspect we tend more to look at all those coincidental events than those which are not related; that is to say, of all the thousands that have been beheaded in earth’s history, someone’s bound to have a clown tatoo. I’m not surprised that we might like to blame clowns for our troubles, however; besides having been originally intended to mock the devil, they are indeed exceptionally hideous monstrosities, quite a fright for any of weak stomach to behold on a stormy night :)

  13. mystery_man responds:

    I tend to be rather skeptical of curses, although note that this does not mean I discount their existence. Curses are one of those things that are unable to be proven or disproved at this point, so they remain a curiosity for me. I will admit that sometimes these strange coincidences and connections are undeniably odd. However, if one dug around, I am sure they could find and point out all sorts of other bits of strange synchronicity with other events, people, and objects. I think meaning can often be found in chaos if one looks for it and expects it to be there. Regardless, whether some of the connections here are random coincidences strung together by the mind’s need to find patterns or something more mysterious and sinister, they are intriguing to me nevertheless.

    This is interesting stuff. Although I am skeptical in many cases, I have a lot of interest in Fortean phenomena. It is good to take a break sometimes and take a stroll down the dark, little travelled paths that remain (perhaps forever) beyond the illumination of science.

  14. Munnin responds:

    Amazing patterns here, and numerous! Thanks for all the diligent work you’ve done to collate and present them, Mr. C. It’s an intriguing web, to be sure.

    Another possible candidate for historical figures who informed the literary character of Zorro is Salomon Pico, a member of the same family as Pio Pico, the last governor of California under Mexico. The Picos were a well established family in California prior to its becoming a part of the United States, and like many other such families, they lost their land and fortunes afterward. Salomon Pico actually did wear a mask, and marked his victims… not with a “Z,” but by slicing off an ear. Pico was eventually captured in Mexico, and executed by Police there. I used to live not far from the San Marcos Pass, where Pico was said to have harried the stage coach between Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez valley.

    In my opinion, one of the most exciting sword fights in cinema history occurs between Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone in the 1940 Mark of Zorro.

  15. mystery_man responds:

    Speaking of significant coincidences, I read a very interesting theory in an article from the Fortean Times. It proposed that perhaps these sorts of things may be the results of “emergence”, which is complexity arising from simple rules in a self organizing system. Let me explain.

    The article uses termites as an example. Termites build incredibly complex mounds, complete with tunnels, chambers, and sophisticated air circulation, by following three simple rules 1)Find some earth and chew it into a pellet. 2) Wander around randomly. 3) When you find a raised area, drop the pellet and go back to step one. The whole mound can be built in this fashion and it does not matter how many individual termite join the system. The biologist Pierre-Paul Grasse called this “Cooperation without communication”. Flocks of birds likely exhibit seemingly instantaneous coordination over many individuals through a similar means, by following a simple set of rules. Bear with me, this is all relevant.

    So perhaps coincidences and indeed some other phenomena are similarly the result of an emergent pattern within a self governing system. An example given was when someone calls you at the precise time you are thinking about them. Could this be because both thought processes of both people are following the same unspoken pattern? Maybe the causes of these coincidences are not overly complex or caused by mysterious dark forces, but rather flow from basic patterns that are too simple for us to see.

    I don’t know if I buy into this theory, but I did find that article to be interesting. Good speculation.

  16. Exactly Squatch responds:

    It seems as though there’s a Zorro – Phantom Clown connection!

    The Naked Zorro

    Very strange.

    And further down the rabbit-hole we go…

  17. jmac75115 responds:

    As a former owner of a comic shop, a cartoonist, and general comic afficianado I have some information that might prove useful…or not. The connection between Zorro and Batman are not just fictional, Bob Kane has even stated that Zorro was his inspiration for Batman. Throughout his publication history certain authors have tried to create fictional inspirations for Batman but they never really stuck. Zorro created Batman both fictionally and in reality.

    Ironically enough, the tradional origin of the Joker had the Red Hood (an unknown criminal) being knocked into a vat of chemicals. His skin is bleached, hair is dyed, and his psyche is cracked. Also of note, in the 1989 Batman staring Keaton and Nicholson a pre-acid Joker is the criminal responsible for the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents.

    One last note: In Miller’s the Dark Knight Returns Batman’s final battle with the Joker involved the Joker repeatedly stabbing Batman before Batman could break his neck (though not fatally).

    Thusly = Zorro inspires Batman who inspires the Joker.

    I don’t know if we are simply seeing patterns because we want to, or (if as Mystery Man says) we are working on too simple a program to see it, or even if there is some celestial/spiritual connection. But hopefully the above will help.

    I don’t know if these cases

  18. Munnin responds:

    LOL! The Naked Zorro – another thread in the web? Michael Jackson’s oft mentioned property “Neverland Ranch” is located just off Figueroa Mountain Road, a short distance beyond the turn off from the San Marcos Pass (while employed by a local contracter I helped build a fence on the property in the Summer of 1980, before Jackson purchased it). As I mentioned in the post above, Salomon Pico – a possible inspiration for the character of Zorro – was said to have harried the stage coach that traveled over the San Marcos pass.

  19. Our Lady of the Massacre responds:

    Speaking of the Mothman, I always thought the Mothman Prophecies movie was very under-rated. I think I might go rent it this weekend!

    “Chap…stick…”

  20. darkshines responds:

    Very interesting reading. I know in japanese mythology, the bat symbolises good luck, and seeing one in or near your house is a blessing. The nearest thing to a joker in the mythology is kitsu-ne, the dream fox. He can transform into a human shape, and steals away people husbands and wives in the night. He is a trickster and is very cunning.

  21. ministerjason responds:

    when we delve in to a dark side we always open doors to negative influences.
    There are spiritual warfares constantly.
    The eyes are windows, windows to the soul.
    images and sounds are filtered through the air by the “prince of the power of the air”, better known as Lucifer/Satan.

    When we accept Jesus we can rest assured that we have the seal of the Holy Spirit on us.

    Accept Jesus, and be saved!

    So even when we suffer deaths, and torment we now have a realization that it all will be okay, and that this life is menial when it comes to the glory of the Father’s kingdom.

  22. mystery_man responds:

    Darkshines- Interesting you brought up Japanese folklore. As a matter of fact, the word “kitsune” (きつね) by itself just means simply “fox”, not “dream fox”. The supernatural abilities attributed to it do not reflect in the name itself but were very closely associated with the animal. But you are correct that they were considered a trickster, an often malevolent one. It was said to have many magical powers above and beyond taking human form. One such power was the ability to possess humans, and there is even a word for this “kitsunetsuki”, which more or less means “to be possessed by a fox”. It usually happened to young women and it is said their facial expressions would change to resemble those of a fox.

    Foxes are not the only tricksters in Japanese folklore that could be compared to the Joker. The badger was also considered to be a roguish trickster as well as the tanuki (raccoon dog, a type of wild dog, no relation to raccoons.) One of the tanuki’s abilities was to create illusions to mislead people.

  23. Lightning Orb responds:

    mystery_man – what about the kappa?

  24. mystery_man responds:

    Lightning Orb- Yes! The kappa too! I was pointing out commonly known animals that have been called mischevous troublemakers attributed with supernatural powers throughout the ages. The kitsune, badger, and tanuki are all currently real, known animals. (although if the kappa really existed, then I supposed to the Japanese they were a real, known animal as well.)

    But yes, the kappa was known as a troublemaker too. However in the case of the kappa, if you could befriend one they would be of great help to humans, doing everything from helping with farming and crops to performing medical services. Interestingly, the kappa’s medical specialty was said to be bone setting. So the kappa was known for having a benevolent streak under the right circumstances.



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