The Horse-like Sea Demon of the Mosquito Coast

 

 

 

The Wihwin


I normally prefer to write about  supposed flesh-and-blood creatures, but in some cases, mythical creatures are worth examining. After all, myths and superstitions get their start from somewhere. Myths are timeless; they serve as a vehicle that has been used since time immemorial to convey messages and larger truths throughout the generations.

The Wihwin is a legendary creature, most likely a myth, which haunts the Mosquito Coast of Honduras and Nicargua. The Wihwin is a legend of the Miskito tribe; the Miskito people are indigenous to Honduras and Nicaragua. According Fletcher S. Bassett’s book, Legends and Superstitions of the Sea and of Sailors, the Miskito Indians believe that the Wihwin is a sea demon shaped like a horse that leaves the water to devour people. The Wihwin is said to have razor-sharp teeth lining its mouth.

Legend holds that the Wihwin has an insatiable appetite for human flesh. It leaves the sea in the hot summer months and roams the mountains in search of victims. Upon the return of the rainy season, the beast leaves the mountains and returns to its home in the sea.

The Wihwin shares similarities with mythical creatures from other cultures. The Kelpie, a Scottish water horse, comes to mind. The Kelpie is said to inhabit various lakes and rivers throughout Scotland where it preys on humans. A key difference between the Kelpie and the Wihwin though is that the Kelpie is a shapeshifter; the Kelpie is able to take on the form of a human. The Kelpie does not lose its horse-like appearance entirely; it is said to retain its hooves when it presents itself in human form.

Where do the myths come from? Why do people an ocean apart, thousands of miles away, have similar legends of malevolent, horse-like water demons? The question is baffling.

 

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