A is for Ajatar, a Finnish demoness.
Ajatar is also called The Devil of the Woods; she’s an evil spirit who manifests as a snake or dragon.
She spreads disease wherever she goes. Her body is racked with pox and infections, and those who look at her become ill.
Ajatar is a woodland monster. She is, perhaps, the reason people get lost in the forest, never to return.
Ajatar is, perhaps, a perfect example of the monstrous feminine. You’ll see me talking quite a bit about monstrous feminine, probably, during this challenge. The monstrous feminine is an idea put forth by Barbara Creed, that monsters who are female are generally tied, in some way, to mothering and to the female body.
Most of Ajatar’s horrific qualities come from direct association with her femininity and especially mothering–birthing the devil and breastfeeding all manner of evil creatures.
And it is quite literally her body that is horrific–it carries plague and pestilence, and she can shift her shape to that of a dragon or serpent when necessary. There’s an element of body-horror to Ajatar’s story, of her body warped and changing over and over again.
It is supposed that Ajatar’s name came from a word meaning “to pursue.” Some suggest that this is because she pursues people through the woods. I think it’s deeper than that. Women, as far as the social order goes, aren’t meant to pursue. They are meant to be pursued. When the opposite happens, the female becomes a monster.