Shtriga

The Shtriga was a vampire-like witch that was found in Albania. The creature was similar to the Strigon, which was a witch found among the southern Slavs, the strigoi of Romania, and the vjeshtitza of Montenegro.

The Shtriga usually took the form of a woman who lived undetected in the community. She was difficult to identify, although a sure sign was a young girl’s hair turning white.

The vampire witch attacked her prey at night, usually in the form of an animal, such as a moth, fly, or bee.

In order to catch a Shtriga, two methods can be attempted:

~ On a day when the community gathered in the church, a cross made of pig bones could be fastened to the doors. Any Shtriga inside would be trapped and unable to pass the barrier.

~ If one followed a suspected Shtriga at night, one could see her vomit blood at some point after she sucked the blood of her victims. The vomited blood could be bottled and turned into an amulet to ward against witches.

Legend of the Shtriga:

According to legend, only the shtriga herself could cure those she had drained (often by spitting in their mouths), and those who were not cured inevitably sickened and died.

The name can be used to express that a person is evil. According to Northern Albanian folklore, a woman is not born a witch; she becomes one, often because she is childless or made evil by envy.   A strong belief in God could make people immune to a witch as He would protect them.

Usually, shtriga were described as old or middle-aged women with grey, pale green, or pale blue eyes (called white eyes or pale eyes) and a crooked nose. Their stare would make people uncomfortable, and people were supposed to avoid looking them directly in the eyes because they have the evil eye.  To ward off a witch, people could take a pinch of salt in their fingers and touch their (closed) eyes, mouth, heart and the opposite part of the heart and the pit of the stomach and then throw the salt in direct flames saying “syt i dalçin syt i plaçin” or just whisper 3–6 times “syt i dalçin syt i plaçin” or “plast syri keq.”

In some regions of Albania, people have used garlic to send away the evil eye or they have placed a puppet in a house being built to catch the evil. Newborns, children or beautiful girls have been said to catch the evil eye more easily, so in some Albanian regions when meeting such a person, especially a newborn, for the first time, people might say “masha’allah” and touch the child’s nose to show their benevolence and so that the evil eye would not catch the child.

Edith Durham recorded several methods traditionally considered effective for defending oneself from shtriga. A cross made of pig bone could be placed at the entrance of a church on Easter Sunday, rendering any shtriga inside unable to leave. They could then be captured and killed at the threshold as they vainly attempted to pass. She further recorded the story that after draining blood from a victim, the shtriga would generally go off into the woods and regurgitate it. If a silver coin were to be soaked in that blood and wrapped in cloth, it would become an amulet offering permanent protection from any shtriga.

In Catholic legend, it is said that shtriga can be destroyed using holy water with a cross in it, and in Islamic myth it is said that shtriga can be sent away or killed by reciting verses from the Qur’an, specifically Ayatul Kursi 225 sura Al-Baqara, and spitting water on the shtriga.

The Slavic Vampire

The Slavic vampire was not always the symbol of evil that it came to be in the nineteenth century European literature.

The Slavic vampire was originally the product of an irregularity within community life, such as problems with burial practices, death, or birth. People who had a violent death, people who committed suicide, or people who died of an accident became vampires.

Most Slavic cultures had a set of ritual activities that were to be followed after a death for for days following the death. Deviation of that ritual could result in the deceased becoming a vampire.

People who were excommunicated or deviated from the church would cause vampirism.

Problems at birth could also cause vampirism. In the Slavic culture, certain days of the year frowned upon intercourse, and children conceived on these days would become a vampire. Bulgarians believed that children who died before baptism would become an ustrel, which is a vampire who would attack and drink the blood of livestock. The Kashubs believed that children born with teeth or a caul would become a vampire after death.

The Slavic society offered many causes of vampires, and the belief the community members could become a vampire after being attacked or brought on by waves brought about vampire hysteria.

If a person is suspected to become a vampire, the community could take pre-burial actions to prevent the vampire from awakening. Religious objects were placed in the coffin. Plants such as the mountain ash would be left in the grave. Seeds were spilled in the grave, on top of the grave, and on the road from the graveyard. In extreme cases, the body was pierced with thorns or a stake. A wooden block may be placed under the chin to prevent the vampire from eating its burial clothes, or the clothes may be nailed on the outside of the coffin.

If a dead person was thought to be a vampire, the body would be dug up and examined for signs of a vampire. If the dead was a vampire, the body would appear lifelike, the joints would be pliable, blood would ooze from the mouth or other body openings, hair and fingernail growth would be seen, and the body may appear bloated (being filled with blood).

In order to destroy a vampire, the body would be staked with wood or metal. The object would be driven into the head, heart, or stomach of the body. In severe cases, the body would be decapitated. A priest, would also, repeat the ritual activities of the funeral service, sprinkling holy water on the body, or performing an exoricism.

Vjesci

Vjesci was the name given to a Polish vampire known by the Kashubian people. The Vjesci vampire resembled the Nachzeher found to the west in northern Germany.

According to myths, a person was destined to become a vjesci if it was born with a caul. When a child was born with the membrane cap, it was removed, dried, ground up, and fed to the child on its 7th birthday in attempts to prevent the child from becoming a vampire.

Potential vjesci appeared to be completely normal and grew up in the community undetected, although in some cases, the potential vjesci had a restless and easily excitable nature and a ruddy complexion.

At the time of death, the person refused to take sacrament. His body cooled slowly, the limbs remained limber, and the lips and cheeks retained their color. Spots of blood often appeared under the fingernails and on the face of the body.

The vjesci didn’t really die, though. At midnight, after the burial, the vampire awakened and ate his clothing and some of his own flesh. He then left the grave and attacked his family, sucking their blood to the point of death. If the vampire is not satiated, he may go after the neighbors.

In order to protect oneself from a vjesci, steps could be taken.

  • The dying people should receive the Eucharist.
  • A little bit of earth was placed in the coffin under the body to prevent it from returning home.
  • A crucifix or coin was placed underneath the tongue for the vampire to suck.
  • A net may be placed in the coffin because the vampire had to untie the knots before it could leave the coffin.
  • A bag of seeds or sand man be placed in the coffin for the vampire to count each seed or grain. before leaving the coffin.
  • The body may be laid face down so that the vampire would dig further into the ground instead of out.
  • A nail may be driven through the forehead.
  • The head may be severed and placed between its feet.

If you were to open the coffin of a vjesci vampire, you would find a few tell-tale signs.

  • The eyes would open.
  • The head may move.
  • It may make noise.
  • The shirt may have been eaten.

If the precautions at the time of burial had not stopped the vampire to either drive a nail through the head or sever the head, there may be blood flowing from a new wound. It was said that if the blood was captured, it could be given to anyone who had been attacked by the vampire to prevent the victim from becoming a vampire.

The vjesci was closely related to the wupji (or opji), except the wupji had two teeth rather than a caul at birth. The Kashubian people immigrated to Ontario, Canada, bringing the vjesci with them. The vjesci and wupji were often used interchangeably.

Ubour

This Bulgarian vampiric revenant is created when a person dies a sudden and violent death and the spirit refuses or does not realize it needs to leave its body.

After 40 days the vampire will dig itself free from its grave and begins a reign of terror though this mainly consists of smearing manure on the sides of a person’s home and breaking the dishes in his house.

Active only between noon and midnight this vampire will exhaust all other food sources and options before seeking out a human to attack for his blood. If the person can make an offer to the vampire to spare their life the vampir must accept.

The only one with enough skill and knowledge to destroy this type of vampire is a Vampirdzhija (a type of vampire hunter).

Upyr

Upyr (Oo-PEER)

Variations: Oupyr, Uppyr

This Russian vampire revenant is created when a heretic, sorcerer, or witch dies or as the child of a werewolf and a witch. Active between noon and midnight it looks like a normal person and preys on the children of a family and then moves on to the parents. After draining the victim of blood it will open a hole in the chest with its ironlike teeth and consume the heart.

Its grave can only be found by attaching a spool of thread to its clothing and following the thread. The grave must be soaked in Holy water and a stake driving though it in a single blow or the vampire will still rise. Another method of destruction is to decapitate the vampire and burn its corpse to ashes.

Varacolaci

The Varacolaci vampire is from Romania. This is one of the most powerful of the undead creatures. It’s said that the Varacolaci has the ability to cause lunar and solar eclipses.

The Varacolaci, a vampire revenant in Romania, is said to be created when an unbaptized baby died or if a person committed suicide. But there are also some instances that being a varacolaci becomes inherited or passed down from generation to generation.

If a varacolaci was created after his death, the person who turned into a varacolaci would look exactly the same, though would tend to look pale and with dried out skin. The varacolaci hunts its prey all year round but it is particularly active during St. Andrew’s Day and St. George’s Day. This creature is also said to be one of the most dangerous types of vampire since it was considered as the strongest type of vampire in the folklore of Romania.

A varacolaci like any vampire drains the blood of its victim, but it does not leave any bite marks. It can shape shift into any animals, but it usually takes the form of a flea, cat, spider, frog and dog. It is also said to be responsible for causing lunar eclipse and solar eclipse by putting itself into a trance.

The varacolaci also has the ability of “midnight spinning”, a sort of astral projection that allows them to travel safely at night anywhere they wish to go. While they were on astral projection, the creature seems to look like a dragon or a creature with several mouths. However if one manages to find a varacolaci in this state, the creature would be unable to return to its body causing it to sleep forever and leaving its soul to wander around eternally.

Traditionally, those corpses that are suspected of becoming a varacolaci, can be prevented on rising from its grave by planting a thorny plant on its grave. If in an instance that a person dies by committing suicide the only way to prevent him from being a varacolaci is to throw his body into a river immediately.

An intricate ritual needs to be performed in order to completely vanquish the vampire being, first the vampire must rise from its grave and must be captured. In the case of a male varacolaci, their heart must be ripped off and cut in half. A nail must be punctured into its forehead and whole cloves of garlic must be placed inside its mouth. The corpse is then filled with a pig fat that comes from a pig that was slaughtered on St. Ignatius Day. A burial shroud is then dipped into a holy water and wrapped on the corpse. The body was then reburied into an isolated area far from the community. In the case of a female varacolaci an iron fork must be driven into its eyes and heart and the body was buried into a very deep grave.

Vourdalak

In western sources the Vourdalak is a vampire from Russian mythology. It is said that this vampire is a beautiful and evil woman. The vampire was able to lure young men to do its bidding and drink from.

In actuality a Vourdalak is a vampire in the Slavic folklore mythology. Some Western sources define it as a type of “Russian vampire” that must consume the blood of its loved ones and convert its whole family. This notion is based apparently on Alexey K. Tolstoy’s novella The Family of the Vourdalak, telling the story of one such (actually, Serbian) family.

In Russia the common name for vampire (or wurdulac) is “upyr” (Russian: упырь). Nowadays the three terms are regarded as synonymous, but in 19th century they were seen as separate, although similar entities. The Russian upyr was said to be a former witch, werewolf or a particularly nasty sinner who’d been excommunicated from the church. In Ukraine the upyrs were also feared as the vampires who could bring about droughts and epidemics.

In Russian language the word “wurdulac” (Russian: вурдалак) first appeared in early 19th century, and became common due to Alexander Pushkin’s 1836 poem of the same name, part of the Songs of the Western Slavs cycle. It is the corrupt form of the West Slavic word “volkodlak” (Russian: волкодлак), meaning literally “wolf-fur” or “wolf-hide” (i.e., it denotes someone “wearing” a wolf’s skin; a werewolf).

Zmeu

The Zmeu is from Moldavia. It is a vampire that can take the form of a flame and enter the room of a young woman or widow. Once it enters the room of the sleeping woman, the flame becomes a man and seduces them.

The Zmeu can have legs, arms, and appear completely normal. It’s main goal is to seduce and marry women. This vampiric creature has magical and destructive powers; he can fly and shapeshift. He also has supernatural strength.

Veshtitza

The Veshtitza is said to an old woman who is possessed by an evil spirit. The soul leaves her body at night and wanders around until it enters the body of a hen or a black moth. When in the body of the animal, the Veshtitza flies around until she finds a home where there is a sleeping baby or young child.

The Veshtitza’s favorite food is a young heart.

Sometimes, all of the Vestitza would flock together and join in the branches of a tree and hold a meeting while snacking on what they’d gathered earlier in the night. Sometimes old women who have traits of a witch may join in the meetings.

Incubus

Incubus creatures are ancient in religion, history, and fiction. The earliest stories of an incubus is from Mesopotamia, where Gilgamesh’s father listed the creature as Lilu. A Lilu disturbed the sleep of women and seduced them.

An incubus is a male demon who lies on women sleepers in order to have sex with them. Incubus try to seduce women in order to father children. If a child is produced it’s called a cambion; it appears to be stillborn, as there isn’t a pulse or visible breathing. Around the age of 7, the child starts to behave like a human child, but it often displays evil tendencies. The child is beautiful, intelligent, and very persuasive.

Unlike a typical vampire, an incubus doesn’t drain its victims of blood or energy, but exhausts them to death with intercourse. The victims become worn out and helpless and often die of asphyxiation.