Seriously fishy characters 7: Rusalka

The Russian Rusalki are one of the few classes of spirits/demons/elementals who actually have a whole week celebration in their honor. Check it out.

Rusalka are a variation of your standard mermaid myth, though with some differences. They can go around on land for long periods thanks to her magic comb that she uses to get the tangles out of her sea green hair. There are different theories to the origin of the Rusalki. Some say they are the spirits of drowned women, or unbaptized babies who died. Others think no, they were never human at all, but elemental spirits who were born as princesses of the water.

Everyone pretty much agrees that you don’t want to go on a date with one. She’s always on the lookout for someone to join her in her games, but being a little short in the brain department, she forgets humans can’t breathe underwater.

Plus, green hair.

If you do end up ‘playing’ with a Rusalka, make the sign of the cross and she’ll let you go. Rumor has it you can also catch one in a magic circle if you’ve got the magical chops.

Sources

  • Keightley, Thomas, The World Guide to Gnomes, Fairies, Elves, and Other Little People. Avenel Books, New York, 1880

A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirits
A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirits

by Carol K. Mack, Dinah Mack

Vampires we know and love #6: Vetal

Think vampires are all the same? Think again! Vampires come in more flavors than Baskin-Robbins ice cream. So, this special DotW feature, Vampires we know and love, spotlights different kinds of bloodsucking fiends from around the world.

Vetal

While a vetal (or baital) doesn’t drink blood, it is a spirit that animates corpses, so we’ll call it close enough to a vampire for now. Especially since they are half-man, half-bat.

The vetala are Hindu spirits trapped in the dead zone between life and the afterlife because they didn’t have the proper funeral rites performed for them. They can cause miscarriages, madness, and they can kill kids.

While they can be repulsed by chanting mantras, and gotten rid of entirely by giving them the proper funeral, some Indian sorcerers have a different tactic for dealing with the vetala. They capture a vetal to work for them.

It’s pretty handy, since the vetala know the past, present, and future. So the sorcerer will make a slave out of the demon and get it to answer questions, run errands, that kind of thing.

There’s a series of famous Indian stories called Baital Pachisi or Vetala Panchvimshati, in which King Vikram tries to capture a vetal for a tantric magician.

Demonspotting 7: Baphomet: Demon, Idol, or Hoax?

Demon’s wings are as angel’s wings.
Their halos are as shining bright.
They sing as well as angels, too.
But only when it’s night.
– Calvin Miller

Demonspotting 7: Baphomet: Demon, Idol, or Hoax?

Baphomet is another ugly-looking customer with a goat head and hooves, wings, scales, and aspects of both male and female bodies.

A guy named Eliphas Lévi claimed that Baphomet represented the sum total of the universe: intelligence, the elements, wisdom, life-giving, sin, and forgiveness. He may have something to do with the Gnostic goddess of wisdom, Mete, or not.

Some people say that Baphomet is just another word for Satan.

Some people say that Baphomet is an idol–topped with a human skull, stuffed human head (real), or just a wooden/metal representation of a human head.

And other people say that Baphomet is something the Templar Knights made up under torture. The Templars were put in jail, their money and lands seized. Their enemies tried to get them out of the way by making them admit to witchcraft.

Baphomet became associated with a picture of a Satanic goat drawn by Eliphas Lévi. This one. Baphomet

Well, if I’m a big wimp and if you tortured me, I’d agree to anything, for sure, even worshiping a goat-headed idol.

Sources

Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft, and Wicca
The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft, and Wicca
(Paperback)
by Rosemary Ellen Guiley
DictionaryAngelsDictionary of Angels
Gustav Davidson
devilbookThe Devil: A Visual Guide to the Demonic, Evil, Scurrilous, and Bad (Hardcover)
by Tom Morgan, Genevieve Morgan

Adventures in Demon Hunting 11, or An Account of Creatures Strange and Wondrous: Lindwurm

More strange and mystical creatures encountered by intrepid Demon Hunters Teresa and Jolaine on what became known to history as The Great Demon Hunting Expedition of 2009: Lindwurm

This is the last adventures in demon hunting post. Sniff. I’m kinda sad about it. This has been fun for me, sharing this exciting expedition with you guys. But this is it. We’re done. So, at the end, I give you, the Lindwurm.

The Lindwurm is a wingless Swedish/Norse dragon (Yay Sweden!), whose legend traveled through Northern Europe, so tales of it are found in Germany, Austria, and other states. People bitten by the Lindwurm often die a horrible, writhing death from its poisonous bite.

Fafnir as a Lindwurm, from Arthur Rackham's illustrations for Wagner's Siegfried.

Fafnir as a Lindwurm, from Arthur Rackham's illustrations for Wagner's Siegfried.

Norse lore tells us of Fafnir, a fearless dwarf who protected his father’s gold and jewels with his warrior strength. But then Loki showed up (who else) and killed Fafnir’s brother. To complicate matters (as is Loki’s wont), he then paid the brother’s blood fine with cursed gold. Fafnir was overcome with greed for the cursed money, and killed his father to get it. The curse then came over Fafnir and turned him into a Lindwurm. The hero Sigurd hid in a pit and plunged his sword into Fafnir’s heart as he walked overhead.

LindwurmIt shows up in British heraldry, too, as a serpent-like dragon, with two legs and no wings.

Marco Polo reported seeing Lindwurms on his trip to China, but most scholars believe that he was looking at crocodiles.

Here’s a cute Danish fairytale about a half-Lindwurm prince and a shepherd’s daughter.

Klagenfurt, Austria has a fountain shaped like a lindwurm

Klagenfurt, Austria has a fountain shaped like a lindwurm

That is it for the demon hunting (for now). Now go home, watch No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and have some sushi.

Sources

Seriously fishy characters 6: Kelpie

Coming up on DotW…

On Wednesday, I will finally have the last episode of Demon-hunting Adventures for you.

And come back next Saturday for another episode of the most popular DotW feature, Demonspotting.

The Kelpie

There are water-horses all over the world, though the British Isles seem rife with them. In Orkney, there’s the Nuggle and the Tangie. In Iceland, the Nykur. In Wales, the Ceffyl Dŵr. In England, the Kow… It goes on, but I won’t. (Partly because I might check out some of these other liquid equines someday.

In Scotland, the fresh water water-horse is the Kelpie.

Respectfully stolen from Encyclopedia Mythica (www.pantheon.org)

Mostly, Kelpie (Most often male. Don’t much hear about female ones.) goes out finds someone who looks like he might need a horse, and looks enticing. When the horseless person gets on the Kelpie’s back, its skin turns glue-y and the rider can’t get off. The Kelpie then rides back into the loch, or lake, or stream, or wherever it was from. In some stories the Kelpie is carnivorous and consumes the person. I can’t see why else it would do this, except to be a bit of a jerk.

Some say the Kelpie has a special fondness for doing this to children, and can even lengthen its body to fit up to twenty on its back at a time.

The Kelpie will also hide in the water, just waiting for someone to wander alone by the bank, then pop out and snatch them.

There are stories of Kelpies who can shape-shift into gorgeous young men with a taste for female flesh (uh, in the figurative sense, not literally). If the woman discovers the true identity of her lover, he will drag her into the loch with him. In one tale, a clever woman actually earns such a Kelpie’s love and he takes a potion that makes him human for her.

You can catch a Kelpie and make him work for you if you’re particularly sadistic. When caught in a bridle marked with a cross, he will do the work of ten horses in a single day and can carry a rider all day without tiring. But at the end of the day, you’ll have to feed it one human. If you’re the only human around, that’s you.

To avoid the Kelpie, don’t approach any wandering horse, no matter how friendly looking. In fact, the friendlier it looks, the more your warning signals should go off.

Kelpies are particularly powerful in November.

Do not cook meat near running water. The smell will draw the Kelpie.

Carry some still water. Kelpies love running water, but hate still water and can’t be exposed to it.

Sources

  • Harry Mountain, The Celtic Encyclopedia, Published by Universal-Publishers, 1998

A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirits
A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirits

by Carol K. Mack, Dinah Mack

The First Vampire Exorcism?

Venice, 1576.

A great plague is devastating the city. No one knows the reason, and no one knows the cure. People are living–and dying–in fear.

The island of Lazzaretto, south of the city, is hit so bad that it’s designated a quarantine zone. There is no one there except the dying and the dead and the ones who bury the bodies in mass graves.

One of these gravediggers opens a grave with thousands of bodies in it, to add a few more to the pile–one catches his eye, making him stand back, lean on his shovel, and crosses himself.

The corpse looks ruddy, healthy, and fat. And most frightening of all, there is a hole in the shroud, in front of the woman’s face, as if she’s been eating the graveclothes.

The gravedigger knows the legends of the vampires who eat their shrouds, consume blood, and spread plague. So what do you do?

Four hundred and thirty years later, Discovery has the full story.

Ghoul on Ghoul Action 2: Pisaca

Hello demon fans:

I’m back from vacation and it’s really cold here, so you can expect the blog to get updated on Wednesdays again… because it’s too chilly to leave my house. As a special treat this Wednesday, I’ve got the story of the earliest known vampire exorcism. But for now, I give you the Pisaca.

<h2.Ghoul on Ghoul Action 2: Pisaca

When the great god Brahma made gods, demons, ancestors and people, so the story from the Hindu sacred texts the Puranas, goes, his newly created beings got hungry. They reached for the best (and only) snack at hand. That is, Brahma himself. Brahma was pissed off at this and who wouldn’t be, I ask you, who wouldn’t be?

Brahma got so mad that his hair fell out and turned into serpents. Then he got mad about being bald and surrounded by snakes.

His anger was so intense that it took physical form, as ghoulish flesh eating creatures, the first Pisacha.

Pisacha are former humans who rise from the grave to hunt their fellow men for food. Caught between Heaven and Hell, they can never rest. Even if you manage to whip out your sword and kill one, it will come back as a ghost, doomed to haunt the place where it died its second death.

Unless you can manage to learn the Pisacha’s living name and can have a holy sage do the proper burial ritual using that true name.

There is an even more valuable use for a Pisacha if you manage to catch one. Because they are stuck between the worlds, they are outside the space-time continuum, you might say. So they have special knowledge of events both past and present. A useful accessory for the budding wizard on the go.

Sources

The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead
The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead
(Paperback)
by J. Gordon Melton