Vampires we know and love #7: Civateteo

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.


Hmmm… Okay, one of my ultra-reliable standard sources, Guiley, says that the civateteo are Mexican vampire witches, noblewomen who died in childbirth and return to attack other children in revenge.

But Wikipedia and other sources say that the civateteo (Cihuateteo, Ciuteoteo, Ciuateoteo or Civateteo; singular Ciuateotl or Cihuateotl) go back way further. The Aztecs considered childbirth a form of battle, and those who were lost in the war became revered warrior spirits who accompanied the setting sun. Revered, sure, but also feared, these women spirits came back to hurt children, cause disease, and seduce men.

Is it possible that the Aztec legend survived all this time and morphed (like a were-legend) into this other form? There are enough similarities to make a real case for it.


Physicists prove vampires don’t exist (I’m still carrying my garlic)

So, scientists have proven vampires don’t exist.

Basically, their argument is that if vampires had “started” on January 1, 1600, there would be no humans left by June 1602.

This article on io9 discusses the issue:

I haven’t read the scholarly paper, but it’s based on the philosophy that when a vampire bites a human, that human becomes a vampire. By that process, the scientists say, “Apparently, whomever devised the vampire legend had failed his college algebra and philosophy courses.”

Clearly the authors of the paper failed their high school English courses–Dracula clearly states that it takes three bites for a human to become a vampire.

So there.

Other interesting ways to become a vampire include:

For more vampires, click the vampire tag over on the right.

Seriously fishy characters 9: Nuckelavee


This week, the Demon of the Week blog got its 10,000th visitor. I want to thank everyone for coming out to visit me!

To celebrate, on Wednesday, scientists will prove vampires don’t exist. Come back then to check it out.

Until then, you’ll have to settle for a truly monstrous demon, the Nuckelavee.

The Nuckelavee

There are few demons more terrifying than the Scottish Nuckelavee. It’s probably the most grotesque thing in this blog so far (but we are far from finished, yay!), having a monstrous three-foot wide head that’s too heavy for its neck, and so rolls from side to side on its wide shoulders.

No one has gotten a good look at the Nuckelavee in daylight, so it is unknown whether it rides a horse when it’s out of the water, or if its bottom half is equine itself. Its mouth protrudes from its face, like a pig’s, and its breath comes out like the steam of a kettle. One fiery red eye looks out from the center of its forehead.

To make the Nuckelavee shoot up to eleven on the Richter scale of gruesome, it does not have any skin. So when you see it, you can see its black blood flowing through yellow veins, the muscles moving with each step of its body.

The Nuckelavee likes nothing better than to do whatever evil it can find. Killing, kidnapping children, blighting crops with its fiery breath, anything.

It lives in the sea, but can’t stand fresh water. So if you run into the Nuckelavee, boot it for the nearest lake, or pray for rain, which they just hate.


  • George Brisbane Douglas, Scottish fairy and folk tales, Forgotten Books
  • Katharine Mary Briggs, The fairies in English tradition and literature, Taylor & Francis, 1989

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

Elemental Water: Undine/Ondine

Paracelsus, a Medieval alchemist, identified four magical creatures that symbolized the elements that make up our world: air, fire, water, and earth. Today’s DotW brings you one of them.

An undine or ondine is a beautiful female water nymph, an elemental spirit that lives in water, and in a symbolic way, represents the spirit/idea of water. Phillip von Hohenheim, known as Paracelsus, was the first to identify elementals, in his works about alchemy. The concept of the undine is Germanic in origin.

Friedrich Heinrich Karl La Motte-Fouqué wrote the first novel about an undine in 1812, appropriately titled “Undine.” Also, that was the name of our water elemental heroine.

In Undine, the water nymph heroine meets and falls in love with a noble knight, who promises that his every waking breath will be a promise of loyalty and faithfulness to her. Well, that sounded pretty good to Undine, so she married the guy and had his baby. (In fairness, he’d been pretty clear about the fact that he’d had a thing for another woman, name of Bertalda, before they met.)

As a water nymph, Undine was soulless, ageless, and beautiful. As a wife, she grew a soul, which of course brought her no end of trouble. She had to make a noble sacrifice to protect her husband. She had to go back to living under the waves, but her husband assumed she was dead. She could protect him so long as he kept faithful to his promise.

And then he broke his promise by marrying Bertalda.

Though she still loved him, Undine was forced to kill him for his faithlessness. She had to come back through the well that Bertalda uncovered and kiss him to death (his request).

I know this sounds pretty dumb, but the book’s good–much better than described here. Check it out on Google Books.


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

Undine, Or The Water Spirit, a Romance
Friedrich Heinrich Karl La Motte-Fouqué
Published by J. Miller, 1881

The Greeks sure love their vampires, part 5: Vyrkolaka

There are a lot of vampires in Greek folklore. In fact, where we have one name for undead creatures who inhabit corpses and suck the blood of the living, they have a crapload of them. I’ll feature one of them today, the vyrkolakoi, the lost souls.


Vyrkolakoi is a general name for lost souls who wander the earth, unable to find peace.

One kind of vyrkolakoi is a sort of vampire. If you’re an evil person or die by violence, a demon can inhabit your body and soul between the time you die and the time you’re buried. Then you get up from your grave and go around drinking the blood of your relatives through their noses, killing them, or maybe just giving them anemia.

This kind of vyrkolakoi can change into any animal, and even take on the form of other humans, a handy trick if you’re hungry for some nose blood.

It’s interesting that vyrkolakoi can also be created if the rituals of burial aren’t carried out exactly as they’re supposed to be.

Death rituals have been an important part of Greek culture for as far back as our records of history go. Maybe you saw the part of Troy where Brad Pitt killed Eric Bana and dragged his body around the city? This came directly from Homer’s poem the Iliad, about the siege of Troy.

In Greek culture, Achilles treating Hector’s body that way was just as bad as killing him–if not worse. After all, Hector died as an honorable knight.

We don’t know what the ancient Greeks thought about vampires, or if they even believed in them. If the ancient Greeks believed what their descendants did, Achilles ensured Hector became a wandering spirit, unable to find peace. That’s the best case scenario.

At worst, the noble prince Hector would have become a ravenous flesh-eating ghoul, intent on sucking the blood of his own family.