Demonspotting: Samigina/Gamigyn


The Fallen Angel by Ricardo Bellver, 1877

Another shady spirit, this time with a pair of names. He’s a fallen angel, and one of the 72 spirits that Solomon sealed away–perhaps in a bottle, like the djinn in the story of Aladdin in the 1001 Nights was sealed in a lamp.

Legend has it that King Solomon, the son of King David of Israel, known for his wisdom, was given a brass and iron ring set with four jewels and inlaid with either the name of God or the Star of David. Using this ring, Solomon could command demons and spirits.

So Medieval Islamic, Hebrew, and Christian scholars of demonology and the occult looked up to King Solomon as the first of their kind, and tried to emulate him.

But back to our Demon of the Week…

When you summon him, Samigina appears in the form of a horse or a donkey, then transmogrifies into human form. Whatever shape he’s in, he is always a Duke, commanding 30 legions. And his voice is always hoarse, for some reason.

He teaches the liberal sciences, and if I’d known that I would have saved a lot of money in tuition. He also delivers news about people who died in sin, so if you want to hear about your dead relatives who went to Hell, he’s your guy.

Some people say he can summon the souls of people in Purgatory and people who died by drowning.


Demonspotting 9: Peris

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


Philosophically, Peris don’t deserve to be lumped into the “demonspotting” category, but I’m going to do it on a technicality–they are angels who were thrown out of heaven.

In the Persian (Modern Iran) tradition, when Satan and his army fought the forces of Heaven, a certain class of angel was out having too good a time to bother to participate on either side. These angels, known as Peris, stayed out of the entire conflict.

A while after the war, they realized their mistake and apologized to God.

God said, “Took you long enough,” and threw them out of Heaven. But because they’d apologized (just too late), He didn’t pack them off to Hell. Instead, they have to roam the Earth, doing penance.

Peris aren’t too troubled by worry, though. They are the kind of people who have too much fun to do that. So they hang out on Earth, looking for all the world like the standard beautiful fairy, and do whatever they want.

Their one trouble is the Daevas, the evil angels who did rebel against God. If one of them catches a Peri, it chains the Peri in an iron cage and hangs it from a tree because the Daevas think that the Peris should have joined the rebellion. Unless one of the other Peris risks its life to feed its comrade nectar, the imprisoned Peri will starve to death.


  • Edwin Radford, Encyclopedia of Superstitions 1949, Kessinger Publishing, 2004
  • Melville, Francis; The Book of Faeries: A Guide to the World of Elves, Pixies, Goblins, and Other Magic Spirits, 2002, Quarto Inc

Vampires we know and love #11: Kozlak/kuzlak: If I’m a vampire, blame my mom

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.

Kozlak/kuzlak: If I’m a vampire, blame my mom

There seem to be more vampires whose names start with ‘ku/ko’ than any other sound. Period. Hands down. Frankly, it’s just odd.

I wish I knew a little more about Eastern European languages so that I knew why that was, exactly. Because these ‘ku’ vamps all seem to come from Eastern Europe. Maybe it means something, or maybe there’s just something scary about that sound.

In any case, there’s the kosci, the kozlak, the krvopijac, the kubikajiri (that one’s a Japanese ghost, actually) and the kudlak.

The kozlak seems a good place to start.

Most vampires are created by some bad event. Selling your soul to the devil, being impious, being bitten by a vampire, etc. There are few ways that other people can turn you into a vampire. The most common one is other people not performing the right rituals the right way when you die.

This is not the way you become a kozlac in the Dalmacian region of Croatia. Nope. You become a kozlac if your mom doesn’t breastfeed you properly when you’re a baby. Somehow this just does not seem fair. Why blame mom? Like a new mother doesn’t have enough trouble, she’s got to worry about turning her kid into a vampire, too? Talk about stress.

If a baby dies from the lack of breastfeeding, or an adult who wasn’t breastfed the right way as a baby dies in a violent way, they come back as a kozlac.

The baby comes back as a troublesome ghost, throwing crockery, making animals sick, and generally making trouble in the community. It can sometimes manifest the physical form of a small flying animal. A bat or a bird.

If he’s an adult when he dies–by murder, violence, or suicide–then you’ve got a real problem. The physical body digs its way up out of the ground and ripping the throats out of its family. This is when that Franciscan monk you have tied up in the closet comes in handy. He can create amulets against the evil of the kozlac for protection. Also, he can help in the only way of killing it.

The monk has to find a hawthorn bush growing in the mountains, in a place where you can’t see the sea. He has to make a stake out of it, with which he impales the corpse. This breaks the link of the demon possessing the body. Then he has to cut off the head, stuff the mouth with garlic, rebury it… you know, the usual.

Here there be Dragons: Gargouilles — The dragon that turned to stone

Like guivres, gargouilles prowled medieval France. You can tell the difference between the two species because guivres are the ones with the poison breath, and gargouilles are the ones that spew water.

Gargouilles are big enough to swallow rivers, which they then expel through massive jaws, drowning villages and crops under great waves. Gargouilles also ate sailors and capsized boats on the Seine.

The archbishop of Rouen, later St. Romain, had had enough. He decided to go talk to his local gargouille, to make it see reason. Unsurprisingly, no one volunteered to go with him, except for a condemned murderer, in exchange for his freedom if he lived.

When the guys got to the dragon’s lair, it appeared. The monster seemed more likely to eat them to talk, and Romain reacted instinctively, holding up two fingers in the sign of the cross.

The gargouille laid down, subdued by sacred symbol. The murderer could then bind the monster using the archbishop’s stole and together they lead it back to the town (for some reason). The townspeople then burned the dragon alive.

To commemorate the occasion, the archbishop of Rouen is allowed to pardon one prisoner every year on Ascension Day.

And the monstrous stone waterspouts put on medieval French buildings are named ‘Gargoyles,’ which comes from the same root word as gargouilles–both of them mean ‘gargler.’