Shtrigas

Shtrigas are one of the most terrifying things I’ve researched. Actually, I think it is the episode of Supernatural that scares me more than the actual legend. There is one bit right at the beginning where the silhouette of a tree branch outside a child’s window isn’t really a tree branch. It’s the bony hand of a Shtriga, which proceeds to open the window and enter the kid’s room in the middle of the night. Because of that part, I can’t look out windows when I’m trying to fall asleep without getting a little bit nervous.

Now, there is very little lore on Shtrigas, but let’s do the best with what we have. Onward, my friends!

In Albanian folklore, a Shtriga is a vampiric witch that sucks the blood out of children and infants while they sleep. After, it would turn into some kind of flying insect (usually a moth, bee, or fly). Children who are attacked by a Shtriga waste away and die. Only the Shtriga itself can cure its victims. This is often done by spitting in their mouths.

Shtrigas are depicted as being old women with disfigured faces, pale eyes, and a crooked nose.

There is no known way to kill a Shtriga, but there are various methods of protection. The first method is to place a cross at the door of a church on Easter Sunday. This will render any Shtriga inside unable to leave. They can then be captured and killed when they attempt to pass.

The second method is a little more labor intensive. Shtrigas often go into the woods to vomit up excess blood after they have fed. If you follow the Shtriga and dip a silver coin in that regurgitated blood and wrap it in a cloth, it supposedly offers permanent protection from the creature.

In the show Supernatural, Sam and Dean run into the same Shtriga twice. The first time was when they were kids, and the Shtriga almost got Sam before Dean intervened. The second time is during that particular episode.

The show follows the majority of the lore about Shtrigas. They tweak it a bit, saying that the creature tends to target all the siblings in one family before moving on to a different family. Also, the children’s immune systems weaken due to their “life essence” being drained. They end up in the hospital where they are vulnerable to a whole bunch of diseases that can kill them. In the end, it turn out that the doctor who cared for the children at the hospital was also the Shtriga.

I’ve never been a big fan of going to the doctor, but this makes me afraid to even consider it. I really prefer for my doctors to heal me, not kill me.

Ghouls

Today is my mom’s birthday. So first off I’m going to say this: happy birthday, Mom! You can disregard that. It’s not for you. Unless you’re my mom. Then it is.

Moving on!

Today’s lovely topic in the supernatural world is ghouls. Ghouls originated in Arabic legends. Besides being a really awful word to spell, “ghoul” came from the Arabic word ghul, which came from ghala, meaning “he seized” or “demon.”

Ghouls are undead creatures who first appear in One Thousand and One Nights. They feed on the flesh of corpses, but are also willing to kill for flesh. Ghouls tend to hang out in cemeteries, where there are plenty of corpses to feed on. They are also known to live in deserts, abandoned oases, old battlefields, or other remote places. That way, they can feed without being disturbed.

They prefer fresh meat, and will search for the recently deceased to feed on. It is a misconception, though, that they prefer to dig up corpses. They would rather kill the living so long as there is minimal risk involved.

Ghouls vaguely resemble who they were in life. They tend to be thin and muscular, with long arms and short legs. Their hands and feet end in sharp talons that are capable of cutting through most things. There are rows of razor sharp teeth that line their mouths, as well. Their skin is thick and can be anywhere from a sickly yellow to an ashy grey. They are often completely naked, but sometimes they can be seen sporting the tattered remains of the clothes they died in.

Cowardly by nature, ghouls tend to hunt in packs of three to twelve. At night, they will lure a child or sickly adult into the darkness and kill him/her by cutting his/her neck with its talons. If it can’t find a living victim, it will settle for a corpse.

When it is confronted, a ghoul will typically hiss and run away. If it is backed into a corner, though, it will fight back with its talons and teeth. Ghouls’ speed and agility make it hard to strike back. This also makes it hard to escape them on foot. Their senses have been heightened, as well. They can see in the dark, hear footsteps from several yards away, and smell living or dead flesh from a mile away. Ghouls are masters at stealth, and can move from shadow to shadow without being detected.

Arab folklore says ghouls are shape shifters who are able to transform into hyenas at will. God forbid someone is ever bitten by a ghoul, they will waste away in a few days because a ghouls bite is disease-ridden. At midnight, this individual will rise up as one of the undead ghouls. Ghouls are immune to pain, aging, extreme cold, drugs, toxins, or volatile gases. While they can be injured by blades or firearms, these weapons cannot kill a ghoul. They can even withstand small explosives.

Their major weakness is the sun. Since they spend most of their time out at night, the sunlight can disorient them enough to be killed by a human. They are also vulnerable to fire. In fact, the only way to kill a ghoul is to burn it to ashes without the hope of regeneration. It is recommended that you decapitate the ghoul before you burn it, though, and then scatter the ashes in the wind.

In the show Supernatural Sam and Dean come across a ghoul who has taken the place of their long lost brother. According to the show, ghouls can only be killed by decapitation or the destruction of their heads. They can also shape shift into the form of the last human they consumed.

If you want to protect yourself from ghouls just don’t hang out in cemeteries, and don’t be dumb. If you hear a strange noise in the night, don’t go looking for the source. Walk away.

Seven Deadly Sins

Even if you know nothing about the supernatural, there’s a very high chance that you know about the seven deadly sins. I learned about them when I was about 12, and I’ve been obsessed with the concept ever since. I know, it’s weird, but I find them so intriguing. Don’t judge me.

A Greek theologian called Evagrius of Pontus first made a list of eight offenses and wicked human passions: gluttony, lust, avarice, sadness, anger, acedia, vainglory, and pride.

Later, in the late 6th century, Pope Gregory the Great reduced the list to seven: pride, envy, anger, sadness, avarice, gluttony, and lust.

The seven deadly sins do appear in the Bible, but never as a list. They occur many times individually.

Dante Alighieri, a Catholic layman, wrote “The Divine Comedy,” which is actually three epic poems combined: “Inferno,” “Purgatorio,” and “Paradiso.” In “Purgatorio” Dante puts each of the sins on a level. The higher levels are closer to paradise, and lower levels are closer to hell. He organizes the sins based on their offenses against love.

The sins have influenced a lot of works other than “The Divine Comedy.” They are mentioned in the “Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer and “The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe among others. Hollywood even took a stab at the sins in its thriller Seven.

There is still some variation in the exact names of the seven deadly sins. I’ve heard the individual sins called a few different sins, so I’m just going to explain them using the terms I learned.

Lust: Obsessive or excessive sexual thoughts and desires. Dante’s criterion was “excessive love of others,” thus putting love for God second. In Hell, the lustful are smothered in fire and brimstone.

 

Gluttony: The overindulgence and overconsumption of anything to the point of waste. In Christian religions, it is said to be a sin because of the excessive desire for food, which withholds food from the needy. In Hell, the gluttonous are force fed rats, toads, and snakes.

 

Greed: The excessive desire for material wealth. Avarice is another term that might be applied to this sin, but it is a term that can describe other forms of sin, as well. These include disloyalty, deliberate betrayal, and treason. In Hell, the greedy are boiled in oil.

 

Sloth: Acedia and sadness have also been used for this sin. Acedia is defined as a spiritual apathy that discourages a person form fulfilling his/her religious work. Sadness is simply a feeling of discontent which causes unhappiness with one’s current situation. Now, though, sloth is described as pure laziness, indifference, and unwillingness to act or care. It is seen as being considerably less serious than the other sins. In Hell, the lazy are thrown into snake pits.

 

Wrath: Uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. Wrath is the only sin not associated with selfishness and self-interest. In Hell, the angry are dismembered alive.

 

Envy: Characterized by an insatiable desire for things that others have, which they perceive themselves to be lacking. Dante said envy is a “love of one’s own good perverted to a desire to deprive other men of theirs.” In Hell, the envious are put in freezing water.

 

Pride: Almost always considered the original and more severe of the seven deadly sins. It is characterized by a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to give compliments, and excessive love of self. Probably the most well-known example of pride is Lucifer. His pride caused him to fall from Heaven and transform into Satan. In Hell, the prideful are broken on a wheel.

 

In Supernatural, they tackle the subject of the seven deadly sins, as well. In the wake of opening the Gate to Hell, Sam and Dean are attacked by a group of demons who embody the seven sins. In the end, as always, Sam and Dean come out victorious and the demons are sent back to hell.

Changelings

I know I promised you a weekly video to go along with my blog post, but my camera broke last week. I literally have no idea what’s wrong with it, and I can’t take it to get fixed until after the semester is over. So the rest of my blog posts won’t contain a video, unfortunately.

Today, dear friend, I’m going to be telling you all about changelings. They’re actually quite terrifying like most of the other things I’ve been posting about. If you’ve seen the Angelina Jolie film Changeling you know what I’m talking about. I haven’t seen it, though, so I don’t know exactly what happens apart from a general overview.

Changelings are found in European folklore and a usually described as the offspring of a fairy, troll, or elf that has been left in the place of a human child. Usually, these legends are connected with fairies, but sometimes trolls or elves are involved, as well.

There are a few reasons why a fairy would trade its child in for a human baby. Apparently, fairy/troll/elf babies can be a bit on the ugly side, so they steal humans because they want a pretty child. Other theories are that they want the child to act as a servant, they want the love of a human child, or they just want a toy to play with. In some cases, fairies would show some compassion and take away a human baby that was being abused by his/her parents so that he/she might have a better life in the fairy world.

The theft of a human baby would always take place at night while everyone in the house was asleep. Most times, fairies would leave their own child in the place of the human child. Sometimes though, they would simply leave a piece of wood.

The parents of the human child usually didn’t even notice the switch. They just went about their normal lives until the characteristics of a changeling began to manifest themselves in the child: voracious appetite, malicious behavior, mood swings, or wisdom beyond his/her years.

In Irish folklore, left-handed people were thought to be changelings.

In Welsh folklore, the changeling starts out resembling the human child, but gradually becomes more unattractive, bad tempered, and starts to scream and bite. According to the Welsh, if you suspect that your child is a changeling, cook a full meal in an eggshell. I’m not exactly sure how that would work, and nothing really goes into detail about it. Apparently, though, the changeling will become incredibly confused at the meal and just disappear. The human child will appear in its place.

Some other methods of exposing the changeling for that it is are much more violent. Parents would put their children in the oven or torture them in the hopes of the fairy/troll/elf who made the switch coming back to take away its child and return the human baby.

A Scandinavian story warns against doing harm to the changeling child, though. It is said that a couple realized that their child had been switched with a changeling, but the mother refused to mistreat the child. Eventually, the father leaves the mother and runs into their true child. As it turns out, this child has been well cared for by the trolls as thanks for the good treatment of their changeling child. The human child explains that every mistreatment done to the changeling by the human parents is done to the human child by the fairies/trolls/elves.

The legend tends to blame the human parents for being too complacent and fawning over their child’s looks. The fairies/trolls/elves produced ugly children and wanted to punish the humans for focusing on physical appearance so much. An unbaptized child was more susceptible to being switched, as well.

There are a few methods of protecting your child from being switched with a changeling. Laying a steel object such as scissors or a knife in the cradle of an unbaptized baby was thought to ward off changelings.

It is possible that this legend stems from the misinterpretation of autism or birth defects in the Victorian era. There were various murder cases in the Victorian era that were the result of parents thinking that their child was, in fact, a changeling.

Supernatural  approaches the legend of changelings in its third season in “The Kids are Alright.” As always, the show alters the legend a little bit to fit in with their plot. In the episode, human children are switched with changelings. The switch doesn’t happen when they are babies, though. It takes place well into their childhood. These switches aren’t being made by a fairy/troll/elf, they are being made by an alpha changeling mother. While the human mother is sleeping, the changeling children drink the synovial fluid found in her joints until she eventually wastes away. According to Supernatural, the only way to kill a changeling is to burn it.

I don’t know about you, but I find changelings pretty terrifying. That might just be my mama bear instincts, though. What do you think?

Shape Shifters

There will be no video for this post. I had a lot of technical difficulties with it, and wasn’t able to upload it.

Today I will be teaching you lovely people about shape shifters.

Basically, a shape shifter is a human who can transform either into an animal or another human.

The most popular shape shifting legends are those of werewolves, vampires, fox spirits of East Asia, and deities of mythology.

Some people even believe that alien reptoids are capable of shape shifting into humans and are currently living among us.

Isn’t that Scientology?

Other terms for shape shifters include metamorph, skin-walker, mimic, and therianthrope. Try saying that five times fast.

Almost every culture in the world has some sort of transformation myth. Even a lot of animals have myths tied to them.

Although shape shifting is usually about humans who transform into animals, some animals can also shape shift.

Even though werewolves are categorized as shape shifters, there are a few differences.

Shape shifters can transform at will, but werewolves can’t.

Also, shape shifters can usually control their intelligence and actions when in another form.

If Remus Lupin taught us anything, it’s that werewolves don’t have control over their actions when they shift.

Since the werewolf legend is tied closely to the shape shifter legend, a silver bullet is supposedly the only thing that will kill a shape shifter.

Though, some people believe decapitation might work, as well.

So, now that you are an expert on shape shifters, let’s talk about Supernatural.

Shape shifters have come up in a few different episodes, but the circumstances of their appearance changes.

Instead of going through episode-by-episode, I’m just going to give you a brief overview of what a Supernatural shape shifter is.

First, I need to clarify. Even though another term for a shape shifter is a “skin-walker,” Supernatural treats these as two separate things.

A shape shifter can transform into a human, while a skin-walker can transform into an animal. In reality, though, they’re the same thing.

A shape shifter can transform into anyone. When it does, it takes on their physical appearance as well as their voice and memories.

The person it shifts into can be either dead or alive (at this point, I’m really tempted to make a Bon Jovi joke…).

For the shape shifter to become another person, it has to go through a very painful process of shedding its own skin.

The Alpha shape shifter, though, can transform quickly without shedding its skin.

The only easy way to spot a shape shifter is by getting them on video. There is a very distinct retinal flare when they are filmed.

Most shape shifters in the show turn to a life of crime to make up for the fact that they were born ugly and hated by everyone.

The only way for them to be accepted was to become someone else.

That concludes our lovely lesson in the supernatural. Until next time, my fine friends.

Djinns vs. Aladdin’s Genie

At this point, I feel like I shouldn’t have to tell you to go watch that video up there anymore. You know the drill.

Now that you know all about Djinns, let’s go deeper (Inception, anyone?).

Whenever people ask me what my favorite animated Disney movie is, I’m always stumped. I have so many favorites: The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Peter Pan. I usually end up just saying Aladdin, though. Maybe because I had a huge crush on him when I was little. It got to the point where I threw Imaginary-Jasmine out the window of a moving car so that I could be with Imaginary-Aladdin. Needless to say, the relationship didn’t work out. Mostly because of his lack of existence. Also, because I was about 6 years-old.

If you remember, in Aladdin Aladdin rubs the magic lamp, Genie is freed, and Aladdin gets three wishes. So, if I say “genie” you probably think of a large blue man voiced by Robin Williams, am I right? Well, what if I say “djinn”? I don’t know about you, but I picture something a little darker when I think of Djinns. Genies and Djinns are the same thing. In fact, when Djinn is translated into English, it means “genie.”

For the most part animated Disney movies aren’t scary. Yes, there are instances when you watch them back as an adult and go “oh, my God! That’s horrible! How did this not terrify me as a child?!” I think that realization hit me when I watched Anastasia (which, admittedly, isn’t Disney, but it is animated) when I was 13. There is this one bit where Rasputin’s head falls into his stomach, and he just reaches in and pulls it out. I don’t understand how I didn’t run away screaming at that point when I was a kid. Mostly, though, Disney is pretty tame. They don’t aim to scare little kids. They’d be losing their main audience.

So, when they did Aladdin they couldn’t portray Djinns as they really are: scary. They are invisible, hostile creatures who delight in frightening people. No one would want to watch a movie about a street rat that gets continuously tricked and scared by a genie. Thus, they had to make the genie friendly.

Long story short, if you ever meet a Djinn, don’t expect to be friends like Aladdin and Genie. It probably won’t sound like Robin Williams, either.

I will just leave you with this:

Wendigos

Before you start in on this blog post, go watch that video right up there. You’ll be completely lost otherwise. And, really, don’t you want to see my shining face? Actually, don’t answer that. Just watch the video.

Now that you’re all filled in on the terrifying legend of the Wendigo, doesn’t it make you never want to go outside ever again? Yeah, me too.

Like many other legends, Wendigos could have been fabricated as a cautionary tale. Since cannibalism is taboo, the legend of the Wendigo could serve to deter people from eating human flesh.

There have been several sightings of Wendigos, however. In Rosesu, Minnesota, the presence of a Wendigo signaled a death in the town. In this case, the Wendigo acted as a sort of Banshee. From the late 1800’s to the 1920’s, there was an unexpected death shortly after each Wendigo sighting.

Jack Fiddler, a Cree Indian, was one of the most famous Wendigo hunters. He claimed to have killed over 14 Wendigos throughout his life. His last kill, however, ended in him being jailed on a murder charge. Jack Fiddler and his son Joseph killed a Cree Indian woman, believing her to be possessed by the spirit of a Wendigo and on the verge of transforming completely.

In Supernatural, a Wendigo hunts around Blackwater Ridge, Colorado. Unlike the actual legend, this Wendigo only hunts every 23 years. At one point, Dean says “more than anything, a Wendigo knows how to last long winters without food. It hibernates for years at a time. When it’s awake it keeps its victims alive; it stores them so it can feed whenever it wants.” This idea worked with the story of the episode, but it doesn’t go along with the real legend of the Wendigo. They are constantly hunting and consuming humans.

The Wendigo in the episode can also perfectly imitate the human voice. It uses this ability to lure its victims into its claws. I don’t know about you, but that makes me want to run in the opposite direction when someone calls me. I’m actually getting nervous typing this. I mean, have you seen these things?! They’re legitimately terrifying. I wouldn’t want to come face-to-face with one in the woods.

Sam and Dean make it a point to say that a Wendigo is a “damn near perfect hunter” that it’s a “good hunter in the day, but an unbelievable hunter at night.” I think I can add being eaten by a Wendigo to my list of reasons I don’t like going outside at night. In the episode, though, a Wendigo got into a cabin by unlocking the door from the outside, so it doesn’t really matter where you are, I guess. Just stay bundled up under your covers in bed and hope it doesn’t find you. Are you scared yet?

White Ladies

Before you start in on this blog post, I highly suggest you go watch that video right up there. It goes over some necessary background information which I will expand upon here.

First off, I don’t claim to be any kind of expert in the supernatural. For the purposes of this blog, though, I will come as close as I possibly can to an expert so that I’m not leading you astray with false knowledge. The last thing I want to happen is for you to go around telling people about what I’ve written and for it to turn out to be completely inaccurate. So, to avoid that, I’ve spent hours upon hours researching for this post. Literally. I’m not exaggerating. I spent somewhere in the ballpark of six hours doing research for this. I want it to be as factual as possible. So let’s just jump right on in, shall we?

If you still haven’t watched that little video up there, you really should take this time to do that. I mean, honestly, it’s three minutes long. Just do it. I will wait.

Done? Good.

In addition to the two legends I mentioned in the video, there are countless others. Sometimes the legends have multiple versions, such as the story of the White Lady of Branch Brook Park in New Jersey. In one version, a newlywed couple is killed on their wedding night. In another, the couple was on their way to prom when they crashed into a tree. The boy lived, but the girl died. Some say she is still looking for her prom date.

There have been reports of a White Lady just off Clearview Drive in Mukilteo, Washington. Legend has it that she can be seen walking down the road, standing and pointing, or trying to hitch a ride. Anonymous reports also say that there has been crying and screaming coming from the forest.

Most White Lady legends have some combination of love, sex, murder, or betrayal. She is usually someone’s unhappy/illicit/suicidal lover. White Ladies are not born out of hatred. They are created out of sorrow. Even in the cases where she is out for vengeance, it is because of the loss of a child or lover. Most reports even say that her face isn’t scary in the least, it’s sad.

Just the fact that there are multiple versions of the same story tends to suggest that it is fabricated in some way. Some people speculate that White Lady legends borrow from and blur with other legends, making it hard to tell what is false. A lot of things that White Ladies do can be explained by means other than just jumping to “it’s a ghost!” The White Lady in Mukilteo, WA, is said to put dead animals in the road that appear to have been eaten. I don’t know about you, but if there was a dead animal in the middle of the road that looked half-eaten, I’d assume another animal ate it. Even the sightings of White Ladies can be explained. On rainy or foggy nights, the headlights of cars produce an eerie ghost-like shadow.

I promised you I would connect the actual urban legend to the show Supernatural. If you haven’t seen the show, I highly recommend it. It’s by far my favorite. A little background information: Sam and Dean are brothers who hunt supernatural creatures. Here we go.

White Ladies show up in the Pilot of Supernatural. This White Lady strays a little bit from the actual legends. After finding out that her husband was unfaithful, she killed her children and then herself. As a ghost, she wanders up and down the road looking for unfaithful men. She hitchhikes and, when the men pick her up, makes them driver her home. Once they get to her house, though, she turns on them and kills them for their infidelity. It’s Sam and Dean’s job to kill her before she can kill again.

The version of the White Lady legend in Supernatural is actually a combination of the White Lady legend and that of the Vanishing Hitchhiker. In the Vanishing Hitchhiker legend, the driver goes to tell the hitchhiker goodbye only to see that he/she has already vanished. This particular legend has been around since the times of horse drawn carriages.

In the end, Sam and Dean defeat the White Lady and all is well in the world…Until the next episode.

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