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.
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.