Monday, October 17, 2011

What Does a True Vampire Look Like?

The Vampire tends to resemble the person it was in life. However, the Vampire of legend is a walking corpse. Its body might be bloated, the skin stretched tightly across the creature’s body. The Vampire’s fingernails and toenails have grown since the creature’s burial, now sharpened talons. The skin tends to have a pale pallor to it, while being somewhat decayed. Since the Vampire tends to feed on its own flesh while struggling to leave the grave (known as manducation), there are often chunks of flesh missing from the limbs. The creature has sharp, extended canine teeth (the fangs), which allow for easy feeding (although many Vampires in folklore don't have fangs at all!). The Vampire’s breath reeks of decay and coagulated blood (although getting close enough to confirm this is next to impossible). The Vampire tends to be dressed in its burial shroud or whatever clothing the body happened to be wearing at the time of burial, and the creature itself reeks of death and grave dirt. The Vampire’s eyes are fiery red, and the creature’s ears are grotesquely stretched and pointed. The Vampire of ancient times is a horrifying monster, a far cry from the modern interpretation of the Vampire.

For a visual of what I imagine this creature actually looks like, click here: The Vampire (The Demon Hunter's Handbook).

Blood and the Vampire

The Vampire needs to feed on fresh human blood for survival. This unnatural hunger drives the creature’s existence, and the Vampire constantly craves blood. It is thought by most that the blood invigorates the Vampire’s body, maintaining the undead state of the body and preventing further decay. When it feeds, the Vampire not only takes the victim’s blood, but also infects the victim with the supernatural taint of vampirism. Therefore, while prolonging the creature’s own soulless existence, it damns the unfortunate individual to become a Vampire after their death. Thus, the Vampire propagates its own kind.

When the Vampire feeds, it usually bites its victim on the neck, breast, inner thigh, or wrist. Through these wounds, the Vampire drains the victim of their flowing blood. The Vampire prefers to feed on victims of the opposite sex, although it is not unknown for some Vampires to feed upon the same sex. The Vampire doesn’t require much blood for survival, needing about one-half to a full quart every night. Older Vampires can resist the bloodlust for several weeks, but the creature grows progressively weaker the longer he goes without feeding, eventually reverting to its true age (which proves to be fatal). The Vampire can sate its hunger on the blood of animals if necessary, although this is usually something done only in desperation.

Folklorists, occultists, and vampirologists have debated exactly why the Vampire needs blood for a very long time. In ancient times, people recognized that blood is the source of life. To take another’s blood was to absorb the other individual’s strength and vitality, even to the point of killing the other. Early on, women recognized the innate connection between menstruation and the act of giving birth, as blood is symbolically and physically shed during both acts. People believed that, by drinking the blood of one’s fallen enemies, an individual would absorb his enemy’s strength and become exponentially more powerful. Blood is viewed by some pagan religions (as not all of them practice human or even animal sacrifice) as the sustenance of their gods, maintaining their power and immortality through the sacrifice of humans and animals. But, blood is sacred to God, and in the Old Testament, God emphasizes that drinking the blood of another is a mortal sin and is strictly forbidden. He specifically states this as follows:

And wherever you live, you must not eat the blood of any bird or animal. If anyone eats blood, that person must be cut off from his people.”
-Leviticus 7: 26-27 (New International Version)

It could therefore be argued that the Vampire is a man (the Vampire tends to be predominantly male), cut off from both God and his own people because of his craving for human blood. The Vampire is a horrifying and reviled creature, cursed by God to arise from the grave as one of the undead and to feed on the blood of the living for eternity. As stated earlier, the blood is the life. God spoke to Moses on this matter, again explicitly emphasizing the importance and the sacred nature of the crimson fluid. God thus states:

Any Israelite or any alien living among them who eats any blood — I will set my face against that person who eats blood and cut him off from his people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may any alien living among you eat blood.”
-Leviticus 17: 10-12 (New International Version)

Basically, God says that “thou shalt not drink the blood of another, lest thou be damned for eternity.” Think of it as the eleventh commandment. Christians believe that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross saved them from sin and eternal damnation in Hell. Before He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot (whom some believe may have been the first true Vampire), Jesus said at the Last Supper: “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He offered it to His disciples, saying “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26: 26-28).” The Vampire, being a creature born of Satan’s power, drank blood in blasphemous defiance of God’s command, defiling the sacred and stealing what belongs to God alone. In other words, the Vampire eternally hungers for human blood, but may only drink the blood of sin and death, which never satisfies. On the other hand, those who drink the blood of Christ have the blood of eternal life flowing through their veins, and shall never hunger.

Would You Like to See a Topic?

The heading says it all. I'm willing to do research on and post about almost any supernatural creature or entity that you can think of. But research materials cost money, and most of my research comes from books. If you'd like to help me procure materials, let me know.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

How to Kill a Vampire

The ways that most people know of destroying the Undead comes from movies, television, and popular literature, which is considered to be modern folklore. However, all the methods listed and explained here are from genuine Vampire folklore. But just as the Vampire has its weaknesses, there are just as many ways to kill the Vampire. But how exactly does one kill a creature that is already dead? Although the many methods differ from one culture to the next, most seem to be similar in one way or another. There are three primary methods, used together, throughout Europe to destroy the walking dead: staking, decapitation, and burning. Collectively, these methods are known as the Vampire Exorcism. Its purpose is to ensure that the Vampire never again returns to plague the living.


The best-known method of slaying the Vampire is to drive a wooden stake through the revenant’s heart. However, unlike what is portrayed in the movies and popular literature, a stake through the heart doesn’t actually kill the Vampire, but immobilizes the creature so that the rest of the Exorcism can take place.

The stake pins the Vampire to the ground, both physically and symbolically. Once the Vampire is affixed to the earth, it is thought that natural forces would catch up with the revenant’s body, and decay would begin. If the evil spirit inhabiting the corpse tried to escape, it would be unable to do so. However, according to Russian folk customs, the stake had to be driven completely through the corpse with a single blow, as a second blow would awaken the Vampire from its slumber. It is essential that, when staking the Vampire, one avoids spurting blood, as an individual that is splattered with the creature’s blood will either die instantly or become irrevocably insane.

The materials used to make stakes have varied somewhat throughout the ages. Iron was a popular choice during medieval times, and in some cases, the point of the stake was heated until the iron started to glow red-hot, at which point the stake was driven into the creature (a practice of the Bulgarian people). However, various hardwoods have remained the most popular choice for making stakes. Hawthorn or aspen are considered to be the most effective, as both woods have powerful religious connotations (hawthorn was used in Christ’s crown of thorns, while aspen was the wood that was used to build the cross that Jesus was crucified on). Other woods used for this purpose include oak, ash, wild rose, willow, yew, juniper, blackthorn, whitethorn, buckthorn, linden, rowan, and maple. However, in the countries of Albania and Dalmatia, a dagger that had been previously blessed by a priest was used to pierce the Vampire’s heart, as opposed to the more traditional wooden stake.

While many of these hardwoods are still popular, many modern vampire hunters prefer silver stakes. Although expensive, stakes made of this precious metal are worth every penny. A silver stake is far more durable than a wooden one, and can be used over and over. When irreparably damaged, they can be melted down and recast. As silver hardens when cold-forged with a hammer, this can be used to enhance the durability of the stake’s point. Silver stakes are generally useful in a close-quarters fight, while wooden stakes are usually used for pinning (although they are still useful in a fight).

A stake might be driven into the ground above the grave of a suspected revenant, so that the creature might impale itself upon rising from the grave. However, as mentioned previously, staking the Vampire wasn’t enough to slay the creature. As said earlier, the stake only immobilizes the Vampire for an indefinite period of time. Some Vampires were known to ignore the stake completely (one revenant thanked his would-be killers for the stick, using it to keep away dogs). To put it simply, the stake is only one part of destroying the Vampire.

By far the most effective method of killing the Vampire is decapitation. Cutting off the head will kill any Vampire, no matter how old or how powerful the creature may be. This grisly practice originates from the belief that the Vampire is incapable of existing without its head or heart, as it cannot regenerate these vital parts. Without its head, the Vampire is unable to wander about at night without the head to direct it. As with staking, spurting blood must be avoided at all costs.

After the Vampire is exhumed and a stake is driven through the corpse, decapitation follows. Beheading could be done with a sword or an axe, but this was traditionally done with a gravedigger’s shovel (which has a supernatural connection to death) or the sexton’s spade (which is possessed of the holy power of God). Beforehand, the corpse was covered with a large piece of thick cloth, so as to avoid spurting blood. Then, the head was quickly struck off with a single stroke. Afterwards, the mouth was stuffed with fresh garlic cloves (as this severed the connection of the flesh and the inhabiting spirit). If the corpse was reburied, the head was placed under the arm or in between the legs, turned facedown. The head and the body should be buried at the crossroads, disposed of separately, burned (in separate fires), or buried in different plots. This is the second step in the Vampire Exorcism, but is highly effective in close-quarters combat with the Undead as well.

Burning is the final step in the destruction of the Vampire, but it is also the most difficult and time-consuming parts of the Exorcism. As said earlier, cremation will destroy any Vampire. Fire is a manifestation of God’s Power, and one of the most powerful purifying forces known to man. However, incineration is only used as a last resort, only if staking, decapitation, or other preventative measures have failed.

Burning the Vampire is an extremely difficult undertaking, requiring copious amounts of oil, an unending supply of wood (one tale from Russia says to use “a hundred loads of aspen boughs”), an executioner, and a day or two off of work.

A corpse needs immense temperatures, oxygen, and constant heat to be reduced to charred ashes, and the commoners were incapable of meeting these demands. Therefore, an executioner (who has experience cutting up human bodies) with an axe was called in. He then proceeded to chop the vampiric cadaver into small pieces. This made it easier to burn the corpse. The Russians made an important emphasis on catching and killing any creatures that crawled out of the fire (insects, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and other such things), as these vermin could conceivably hold the Vampire’s essence. If even one of these creatures escaped, then the Vampire would find a new body, and the creature’s reign of terror would begin anew.

If cremation was successful, on the other hand, the people could rest at ease. The Vampire, no matter how powerful it was, would be gone forever. Next, the ashes were scattered to the winds, put into a sack and thrown into a fast-flowing river, or the ashes were simply buried. Either way, the threat of the Vampire was temporarily abated.

There are many other methods of destroying the Vampire, all of which are prevalent in folklore. Some are fairly extreme measures, reluctantly done when the vampire hunters or the common people had no other choice or any other ideas.

Excision of the Heart
This is more extreme than staking, and quite a bit gorier as well. The heart is considered to be the part of the Vampire that is inhabited by a demonic spirit. In Romania (and some other parts of Europe), the Vampire is said to possess two hearts (and therefore, two souls). The second heart houses the evil spirit, maintaining the Vampire’s state of undeath. With two hearts, the revenant is twice as difficult to kill. If one destroys the heart, one destroys the Vampire. However, this is far easier said than done…

First, the Vampire had to be exhumed. Recall that, although nocturnal by nature, the Vampire is more than capable of activity during the daylight hours. Therefore, extreme caution is advised while doing this. Using a sword, a dagger, or a knife (the blade having been blessed by a priest previously), a deep incision is made in the abdomen or the chest cavity. Then, the Hunter inserted his hand and felt around for the heart. Once found, he ripped the organ out. But he wasn’t done yet…

Next, the heart had to be disposed of. This is usually done by burning it to ashes. Sometimes, the heart was boiled in wine, vinegar, oil, or holy water, and the heart was then returned to the body or burned afterwards. At times, after cremation, the ashes were carefully spooned back into the cavity. This method has been used quite frequently, especially in America (such as the Mercy Brown case of 1892 on Rhode Island). It remains a popular option, although messy and generally unpleasant.

Dismemberment is a grisly process that involves hacking off the Vampire’s limbs, one by one, to prevent the creature from rising from the grave and attacking the living. Obviously, any revenant is going to find it to be impossible to get up, wander around, and feed without its arms or legs. Ideally, this should be done with a sword (blessed by a priest) or a woodsman’s axe.

Piercing with a Sword
The sword’s blade should be blessed and anointed with holy water beforehand. This should be done with a single thrust, directly through the heart. However, this method is more appropriate in a battle with the Undead. But either way, this technique gets the task done. No Vampire will rise again after a sword thrust through the heart.

Immersion in Water
As water’s symbolism as a purifier and one of the Holy Sacraments is anathema to the Vampire, a revenant that is fully immersed in water (especially running water) will drown and be destroyed. A bathtub could work, but disposal of the creature’s body may prove to be problematic (as removing the Vampire from the water will revive the creature).

Stealing the Left Sock
Truly one of the most bizarre ways of destroying the Vampire. While the Vampire slumbers, the Hunter steals the creature’s left sock, fills the sock with earth or stones from the Vampire’s grave, and tosses the sock outside of the village’s proximity, usually into running water (i.e. a deep river). The Vampire, being an obsessive creature by nature, will panic and frantically begin searching for its missing sock. The revenant will even endure running water to find its sock, and will eventually drown.

Drenching in Holy Water and Garlic
As both holy water and garlic have a negative effect on the Vampire, a quantity of holy water and garlic oil should be poured into the Vampire’s grave. This will cause the creature immense pain and to eventually disintegrate. However, several gallons are needed for this to be successful. However, this is more in keeping with modern-day fiction and cinematic portrayals of the Vampire, so it may not actually work.

Injection with Holy Water
Ideally, a hypodermic needle, filled with holy water or holy oil (whichever is preferred), should be inserted into the Vampire’s heart and the plunger depressed. This will carry the consecrated liquid throughout the revenant’s body, causing agonizing pain and also causing the Vampire to burn up from the inside. However, although holy water was used against these creatures in historical accounts, it is most likely that this is something more in keeping with fiction than anything else.

Bottling the Vampire
As incredible as this notion may seem to be, in Bulgarian folklore this is said to be one of the most powerful and effective methods of containing and destroying the Vampire. However, this requires powerful magic (which may be just as evil as the Vampire itself), and one has to hire a sorcerer as well. It is extremely dangerous, requiring a great degree of willpower, experience, and an excellent sense of balance. The Hunter (known in Bulgaria as the vampirdzhija), armed with a holy image or a relic and a bottle (baited with the Vampire’s favorite food, preferably the Hunter’s own blood), lies in wait for the revenant.

Once the creature appears, the Hunter chases the Vampire, pursuing it across rooftops, through houses, and even up trees without even a moment’s respite. When the Hunter finally corners the revenant, the Vampire is trapped. Confronted with the crucifix or holy image, the Vampire will have no choice but to assume the form of a mist and flee into the bottle. The Hunter quickly seals the bottle with a lid (engraved onto which is a cross). He then throws the bottle into a roaring fire, thereby forever destroying the Vampire.

In Malaysia, a similar practice is employed, but differs as follows: a bamboo tube (known as a tabong), sealed with leaves and a mystical charm, is used in place of the bottle and, instead of burning the container, the tube is tossed into the sea.

Although the Vampire is able to command wolves, there is one exception: the white wolf. The white wolf is greatly feared by the Vampire, making it a loyal companion and a friend to any Demon Hunter. This wolf can sense the Undead, and this is an extremely useful ability. In Albania, the lugat (a powerful if cowardly revenant) can only be destroyed by a white wolf. The wolf accomplishes this by biting off the Vampire’s leg. Grievously injured and even more humiliated, the lugat will retreat to its grave, never to be seen again.

Shooting with a Consecrated Bullet
Under normal circumstances, firearms have little or no effect on the Vampire. However, a bullet that has been blessed by a priest (not necessarily silver) and is fired into the Vampire’s coffin or the Vampire’s heart will slay the revenant. However, this method is seldom mentioned in folklore. All the same, it is definitely worth a try.


Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Vampires & Werewolves (Second Edition). New York: Checkmark Books. Copyright ©2011, 2005 by Visionary Living, Inc.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Jersey Devil

The Jersey Devil is a monstrous aberration, born of the Devil and mortal flesh. For over two hundred and fifty years, the Devil has haunted the wooded Pine Barrens of New Jersey in this form.


Unexplained Entity, Cryptid, Demon (possibly)

Other Names

The 13th Child, the Leeds Devil (original name)


Carnivorous (although the Devil is fond of including the flesh of human children in its diet)


The Jersey Devil is fond of kidnapping children and travelers who wander too close to the Pine Barrens, mutilating livestock, and invading homes in search of human prey.


The Pine Barrens, New Jersey (but the Jersey Devil has been seen as far away as New York)


A truly hideous monster, the Jersey Devil has a lithe but powerful body that is covered in black fur, cloven hooves, and a thin neck. Atop its neck is a hideous head combining the worst features of a horse, goat, and dog. It's eyes are burning red, and they glow in the dark.

Like a horse, the Devil has large, round nostrils, while two goatlike horns shoot from the creature’s forehead, just above its twitching ears. Within the black maw that is the Jersey Devil’s mouth are extremely sharp fangs and teeth, and from its black gums and curled lips, it drools like a dog. It has two relatively short but powerful forelimbs, tipped with sharp claws that rend flesh on the slightest brush. It has two leathery, batlike wings that span approximately two feet. As it flies through the night sky, its body is sheathed in an eerie yellow aura. It also has a mournful, terrifying cry.


A supernatural demon, the Jersey Devil possesses supernatural strength, speed, and aerial agility. It is seemingly invulnerable to harm, withstanding even a cannonball through its body with no apparent effects. The Jersey Devil is able to fly, and its wings are deadly weapons, as the creature has been seen using its wings to cut through the trunks of trees with ease. The Jersey Devil is able to become invisible at will, allowing it access to even the most heavily guarded homes or livestock. Its fetid breath can curdle milk, and has been known to kill the entire fish population in a lake with only a single breath. Along with its rank breath, the Jersey Devil is able to breathe fire, using it to injure or blind attackers or potential prey. The Devil is constantly surrounded by an evil aura that causes bad fortune to befall all witnesses.

It may have other supernatural powers that it may yet have to display. To debate, some people believe that the Jersey Devil may or may not have supernatural powers, but it is highly likely that they are wrong.


Since the Jersey Devil is seems to be immune to most weapons, it is nearly impossible to destroy the Devil. However, it may in fact be weak against holy symbols, such as a crucifix or the Bible. Traveling with a bright lantern may be a good idea, since light might dissuade the Devil from attacking.


If one knows anything about the Pine Barrens, he might know about its demonic resident. Deep in the heart of South Jersey lies a huge span of dark, desolate woods. These trees give off an eerie feeling- as if one is constantly being watched. The plants are so dense it is often times hard to follow a path, and one never knows what kind of wildlife is concealed in the brush. You have no idea where they are, but they know exactly where you are... Herein lurks the Jersey Devil.

The legend of the Jersey Devil has existed for over 265 years, since before the birth of our country. It has terrorized, puzzled, and intrigued New Jersey's population since the 1700's. It is a mystery that has been passed down from generation to generation and still remains unsolved. Two centuries after the legend's origin, we still only have myths, theories, and horrifying recounts of sightings.

So what is the legend? The story begins in 1735 when a Mrs. Leeds of Smithville was pregnant. This was to be her thirteenth child, and Mrs. Leeds was feeling old before her time. As her labor began one stormy night, she cursed the unborn baby during a fit of painful contractions, saying, "Let this child be a devil!" Mrs. Leeds soon forgot her curse when the midwife placed a beautiful baby boy in her arms. Suddenly the baby's body started to mutate, and Mrs. Leeds watched in horror as the baby's face elongated to resemble a bat or horse, and long, dark wings sprouted from his shoulder blades. His legs grew long and thin and his pudgy feet hardened and formed into hoof-like extremities. Fear gripped all in the room as long claws grew from the baby's fingertips and his blue eyes yellowed. The creature before them now showed no resemblance to the baby it had been just moments before its transformation. The cry of an infant in the next room caught the creature’s attention. Rushing to the room, it scooped its baby brother out of his crib, opened its mouth impossibly wide, and swallowed the infant whole. The beast then proceeded to slaughter and devour its remaining brothers and sisters, as well as the midwife. Looking back on its mother, the beast let out an ear-piercing scream and then turned, burst through the roof of the cabin and flew off into the night.

That is the most common and widely accepted version of the legend, however there are several variations to the story. Let's start with the name Leeds. There are two names of the Jersey Devil's mother- Mrs. Leeds and Mrs. Shrouds. Carrie Bowen, a local of Leeds Point, once asserted that the name was Shrouds, and the actual house that the creature was born in was the Shrouds house. According to Atlantic County historian Alfred Heston, both names are possible.
Heston's research showed that both a Daniel Leeds and a Samuel Shrouds lived in Leeds Point around the time of the legend. Heston also discovered that Shrouds had lived directly across the river from the Leeds house. This fact adds to another variation- perhaps the Jersey Devil had been an illegitimate child who was cursed by the townspeople before birth.

The father of the Jersey Devil has always been a disputable topic. Some do not believe that either Mr. Leeds or Mr. Shrouds was the actual father. In fact, they do not believe the Jersey Devil has a human father; they believe the creature to be a product of Satan himself, mixed with human flesh to give it a body.

Another variation of the story of the Jersey Devil's creator is that it was the direct result of a curse from a gypsy. This variation states that Mrs. Leeds/Shrouds had denied food to a starving gypsy, who then placed a curse on the pregnant woman. Still another variation says that Mrs. Leeds/Shrouds could have been involved in witchcraft (there are even reports of a witch trial held around this time period in Mt. Holly, NJ). It is also believed that locals could have cursed the Jersey Devil’s mother because she fell in love with a British soldier, and because of the time period (before revolutionary war) was shunned.

There are also several variations on the events of the Jersey Devil's birth. Some say that the creature was born as a devil and never resembled a human. Other variations also say that before the Jersey Devil flew off into the Pine Barrens, it killed and ate all people present in the cabin. It has also been said that (assuming it did not kill all in the room) the Jersey Devil would return to its home for years and sit perched on a fence. After a while, Mrs. Leeds/Shrouds, not knowing what to do with her deformed child, "shooed" it away, and it never returned.

The other variations of the legend involve the date and location of the birth. Instead of 1735, it has been dated as 1778, 1850, 1855, 1857, 1859, 1873, and 1880 (setting it later in time would disqualify several sightings so 1735 is most widely accepted). The birthplace also differs. Besides the commonly accepted Leeds Point, it has been placed in Estellville, Pleasantville, and Burlington. Leeds Point has remained the most popular birthplace due to the fact that it has a physical supposed birth house out in the middle of the woods.

It is believed that the Jersey Devil may have had a name. Smith J. Leeds is the supposed name of the baby that became the beast. While on an excursion to Leeds Point, I found a gravesite with the name of Smith J. Leeds, belonging to someone who had died within two years of birth. The rumor of the name has never been proven.

Regardless of which legend is believed, all versions have a common result- a winged creature set free to roam the Pine Barrens for the rest of its lifetime. Immediately, the creature decided to do what every baby does, regardless of its species- it decided to explore its surroundings and make itself known.

The Jersey Devil began to roam New Jersey boldly as soon as it was born. Immediately, the Pine Barrens were explored and the residents were terrified. They could not believe their eyes as an unknown winged serpent appeared all around the Pine Barrens, seemingly unaffected by human presence.

The first five years after its birth were so horrific that in 1740 a bold clergyman decided to exorcise the Jersey Devil, banning it from the humans. The people of the Pine Barrens received instant relief as the sightings suddenly ceased. The legend lived on, and was passed down from each generation with a warning that the exorcism would only last for 100 years, and that those who live in the Pine Barrens in the 1840’s should be prepared for the creature’s return.

During the exorcism period, only two sightings were recorded. These two sightings do not contradict the exorcism - it was humans who encountered the beast in the woods, not the beast that found them. In both cases, no harm befell any humans or their possessions.

Both sightings came from highly reputed figures during that time period. The first, which occurred sometime between 1800 and 1820, involved naval hero Commodore Stephan Decatur. Decatur was visiting Hanover Iron Works, where he was testing cannonballs to ensure high quality. One day, while out in the Pine Barrens, Decatur noticed a strange creature flying overhead. He immediately fired a cannonball through the beast, and was shocked when the creature continued flying, completely unaffected by the gigantic hole the cannonball had created through its wing. The second sighting was made by the former King of Spain and brother of Napoleon, Joseph Bonaparte. Joseph Bonaparte resided in Bordentown and believed to have seen the Jersey Devil while hunting between 1816 and 1839.

In both cases, the Jersey Devil did not seek out any human contact. It was merely observed while existing peacefully in the Pine Barrens. The people of New Jersey experienced no strange losses of livestock, and all seemed peaceful and calm during the Jersey Devil’s exorcism. This would all change. In 1840, the Jersey Devil reappeared with a vengeance, right on schedule. The Jersey Devil’s first act was a raid on livestock, and as a result many people lost a large amount of sheep and chickens. 1841 was a continuation of this raid, but this time the Jersey Devil left more evidence - during its livestock theft it screamed chillingly and left unidentifiable tracks. All attempts to locate this creature were unsuccessful.

The return of the Jersey Devil brought panic along, and the residents of the Pine Barrens were once again gripped with fear, just as their ancestors had been 100 years before. In 1858, W.F. Mayer of New York was visiting Hanover Iron Works (the sight where Decatur had seen the creature) and noticed how odd the Pine Barrens residents acted. They seemed constantly nervous and uneasy. When Mayer commented on a storm, one resident mentioned something about seeing a Devil, and was hushed by other residents, fearing that the Devil could be listening. Mayer also noticed that no resident of the Pine Barrens would ever dare to venture outside after dark.

In 1859 the Jersey Devil was seen in Haddonfield, and then remained unseen until the winter of 1873 - 1874, where it was seen periodically in Bridgeton and Long Branch. The creature continued to raid livestock and was believed to "carry off anything that moved". In 1894 the Jersey Devil made appearances throughout New Jersey, visiting Smithville, Long Beach Island, Brigantine Beach, Leeds Point, and Haddonfield.

In 1899 the Jersey Devil raided Vincentown and Burrsville, and then decided to expand its horizons and head for New York. The creature made its first out-of-state appearance in Spring Valley, New York, where a resident was repeatedly losing sheep and hearing "ungodly" screams. At one point, the resident spotted the thief, and described it as a "flying serpent". This resident’s report would be the first Jersey Devil sighting ever to be published in the newspapers.

The creature remained in New York for a brief period, where it was sighted at Hyenga Lake (rumors had it that a strange creature that could fly, swim, and run became a frequent visitor). Eventually, the Jersey Devil decided to return to its home state, but not without leaving strange tracks in New York’s marshes.

By the turn of the century, the Jersey Devil’s existence became a common belief in New Jersey and its bordering states. The people believed that an eerie, supernatural creature lived in the Pine Barrens. The people also believed that the sightings and tales would soon die out, and that the legend of the Jersey Devil had run its course. Soon they would realize that they were sadly mistaken.

The 1900's started off with a major bang for the Jersey Devil legend. In 1909, the largest batch of Jersey Devil sightings ever recorded occurred, in which the Jersey Devil was seen by over 100 people in the time span of a single week. This week, January 16th through January 23rd, has been justly named Phenomenal Week. During this time, a wide range of people throughout the Delaware Valley spotted the winged beast. Some sightings were seen by large groups of people at once; other sightings were made by residents who were awakened in the middle of the night to strange noises in the darkness.

The huge amount of sightings caused New Jersey to enter State of Emergency precautions, with all residents instructed to be in their homes before dark and to secure all animals at night. Newspapers were filled with detailed sighting accounts, although many articles seemed mocking in tone. The people of the area were terrified - especially those living deep in the heart of the Pine Barrens.

The Jersey Devil became New Jersey's Official Demon in the 1930's, recognizing the history of the legend and its importance in New Jersey history. This creature is also the namesake of the state's hockey team, the New Jersey Devils.

During the early 1900's, however, the legend was scarred by the marks of scam artists attempting to make money off of the people's fear. One man in particular went to extremes to create a very elaborate hoax. This man obtained a wild kangaroo, painted stripes on its fur, attached "wings" to its shoulder blades, and kept the creature in a dimly lit cage, charging all curious visitors a fee to take a peek at what he claimed to be the Jersey Devil. When the visitors approached the cage, a man sitting behind the kangaroo (armed with a long stick with a nail in one end) would smack at the creature, causing it to lunge forward and shriek in pain - frightening all who saw. Eventually, the man came clean on his hoax, and since then the Jersey Devil has not been taken as seriously as it had been before.

At one point, the charred remains of a strange creature were found somewhere in the Pine Barrens. These remains were unidentifiable by the Department of Wildlife and Conservation - they had no record of any such creature on file. Some believed these remains were those of the Jersey Devil, and thought the legend was finally put to an end. But once again, the Jersey Devil returned.

In 1951 - 1952, the Jersey Devil came back to New Jersey for the Gibbstown - Paulsboro invasion. This invasion, though on a smaller scale than Phenomenal Week, caused quite a stir in the area and sent many people into a panicked state. Posses were formed, who attempted to track the creature. Yet still no dog would follow its trail, and instead they whimpered and turned away. Because the legend was no longer taken seriously, mass hysteria was blamed for the cause of the uprise. Around this same time, newspapers started refusing any sightings accounts, believing that they were just attempts at gaining recognition and attention. The Jersey Devil legend was beginning to die. Sightings still continued to trickle in, and have remained steady throughout many years. Sightings as recent as this year have been reported. None of the above theories can give a definitive answer to what the Jersey Devil was or is, but the sightings prove there is something out there. The people of New Jersey have definitely seen something out there lurking in the Pine Barrens, and it hungers once again for the taste of flesh and fear…


The Field Guide to North American Monsters: Everything You Need To Know About Encountering Over 100 Terrifying Creatures In The Wild (W. Haden Blackman), pages 83-87 for most of the above information.

Thanks go to Laura K. Leuter for graciously giving me permission to borrow the Legend for the History part from her Devil Hunters website. This is HER work, and it should not be used without her permission. The rest of this research belongs to me.

You may find an excellent article on the Jersey Devil here: The Jersey Devil, by Dr. Bob Curran

Monday, June 20, 2011


The Abiku is a West African demon that tempts children away from home so that it may devour them.

The Abiku has no stomach and eats constantly, but it will never know true satisfaction. It is able to dissolve itself into a cloud of smoke, and the demon uses this ability to gain entry into houses in order to feed on newborns.

Some legends seem to indicate that the Abiku is a vampiric spirit that feeds on the lifeforce of living brings (whether that be humans or animals), which usually kills the victim. The Abiku may be banished or repelled by iron, salt, amulets (forged of iron, copper, or silver), or greater spirits.


The Pisacha (literally "eater of raw flesh") is a ghoulish demon from Hindu mythology. These spirits are known to haunt cremation grounds, and in addition to possessing the power of shapeshifting at will and the ability to become invisible, the Pisacha are able to possess humans and drive them into insanity.

These demons are voracious flesh-eating ghouls that are caught in a limbo between Heaven and Hell, unable to redeem themselves for the terrible sins that they committed during their life. The Pisacha can be killed with a blessed sword (by either decapitation or thrusting the sword through the ghoul's heart), but it is said that their spirits will haunt the area forever, unless their presence is dispelled by certain, unspecified means (possibly a complicated ritual).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lilith - The Demon Queen

The Queen of Demons and Vampires, Lilith originated from the Hebrew Bible. However, the initial concept of such a demon goes much, much further back to an Assyrian demon known as Lilitu. This demoness is sexually insatiable, prowling the night in search of men to seduce and corrupt. According to the Hebrew creation story, Lilith was Adam's first wife, created from the same dust to be his equal. But they found that they soon had problems, to say the least. Lilith refused to submit to Adam, wanting to be in the dominant position (in other words, on top) while they made love. Adam refused to allow this, so Lilith fled and hid herself in a cave by the Red Sea. There, she engaged in intercourse with demons, giving birth to one hundred demons a day. These demons are known as the Lilin. At Adam's request, God sent three angels to bring her back, and not only did Lilith refuse, but she cursed at them. The angels warned her that they would slay one hundred of her unholy offspring each day if she didn't cooperate. In retaliation, Lilith vowed that not only would she never again resume a domestic lifestyle, but would henceforth drink the blood of newborn children and copulate with men whilst they slept. She did agree, however, that she would spare the life of any infant that had the names of the three angels (Sanvi, Sansanvi, and Semangelef) written where she could see them (this could be inscribed on a wall or engraved into an amulet).

It is said that parents may also protect their children by inscribing the words "Adam and Eve, barring Lilith" within a charcoal circle, drawn on a wall. There are two biblical verses that refer to Lilith. One may be found in the Book of Isaiah, who speaks of "the night hag," who dwells in the wild with the beasts. In Psalms 91:5, God promises to protect His children from "the terror by night."

It is believed that Lilith is almost as old as Satan himself, and that she cannot be slain by mere human hands alone. However, there are ways to ward off and banish the demoness. A circle of pure sea salt (or any salt that does not contain any impurities) will keep her at bay, as will pure iron that has been hammered cold, without the use of a forge or heat (such an object might inflict some degree of harm on Lilith).

According to an ancient Aramaic text (Aramaic being the language that was spoken by Jesus Christ), when a writ of divorce is served on her and she is commanded to go forth stripped, her power is taken from her. Forcing Lilith to stand in front of a mirror will deprive her of the illusion that disguises her. Her hideous true form will be revealed, and the demoness will be forced to flee. As mentioned in passing previously, an amulet that is inscribed with the names of the three angels (Sanvi, Sansanvi, and Semangelef) will protect an individual from her attentions. The names should be inscribed in Hebrew for maximum effectiveness. It is said that this method has yet to fail. Either way, beware of this whore of the night.


Illes, Judika. Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright ©2009 by Judika Illes.

The Revenant

"It would not be easy to believe that the corpses of the dead should sally (I know not by what agency) from their graves, and should wander about to the terror or destruction of the living, and again return to the tomb, which of its own accord spontaneously opened to receive them, suffice to establish this fact, to the truth of which there is abundant testimony.”
-William of Newburgh, Historia rerum Anglicarum (circa 1199-1201 A.D.).

Since the dawn of mankind, people have held a certain degree of reverence for the dead. However, with that reverence comes fear: the fear of the dead returning to life. This belief may go as far back as the Neanderthals, who may have been the first human species to bury their dead. It is known that these early humans bound their dead into a fetal position with leather strips, and heavy stones were often piled on top of the gravesite. This was obviously to keep scavengers from digging up the corpse and eating it, but it also served another purpose: to keep the dead from rising. Since that time, most modern burial practices have evolved from precautions designed to prevent the dead from returning to life to torment the living. These creatures are known as revenants, the returning dead.

The word revenant is a sort of catch-all term for all members of the Undead. However, it is a species of the Undead unto itself. These creatures are rotting and vengeful, craving their righteous revenge against those who may have originally killed the creature while it still lived, or for wrongs committed against the creature during its life (whether those wrongs are real or perceived).

There are numerous names for those creatures that return from the grave after having died, and it is known as the Returning Dead, Taxim (Eastern Europe), Krvoijac, Craquehhe. The term revenant itself can be used to refer to any form of the Undead, whether it is a vampire, a ghost, or a zombie. The word English word revenant comes from the French revenir, “to come back”, and the Latin revenans, “to return”. Therefore, a Revenant is a once-living human that has returned from the dead.

The Revenant and it's various subspecies (one of which Vampires may be considered) can be found all over the world, in one form or another. The Revenant tends to haunt sites that were important or held some significance to it in life, but the creature has been known to haunt people that betrayed, wronged, or even caused the Revenant’s death. In other words, this creature is not strictly limited to graveyards, mausoleums, tombs, crypts, or other places of death where the Undead usually dwell. However, the Revenant discussed here has mainly been encountered in the British Isles.

The Revenant requires neither food nor drink of any sort, since the creature is technically dead in the first place. However, there have been exceptions when the Revenant has been known to prey on human flesh or blood (causing people to identify the Revenant with the Vampire), or even eating and drinking normally. A Revenant that has arisen from a desecrated gravesite is far more likely to be vampiric than others of it's kind. However, rest assured that the Revenant only craves one thing: vengeance. It will not stop until its prey is dead or the wrongs (real or perceived) have been righted.

Having recently arisen from the grave, the Revenant usually has the appearance of a corpse in an advanced state of decay, but still somewhat recognizable to those it knew in life. The creature has sunken eyes, which glow a fiery red in the darkness. Upon death, the creature's teeth lengthen and deform, giving the monster a mouthful of jagged teeth with which to tear flesh. The fingernails also became longer, but are most often cracked and dirty with jagged edges. Large portions of flesh may be missing, exposing the creature’s bones and innards. The skin tends to hang from the flesh in ragged strips, while maggots and worms infest the exposed flesh, the eye sockets, and other bodily orifices. The Revenant reeks of corruption and rotting flesh, and the creature can be detected from several yards away just by its smell alone. The Revenant is usually wearing its burial shroud or whatever clothes it was wearing when the individual was interred, now it tatters from clawing its way out of the grave.

The Revenant is dangerously obsessed with gaining its vengeance on those who wronged it while it was still living or caused the creature’s death. There have been some accounts of this creature being benevolent and protective of its loved ones, seeking only to prove its innocence of the crime of which it was wrongfully accused, or to complete some pressingly important task. However, this is extremely rare in lore and legend. The Revenant is single-minded and relentless in its pursuit of the one that wronged, betrayed, or even murdered the Revenant while it was alive. Rest assured, this creature will hunt down and dispense the justice that it feels the wrongdoer deserves, which usually means killing the unfortunate (but usually well-deserving) individual. Once in a great while, the Revenant will take up its own case, investigating the circumstances surrounding its death, and instigating a retrial until it is proven innocent or the killer is given justice. Again, this is extremely rare. Usually, the Revenant doesn’t interact with the living, unless someone is stupid enough to stand in it's way. If cornered, it will fight to the death. It knows that, wherever the traitor hides, it will find them eventually and take the revenge that it craves. At this point, the Revenant will return to its grave, never to rise again.

The Revenant is a deadly adversary, despite not being as powerful as some other species of the Undead. The Revenant is a vicious monster, possessing supernatural strength, speed, and endurance. It will fight to the death, or at least until the creature is destroyed. In addition, some legends say that the Revenant is a shapeshifter, taking the form of a great hound (although this is a rarity). The creature’s rotting visage inspires mortal terror in the living, causing lasting psychological damage and horrifying nightmares, which continue for years to come (if not for the rest of the unfortunate individual’s life). The Revenant’s decaying flesh and fetid breath are capable of inflicting a terrible disease, causing those infected to waste away and die within a few days’ time. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the Revenant is that the creature has the ability to withstand enormous amounts of damage to its body, often without so much as flinching. It takes on an incredible amount of damage, far beyond what could kill a mortal man. Even dealing grievous wounds to the creature won’t keep it down for long.

Although it is physically powerful and utterly relentless in pursuit of it's prey, the Revenant does have several weaknesses. Unlike most of the Undead, conventional weapons are capable of harming the Revenant. However, as mentioned earlier, the creature is unable to feel pain and can withstand injuries that would permanently incapacitate or even kill a human. Only a white-hot blaze can put the creature to rest forever (and save its chosen victim). For the most part, the Revenant cannot be repelled by holding a holy icon in its path, the only exception being if the creature was a deeply religious individual in life. It is unknown if the Revenant is adversely affected by silver or holy water, although it certainly seems possible.

Because the Revenant is nigh-unstoppable, anything short of decapitation or complete incineration will only slow the creature down. But unlike most other species of the undead, the Revenant can be harmed by ordinary weapons like firearms or knives. It takes a nearly unimaginable amount of damage to bring the creature down, but if left alone, it won't stay that way. So, in order to keep the creature from coming back again, the body must be beheaded and the body burnt to ashes (which must then be scattered). Dismemberment works well for this particular purpose, too.

A less extreme method of keeping a Revenant down is staking the creature to it's grave. A long stake, two to three feet in length and made of iron, steel, or hardwood, should be driven through the chest (not necessarily the heart) or the stomach. This should pin the creature down to the earth, and will hopefully impede the creature from attempting to rise again. There is a symbolic, almost metaphysical to this otherwise unsavory act as well: by forcing the Revenant back into contact with the earth, the natural forces of decomposition will (hopefully) catch up with the creature, rendering the monstrosity inert and harmless. But, to make sure that the creature stays dead and buried, it may be a good idea to behead the Revenant. The head should then be tucked under one of the arms or placed facedown in between the legs.

Other methods of dealing with a Revenant includes the grisly practice of excising (cutting out) the heart. The heart should be burned until only ashes remain. Some tales prescribe boiling the heart in wine. But destroying the heart is never guaranteed to work. Only by burning the creature to ashes can one ever be sure of having destroyed the creature.

Every culture has its legends of creatures that rise from the dead to prey upon the living. These creatures are known as revenants, the returning dead. Although any type of the undead may be referred to as a revenant, the creature discussed here is said to dwell on the British Isles, where it is known as the Revenant. There are a great deal of cases of the returned dead in Britain, and most of them were recorded by William of Newburgh (circa 1137-1199). In his book Historia rerum Anglicarum (A History of English Affairs), Chapter 22: Of the prodigy of the dead man, who wandered about after burial, he writes:

In these days a wonderful event befell in the county of Buckingham, which I, in the first instance, partially heard from certain friends, and was afterwards more fully informed of by Stephen, the venerable archdeacon of that province. A certain man died, and, according to custom, by the honorable exertion of his wife arid kindred, was laid in the tomb on the eve of the Lord's Ascension. On the following night, however, having entered the bed where his wife was reposing, he not only terrified her on awaking, but nearly crushed her by the insupportable weight of his body. The next night, also, he afflicted the astonished woman in the same manner, who, frightened at the danger, as the struggle of the third night drew near, took care to remain awake herself, and surround herself with watchful companions. Still he came; but being repulsed by the shouts of the watchers, and seeing that he was prevented from doing mischief, he departed. Thus driven off from his wife, he harassed in a similar manner his own brothers, who were dwelling in the same street; but they, following the cautious example of the woman, passed the nights in wakefulness with their companions, ready to meet and repel the expected danger. He appeared, notwithstanding, as if with the hope of surprising them should they be overcome with drowsiness; but being repelled by the carefulness and valor of the watchers, he rioted among the animals, both indoors and outdoors, as their wildness and unwonted movements testified.

Having thus become a like serious nuisance to his friends and neighbors, he imposed upon all the same necessity for nocturnal watchfulness; and in that very street a general watch was kept in every house, each being fearful of his approach unawares. After having for some time rioted in this manner during the night-time alone, he began to wander abroad in daylight, formidable indeed to all, but visible only to a few; for oftentimes, on his encountering a number of persons, he would appear to one or two only though at the same time his presence was not concealed from the rest. At length the inhabitants, alarmed beyond measure, thought it advisable to seek counsel of the church; and they detailed the whole affair, with tearful lamentation, to the above-mentioned archdeacon, at a meeting of the clergy over which he was solemnly presiding. Whereupon he immediately intimated in writing the whole circumstances of the case to the venerable bishop of Lincoln, who was then resident in London, whose opinion and judgment on so unwonted a matter he was very properly of opinion should be waited for: but the bishop, being amazed at his account, held a searching investigation with his companions; and there were some who said that such things had often befallen in England, and cited frequent examples to show that tranquility could not be restored to the people until the body of this most wretched man were dug up and burnt. This proceeding, however, appeared indecent and improper in the last degree to the reverend bishop, who shortly after addressed a letter of absolution, written with his own hand, to the archdeacon, in order that it might be demonstrated by inspection in what state the body of that man really was; and he commanded his tomb to be opened, and the letter having been laid upon his breast, to be again closed: so the sepulcher having been opened, the corpse was found as it had been placed there, and the charter of absolution having been deposited upon its breast, and the tomb once more closed, he was thenceforth never more seen to wander, nor permitted to inflict annoyance or terror upon any one.

William tells of a similar occurrence in Berwick (most often called the “Berwick Vampire”) in Chapter 23: Of a similar occurrence at Berwick, he says:

In the northern parts of England, also, we know that another event, not unlike this and equally wonderful, happened about the same time. At the mouth of the river Tweed, and in the jurisdiction of the king of Scotland, there stands a noble city which is called Berwick. In this town a certain man, very wealthy, but as it afterwards appeared a great rogue, having been buried, after his death sallied forth (by the contrivance, as it is believed, of Satan) out of his grave by night, and was borne hither and thither, pursued by a pack of dogs with loud barkings; thus striking great terror into the neighbors, and returning to his tomb before daylight. After this had continued for several days, and no one dared to be found out of doors after dusk -- for each dreaded an encounter with this deadly monster -- the higher and middle classes of the people held a necessary investigation into what was requisite to he done; the more simple among them fearing, in the event of negligence, to be soundly beaten by this prodigy of the grave; but the wiser shrewdly concluding that were a remedy further delayed, the atmosphere, infected and corrupted by the constant whirlings through it of the pestiferous corpse, would engender disease and death to a great extent; the necessity of providing against which was shown by frequent examples in similar cases. They, therefore, procured ten young men renowned for boldness, who were to dig up the horrible carcass, and, having cut it limb from limb, reduce it into food and fuel for the flames. When this was done, the commotion ceased. Moreover, it is stated that the monster, while it was being borne about (as it is said) by Satan, had told certain persons whom it had by chance encountered, that as long as it remained unburned the people should have no peace. Being burnt, tranquility appeared to be restored to them; but a pestilence, which arose in consequence, carried off the greater portion of them: for never did it so furiously rage elsewhere, though it was at that time general throughout all the borders of England, as shall be more fully explained in its proper place.

Finally, William recounts what is now considered to be a classic case of a revenant in Chapter 24: Of certain prodigies, in which he recounts:

It would not be easy to believe that the corpses of the dead should sally (I know not by what agency) from their graves, and should wander about to the terror or destruction of the living, and again return to the tomb, which of its own accord spontaneously opened to receive them, did not frequent examples, occurring in our own times, suffice to establish this fact, to the truth of which there is abundant testimony. It would be strange if such things should have happened formerly, since we can find no evidence of them in the works of ancient authors, whose vast labor it was to commit to writing every occurrence worthy of memory; for if they never neglected to register even events of moderate interest, how could they have suppressed a fact at once so amazing and horrible, supposing it to have happened in their day? Moreover, were I to write down all the instances of this kind which I have ascertained to have befallen in our times, the undertaking would be beyond measure laborious and troublesome; so I will fain add two more only (and these of recent occurrence) to those I have already narrated, and insert them in our history, as occasion offers, as a warning to posterity.

A few years ago the chaplain of a certain illustrious lady, casting off mortality, was consigned to the tomb in that noble monastery which is called Melrose. This man, having little respect for the sacred order to which he belonged, was excessively secular in his pursuits, and -- what especially blackens his reputation as a minister of the holy sacrament -- so addicted to the vanity of the chase as to be designated by many by the infamous title of "Hundeprest," or the dog-priest; and this occupation, during his lifetime, was either laughed at by men, or considered in a worldly view; but after his death -- as the event showed -- the guiltiness of it was brought to light: for, issuing from the grave at night-time, he was prevented by the meritorious resistance of its holy inmates from injuring or terrifying any one with in the monastery itself; whereupon he wandered beyond the walls, and hovered chiefly, with loud groans and horrible murmurs, round the bedchamber of his former mistress. She, after this had frequently occurred, becoming exceedingly terrified, revealed her fears or danger to one of the friars who visited her about the business of the monastery; demanding with tears that prayers more earnest than usual should be poured out to the Lord in her behalf as for one in agony. With whose anxiety the friar -- for she appeared deserving of the best endeavors, on the part of the holy convent of that place, by her frequent donations to it -- piously and justly sympathized, and promised a speedy remedy through the mercy of the Most High Provider for all.

Thereupon, returning to the monastery, he obtained the companionship of another friar, of equally determined spirit, and two powerful young men, with whom he intended with constant vigilance to keep guard over the cemetery where that miserable priest lay buried. These four, therefore, furnished with arms and animated with courage, passed the night in that place, safe in the assistance which each afforded to the other. Midnight had now passed by, and no monster appeared; upon which it came to pass that three of the party, leaving him only who had sought their company on the spot, departed into the nearest house, for the purpose, as they averred, of warming themselves, for the night was cold. As soon as this man was left alone in this place, the devil, imagining that he had found the right moment for breaking his courage, incontinently roused up his own chosen vessel, who appeared to have reposed longer than usual. Having beheld this from afar, he grew stiff with terror by reason of his being alone; but soon recovering his courage, and no place of refuge being at hand, he valiantly withstood the onset of the fiend, who came rushing upon him with a terrible noise, and he struck the axe which he wielded in his hand deep into his body. On receiving this wound, the monster groaned aloud, and turning his back, fled with a rapidity not at all interior to that with which he had advanced, while the admirable man urged his flying foe from behind, and compelled him to seek his own tomb again; which opening of its own accord, and receiving its guest from the advance of the pursuer, immediately appeared to close again with the same facility. In the meantime, they who, impatient of the coldness of the night, had retreated to the fire ran up, though somewhat too late, and, having heard what had happened, rendered needful assistance in digging up and removing from the midst of the tomb the accursed corpse at the earliest dawn. When they had divested it of the clay cast forth with it, they found the huge wound it had received, and a great quantity of gore which had flowed from it in the sepulchre; and so having carried it away beyond the walls of the monastery and burnt it, they scattered the ashes to the winds. These things I have explained in a simple narration, as I myself heard them recounted by religious men.

Another event, also, not unlike this, but more pernicious in its effects, happened at the castle which is called Anantis, as I have heard from an aged monk who lived in honor and authority in those parts, and who related this event as having occurred in his own presence. A certain man of evil conduct flying, through fear of his enemies or the law, out of the province of York, to the lord of the before-named castle, took up his abode there, and having cast upon a service befitting his humor, labored hard to increase rather than correct his own evil propensities. He married a wife, to his own ruin indeed, as it afterwards appeared; for, hearing certain rumors respecting her, he was vexed with the spirit of Jealousy. Anxious to ascertain the truth of these reports, he pretended to be going on a journey from which he would not return for some days; but coming back in the evening, he was privily introduced into his bedroom by a maid-servant, who was in the secret, and lay hidden on a beam overhanging, his wife's chamber, that he might prove with his own eyes if anything were done to the dishonor of his marriage-bed. Thereupon beholding his wife in the act of fornication with a young man of the neighborhood, and in his indignation forgetful of his purpose, he fell, and was dashed heavily to the ground, near where they were lying.

The adulterer himself leaped up and escaped; but the wife, cunningly dissembling the fact, busied herself in gently raising her fallen husband from the earth. As soon as he had partially recovered, he upbraided her with her adultery, and threatened punishment; but she answering, "Explain yourself, my lord," said she; "you are speaking unbecomingly which must be imputed not to you, but to the sickness with which you are troubled." Being much shaken by the fall, and his whole body stupefied, he was attacked with a disease, insomuch that the man whom I have mentioned as having related these facts to me visiting him in the pious discharge of his duties, admonished him to make confession of his sins, and receive the Christian Eucharist in proper form: but as he was occupied in thinking about what had happened to him, and what his wife had said, put off the wholesome advice until the morrow -- that morrow which in this world he was fated never to behold! -- for the next night, destitute of Christian grace, and a prey to his well-earned misfortunes, he shared the deep slumber of death. A Christian burial, indeed, he received, though unworthy of it; but it did not much benefit him: for issuing, by the handiwork of Satan, from his grave at night-time, and pursued by a pack of dogs with horrible barkings, he wandered through the courts and around the houses while all men made fast their doors, and did not dare to go abroad on any errand whatever from the beginning of the night until the sunrise, for fear of meeting and being beaten black and blue by this vagrant monster. But those precautions were of no avail ; for the atmosphere, poisoned by the vagaries of this foul carcass, filled every house with disease and death by its pestiferous breath.

Already did the town, which but a short time ago was populous, appear almost deserted; while those of its inhabitants who had escaped destruction migrated to other parts of the country, lest they too should die. The man from whose mouth I heard these things, sorrowing over this desolation of his parish, applied himself to summon a meeting of wise and religious men on that sacred day which is called Palm Sunday, in order that they might impart healthful counsel in so great a dilemma, and refresh the spirits of the miserable remnant of the people with consolation, however imperfect. Having delivered a discourse to the inhabitants, after the solemn ceremonies of the holy day had been properly performed, he invited his clerical guests, together with the other persons of honor who were present, to his table. While they were thus banqueting, two young men (brothers), who had lost their father by this plague, mutually encouraging one another, said, "This monster has already destroyed our father, and will speedily destroy us also, unless we take steps to prevent it. Let us, therefore, do some bold action which will at once ensure our own safety and revenge our father's death. There is no one to hinder us; for in the priest's house a feast is in progress, and the whole town is as silent as if deserted. Let us dig up this baneful pest, and burn it with fire."

Thereupon snatching up a spade of but indifferent sharpness of edge, and hastening to the cemetery, they began to dig; and whilst they were thinking that they would have to dig to a greater depth, they suddenly, before much of the earth had been removed, laid bare the corpse, swollen to an enormous corpulence, with its countenance beyond measure turgid and suffused with blood; while the napkin in which it had been wrapped appeared nearly torn to pieces. The young men, however, spurred on by wrath, feared not, and inflicted a wound upon the senseless carcass, out of which incontinently flowed such a stream of blood, that it might have been taken for a leech filled with the blood of many persons. Then, dragging it beyond the village, they speedily constructed a funeral pile; and upon one of them saying that the pestilential body would not burn unless its heart were torn out, the other laid open its side by repeated blows of the blunted spade, and, thrusting in his hand, dragged out the accursed heart. This being torn piecemeal, and the body now consigned to the flames, it was announced to the guests what was going on, who, running thither, enabled themselves to testify henceforth to the circumstances. When that infernal hell-hound had thus been destroyed, the pestilence which was rife among the people ceased, as if the air, which had been corrupted by the contagious motions of the dreadful corpse, were already purified by the fire which had consumed it. These facts having been thus expounded, let us return to the regular thread of history.

How does one become a Revenant? According to folklore, there are many different ways to become one of the Undead. Some of the more common reasons for rising from the grave include: improper burial, no burial at all, improper handling of the deceased’s body, jealously of the living, a curse, unrest due to sin or unfinished business, or suicide. Some of the lesser-known reasons are more sinister in nature. More often, the Revenant is created when an individual is greatly wronged before death and rises from the grave to seek vengeance. For instance, a man is murdered on the street for no apparent reason. After burial, he rises again from the grave as one of the living dead to avenge himself on his murderer. However, how one is “wronged” depends on an individual’s point of view. A criminal who is fairly tried by a jury and is legally executed may still rise from the dead. In this case, revenge is the trigger of undeath.

The Revenant may arise when an individual who has led a sinful or wicked life dies. Such a person may be described vain, wicked, or having no faith in God. Cursed by the Almighty, this individual is doomed to rise from the grave as one of the undead to feed upon the living. When this happens, an evil spirit takes possession of the body, forcing out any of the original person’s remaining personality. The Revenant may retain its memories from life, but there is no emotional attachment to these memories whatsoever. The evil spirit inhabiting the corpse is able to gain access to these memories and force the corpse to speak and act like the individual did during his lifetime, deceiving both friends and loved ones. The Revenant uses the memories for hunting, utilizing the knowledge of former friends, family, and locations as part of its strategies in obtaining prey. It then proceeds to slake its thirst for blood on the unfortunate, draining them of every last drop.

Fortunately, the Revenant doesn’t last forever. At most, the creature may endure for a few decades. The people that the creature seeks vengeance on may die of natural causes, while the ones who knew and loved the individual in life may stop thinking about them. This causes the animating force to wane and eventually dissipate altogether. When the Revenant’s revenge is complete, or the rest of the creature’s natural lifespan is exceeded, the Revenant either seeks out its grave and collapses, or it may just simply collapse into a pile of rotting meat on the spot.

It cannot be emphasized enough that a Revenant is relentless, and nearly indestructible. This makes the monster extremely dangerous, and not something that the everyday working man would want to deal with. While revenants are indeed rare in modern times, that doesn't mean that it can't still happen.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank my very good friend Anthony Hogg for his helping me to find the dates and quotes for the William of Newburgh parts of this. Anthony and I have been friends since 2011, and he has helped me out on numerous occasions. But he's still trying to get the notion that Vampires don't have fangs out of my head!


Brown, Nathan Robert. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Zombies. New York: Alpha Books. Copyright ©2010 by Nathan Robert Brown.

Carlin, Emily. Defense Against the Dark: A Field Guide to Protecting Yourself from Predatory Spirits, Energy Vampires, and Malevolent Magick. Pompton Plains, NJ: The Career Press, Inc. Copyright ©2011 by Emily Carlin.

Curran, Dr. Bob. Encyclopedia of the Undead: A Field Guide to the Creatures That Cannot Rest in Peace. Franklin Lakes, New Jersey: The Career Press, Inc. Copyright ©2006 by Dr. Bob Curran.

Lecouteaux, Claude. The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International. Copyright ©2009 by Inner Traditions International.

Maberry, Jonathan. Vampire Universe. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp. Copyright ©2006 by Jonathan Maberry.

Maberry, Jonathan. The Vampire Slayer's Field Guide to the Undead. Canada: Strider Nolan Publishing, Inc. Copyright ©2003 by Jonathan Maberry.

McCullough, Joseph A. Zombies: A Hunter's Guide. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. Copyright ©2010 Joseph McCullough.

Norgate, Kate. "The Date of Composition of William of Newburgh's History." English Historical Review 19.74 (1904): 288-297.

Punch, Sean M. GURPS Undead. Steve Jackson Games. Copyright ©2002 by Steve Jackson Games.

Historia Rerum Anglicarum, Willam of Newburgh: Book Five

Djinn (Genies)

The Djinn is a powerful demon from Arabic legend, created by God from smokeless fire. This is the same being from whence the Western wish-granting Genie is derived. These spirits were created before humans, so it is really no surprise that the Djinn feel extremely resentful of the earth's usurpation by mankind. Usually invisible, the Djinn are powerful shapeshifters that are able to change into and manifest themselves multitude of forms. Each individual Djinn is different, and they vary greatly in terms of both power and temperament.

The Djinn are spirits of darkness, and are primarily nocturnal (sleeping during the day and venturing forth by night), haunting cemeteries, ancient ruins, and crossroads. However, some may be found in the vicinity of slaughterhouses, as the Djinn find fresh blood to be very appealing.

The Djinn is known to inhabit the thresholds of houses, and may strike out at those who disturb their rest. The attack causes disease, stroke, or paralysis. These ailments resist medical treatment, and usually only magic or shamanic healing is used. They desire and love heat, preferring to live in arid deserts for that very same reason. Not surprisingly, the Djinn despise the cold.

The Djinn, like most spirits, hate salt, but the spirit also fears iron and steel. The Djinn dislikes noisy and crowded places (although, on the contradictory other hand, the Djinn is a curious sort of spirit and will often take part in fairs, festivals, and other social events). Lastly, the Djinn enjoy telling stories, and can be lured out of hiding or pacified by exciting tales of suspense. However, despite their reputations, the Djinn have a code of honor, and even the most temperamental of these spirits will honor a promise or a vow. These spirits appreciate respectful behavior and will return any favors done for them.


Illes, Judika. Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright ©2009 by Judika Illes.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Review: Werewolves (2011), by Zachary Graves

After having pre-ordered this title in November 2010 (along with Rosemary Ellen Guiley's upcoming book The Encyclopedia of Vampires and Werewolves, Second Edition), I waited for months for this title to be released. At first, I feared it would be late coming out, but it was released (and shipped) on Friday 5/20/2011. On Monday the 23rd, at 5:30pm, the UPS drove up my street, walked up to my front door, and handed me the package. I know this because I was sitting on the living room couch, waiting for two and a half hours.

Anyways, on to the book itself. I was half-expecting it to be full of misconceptions like the previous book Zombies: The Complete Guide to the World of the Living Dead (which was still very entertaining and informative, but also stated that Romero Zombies ate brains exclusively, which they do not). From the reading that I have done thus far, this promises to be very valuable to my research, as well as a fun way to pass the time. Half of this book is about the Werewolf in folklore and legend, while the other half focuses on Werewolves in fiction and the movies (including a few entries on serial killers with wolflike characteristics). The book includes an index, but unfortunately doesn't include a bibliography. But overall, this book is a very informative and educational work. I myself learned some things that I hadn't known previously. I would recommend it to all those who share my passion for the supernatural and the unexplained.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Dwayyo: Werewolf of the Northeast, by Rev. Robin Swope

Robin Swope, Pittsburgh Paranormal Examiner

Last year, while attending the MAP-con paranormal convention in Sharpsville PA, I was amazed by hearing stories of a group series of werewolf sightings by youths who were swimming in the Shenango Valley River in the late 1970s. For a series of months teens saw a hairy wolf like creature along the shores of the river as they tried to enjoy the recreation during their summer vacation.

I was amazed, I was unaware that there were such incidents in our neck of the Northeast. But the Northeastern United States does have its share of Lycanthrope sightings. A recent e-mail made me delve into research about one such creature sighted in nearby Maryland. A creature called the Dwayyo.

According to ‘Aubrey’, she was driving her old Subaru on Coxey Brown Road near Myersville, Maryland late in the summer of 2009 when she had an eerie feeling.  It was as if she was being watched. The road was lined with trees, she was on the outer edge of Gambrill State Park, and the forest was beginning to grow thicker. According to her, as she turned on Hawbottom Road, where her friend lived, the feeling became overwhelming. The hairs on the back of her neck rose in terror as she sensed the unseen eyes upon her. She wanted to stop the car and take her breath, she was afraid that she would veer off the road and hit a tree because she her nerves were getting so unsteady that she began to shake. But she knew that whatever was watching her, and following her was out there, and she took what little comfort she had by being safer inside her rust rotted car. Still, to prevent a wreck, she slowed down as she headed south, and that was when she saw the creature.

At first it was a blur to the right of her periphery vision. Something that was moving through the trees, a shadow that flickered as it went in and out of sight on the edge of her vision. It was a brown smear of color that popped out in contrast to the dull dark grey trees that she passed.

Whatever it was, it bobbed through the underbrush and between the trees to keep pace with her car. She thinks at the time, she was going around 25 miles per hour. She then slowed down once more to take a good look to her right, and make sure that she was not seeing things. As her car slowed to a crawl, the brown blurry smear of color seemed to bound out of the woods closer to the road. With a massive leap the hazy color became flesh as a huge dog-like animal on two legs emerged from the foliage.

The fangs, Aubrey wrote, are burned into her memory. Huge fangs from a mouth grimaced in anger and hate. She could feel the fangs as if they were ripping her skin while the creature stood there panting on the side of the road. Drool dripped from its huge mouth as she heard a loud growl, and she looked into the dark eyes. Darkness took up its entire eye, there was no white at all. It was if she was staring death and hell head on in dizzying madness.

Then it leaped, arms outstretched with claws grasping the wind. Instinctively Aubrey stepped on her gas pedal with all her might. The squeal of her tires seemed as if her car too was screaming in horror at the thing that emerged from the dark looming forest.

She did not look back. She didn’t want to know if the thing was following her. She didn’t feel the eyes upon her anymore. She was too shaken to really feel anything at all. When she made it to her friends house, she sat in the driveway shaking as she looked around to make sure the creature had not followed her there. The house was also in the woods, at the opposite side of the State Park. When she felt safe, she made a mad dash for her friend’s door, and banged on it frantically.

He did not know what to make of her story. Aubrey knew he did not believe her. He had lived in the woods all his life, and had never encountered what she had seen. He assured her that it must have just been a dog, perhaps a rabid one at that. Her mind was playing tricks on her. But the young woman knew what she had seen that late summer day. It was no dog. It was something out of a horror movie come to life before her eyes. Though she told nobody what she felt it really was, she called it a werewolf. That is until after she did some research in the local college library and came up with the name that others had called it when they too saw the forest come alive. She had encountered the Dwayyo.

The Dwayyo is a large wolflike bipedal creature that has been reported primarily in West Middletown Maryland. The creature had first come to prominence in the mind of the local population after a story ran in the local paper, the Fredrick News Post in late November of 1965. Reporter George May wrote in the article, “ Mysterious Dwayyo Loose in County ” that a young man, named anonymously as ‘John Becker’ heard a strange noise in his backyard which was situated on the outskirts of Gambrill State Park. Upon going out to investigate the noise he initially saw nothing, so he headed back in. It was then that he caught site of the creature. Something was moving toward him in the dark, Becker was quoted that “It was as big as a bear, had long black hair, a bushy tail, and growled like a wolf or dog in anger.” The thing quickly moved toward him on its hind legs and began to attack him.  He fought off the creature and drove it back into the woods, later calling police to report the incident.

According to other sources, this was not the first sighting of the legendary creature.

In the 1890s, a local farmer reported seeing a doglike creature 9 feet tall at Camp Greentop near Sabillasville, Maryland.

The first mention of the name ‘Dwayyo’ comes from a sighting in 1944 from an area in Carroll County Maryland. Witnesses heard the creature make ‘frightful screams’ and there were footprints attesting to the claims of the sighting.

But it was in late 1965 and early 1966 that the creature made headlines by being sighted across the area frequently. The first was the incident reported by Mr. Becker. The Fredrick Post reported in Early December that it had received numerous calls to report sightings of the creature, so many that the initial reporter George May was issued a hunting license for the creature by the County Treasurers office and rallied a ‘call to arms’ in the December 8, 1965 article, “ Dwayyo Hunt Tonight ”.  The hunt must have been a bust, since Mr. May wrote a follow up article the next day called, “ Dwayyo Hunt Flops ”. There were also many reports of the creature being sighted in early December at the nearby University of Maryland. Later in the summer of 1966, the creature was again sighted on the outskirts of Gambrill State Park. A man only referred to as ‘Jim A.’ encountered the Dwayyo as he was heading toward a camp site. It was described as a shaggy two legged creature the size of a deer that had a triangle shapped head with pointed ears and chin. It was dark brown in color and when approached it made a horrid scream and backed away from the man. Jim described it as having an odd walk as it retreated, it’s legs, “stuck out from the side of the trunk of the body making its movements appear almost spider-like as it backed away”.

In the late fall of 1976 another sighting of the Dwayyo took place in Fredrick County near Thurmont  between Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain National Park. Two men drove off route 77 and unto a private road so they could ‘spot deer’ by their headlights in order to see how thick the native population had become before deer season. To their surprise, they did not catch a deer in their lights but instead a large animal rn across the front of their car. They described the creature as, “ at least 6 ft tall but inclined forward since it was moving quickly. Its head was fairly large and similar to the profile of a wolf. The body was covered in brown or brindle colored fur but the lower half had a striped pattern of noticeable darker and lighter banding. The forelegs (or arms) were slimmer and held out in front as it moved. The back legs were very muscled and thick similar to perhaps a kangaroo. This was not a hominoid type creature; it did not have the characteristics of an ape. It was much more similar to a wolf or ferocious dog however it was definitely moving upright and appeared to be adapted for that type of mobility. I was particularly impressed by the size and strength of the back legs, the stripes on the lower half of the body and the canine-wolf-like head. ”

It was in this same vicinity where the next sighting took place but two years later, in 1978 by two park rangers near the CunninghamFallsarea where they encountered “a large hairy creature running on two legs”.

According to local authorities there are always rumors of the creature being sighted in the State Parks surrounding FredrickCounty, but few are willing to come forward to make a formal report because they are afraid of ridicule or doubts of their sanity. Aubrey was one of those. Even though the encounter was one of the most horrifying things she had ever encountered, the fear of what others will think of her because of what she saw is even greater. She vows that the creature she saw on Hawbottom Roadwill not take any thing else from her life. “The Dwayyo has taken enough”

Thanks go to Pastor Robin Swope (the Paranormal Pastor) for graciously allowing me to borrow his article.

The original article can be found at The Pittsburgh Examiner.