Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Varcolac

Among the Vampire species (Genus Vampyrus), there exists a terrible force of evil that is feared by all. While many Vampires in world folklore have unnatural strength and supernatural powers, one creature stands above most of them: the Romanian Varcolac. Also known as Varcolaci (the plural form) or Vircolac, this wolf-demon appears in the folklore and tales of Transylvania as well as Romania. The Varcolac is a type of revenant (some say that it is a Werewolf, a ghost, or some manner of wolf-demon) that comes into existence when a baby dies without having been baptized previously. A person who commits the sin of suicide is very likely to arise from the grave as this type of Vampire. This condition can also be hereditary (much like lycanthropy), being passed down in a family from one person to another (from generation to generation). The child of unmarried parents, being "cursed" by God Almighty, may also become a Varcolac upon his or her death. Sweeping dust out of the house in the direction of the sun at sunset may cause this creature to arise. More bizarrely, it may also rise up when one is making maize porridge if one makes the mistake of putting the stick used to stir the porridge in the fire. Whether one or the other, the Varcolac is an extremely powerful monster that takes delight in the kill and drinking fresh human blood.

By day, the Varcolac appears to be human and behaves as an ordinary person would. In human form, the creature has pale, dry skin, dark hair, and fierce, deep-set eyes (whether these eyes are any specific color or have a tendency to glow in the dark is unknown). Like most vampires, the Varcolac is a nocturnal hunter and generally feeds by night. However, the creature chooses to hunt in its astral form, which is invisible to the human eyes. In this form, the Vampire prefers to use deception and speed to a reckless attack with its formidable strength. Traveling in its astral body (which, when actually seen, is described as resembling a dragon or a monster with many mouths), the Varcolac can move as fast as the wind along unseen astral threads (which is known as "midnight spinning," where a woman spins threads without a candle and sometimes cast spells as they weave) and it is said that the creature is so powerful that it can force the sun and the moon out of alignment, causing an eclipse (either of a lunar or solar nature). As long as those threads remain unbroken, the creature’s power persists and it may travel anywhere it wishes to. However, causing a solar or lunar eclipse would involve forcefully realigning the planets as well as the sun and the moon. If such folklore is to be truly believed, it would suggest that the Varcolac is a monster of truly immense power. However, since none but God Himself is able to do such a thing, one can easily put that into the tall tales category. According to legend, the Varcolac does this in order to feed on the moon's blood or to eat the moon itself. According to tradition, during an eclipse the people will beat on shovels and other tools, fire off guns, and ring church bells to scare the Varcolac away. Usually, the moon defeats the creature with its superior strength. If the moon were to truly be eaten, the world would come to an end. One folk belief holds that God orders the Varcolac to consume the moon, so that His people will repent of their sins.

What makes the Varcolac so dangerous? The Varcolac is said to possess an amazing degree of strength (some sources say that the creature is stronger than any other Vampire species), and is reportedly able to bash its way through stone walls with its fists. It is able to hurl the mutilated and broken bodies of its hapless victims into the highest tree branches (where they are very unlikely to be found). As well as having supernatural strength, the Varcolac is a powerful shapeshifter that can assume any form it desires. The creature is actually said to change its mass as well as its physical form. It may take the form of a small and black, winged ghost, a demon with the legs of a goat and cloven hooves, a small dragon, a dog (it always appears as two dogs), a flea, a cat, a frog, or a spider. The Varcolac is not, however, limited to these forms. The creature may take any form that it desires, possibly including the form of other people. Using its ability to shapeshift, the Varcolac is able to lure unsuspecting humans close enough to make its savage attack. Once it strikes, the Vampire completely drains its unfortunate prey of their blood.

For all of its power, the Varcolac does have a handful of weaknesses. If the creature is a living human, it suffers similar vulnerabilities. If the creature's mortal body is moved while they are in the process of astral projection, the astral body will be unable to find its way back to the world of the living and its body. The Varcolac's human body will either sleep forever or die. To prevent a corpse from becoming a Varcolac in the first place, the corpse should be thrown into running water.

Like all Vampires, the Varcolac has one fatal weakness: garlic. While something so simple may seem laughable, the very presence of this plant (whether the bulb or the flower) weakens the demon considerably. It is supposedly able to force the creature to become flesh and blood again, at which point the creature can be killed like any other physical being. However, people usually resort to the tried-and-true methods of staking, beheading, and burning the creature until naught but ash and charred bones remain.

Despite the fact that the Varcolac is usually a revenant (the returned dead), there are some ways to destroy the creature. However, it is all highly ritualized and fairly complex. One is to wait until the Vampire rises from its grave (although how one is supposed to subdue a creature with superhuman strength, even with a group of strong men, is beyond speculation). The heart should be excised and cut in two. A nail is then driven through the Varcolac's forehead, and an entire garlic bulb is placed in the mouth (quicklime may be used if garlic is unavailable). The body is then smeared with the fat of a pig killed on Saint Ignatius Day (July 31st). Next, sprinkle the Varcolac's burial shroud with holy water. Finally, the monster's body should be taken to a secluded place deep in the mountains and left there. Alternatively, if the creature was a woman, iron forks should be driven the corpse's eyes and heart. The body is then buried in a very, very deep grave, face down.

Because the Varcolac is so powerful, there is always a chance that the monster will return. To prevent this from happening, a thorny bush (like hawthorn or the rose bush) should be placed on top of the body, covered by the creature's burial shroud. Those who have committed suicide should be immersed entirely in fresh running water as soon as possible after death.


Bane, Theresa. Actual Factual Dracula: A Compendium of Vampires. Randleman, NC: NeDeo Press. Copyright ©2007 by Theresa Bane.

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

Maberry, Jonathan. The Vampire Slayers’ Field Guide to the Undead. Doylestown, Pennsylvania: Strider Nolan Publishing. Copyright ©2003 by Jonathan Maberry.

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

Varcolac (Monstropedia)


  1. You don't want to run into one of those then.

  2. I really enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work! The Varcolac sounds like quite the formidable foe.