Wiedergänger is German for “one who walks again” and the term is linked to various types of haunting activities, poltergeist phenomena and generally zombies. It is more an energetic vampire than a blood thirsty one – and a wiedergänger is usually viewed as a spirit, rather than a corpse.
Up until the early 20th century, the spirits of the dead were believed to be able to exercise a disastrous influence from the grave via a telepathic link with their living relatives – and this wiedergänger was usually stuck until its unfinished business was resolved.
The most common way to get rid of a wiedergänger was via prayers by the church or special rituals at the grave – also performed by priests.
Note: Another form of the physical wiedergänger is the headless rider that, frequently mentioned in West German legends, entered into world literature and even into the history of film through the American poet Washington Irving and his novel The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
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A Baobhan Sith (pronounced baa’-van shee) is the Scottish version of a succubus, with a bit of a twist. It is a beautiful seductresses, who will prey on young travelers by night and return to its grave by day. They were known to have iron as a weakness.
The words “Baobhan Sith” are the translation for “fairy woman” in Scottish Gaelic.
Also known as “the White Women of the Scottish Highlands”, Baobhan Sidhe, Bavanshee or Baavan Shee, the Baobhan Sith is a cross between a vampire and a fairy, usually described as a woman of exceptional beauty what wears a green or white dress.
The preferred area of the attack was in a wooded region and wounds were normally inflicted on the victims in the neck veins, using their fingernails. The Baobhan Sith would suck the blood or, in older versions of the tale, the life force or even sexual potency from the victim.
They look very ordinary until they attack, then their delicate hands turn into talons to bleed their unsuspecting victims. And it all begins with an invitation to dance.
[drawn by Andrew DeFelice]
There were never any known male baobhan sith, but if a woman is killed by these creatures, she will turn into one.
Most of the Baobhan Sith where previously enchanters or witches who keep on using their skills after death.
They rise from their graves once a year in order to feed. A Baobhan Sith can be trapped in their coffin by building a stone cairn over their grave, this was thought to stop them from rising.
Note: In medieval versions of the tale, the baobhan sith were often depicted with cloven hooves, keep hidden under the dress and were supposed to be afraid of horses.
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† Vampires in ancient cultures
In the fall of 1462 Matthias chose to recognize the reign of Radu the Handsome and took Vlad with him to Hungary. There are several versions of what happened that made it possible for them to capture the Impaler, but the fact is that Vlad was taken to Buddha and was held in detention at Visegrad.
His “almost” release from imprisoned came after he accepted his new wife and there are several clues in the documents of Hungarian authors that suggest he was kept near the court of Corvinus at first.
As an interesting fact; Vlad had up to 5 children [girls] with his new wife though her exact identity remains a mystery to this day.
We do not know how Matt managed to subjugate the will, he did not desire to escape, because if he truly wished freedom it`s hard to believe that his attempts would fail due to his personality and knowing how skilled he was in the art of war.
To justify himself in front of Pope Pius II, who sent large sums of money to finance a crusade against the Sultan, Matthias took advantage of all the stories that were circulating at that time in Transylvania.
In addition to that, he produced a letter which he claimed his spies intercepted and used it to make the Europeans believe that Vlad the Impaler was preparing to betray Christianity and help the Sultan catch the Hungarian king in a trap.
Fragments of this letter are found in the autobiographical work of the Pope [it appeared in the summer of 1463].
If the Pope did not believe the lies presented to him [probably written by a Saxon merchant in Brasov] he at least pretended to do so and even painted Dracula using information from the letter.
To ensure that the European kings who already agreed to start a crusade against the turks won`t turn against him and endanger the crown he so hardly gained from the Habsburgs, Matthias used the pattern [discovered in Germany around that time] to release a compilation of the most terrible stories they had collected against Vlad.
Giving free hand to the Saxons so they could express their frustrations against Dracula, encouraging exaggerations and making sure to silence any talks about the great victory gained by Vlad [even if only half] – culminating with the withdrawal of the Sultan from Wallachia, Matthias manipulated the public opinion [this is what it was all about, even if at an elementary level] and to put himself in a better light.
When he was released 13 years later, Vlad was a general in the army of Corvinus for a long period [2-3 years], before taking back the throne of his father in 1476.
† Vlad the Impaler
† Count Dracula
In 1985 biochemist David Dolphin proposed that the vampires of folklore may actually have been people suffering from porphyria, a group of rare, largely hereditary blood diseases.
Porphyria is an hereditary disease caused by an anomaly of the metabolism [overproduction and accumulation of the porphyrins or the “purple pigment”].
It is practically a form of septicemia – the toxins build up in the blood and they gradually poison the muscles. As the illness progresses the color of the urine will change, taking shades of red, purple or even brown.
It will pass down from one generation to another in some cases remaining latent. The disease can this way skip a generation or two and resurface in unexpected branches of the genealogical tree.
Presently the illness is completely treatable and the number of cases seems to be dropping, but in the Middle Ages things weren`t as simple!
In those days a porphiric could be easily mistaken for a vampire because of the sensitivity to sunlight. Even mild exposure can cause severe disfigurement. Facial skin may scar, the nose and fingers may fall off, and the lips and gums may become so taut that the teeth project like fangs. It`s only natural that in the terminal stages the ill would leave their houses only at night – just like vampires.
We even find references of blood rituals.
One might argue that, since it is a blood disorder one might need to take the blood of another to replace his own ill blood. I cannot speak for what was believed back then although I do think it is possible that people were convinced that the “vampires” drank blood to sustain their live form.
Porphyria victims don’t crave blood. Drinking blood will not alleviate their symptoms, nor has there ever been a general belief that it would. The blood chemicals porphyria victims need do not survive digestion.
We even have ties between this disease and garlic.
Most of the ill are allergic cu garlic therefore cannot stand it. If you remember my ~Superstitions~ article, I mentioned the fact that priests would distribute garlic during mass to test for living vampires!
Modern medicine explains that the substances that normally make garlic such a great remedy for a healthy organic system, when combined with that of a porphiric can have poisoning effects. Ingestion of garlic first affects the stomach and they often cough it up.
Another interesting fact is that, since porphyria is hereditary, it falls into the idea that vampires returned to feed on their family.
And here I feed the need to add a couple of observations: modern ~Literature~ and ~Movies~ show that the transformation is almost instantaneous [like in “Interview with the vampire”] or that it might take up to a night [like in “True Blood” or “Vampire Diaries”], but the old legends state that sometimes the transformation can take longer. Even years!
So there was enough time for a child to grow and his porphiric gene be activated, or for another child – with an already active gene to be born.
You can therefore imagine the psychological effect a single case of porphyria could have had on a rural community in a village in the Middle Ages. Especially considering that in such a community everybody is related to… everybody.
To that, add the tension created by priests that castes fear into the peasants.
So lets recap:
– sensitivity to sunlight
– [sometimes] allergic reactions to garlic
– skin burns if exposed to the sun
– speculations that blood drinking is required to recuperate a healthy state
– [hereditary disease] chain periodic deaths within a family
The following case is presented in a great deal of books and is special in the sense that pretty much every author has a different story and opinion to tell. I`ve even come across books and sites that present it as two distinct accounts because of the slight but numerous changes that have occurred with the passing of the time.
The whole case is based on a news from the “Figaro” from back in 1874 [we are given an approximate date as 5 October].
It mentions the death of a Romanian prince called Borolojovac.
Apparently he had been living in Paris because he was forced to take the road of exile due to vampirism that was hereditary within his family. Even he believed that he would turn into the undead after his death to he made his Parisian host swear that upon his passing he would cut out his heart to keep him from returning.
It remains a mystery if the request was followed or not, but he must have died around September of October of 1874.
Based on the name I can tell you this much… he was not Romanian. In fact there are 5 names that circulate attached to this case: Borolojovac, Barolajovac, Boralajova, Borolojovak and Borolajovek. It seams that in fact he was of Serbian origin and he feared that he was a living vampire – destined to return from the grave.
The news clipping was enough to start a spark in the public so the events were published in 1900 by Stefan Hock in his “Die Vampirsagen – und ihre Verwertung in der deutschen Literatur” [Vampire legends and their utilization in German Literature] and in “Les Vampires” by Tony Faivre .
But perhaps the one that claims to have investigated the most is Jean-Paul Bourre and he published his “Le Culte du Vampire aujourd’hui” [The vampire cult today] in 1978. Needless to say there are many interesting things that were claimed… including the fact that the vampire was a Romanian count.
Sounds familiar? That`s right… Dracula!
After further research in the National Library, Bourre supposedly discovered that the Count used to live in a castle just outside Paris – somewhere in the direction of Mainvilliers. Since it was apparently turned into a hotel, the author went ahead and booked a couple of night. He was struck by luck when he found correspondence of the Count which shows that before he came to Paris he has lived in Venice for some time.
Bourre also informs us that the Count Borolojovak is buried on the famous Isola di San Michele, a cemetery island in Venice.
As you can imagine I am reluctant to believe mr. Bourre simply because there are too many things in his book that cry influence by the infamous novel “Dracula”.
So I will file this as a vampire account that spawned a legend around it 🙂
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