Everyone has heard of vampires, but have you heard of Strigoi?
A creature of legend springing from Transylvania, the Strigoi are the original inspiration of the blood sucking vampires that we all know and love. These mythical beings were the basis for the gruesome darkness in Bram Stoker’s epic novel, Dracula.
Saint Andrew’s day, the 30th of November, is the official beginning of Winter in Romania. According to traditional beliefs it signifies the moment when the Night Walkers, or “Strigoi” are going to compete with each other to bring misfortune and sadness to the people. The victor of this battle, the one who manages to disturb the most people, will be named the Ruler for the following year. So tonight will be a sacred one as this battle of the Night Walkers rages on all around us.
Tonight the Night Walkers are going to rise from their graves and even emerge from living bodies. They will begin fighting in places thought to be “unclean” like town borders, crossroads, and clearings in the woods. For weapons they will use scythes and other stolen tools from nearby houses, as well as anything else they can get their hands on. Not to mention their teeth and claws!
The battles will last until the roosters crow in the morning, signifying the end of the terror. At that time the area will be considered purified, and the Night Walkers will return from whence they came.
According to tradition there are several types of beings referred to as Night Walkers. The first one are the living Night Walkers. These are otherwise normal people carrying on a normal life. Until they attack. The second type are dead creatures who rise from their graves. The last type consists of Night Walkers who can change themselves into animals through metamorphosis. The creatures who can transform into animals must roll over on the ground three times in order to shift into their animal form. They are by far the most dangerous, because they can suck the blood out of anyone who doesn’t protect their body with garlic. But escaping these attacks isn’t so easy! In addition to your body, you need to cover your windows, doors and chimneys with garlic in order to be safe. There can never be enough garlic on a night like this, so don’t hold back!
Luckily Night walkers don’t appear unannounced. Subtle signs such as unexpected plagues, drought, or floods are sure signs of Strigoi activity. When people suspect the presence of Night Walkers in their community they begin to stockpile items for defense. Stones, pitchforks, rugs, garlic, nails, rotten eggs, basil, wine, incense, and sand are all favorite methods for warding off Night Walkers. Each has their own application and level of effectiveness, ranging from highly effective to utterly useless.
One of the most brutally effective rituals used to finish off a suspected Night Walker is implemented when the creature is already dead. Upon discovering his identity, the villagers will dig up the person’s grave. They will turn the body upside down and then stab him through the heart with a wooden stake so his spirit will be plunged into the earth and never return. This is still considered to be the best method for killing vampires today as well!
While all of this may sound terrifying, all hope is not lost. There are ways to identify a Night Walker, and in the interest of keeping you alive and safe, I am happy to share a few with you. According to traditions and beliefs, the following signs may indicate that the folks around you are actually Night Walkers waiting to strike:
- People with a tail ( an extra vertebrae ) are certainly Night Walkers
- Unbaptised children are considered very high risk
- Anyone who can cast an evil eye on you probably already has, so it’s too late by the time you notice. Sorry.
- Anyone sleeping outside today ( 30th of Nov) should be given a wide berth
- Those with a red nose may be partly evil, or they might just be cold. Beware either way
- Men or women with early signs of balding hair should be watched closely
- Anyone not eating garlic is almost definitely a Night Walker. Never trust a non-garlic-eater under any condition
- Anyone who dies of unnatural causes is likely to return to cause trouble
- If an animal crosses underneath the bed of a sick person or someone who has recently died, then that person is likely to become a Night Walker. The animal, on the other hand, is probably safe enough so you can go ahead and pet it
- People who are afraid of incense exhibit suspicious behavior, but they may also just have allergies. Better not take the risk though.
I hope that this list will keep you safe and out of harm’s way tonight. Keep your eyes open, and stay alive!
Lore & Brian