Partridge India Writing Tips| Old School Monsters Pt 2

Sep 14

Partridge India returns with Old School Monsters, this time focusing on the horrid undead. Many human cultures and societies across the world have an aversion or hesitance regarding the dead. Why else do many cemeteries have walls, but to keep grave robbers outside and residents inside? The undead embody the idea of something that should not be. What is dead should rest, most certainly not torment or prey upon the living. And we begin, with the vampire.

 

Vampires

Partridge India Writing Tips| Old School Monsters
Slaying an East European vampire in its coffin, with wooden stake and flame.

Few folkloric monsters have been as re-imagined and romanticized as the vampire. Modern authors such as Bram Stoker and Anne Rice have characterized vampires as brooding, sensuous, and romantic creatures of the night, to varying degrees. The folklore vampires varied greatly, some being dark seducers while others were feral avatars of disease, dating all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia, with one overriding commonality- hunger for blood and lives of living humans. In some stories vampires are not always dead, but a living creature or a sorcerer of dark power.

 

 

Some of the earliest tales of vampiric creatures can be found in Sumerian mythology, the Utukku. These creatures were spirits of mortals that either escaped or were raised by a magician from the Underworld. Utukku could be benign or wicked, with the wicked utukku inflicting disease and evil intentions upon mortals. According to the old tales they rode the wind and stole the life out of sleeping people. Originating in Ancient Greece are the stories of the Lamia, beautiful women with the lower body of a serpent that use their charm and beauty to seduce young men, before feeding on their blood. Supposedly, lamia especially enjoyed the blood of children.

 

 

North of Greece, one can find the veritable heartland of vampire stories most recognizable by the average person, Eastern Europe. Throughout Hungary, Romania, and the lands surrounding the Carpathian mountain ranges, stories and traditions of the vampire have been passed down the generations. In the shadows of the Carpathians vampires are called such names as moroi, strigoi, and other names. Most often they are the recently dead, rising from their graves at night to drain blood from the living, starting with their own families and relatives. These vampires are neither handsome nor seductive, rather they are walking, rotting corpses with powers of invisibility, command over beasts, and transformation into animals. These are but a few of the versions of vampires found in folklore.

 

 

Zombies

Partridge India Writing Tips| Old School Monsters
Zombies, Ghouls, Revenants- the walking dead.

Distinct from the vampire, that which feeds on the blood and life energy of the living, is the zombie, the walking dead. These animate corpses come in a wide a variety, from myriad cultures across the world. The zombie in particular originates in Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba among the Africans taken as slaves by colonial powers.

 

 

Out of the traditions of Vodou, Obeah, and Santeria comes the zombie. Oddly enough the zombie of these traditions is not a ravenous undead terror, but a hapless living human under a spell. Essentially the zombie is itself a slave that goes about in a death-like state. Closer to the modern, popular image of zombies are the Revenants. Revenants are described in European Middle Ages texts as the risen spirits or corpses of the dead that threaten the living, usually due to a curse, injustice, or some form of spiritual pollution.

 

 

Partridge India trusts this helps

Please make sure to check out the Partridge India site for more advice and blogs, and to follow us on Partridge India Facebook and Partridge India Twitter.

 

By Ian Smith

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