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Romania, of course, has a deep rooted 'Vampire' history and lore. Images of ruined castles and ranges of darkened mountains swathed in thick mists, crags and deep valley's, filled withforbidding forests where the light of the moon casts twisted reflections and of un-tamed wilds, where whispered horrors stalk the realm. Of course the image of the Magyar nobleman, draped in a cape and who speaks with a seductive tone is never far from the imaginations of many, but just how correct is the modern idea of a 'Vampire'?
First it must be said, that Romania, like many other cultures andcountries, has a very deep and rich lore of the dead returning to life. Those who hadcommitted ill deeds or practised with craft, though not all forms of witch craft were deemed a sin, were denied entry to paradise but werecondemnedto wander the world forever. They may also have been cursed during their life times or have delved too deeply into obscure and dangerous pleasures or arts, developing unnatural lusts and desires. These may have included the lust for blood, though usually that of a animal.
These were the Moroii or the Moroacia, witches and warlocks, who lived in the heart of rural Romania who often subsist upon blood. Though they are classified as 'Living Vampires', the term is usually taken to mean witch or sorcerer of the darkest kind, a person who has willingly sold his/her soul to the Evil One, in return for earthly dominion and power.
The Moroii were very easy to spot, the males are deathly pale and virtually hairless, akin to the image of the Vampire from the film Nosferatu, this image is a loose one upon which to base the appearance of the Moroii males. Female Moroii are very red faced and have full red lips. It is widely believed that Moroii could assume the forms of animals, birds and moths were among the most common. In this form they roamed the countryside doing harm to their neighbours. They also had the power to send their spirit out, unseen by human eyes, while their mortal bodies slept, in order to create mischief and mayhem, as well as spread disease and attack people whilst they slept. Some beliefs mentioned that whilst harming those who slept, the spirit of the Moroii could drain the slumbering individual, leaving them tired and lethargic when they awoke. However the Moroii themselves were subject to mortal disease and ailments, they could be slain, though doing so would run the risk of turning them into a creature far worse.
All manner of people could become Moroii, and it could be through the smallest of reasons, such as neglecting Mass, stealing, lying and practising witch craft. Those who lusted after neighbours wives andillegitimate sons of priests ran high risks of turning into Moroii.
Neglecting Holy rites whilst pregnant would turn your unborn child into a Moroii, as well as having a Vampire look upon you whilst pregnant . eating uncooked meats and drinking spoiled home made spirits,, those who swallowed a bee or a fly, for it may be the animal form of a witch or wizard. Those who ate unleavened bread or who lusted after a foreigner may become a witch later.
Those who were left handed were believed to be most at risk from the black arts.
And the list goes on...
Traits of the Strigoii
Because they were living and for all intents and purposes were human and thus subject to death, the Moroii could die from natural causes or be killed. When they fell, regardless of how they died, they would turn into the Strigoii, a terrible and deadly creature. Strigoii were the walking dead, physical corpses who knew no peace and were motivatedsolely by ill intent. Humanity had faded from their hearts, they had become the foe of all mankind.
The name has it's origins in the ancient Roman word 'striges', creatures who flew about at night in the form of a bird, most often a Owl, or even half bird and half human, spreading filth and disease amidst the Latin community. They were also credited with having supernatural powers with which they used against the Latin peoples.
These translated into the walking dead of Romania. It was inevitable that a member of the Moroii would become a Strigoii after death, but sometimes a corpse could rise again as one in it's own right. A corpse may return to un-life and haunt the living, if a shadow fell across a open coffin, if a bird or animal passed over the body, if it wasn't buried with proper rites or if the person committed suicide.
The Strigoii might drink blood, but more often they ate normal food (as did the Moroii). However, rather than drinking blood or vital fluids, they could draw the energy from another person by a kind of osmosis, leaving them weak and sickly and helpless. Besides attacking people, the Strigoii spread disease and pestilence from house to house, leaving death and desolation in their wake. They also had the ability, when invisible, to engage in poltergeistactivities, pulling items from the shelves and tossing them around anddousing the flames from a roaring fire. Only as a last resort did they drink blood and then only from their families or those they knew, people in their communities.
When Strigoii moved about, they were easily spotted, they walked slowly, as if they were sleep walkers, and they had their right eye closed yet their left eye was always open and blood red in colour. They had a floridcomplexion and often grew reddish hair. When in their graves, their bodies remained un-tainted and un-spoiled by the natural cycle of decay, also their hair and nails grew ever long. At times the creature maybe bloated with the blood it had consumed.
Protection against the Strigoii
There were ways to find the grave of a Strigoii, such resting places were marked by a blue flame, akin to a candle, which burned a little way above ground where the Strigoii lay. These burned quite brightly and could be seen from a distance. Another method was to take a 7 year old boy, dress him in white and set him astride a white horse, setting him loose in a graveyard, where ever the horse stopped, a Strigoii lay. The latter was often adopted by those who felt themselves persecuted by the Undead.
It was further believed, that in order to breath within the grave, the Strigoii made small holes to the surface so that air may flow into the grave. If holes were found, then a Strigoii lay underneath, it was exhumed and inspected by a priest. if it was found uncorrupted or bloated (though it may have been bloated with corpse gasses released after death, it was taken that the cause was consumed blood) it was deemed a Strigoii, the walking dead, a Vampire. The priest said prayers over it, and the heart would be cut from it's chest and burned. In some cases the head maybe struck from it with the blade of a gravediggers shovel and the mouth filled with herbs (though not always Garlic). Unlike many other Vampires in neighbouring countries, the Strigoii could be affected strongly by Sunlight, especially the first rays of the dawn. To avoid these, the creature returned to it's grave before the rise of the harmful sun.
It was believed that Strigoii were extremelyobsessive creatures, strategies were devised to keep the Vampire at bay until the sun had risen and it fled to it's tomb. Poppy seeds might be scattered around the grave where one might lay. The notion being that, when the Vampire rose, it would see the seeds and be compelled to gather them up. This would keep it busy for the entire night (something similar may have been used to distract the Irish vampire, Abhartach, thorns were scattered around the grave). Other methods included scattering petals or clothes to delay the Strigoii and save it's victims.
Wine also drove away the Undead. Potential victims became drunk before going to bed incase they got attacked. Cheap wine also tainted the blood thus making itunpalatable to the Strigoii. even the smallest amount would work.
Onions were abhorrent to the Vampire, and it would avoid any who smelled of such things, certain herbs might be used but their is no specific mention of garlic.
Special mention; Vampire Hunters
Deserving of a special mention and thusly related to the topic of Strigoii, were Vampire Hunters, which Bram Stoker used in his novel and has been further used in novels and films up to the modern day. The vampire hunter, most famous was the Dutch occult specialist Abraham Van Helsing. This too, has it's origins among the Strigoii of eastern Europe. In folklore,particularly amongst eastern-euro gypsies, it was believed that for everyone born who would become a Strigoii there would be one born who could defeat it, and, in this way, God would keep control over the Dead. It is thought that in some regions of Romania, Vampire Hunters would travel from town to town, apparently hunting the Undead in the manner of the witch hunters of England. They would enter a village where sickness was wide spread and claim it is the work of a Vampire. They would then begin to exhume body after body, inspecting them for the marks/signs of Undeath, creating hysteria and unrest in the local communities as well as distress and pain for the families of those who were exhumed. This activity was viewed with disdain by the authorities and soon the Empress announced her edict which outlawed the exhuming of the dead to inspect them for signs of being a Vampire.
Though the truth maybe hard to seek, and may not be found in the ruins of ancient castles or twilight graveyards, but rather in the wandering Moroii and Strigoii which roam the villages and lonely lanes after dark. We cannot say for certain whether they exist or not, but we should not dismiss them entirely.
Latest page update: made by Ebon_Moon
, Jun 22 2010, 9:48 AM EDT
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